One of the main challenges meeting professionals face is to provide exhibitors with a return on investment. That has become an even larger task for many in the face of a shift to virtual events. But, where many event organizers see this as an insurmountable challenge, those who adhere to a data-driven strategy are finding a wealth of opportunity. Providing key data for exhibitor ROI is an expanding frontier that the data-driven event organizer can use to help exhibitors and sponsors alike.
The emergence of technology has given rise to a wealth of data for virtually any event format, from in-person to virtual to hybrid to on-demand. The challenge is no longer about being to obtain and aggregating the data. Oftentimes, it’s knowing what the key pieces of information are for turning your exhibitors’ visitors into identifiable potential customers.
Fortunately, there are a few key pieces of data that can help exhibitors prepare their post-event marketing materials to go to the right targets – bringing them the most bang for their buck.
Emerging Data for Exhibitor ROI
Ask any exhibitor what type of data they are looking to gather, and they’ll probably give some combination of the following: “who are the prospects?” “which visitors were really interested?” and “how is the competition performing?”
Fortunately, there are pieces of data that can help your sponsors find answers to all three of those questions. And, when your organization can provide better data to exhibitors, the better their chances of turning leads into paying customers.
So, let’s take a deeper look at 3 key data insights that can answer your exhibitor’s questions and deliver value.
One of the best indicators of what can convert attendees into actionable leads for exhibitors is content interest. This is one of the most powerful metrics that an event organizer can provide to an exhibitor to help drive sales. So, what is content interest?
Content interest looks at the individual attendee and their interactions with content at the event. What sessions are they attending? Which content are they interacting with. What are the downloads and videos they are watching? All of these pieces of data are aggregated in content interest and provided as blueprint for how exhibitors can can interact with attendees.
This goes beyond just the basic demographic information provided by your attendees and shows what their focus is during an event. The great thing about content interest in an analytics toolbox is that it doesn’t rely on what an attendee is telling you at the time of registration – it shows their focus during the event and likely represents key issues the attendee is trying to solve during the event.
Access to content interest gives the exhibitor the tools necessary to close leads during the event and in their follow-up after the meeting.
While assessing what content attendees are engaging with is an invaluable piece of information, dwell time goes a step further and assesses how long each attendee is consuming each piece of content and the duration in which they are they are interacting with specific exhibitors.
Consider the following example two different attendees and their individual interactions.
Attendee 1: This person loves to make the rounds to every booth at trade shows. They don’t know what they’re missing if they haven’t had a chance to at least gaze at the different exhibitors and get ideas. But, they don’t have an immediate business need. And, they are at your booth for 30 seconds before moving on to the next.
Attendee 2: This person knows exactly what they want. They have a main goal while perusing the exhibitors, and they want to consume as much content about which tool, platform, or service can solve their issue. As a result, they spend minutes at each booth learning about the pros and cons of each tool, doing their own assessment. But, they don’t raise their hand and have a conversation or book a demo right away.
Using the dwell time metric helps exhibitors know where to best put their marketing budget after the event to drive the most ROI. Even though the attendee didn’t book a demo, with some targeted outreach, they’re much more likely to engage with the exhibitor directly. The result – exhibitors are able to pinpoint marketing and sales efforts to deliver results for their organization.
Product Category Comparison
Shifting from attendee-focused metrics, one thing that exhibitors want to know is how are other exhibitors performing. This helps them assess their performance, compared to others, and make meaningful shifts in both the current and next event.
But, product category comparison goes a step further and gives immediate access to how vendors of a certain type are doing. An exhibitor might not want to benchmark against everyone exhibiting – they might want to focus on their own product or service niche.
For example, you are putting on an event for an educational supplies association. An exhibitor is selling writing utensils and wants to know how they are stacking up to other writing utensil businesses exhibiting at the show. Product category comparison allows them to filter out textbook providers, desk makers, inspirational poster companies, etc., and expand on the exhibitors at the event who are closely ties to their product. This gives them the ability to create a plan for how to manage their event to drive ROI.
If you’re not able to provide a product category comparison based on the products/services sold by each vendor, you may be missing out on a chance to provide value
The Role of Event Organizers in Providing Data
Event organizers have a real duty to their exhibitors to leverage digital technologies to help the event be a success for their exhibitors. And, as there has been a shift from strictly in-person events to hybrid events and virtual conferences, there is increased pressure to provide value. Giving access to better data can be a significant boost to exhibitor ROI.
When planning your events, look for ways that you can drive traffic to vendors both during and after the event. Consider how you might provide real-time data on attendees and other exhibitors to provide actionable insights.
While event organizers haven’t historically needed to be analytics mavens, it’s time they are able to participate in those conversations at a deep level with sponsors and exhibitors alike. The success of future events depends on harnessing existing and emerging technology to help with exhibitor ROI.
Begin Providing Data-Driven Insights for Your Exhibitors
If your events platform doesn’t provide the tools needed to present key data on attendees and exhibitors alike, it might be time to look at your options for upgrading your event tech stack. The onus is on associations to give your exhibitors the tools necessary to turn the right attendees into leads and sales.
EVA’s Event Tech Hub takes event data seriously. We believe an investment in a platform that helps exhibitors drive ROI can deliver significant results for your association.