Thanks to the evolution of modern technology, event and trade-show marketers no longer have to stand idly by as consumers peruse their exhibits, waiting for the right moment to engage and wondering what they’re interested in and where they are in the purchase funnel. Widely available tech tools like GPS, RFID, QR codes and smart phones now enable you to track prospects and customers at multiple points along the journey while making the live experience fun and engaging for them. Here’s a look at four ways to track—and attract—consumers.
With a cool RFID deployment, be it a wristband or dog tag or other scanable tchotchke, attendee data hits brands’ dashboards instantly. Because their activity is tagged, monitored and measured in real time, marketers can reach out in real time, too, with relevant offers and incentives that capture consumer interest while it’s hot. This is big in the consumer arena right now, according to Michael Gilvar, president of Fish Software, a designer of RFID tracking systems. Digital rewards help encourage attendee engagement by sending them little virtual gifts like ringtones and games in response to their activities at an event, so the response is organic and related to something the target is interested in. Exhibits in which the RFID tags reveal that the targets don’t show interest can be amended on the fly because of the instant data, too. Bonus.
This one can be tricky. Some people absolutely do not want to get messaging on their phones from brands. The secret is to be up front and ask them to opt in, then don’t abuse the privilege. QR codes can be a great entryway for this. With these codes, attendees know if they snap the image and send in the code, or visit the embedded link, they can expect additional contact. If that contact includes a reward or asset that’s related to their interests, then you’ve won, according to Tanya Onufer at Mozes, a provider of mobile-based audience response systems. Another great way to get in the door is with an app, designed for smart phones. Make sure it works across all platforms and offers interesting and useful information about the event first and foremost. Then let the brand gain notice organically with subtle messaging within the app. Location or GPS-based apps like FourSquare and Gowalla can also enable you to drive traffic to your booth or event with contests and incentives based on your location, and then track attendee movement once they’ve “checked in.” Just be aware, the technology isn’t sophisticated enough to let you pinpoint indoor locations or session rooms.
The mobile web is becoming almost as powerful as its big, older brother the Internet. Now is the time to start learning what a killer tool it can be when it comes to engaging attendees. The key, according to Michael Gaffney, ceo at In-Touch Insight Systems, which designs custom mobile web solutions for events, is for the site to provide two things that meet the different needs of the stakeholders: For the brand, data reporting has to be spot-on with no waiting; For the attendee, the formula is simple—the tech has to work all the time, flawlessly, it has to be relevant and creative and it has to be available even without WiFi or cell service. If a brand can pull off that trifecta with a mobile event site, then users will likely give up any and all requested data and behavior patterns, including allowing behavior mapping through the app. A key benefit to this instant flow of back and forth communication is the brand’s ability to make program adjustments on the fly, based on the latest information.
It’s not about the one-off initiative anymore, folks. Everything you used to think you knew about talking to and interacting with consumers and clients at events is on the cusp of big change and that change is the always-on movement. This shift is all about keeping the engagements going during and after your conference or event, and continuing that conversation until the next one and the next one, and so on. It never stops, and you never lose touch with your targets. Anthony Miller, director of strategy at the Active Network, which specializes in these always-on communication platforms, says that once the “persistent community” cycle begins, brands can begin to track market data and activity over time—the key to true behavioral mapping—in a way never before possible. The goal is to extend an event into the everyday lives of the attendees through always-new content, giveaways and premiums and on- and off-line engagements all year long, all leading eventually to one-on-one conversations between brands and individuals who want specific needs met.