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Five Steps to a Valuable Post-Event Analysis

Killer Conference or DOA Event? Five Steps to a Valuable Post-Event Analysis

How and why your organization should start digging into conference attendee data, member participation, event marketing stats, website traffic/social media during the event, and of course—revenue.

Your team took care of every detail, the supplies and equipment are on their way back to headquarters, and your event guests have all gone home—it’s over, and it was a success! But can you be sure? Not without some sound post-event analysis. Here are a few ideas that can help.

  1. Promptly send all event attendees a satisfaction survey.Within two or three days, each attendee should receive a thank-you email that expresses your appreciation for their attendance and includes a link to an online survey that allows them to evaluate all aspects of the event—from the program and speakers to accommodations and other logistical details. This is also a great platform to seek input on speakers and locations for future events and to ask whether attendees would consider returning.To increase your response rate, consider offering a chance to win a gift card or other prize—incentives do improve response levels! 
  1. Continue to appreciate your sponsors. Attending to the interests of your sponsors is an ongoing activity that doesn’t end when you say goodbye onsite. You should also offer sponsors a chance to provide feedback and create an opportunity to renew their commitment to future events. This can be done through a survey, or even better, in person just before the event is over. You’ll want them to assess the sponsorship packages and incentives they received to determine whether they felt that they received value for their investment in the event.You may also discover you have underestimated the value of a sponsorship package and there is an opportunity to increase the fee. 
  1. Analyze the attendees who participated. After you determine how well you met your overall attendance goal, you should determine whether the right mix of people attended. Your event plan should have identified target audiences early on—for example, do you want to attract engineers, marketing people, executives, or a combination? Other factors to consider: years of professional experience, geographic location, and interests and informational needs of the attendees. Having this data allows you to review whether the agenda, program and marketing activities were appropriate. Now that you have attendance records, you can see whether you attracted the right people. If not, you’ll need to review your marketing efforts to determine your disconnect.Next, take a look at the ratio between member and non-member attendees. Even if it’s billed as a membership event, an interesting program will have at least a few “tire-kickers” who are checking out your association. If no outsiders came, perhaps you should investigate different ways to market to your prospective members, as well as different content for your agenda. Also, have a look at the member attendees themselves. Are they a healthy mix of new and old, just the old-timers, or just newbies? If experienced members aren’t coming from year to year, that may say bad things about how they perceive the value of your event.
  1. Review the numbers. Of course, you had a budget and you managed to it. Now that the event is over, however, you can analyze exactly how it all was spent, and whether there were any unexpected outlays. For example, how about no-shows? Your catering order included their food and beverages, but did your cancellation fee structure ensure that you wouldn’t lose money if people didn’t come?Tracking and comparing sponsorship revenue against the budget and past events is another important post-event activity that will influence the financial success of future events. 
  1. Assess the effectiveness of your marketing. It’s imperative that you track what channels are most effective for capturing the attention of your target audiences. Make sure you ask this question on the registration form and in the post-event survey.Maybe everything looks good so far, and the audience makeup and numbers track to your goals, but you’re not home free. You need to find out how engaged your attendees were. How many hits did the event website get during the event? Check out attendees’ use of social media during the event. Did they tweet about the conference, and re-tweet others’ comments? If your content wasn’t interesting enough for them to bother sharing it, they may not be back.Also review your branding efforts and how well the event’s visual identity worked in the promotional materials and on-site program as well as how it was incorporated into the décor and signage. Don’t underestimate the importance of creative branding in creating the total attendee experience.

With all this data, it’s time for the event team and senior management to determine how well the event performed against expectations and identify areas for improvement in the future. You should set aside at least one hour (perhaps more) to do a proper review and begin the next planning cycle.

Hopefully you’ll determine that you have a strong foundation to build on and the fundamentals are firmly set. That will allow you to focus on bringing more creativity to the program and social elements of the event. That’s what will distinguish your event and bring people back next year!

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