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Why personalisation is the key to measuring an event’s success

28 February 2019
Industry News Section (36)

Mike Leeson is general manager Europe, at Event Travel Management.

Marketers and brand owners have been talking about personalisation for a few years now. “It’s the key to achieving growth,” they say. It’s about knowing every consumer as an individual.

This level of understanding and laser-targeting allows them to create and deliver unique, engaging and relevant experiences to their customers across all their channels and has been a particularly powerful tool for online retailers.

Measuring the success of this personalisation – of creating these engaging experiences – is called return on experience or ROE. For many brands, ROE is now a more accurate metric than ROI for measuring the impact of a campaign on customers and it has been creeping into the world of events.

Since procurement departments have become more involved in event decision making, there has also been a noticeably increased financial focus on measurement. It’s critical to know your money has been spent wisely and you haven’t just poured tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds down the drain for nothing – therefore demonstrating ROI has become standard for event managers.

ROI is very much how you report to key stakeholders and budget holders, but management is now asking what’s the non-financial value to our teams being out of the office for days, sometimes a week? An event doesn’t necessarily demonstrate an obvious financial return so, rather than focus on numbers and money, how do we measure how our event benefited attendees?

This is where ROE comes into its own.

By considering the ROE for your guests or delegates, you can really focus on how that event is going to engage your audience above and beyond product demos and presentations. You can use that event to foster an understanding of your company’s ethos, to get delegates to buy into your brand and messaging. You can bring them fully on board with your organisation’s vision, empower them, motivate them, involve them, connect them with each other, make them feel part of something they are proud of and make them feel valued.

This approach can be used to influence the format, location and content of your events. For example, the ETM team organises our annual All Stars internal conference and we adopted an ROE approach when we noticed that the content and messaging weren’t hitting home or filtering down through the teams.

So, we developed a mini-brand around the messaging (2020 Vision, focused on communicating the organisation’s future strategy and road map) with a brand logo and teaser invitations.

We ramped up delegate communication and engagement throughout the whole event cycle – the importance of which cannot be underestimated – and we incorporated at least five points to keep attendees in the loop and on board, from the invitation, through the planning stage, building up hype during the event itself and post-event.

Ahead of the event, we asked staff what they wanted to get out of All Stars; what content was valuable to them. We focused heavily on personalisation, sending out tailored invitations and individual agendas through the custom event app, which gave delegates a unique experience. This engagement strategy also allowed us to pre-promote the company’s core values – Collaborate to Perform ‘through teamwork wonderful things will be achieved’.

At the event, we encouraged engagement and championed another core value ‘Play to Win’ (‘People are successful when they have fun in what they do’) through closed social walls and gamification, which used prizes as incentives and introduced a new level of competitiveness among delegates as they fought for a place on the leaderboard by earning points for engaging with content and colleagues.

We were keen for attendees to ‘stay in the room’, so we reduced the plenary sessions and increased the number of workshops and small breakout groups. And we used Q&As and live polling to boost the interactivity of each session.

Of course, we also sandwiched the content with teambuilding activities and social events, including a barbecue, a gala dinner and party, and after the event we followed up with personalised photographs and information.

And then came the monitoring and measurement, which was achieved principally through technology. So, in addition to increasing audience engagement and interaction, the technology behind the app, gamification elements, live polling and social media wall were also used to deliver valuable delegate tracking and insights. And all of this was topped off with good, old-fashioned surveys and feedback forms, which showed that our renewed strategy had worked.

This article was originally published by C&IT Magazine, view here.