Pre-Event Measurement: Tips to Inform Event Strategy

Why do people attend events? According to consumerization benchmark data collected by Sparks in partnership with Event Marketer, 73% of B2B professionals go to business events for their educational/professional development while 68% say their primary reason is to network. But as event professionals, we already know this right?! With that said, in this post (the first of a three-part series), we’re going to talk about pre-event measurement as a tool for understanding what attendees want to learn about, including their preferred way of learning. Let’s get started! 

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Where is the right place to start when it comes to producing an event? Determining what business goals you’re trying to achieve. You and your team need to come together and ask yourselves – what are we trying to accomplish and what does success look like? This is the goal-setting phase of pre-event measurement. What are the best type of goals and objectives to set? Are they S .M.A.R.T. ones?

What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?

Specific - state exactly what you want to achieve

Measurable - establish clear definitions to help you measure if you’re reaching your goal

Action-oriented - describe your goals using action verbs

Realistic - your goals should be attainable

Time-bound - create a timeline to establish when you’d like to achieve your goals.

Let’s say your business goal is to increase brand awareness. Examples of S.M.A.R.T. event goals would be to increase overall attendance (whether that’s registration or ticket sales), increase traffic to the company website, generate higher amounts of media coverage, and build your social presence. Or maybe your business goal is to boost engagement at the actual event. Goals to consider setting there could be increasing event app engagement, engagement levels during sessions, or increasing the number of times your event hashtag is shared on social.

These goals—and your ability to meet them—will be used to measure the success of your event. Once you’ve established your goals, the next step in pre-event measurement is diving into the needs of your audience and ensuring that you understand what they want and how your event can make good on those needs.

How Are You Determining Your Event Attendees Wants and Needs?

To best determine the needs of your event attendees, a good place to start is looking at any past event measurement data – this is a great way to examine demographics as well answers to any custom questions you asked previous attendees. Their responses can help set a foundation for what they’re looking for or what issues they’d like met at the next event.

Additionally, when examining past event data, pay attention to average ratings, especially if there were any under a 4.0. Those are areas where you can focus on making improvements. Another action to keep in mind when analyzing previous data as part of pre-event measurement? Use it to identify if there are any ideas that you’d want to get a pulse from attendees to include at your upcoming event. This will help you to craft a program that’s truly meeting their needs.

“When it comes to the event journey, attendees want to be in the driver’s seat,” notes the Sparks + Event Marketer joint study on B2B trends, The Consumerization of B2B Events. “They want to find the content most relevant to them. They want to learn and interact in the ways they feel most comfortable.”

With that said, it’s crucial to build your understanding of what attendees are most interested in learning about, how they want to learn, and what challenges they’re facing. The best way to do this? Asking your audience at the time of registration.

Pre-Event Measurement Helps to Informs Content

Engaging with your audience at the time of registration is helpful for so many reasons. Primarily, it gives you the ability to mold and inform content inclusions and the overall event program – ensuring your event is tailor-made for your audience right at the start.

Another benefit to engaging your audience during the registration phase? The opportunity to help boost registration if it’s low. Including pre-event findings of what you’re planning to include in the event program can help increase your numbers as you’re showing attendees that you’re listening and catering to their needs.

Once you’ve gained a full understanding of your audience’s motivators, needs, issues, and concerns, the next step in pre-event measurement is to begin building the event – from the sessions, to the speakers, to the networking events. All the while, ensuring that you’re keeping your future attendees at top of mind.

As we note in our blog post on event marketing return on opportunity (ROO), “Events are not just a sales channel: most people don’t go to events wanting to be viewed as potential revenue. Attendees come to your event seeking meaningful interactions, and they will buy from you if you focus on creating great experiences and nurturing relationships.”

So, the message is clear. The first step in the pre-event measurement process is to set clear, S.M.A.R.T. event objectives and goals. Then, take the time to fully research your audience –what are their needs, their wants, problems they’re trying to solve? Explore your past event data, reach out to them during registration, and use your findings to build the foundation for an event that’s tailored to their needs with content that will resonate. Stay tuned for our next chapter on event measurement, focusing on measurement tips and strategies at the time of an event.

Check out our additional insights on event measurement here.

Posted by Lisette Sheehan | Request as a Speaker

Strong believer in the power of data to drive smart decision-making. Enjoys making new friends. Lives for family. Avid beachgoer. It's 5 o'clock somewhere.