We see a lot of different techniques used to collect field staff data. We also see a lot of different metrics and questions used to collect that data. Let me take a second to comment on what we see, what works, and what does not.
GETTING FIELD STAFF RECAP DATA
First thing’s first, you need to get the data from the field to your event marketing program account manager. Regardless of the method you use, it should be consistent and timely.
If you don’t get the data from everyone in the same way, you’re going to have different interpretations of what to collect and that’s never going to work. If you don’t get the data the day of the event, you’re going to end up with missing or poor information.
Consistency is everything. In fact, this consistency (or in research terms “Reliability”) in data is more important than the assurance or validity of the data.
How can this be? Well, if you’ve got some people who are getting it right and some who are not, and you don’t know who is which, all your data is rotten. However, if you have everyone collecting event marketing data in the same way, even if you’re making a mistake (say counting impressions wrong) you’ve got everyone making the same mistake.
And this consistency is really not going to help you if you don’t have timely data. We recommend field staff report on the day’s activity at the end of that day.
They are going to estimate many of the numbers, or if they do have tools to use (number of premiums remaining, tally counts, etc.), that data will never be more accurate than before the next event.
When you wait, you tend to see broad round numbers reported (500 intercepts, 1,000 samples, 5,000 impressions). The more zeros you see, the more your event marketing field staff members are guessing instead of actually counting.
BUT HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY COLLECT THE DATA?
We see agencies use everything from basic spreadsheets and email to high end online reporting tools.
We’re a big fan of the MainEvent software produced by the folks over at NetworkNinja. They do a great job delivering a mature and well supported solution. We see our more advanced event marketing agency partners using them to the fullest.
But sometimes you don’t have the budget or time for these types of implementations. We provide a simple field staff reporting app that anyone can download to a smart device (iOS or Android).
We program a set of data collection metrics that are unique to each program. Field staff check in and check out with GPS geo-tracking (so you get those all-so-important payroll audit information) can use the app to collect consumer exit survey feedback, and can be used to enter event day recap data. All in one tight package.
And if you have to, feel free to use Excel. You’re going to have to deal with merging the event marketing data and making sure you keep a master database that is clean and up to date. This will be manual but very doable if you’re comfortable with Excel. Just make sure everyone is using the same spreadsheet, so you have that consistency.