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Events 101: 5 data marketing tips for effective event promotion

By Gabrielle Perham, MBA | Sep 1, 2023

Nearly 60% of those working in the meeting and event industry started since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research by Freeman. In these 101 articles, we provide key learnings for those new to the industry to help set them up for success.

The key to promoting your event is data. Data-driven marketing takes the information you’ve collected about your attendees and applies it to your event planning. That way, the decisions you make about your event are based on evidence and quantifiable insights.

Here are five data marketing tips that you can use to attract as many people as possible to your event.

1. Determine your goals.

When you set goals during the event planning process, you provide a focus for your team and any event-related decisions they make. Aim to create goals that are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. This approach will help you make data-driven decisions based on actual performance data, rather than assumptions or guesswork.

For example, your event goal may be to increase the number of attendees from last year’s event by 50% by the end of the event registration period. After analyzing past event attendance records, you can identify prospects who are likely to attend, reach out to them with a personalized invitation in a timely manner and crosscheck the success of your outreach year over year.

Want to learn more about the best ways to slice and dice your event data? Check out the MPI Academy’s reimagined and updated Event Data Analysis certificate program, launching Nov. 15, 2023!

2. Collect and store data.

Once you determine your event goals, it’s time to compile data. With the help of your CRM, you can transform your event marketing strategy. The data you’ll use to push your goals forward may be one of two types.

  • In-house data. In-house data, or first-party data, is the data your organization collects from its supporters. This data may include insights from email marketing campaigns, social media engagement and past event registrations. When you store this data, you’re building a valuable base of information about how your supporters interact with your organization.
  • Third-party data. Another option is to append third-party data. A data append involves updating existing data or adding new information to your database to paint a more complete picture of your target audience’s interests and preferences. For example, you may choose to append wealth and philanthropic data, so you can invite qualifying supporters to an exclusive major donor event.

No matter which type of data you leverage, it has little value if you don’t keep it up to date. AccuData suggests implementing proper data hygiene practices to ensure that your data is accurate and useful. Data hygiene entails resolving any incomplete, incorrect or duplicate entries to make sure you’re basing your event decisions on updated information. You can start by auditing your database, identifying issues and creating a plan to resolve them.

No matter which type of data you leverage, it has little value if you don’t keep it up to date.

3. Analyze your data.

The next step in your data-driven event marketing approach is to analyze your data. Remember your goals as you complete the following steps.

  • Decide which information is needed. What supporter information do you need to accomplish your goals? This may be demographic data—such as age and location—or more behavior-oriented data—such as giving history or communication preferences. Survey your database to ensure you have this information; if not, consider a data append.
  • Segment your data. Once you determine which data points are important for your event, segment your data based on those characteristics. For example, if you’re looking to plan an event in the Atlanta area, create segments based on location and only reach out to those close by. You can also survey potential attendees’ willingness to travel and add another segment for people outside the area who would be interested in traveling to Atlanta.
  • Apply your data. Now, it’s time to put those segments into action. Continuing with our example, consider conducting a personalized email or direct mail campaign inviting supporters in the Atlanta area to attend your event or convincing those willing to travel that your event will be worth the trip.

To speed up the data analysis process, use tools such as artificial intelligence. AI is helpful when you have large amounts of data that need to be analyzed and segmented and leveraging this tool can allow you to focus on other aspects of the event planning process.

To further improve future event marketing campaigns, take a closer look at event attendees. What do they have in common? What do leads who didn’t follow through have in common?

4. Review campaign metrics.

After your event, look back at your marketing efforts and review the associated metrics. When you take the time to analyze this campaign data, you can improve your data marketing and event planning strategies in the future.

The following are some metrics you might track after an event.

  • Conversion rate. Your conversion rate would be the percentage of leads who took the action you encouraged. For example, if you’re trying to increase event attendance, your conversion rate would be the percentage of leads who attended your event.
  • Cost per acquisition. You should aim to spend the least amount of money possible to gain a new supporter or event attendee. Analyze your results to see which marketing methods produced the best results at the lowest cost.
  • Engagement rate. Let’s say you’re hosting a hybrid auction event. You may measure engagement by the number of bids placed. To further analyze those results, break down the number of bids placed by virtual and in-person attendees to see which event delivery method was more engaging. Then, you can work to make the lesser engaging platform better for your next event.

To further improve future event marketing campaigns, take a closer look at event attendees. What do they have in common? What do leads who didn’t follow through have in common?

Determining the characteristics that you may not have identified in prior analysis can help you find areas to focus on for your next event. For example, there may be a hidden segment of lost leads who aren’t interested in in-person events. As a result, you may consider adding a virtual option next time to effectively convert those leads to attendees.

5. Ask for event feedback.

In addition to campaign metrics, you can also get valuable insights about your event marketing by asking your attendees themselves. Consider sending out a survey after the event that asks attendees to do the following.

  • Rate different aspects of the event. These may include the venue, the date and time, the location or the event speakers and sessions. Include a rating scale from one to five, with one representing “very unsatisfied” and five representing “very satisfied.”
  • Note how they heard about the event. Ask attendees if they heard about your event through word of mouth or one of your marketing methods. For example, if 75% of people say they learned about your event from your email marketing campaign, then you’ll know to focus most of your attention on that tactic in the future. eCardWidget recommends sending online invitations for events because they allow you to add links to your event registration page, making it easy for people to sign up right away.
  • Indicate how they think future events could be improved. Implementing suggested improvements from event attendees themselves is an impactful way to ensure attendee retention. Asking for this feedback also shows that you care about your attendees’ opinions and want to provide them with the best possible event experience.

Remember to trust your intuition when soliciting and analyzing event attendee feedback. While most event hosts try to get as much quantitative data as possible for further analysis, it can be equally as helpful to gain qualitative feedback from attendees. Leave some open-ended questions so people can leave honest, detailed feedback for you to review and implement in the future.

These days, organizations use data to make more and more decisions. Take advantage of the data you have and collect the outstanding data you need to supercharge your event marketing strategy. Doing so will empower you to create events your supporters want to attend and ultimately help you gain more support for your cause.



Gabrielle Perham, MBA

Gabrielle is the director of marketing and sales operations for Deep Sync and its family of brands (Compact Information Systems, HomeData, AccuData Integrated Marketing, AlumniFinder, ASL Marketing, CollegeBound Selection Service and DeepSync Labs). She possesses more than 15 years of experience in strategic marketing, branding, communications and digital marketing.