How Brands Deliver Data-Driven Events, and Why They Work So Well


With today’s technology it is growing ever easier for experiential marketers to marry the art of what they do with the science of data. Gaining data from events may not be as easy as setting some filters on Google Analytics, but measuring experiential marketing can be done. In fact, building a data-driven experiential marketing strategy is not only possible but necessary.

As an event marketer, you do a great job of keeping promises that folks made in other departments. You work hard to engage an audience in relevant, impactful experiences. Nevertheless, if the devil is the details, the future is in the data.

Event marketing platforms may not be as widespread as traditional automation tools like Hubspot and Marketo, but you can easily find a solution that helps your team rethink campaign success. But, how, exactly can you apply data-driven best practices to your events?

#1 Segment audiences

Marketers today revere the insights gained from mapping out the consumer journey (I have a story to tell about this but I'll save it for a later article). With a good understanding of distinct audiences and how they will differ along their journey, marketers can better target campaigns. Well, the same is true of your event participant or guest lists. Be smart and segment the people who will have the opportunity to engage with your experience.

Just as a digital marketer shouldn’t send the same email to all 2,000 of their leads, you shouldn’t send the same thing to all your prospective participants. Segmenting your invites into lists of customers, prospects, friends and family, and press (for example) can influence your outreach as you take into consideration each group’s different objectives. The attention you pay to prospects, for instance, should be different from the attention you pay to family and friends. Or, you might even further segment customers and reward particularly high-spending or long-time loyal invitees with a VIP experience that might enhance up-sell opportunities.

#2 Develop measurable KPIs

With data you don’t have to rely solely on instinct and guesstimates. Identify measurable key performance indicators beforehand that suit your strategic objectives. Then, determine what will be analyzed before, during, and after an event and how. Once you have this plan and the tools you need in place, you can better ensure your experience will resonate with the audience while truly contributing to brand objectives.

#3 Be nimble

Your team may think it has come up with the most clever, creative, on-brand, and amazing marketing experience ever. But is that what the data actually shows? Reviewing real-time data insights can afford you an immediate view into what is working and what might need tweaked in-the-moment. Event marketers already know they need to be flexible, but data can give you the support you need to justify the on-the-fly adaptation (perhaps to a client or budget managers) and make agile decisions to accomplish higher success rates.

#4 Analyze social data

One aim of experiential marketing is to see attendees or participants post comments or images to their social channels. But simply measuring social reach isn’t leveraging the data fully. Before, during, and after an event, you can take advantage of social listening platforms to actually hear what is being said. Organizing all of that unstructured social data can also help you to identify brand influencers, who could boost the success of your future events as well.

One thing to keep in mind, though. For all of the advantages of leveraging data, don’t let the data collection interfere with the audience experience. You collecting data should not equal a boring experience for your event attendee. And believe me, I've been guilty of this.

Key Takeaway

Incorporating data-driven decisions into your experiential strategy can make a big difference throughout the campaign. Paying attention to the numbers can help marketers have an even greater emotional impact with the audiences they are trying to entertain, inform, and engage.

Tara Wilson