AV + Connectivity

Are You Gathering the Right Attendee Data?

‘I love how my association tracks my every move,' said no attendee ever.

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Late last year, my wife and I made a big move, from a lifetime in Ohio to sunny Orlando. Our new home needed a bit of fixing up, so I’ve been doing more online research and shopping than usual — and Facebook is stalking my every move. Items I’ve viewed on sites like Home Depot end up as ads in my newsfeed.

Facebook thinks it knows me, but it really doesn’t. Just because I did a bit of research or a drive-by browse, I’m not a strong target for a presumptive ad. It actually turns me off. Facebook is serving up mostly explicit mass personalization. Meeting-professional adopters of iBeacons, RFID, and NFC for conference tracking likewise are taking an explicit capture and personalization path.

But implicit personalization — practiced by platforms such as Amazon.com — yields greater conversion. On Amazon, implicit capture looks at your buying history, ratings, and items on your wish list. It serves up smarter recommendations because it’s action-driven as opposed to drive-by. Implicit is a superior data-capture tactic, especially for B2B conferences, where attendees are investing hundreds or thousands of dollars. You capture less data, but the data is much more meaningful because it requires a higher level of attendee engagement and lots of opting in.

While iBeacons and other passive tracking technologies are cool, they offer very few attendee benefits. Your technology budget is much better spent on gathering rich data that allows you to better personalize to your premium conference customers. Here are some do’s and don’ts for improved customer-behavior capture and insight:

If attendees view a session, add it to their itinerary, show up, participate in polling, access the session’s handouts, post a photo of a slide on Instagram, and complete a survey, they’ve given you a bunch of implicit cues for future personal communications. Assign point values for each of these touchpoints based on the level of engagement.

Don’t scan every attendee at the entrance door. Instead, make scanning optional and add a carrot in the form of a more efficient continuing-education credit process.

Some larger shows use explicit attendee tracking to help them renew exhibitors. They’ll track how many badges walked by a certain area, or even try to calculate the number of hours someone spent on the show floor. Never implement a technology to help prove your exhibitors wrong. If they perceive that they had a bad show, no data set will convince them otherwise.

Instead, encourage attendees to favorite exhibitors they’d like to see on the attendee website and mobile app. Aggregate data on exhibitors visited where the attendees agreed to have their badge scanned. Those are always either implicit opt-ins or cues that they are only interested in winning an iPad.

Dave Lutz, CMP

Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting.