On your post-event survey, are you asking attendees if this is their first time attending your event?

Anecdotally, I can tell you that 70-80% of event organizers we speak with ask their attendees this question. And it makes sense:
the keys to growing your event are based on your ability to attract new attendees while retaining your current customer base.

If an attendee doesn’t return to the event the following year, or ever, is it really a lost opportunity?

Did they have a poor onsite experience? 

or

Did they leave their company—maybe the industry all-together?  

There are numerous reasons why we are unable to understand why an attendee does not return, since these event “abandoners” are the most difficult group to contact and survey. Individuals can be a challenge to track, but your company-level registration data can tell more of the story.

Companies tend to be more stable and remain in the same industries longer than individuals. By tracking a company’s participation at your event over the last 4-5 years, we can identify organizational or company loyalty. This helps you understand how well your events are retaining, attracting, and growing participation at a higher level than just tracking individuals.

Here are 4 impact areas you can explore once you’ve determined company-level loyalty at your events:

  1. Trends around companies making the event investment decision at the corporate level and not the individual level. This is one of the post-recession outcomes that has changed the shape of attendee marketing the most.
  2. New company participation – A fantastic metric for measuring your event brand’s pull in the marketplace and industry you serve.
  3. Company loyalty benchmarks – This will allow you to group companies according to most and least loyal and craft targeted marketing messages.
  4. Most Valuable Company Program – You can recognize and reward the companies that invest the most money, and send the most attendees – this is the “heart” of your event.

One note of caution: registration data is typically human generated, so you can expect to see mismatched company names, subsidiaries, departments at universities, and all kinds of other weird things. Don’t panic. This is easily solved by harmonizing the company names and creating a company name dictionary. A company name dictionary allows you to take these “dirty” company values and standardize them into consolidated and usable values.

You can standardize the names given to companies (for example, “Bear Analytics” vs “Bear Analytics, Inc”), and the values each represent. By standardizing the spelling variants of company names in different registration records you can determine which name should be displayed and used for company level stats. More on this in a future blog post!

Time and time again, we found when events retain current participating companies/organizations and attract new organizational participation, they increase registration revenue and are in a stronger position to price and sell sponsorships. So don’t wait – the data is in your hands and you can start to make an impact with it today.

Joe Colangelo