Using Data to Plan Better Events on Campus

Events are a crucial part of a college’s marketing strategy–they can help reach prospective students and increase brand awareness. Unfortunately, not all decision makers see the value of events and want proof of ROI. When it comes to college event marketing, data is critical to proving ROI and justifying expenses. And although data has been the buzz term of the decade, 47 percent of marketers don’t know how to use it effectively, according to a recent survey by Winterberry Group. Luckily, there are simple ways you can use data to plan better–and more profitable – events on campus:

  1. Leverage attendee geographic data

Attendee geography is beneficial in more ways than one. Even if you’re planning events on campus, geographic data allows you to see where prospective students are coming from and how far they’re willing to travel to attend the event. You can also use geographic data to plan recruiting events off campus in other regions. For example, if a majority of your prospective students drive two-plus hours to attend an on-campus event, you know you have ample demand waiting to be filled. This data enables you to choose your next location strategically.

  1. Tap into social media listening

Always have a social media team dedicated to monitoring and collecting mentions, hashtags, and keywords for the lifecycle of all your events. Social listening tools like TweetDeck and Mention allow you to keep track of all the conversations about your event so you can respond to questions, compliments, and complaints. And when your event ends, make sure to look at social media data to see what posts did well and which ones need improvement. Use this information from the analysis to inform and plan better events in the future.

  1. Look at the marketing channels

Do you know which channels convert your audience into event attendees? Don’t spend time and money on tactics that don’t get students in the door. For example, if LinkedIn ads aren’t driving traffic to the event, focus your money elsewhere. Your goal is to leverage data to get more attendees or the same amount of attendees at a lower cost by allocating fewer hours of employee time and spending less money on unnecessary resources.

  1. Use gamification to learn more about attendees

In simplest terms, gamification incorporates fun and competition into a marketing strategy. While this isn’t exactly a metric, gamification does give you a better look at your event attendees and their event experience. Apps like Scavify or MapDash allow you to gather data via scavenger hunt. As students accomplish different tasks, you gain a clearer picture of what’s working, what’s not, and what’s of most interest to attendees. If you see that students are all flocking to one assignment, such as a workshop or guest speaker on campus, you can pinpoint what subjects or speakers spark their interest, and use that information to amplify current and upcoming events.

  1. Collect post-event data

Once your event has ended, it’s important to collect post-event data through surveys. This information–combined with other metrics–provides a comprehensive overview of your event, allowing you to assess its strengths and weaknesses. For example, if students comment that sessions were too long or that they wanted more time to socialize, you should keep shorter sessions and more networking opportunities in mind when planning similar future events.

Data is essential when determining your event’s ROI,but it also gives you a greater understanding of your audience as a whole, which allows you to develop more relevant offerings! After collecting your data, it is important for you to interpret those data into information that can be easily understood by everyone. You might therefore, want to check out some Business Intelligence tools, like Microsoft Power BI, that will help you convert raw data into readable material.

Keep this information in mind when you’re planning your next campus event. Not only will you give your students want they want, but you’ll also see registrations soar.

By Krystal Putman-Garcia

Krystal Putman-Garcia is Vice President of Marketing for Localist, an event marketing technology company that offers interactive calendars that help companies publish, manage and promote events. She is responsible for Localist’s marketing and partnership efforts, to ultimately help businesses make the most out of their events.