Keep Calm & carry on emailing

As a data focussed company, getting to grips with GDPR is an imperative for Circdata. Having begun the lengthy process of conducting their own Data Impact Assessment under the terms of the Regulations, it has becoming increasingly clear what the implications for their clients are.

Another thing that has becoming increasingly clear is the number of misconceptions, and how, with such an enormous and broad piece of legislations, things can quickly get lost in translation.

It would be correct to say that the regulatory authorities and industry bodies are clearly focussed on the major players (or miscreants). A data breach by an internet provider, a financial institution or healthcare provider, or data misuse by a leading charity create unattractive headlines that only serve to bolster public mistrust of the direct marketing industry. Consequently these are the key industries which are currently being subjected to the most exacting of scrutiny.

Anyone involved in the B2B marketplace would be forgiven for self-interpreting the messages they are receiving as ‘business as usual’. But this is very far from the case because that advice is undoubtedly based on practices which aren’t currently being followed.

The events and publishing industry operates on a quid pro quo basis i.e. you give me your data and I’ll give you something in return, e.g. a free subscription to a magazine or entry to my exhibition. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. For the purposes of DPA, and now GDPR this would be considered to be a relationship operated under Legitimate Interests, i.e. there is a relevant and appropriate relationship between the individual and organisation.

Within the status of this relationship, an individual must reasonably expect that they will be sent further offers after they have signed up for a company’s product/service, even in the case of a paid for subscription. The individual must be told this, and given the option to ‘opt out’ at any point if they no longer wish their data to be processed in this way.

It isn’t all good news however. If you have been processing your data under Consent (i.e. you’ve been using lots of little tick boxes) then you are not permitted to claim processing under Legitimate Interests post implementation, so you still need to get your data in order before 25th May 2018 to continue using it. And, if you continue blasting your databases with masses of inane email messages then your opt-out/unsubscribe rates are going to rise – so it is time to reassess this strategy as well.

Meanwhile, remember that for most organisations, marketing permissions isn’t the thing you should be most worried about where GDPR is concerned. Your data security is. As one speaker at last week’s EventHuddle put it:

Remember that the minute you download an unsecured spreadsheet of Personal Data* onto an unsecured laptop you are in Breach

If you are still permitting data to migrate through your organisation via Excel, with no checks and balances on who can see it, then this statement should send shivers down your spine.

*Personal Data – any information that identifies an individual person.

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A question of timing

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Ever since the emphasis for event marketing switched to content generation, one of the biggest questions has been when to broadcast.

The same message sent out at 08:32, 11:45, 13:15 or 17:22 can have vastly different response rates so there is always that difficult decision as to which, if any or all, time to choose.  Does it matter when the original message is posted so long as any additional prompts hit home, or do we need to be careful that our tweets, emails and other electronic nudges aren’t so frequent that they turn potential audiences off?

At Who’s who in events we have been spending the last few months experimenting to work out when blog posts and email announcements get the best response.  Since we don’t do the latter more than once a week it is absolutely imperative that it arrives in the recipient’s inbox at exactly the right moment when they are likely to read it.

Another big challenge for events marketers is that because we essentially ignore our audiences for six months of the year or more, when we turn the promotional tap on it can feel like we are using a water cannon.  There is nowhere for the hapless audience to hide as we bombard them with advertising, tweets, emails, announcements on LinkedIn (or invitations to join our newly formed groups) and any other method we can think of.

Plus we often haven’t bothered to find out that much about our audience either.  Any research will consist of an exit survey conducted at last year’s event, so we really have no idea how things have changed, what new directions businesses are taking, if there have been legislative changes or simply what devices the potential audience is most likely to look for information on.

It would seem therefore that getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time is actually a game of chance – like bees pollinating flowers – if you spread enough around some of it will eventually stick.  But does it really have to be like that?

Taking a long-term approach to your event marketing will mean that you can identify the content which generates the greatest response as well as the time of day when it is likely to be read.  You will find advocates and champions, as well as connectors and influencers.  Rather like the divers in the picture, by constantly practising your marketing messaging, you will ensure that you hit the target in complete synchronisation.

The importance of data

470049-listslistvoterphotosxc-1353643038-653-640x480Despite the fact that a significant proportion of event marketing is now conducted via social media and other channels, the majority of the response generally comes from audiences that are already known to us.

Visitors and pre-registered non-attendees are the two most important sectors for any B2B conference, exhibition or meeting. From the moment they registered they were showing a firm commitment to attend, regardless or not of whether they actually made it to the venue.

How these individuals are managed post event can have a crucial effect on the success of a follow-up marketing campaign, whether this is for the next year’s event, a new launch project, an electronic newsletter or any other point of contact.

Here are five steps that every event marketing team should take to ensure that its most important data stays fit for purpose:

  1. Clean the data post event: check that capitalisation is correct, addresses are correctly formatted and in the right fields and that any missing information is researched and added.
  2. Make sure that you have just one version of a company name rather than lots of different abbreviations: this will enable you to create peer-to-peer marketing campaigns, or even spot an opportunity to host a lot of delegates from a single organisation.
  3. Ensure that the data has been deduped: it may look as if someone did not attend after registering, but it might just be that they forgot and did it again onsite.
  4. Make sure your data has been properly coded: if your next marketing campaign is to be personalised, it is imperative that you know what kind of visitor everyone is. Have a hierarchy so that you don’t refer to someone who has given up their time to be one of your speakers as a visitor.
  5. Don’t just leave your data as a dusty spreadsheet, waiting to come out again in a year’s time: every time a customer comes into contact with your organisation you should be building a picture of their activity.

There has been much talk about Big Data and how this can revolutionise customer contact but sophisticated marketing pathways can only be created if the originating data is looked after in the first place.

Is our love affair with technology destroying the visitor experience?

IMG_2921As event organisers, the advent of computer technology has transformed every area of our business.

It’s difficult to explain to anyone with less than ten years’ experience just how laborious the job of registering and managing visitors and delegates used to be. Telephones would ring off the hook as we tried to manage enquiries, bookings, cancellations and name changes.  Registrations came via post and fax and had to be entered into a database if you were lucky (though I do remember some organisations that used to keep carefully typed files) and managed on a day to day basis.  It was unusual if, by the end of your event, you couldn’t name at least 75% of your audience individually.

Websites, automated registration processes, apps, onsite wifi and linked communications make all of these processes obsolete.  And frankly good riddance. (Not least because any spelling mistakes on entry badges are the registrant’s own!) It is so much quicker to find and amend individual records, to send appropriate messaging and to link suppliers to relevant delegates. Exemplary customer service is so much easier when every bit of information is at your fingertips.

Like spectacles for the myopic, technology provides a clear and uninterrupted view.  So now we are on the lookout for other areas to fix. The only problem is that we aren’t researching first if this is what our audiences really want.

Sure, we need to ensure that we give potential visitors, particularly in the B2B exhibition and conference arenas, reasons to attend.  But broad brush, generalised emails and e-newsletters aren’t necessarily the best way to do this. Simply broadcasting constant bland content is unlikely to push visitor numbers up.  Clever use of database information and pre-defined customer journeys will generate far more response. Less is definitely more providing what you are serving is of the highest quality.

At the event itself, there is little point in creating online directories and apps if the visitor cannot find them on your website while standing in the foyer to the exhibit hall.  Or, for that matter, if it requires a registration to the venue wifi or the download of a piece of software incompatible with mobile devices.  By doing this you are already making key information inaccessible  to a proportion of your audience – and that is inexcusable.  Or, you could have the experience I had last week where I couldn’t download the exhibitor list for an event, so I was consulting one of only two you are here boards to try and find the exhibitors I wanted, but I was still thwarted because the stand numbers were printed so small and so high up that I couldn’t actually see them.  This lack of attention to detail is just plain shoddy.

Interruption by technology can be very positive, but why, when we have actually got the visitor in the room do we feel the need to nag them constantly. Some events are worse than going shopping with a toddler.  Every five minutes or less a text or email or notification pops through on a smart phone.  Each one taking the focus away from what you want your delegate to remember from the day. There was a reason why event organisers stopped excessive use of the tannoy system at events… and the same needs to be applied to delegate ‘engagement’ via electronic means… because after a while no one listens any more.

Technology has been revolutionary in event production, management, marketing and operational terms, but that doesn’t mean that it should be used any and everywhere it can be deployed.

 

Event marketing should not just be about ‘keeping the lights on’

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This week I have been thinking a lot about event marketing plans, not least because I am creating them for a couple of very different clients.  I’ve also been helping deliver a very complex report for a specialist IT consultancy, and this set me thinking about the processes we undertake when creating our promotional campaigns.

Within IT there is a clear differential between Keeping the Lights On processes, i.e. making sure that all of the technology works all the time, and those required to help a business change.  An IT team can be good at keeping things ticking along but not necessarily strong in terms of innovating or developing new systems.

A key reason for this is often that management isn’t communicating the vision for their business fully with the IT team, that the latter don’t have the requisite skills or seniority to suggest innovations, and/or the IT are not communicating their capabilities further up the food chain.  Within event businesses something similar often happens, where event directors set budgets or targets without consulting their marketing teams; marketing teams haven’t evolved to encompass new skills; or that innovations are only suggested after the available budgets have been announced.

These behaviours mean that the event promotional cycle gets locked into the short term view.  Instead of looking for new ways of attracting audiences, the marketing team continues to try and wring just a little bit more out of the same dry old sponge.  As discussed before in our post about ZBB, events do have a yearly opportunity to completely reassess their marketing activities so there is really no excuse for keeping on doing the same old things.

This doesn’t of course mean throwing the baby out with the bath water.  But clearer communication of the long-term business objectives rather than ‘make more money this year than last’ could result in a realignment of strategy, perhaps investing in different technologies or content specialists.  Where the goal is to inprove an event property’s investment/sales potential then this approach could prove both invaluable and financially rewarding.

Hellen @missioncontrol

Tips on Running a successful conference: Measurement of ROI on a conference

ROI on events is notoriously difficult to measure. Here are some pointers on how you can set the KPIs which will determine whether your event has been successful or not.

B2B Event Management

In this blog we will follow on from the previous tip where we looked at setting Objectives for ROI to review the measurement of ROI objectives, incorporating different  levels of ROI Methodology used to measure ROI of an event.

As mentioned in the previous tip on setting objectives for ROI which is another way of expressing the contribution to profit made by an event.  The profit is the net value created by the event minus the event costs.  ROI is the profit expressed as a percentage of the cost of the event.

Measuring Level 0, Target Audience

  • The target audience should be the right people attending the event.  They are the ones with the greatest learning and behaviour gap in the potential participants.
    • The target audience is therefore defined by a method of deduction from desired behaviour (level3) and required learning (level2)
    • Measuring that have the right target audience, the…

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