Since the dawn of event marketing, one of the industry’s greatest challenges has been proving the ROI of live experiences. It’s something brands and agencies still struggle with today, but as the technology behind data collection tools advances, measurement strategies are progressing right along with it.
Although it has collected basic attendee information for years, IBM more recently began collecting and using attendee data in a “deliberate way,” according to Craig Mills, marketing analytics lead at IBM. Using a combination of registration tools, beacons and mobile apps, the brand is gathering event data in an effort to deliver more personalized content for customers, whether on-site or post-event.
“Like everybody across the marketing spectrum and the business world, the more information we can collect along those [event] touchpoints, the more we can do with it,” Mills says. “But we’re also finding that the more you collect, the more complex it gets, and if you collect too much, you drown in the data, so you’ve got to be careful about what you collect along that journey.”
While proving ROI is ultimately the goal, the way forward, first and foremost, is through actionable data, understanding what clients want from IBM at events and using that information to enhance future experiences and build deeper connections.
“We have a very vast portfolio,” says Mills. “Being able to see what our potential client base is interested in, from booth to booth or from workshop to workshop, is crucial to us so we can present them with the information they need and help them navigate.”
Following are two strategies Harley-Davison and Hyundai are currently leveraging to collect meaningful data.
Ahead of its activation at the Winter X Games this year, Harley-Davidson sought a means of delivering concrete data on attendee behavior on a daily basis to its executive team—something the brand had never done before. To make it happen, Harley deployed spatial analytics technology (developed by Meshh, New York) that leverages proprietary sensors to gauge attendee behavior at events.
Here’s how it works: the passive technology monitors wi-fi signals from attendees’ smartphones (without collecting the personal ID of the devices) and based on the strength of the signal, determines how close an individual is to one of the on-site sensors (small events generally use two sensors while large-scale events might use up to 10 sensors). The technology allows the company to segment attendees into two categories: If they’re within 15 feet of a sensor for more than 30 seconds they’re considered an “engaged” visitor, while at 30 feet, they’re considered passersby. Dwell time and repeat visitors are also recorded. More precise than beacons, this specific technology allows for accuracy down to 10 feet, and involves less infrastructure. At the X Games, Harley leveraged two of these sensors to collect attendee data within its 30-foot by 70-foot activation footprint. The experience featured a first-ever photo op with Harley’s electric bike, the Livewire, an array of motorcycle prototypes, an engine simulator engagement and giveaways (OA Experiential, Los Angeles, handled). Thanks to spatial analytics, the brand was able to determine which touchpoints resonated best—data that will inform their future sponsorship activations.
Hyundai is leveraging data from a single application to help local dealers identify and engage customers better. The technology platform (developed by MoZeus, Conyers, GA) allows the brand to create more accurate customer segments that fall into three categories: customers who aren’t familiar with the brand, customers interested in receiving more information and customers who are already well acquainted with the brand and are interested in obtaining more information about a particular vehicle or being contacted by a dealer.
The kind of data collected varies by event, but at an auto show, for instance, Hyundai will ask attendees who have engaged with a product specialist if they’d like to receive more information or be contacted by a local dealer (which the brand considers a true “lead”), then guide them to a tablet where they can fill out their information. Data on individuals who are considered to be leads is then sent through the application and then exported to a CRM partner who sends the information to local dealers within 24 hours.
“We’re working every day to understand and identify in-market shoppers and who they are, how we reach them,” says Dean Evans, cmo at Hyundai Motor America. “Those channels and that strategy is changing today and we think it’s a competitive advantage for us. In our strategic formula, that’s part of our secret sauce. It’s definitely focused around data, data capture, understanding when people are in-market and how we approach them to get on their shopping list.”