Are you asking attendees if this is their first time attending your event?
At Bear Analytics, we estimate that 70-80% of event organizers ask their attendees this question on their post-event surveys. It makes sense, and the math is simple:
Retain Current Attendees + Attract New Attendees = Event Growth
In the real world of events and shifting industries and careers, we have to take a deeper look. If an attendee doesn’t return to the event the following year, or ever, is it really a lost opportunity? Maybe they did have a poor onsite experience, or maybe they left their company, or left the industry altogether.
There are numerous reasons why an attendee may not return to an event. The real problem is our inability to understand why they never returned, especially since these event “abandoners” are the most difficult group to contact and survey. Individuals can be a challenge to track. To overcome this challenge, you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture by focusing on your company-level registration data.
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 4-5 years, we can identify organizational or company loyalty. This provides a much more accurate barometer for how well your events attract and retain attendees, and grow over the long term.
Here are 4 impact areas where you can operationalize your events’ company-level loyalty:
1. Event planning based on corporate and industry-level investment trends, rather than the level of the individual – In the years since the last recession, this has changed the shape of attendee marketing the most.
2. New company participation – A fantastic metric for measuring your event’s and organization’s pull in the marketplace and industry you serve.
3. Company loyalty benchmarks – Group companies according to most and least loyal to your event, and craft targeted marketing messages for each level.
4. Most Valuable Company Program – Recognize and reward the companies that invest the most money and send the most attendees to your event. These are the heart of your event.
There’s incredible value in each of these areas, but how do you get there? One note of caution: registration data is typically human generated. You can expect to see mismatched or misspelled company names, subsidiaries, departments at universities, and all manner weird things. Don’t panic.
This problem is easily solved by harmonizing company names and creating a company name dictionary as a point of reference. A company name dictionary allows you to take these “dirty” company values and standardize them into consolidated and usable data points. You can standardize the names given to companies (e.g. “Bear Analytics” and “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 statistics.
Time and time again, we found that when events retain past and attract new companies and organizations, registration revenue also increases, and events are in a stronger position to price and sell sponsorships. So the new equation looks like this:
Retain Current Organizations + Attract New Organizations = Long-Term Event Growth
So don’t wait – the data you need is in your hands, start using it to grow your event.