Translating post-event insight into strategic marketing19-Dec-2019
*This article assumes that you already conduct a basic customer satisfaction survey after your event.*
What do you know about the people who attended your trade show this year? You probably know their job title and company, or age and state – but do you know enough about them to predict how much it will cost you to get them to come back next year?
There are a number of tried and tested customer loyalty models that you can easily apply to your attendees to help you predict (and impact on) how they will behave towards your show in future. It can also give you a rather eye-opening insight into how much it might cost you to persuade them to return to your event next year.
Who are your hostages and apostles?
In two short questions this model will measure overall satisfaction and loyalty (intention to return) amongst your attendees.
This model can be applied using two simple questions in your post-event survey, which attendees rate on a five point scale:
- How satisfied were you with [name of your show] overall?
- How likely are you to return to [name of your show]?
When these two metrics are plotted for each delegate they can be compared against four quadrants that represent a particular group of attitudes and behaviours: the classic Loyalty vs Satisfaction Matrix.
What does each section mean?
Your most positive and vocal group are your Apostles. These attendees have scored their satisfaction highly and feel they are very likely to return to your event. They are both satisfied and loyal.
Hostages are also very likely to return – but don’t think this is because they like you! They are much less satisfied with your event, but they don’t think they have any better alternatives available.
Mercenaries are an interesting group. Whilst they are satisfied with your event, they are not loyal and just as likely to be sat at someone else’s event come next year. They are transient and may have low loyalty to the sector they currently work in, or events as a whole.
Your least positive group are the Disaffected. These delegates were not satisfied with your event and guess what – they are not planning to return.
How does this impact on the behaviour of other potential delegates?
There are big differences in the advocacy levels of each of these groups, that is to say, how likely they are to recommend your event to a friend or a colleague. This can be represented by a Net Promoter Score or NPS; a widely recognised measure of customer advocacy. NPS ranges from +100 (very very good) to -100 (very very bad).
Attendees who fall into the Apostle group typically have very high NPS scores around the +44 mark, as the name Apostles suggests, they are very likely to promote and recommend your event to everyone in their networks.
Hostages and Mercenaries don’t look so good, with their NPS scores falling around -44 or -45. At best they won’t talk about your event to anyone at all, at worst they won’t be very pleasant about it if asked.
But those down in the Disaffected camp are your worst nightmares. With typical NPS scores of -99 this group are just as passionate as your Apostles – but this time they are passionately spreading the word NOT to attend.
If you have plenty of Apostles, you can sit back and relax right?
Unfortunately not. All other things being equal, your attendees will tend to drift from the Apostle category to either the Hostage or even the Disaffected category. If you continue to provide the same offering that satisfied them when they first started attending, they will gradually become less satisfied each year. This highlights the importance of continually evolving your content and your marketing message for your returning attendees.
This is important knowledge when considering spend on areas of the show that impact delegate experience such as top-notch speakers. Smart investment here can reap the benefits in your marketing spend.
How does this impact your marketing budget?
Where your attendees fall on the Loyalty vs Satisfaction Matrix is a strong indicator of how much it will cost to get not just them, but also plenty of other attendees to turn up next year.
Living up to their name, Apostles with their high NPS, will require little spend on your part to get them to return to your event next year (perhaps a tweet or email when registration is live will be all it takes) but more importantly, they will actually save you money by doing the hard work of convincing others to attend through their teams and networks. They represent a net saving for your marketing budget and healthy growth for your attendance figures. The more Apostles you have amongst your attendee population, the further you can expect your marketing budget to go.
They are also a forgiving bunch – they are less sensitive to price increases and venue changes than the rest of your delegates and more open to upselling and cross-selling. They are more likely to support your sponsored activity and engage with hosted programmes effectively.
Down at the other end of the scale, your Disaffected are quickly slipping towards being non-attendees. It will take considerable effort and marketing spend to get them back next year. More damaging in the meantime is that they are pulling other potential attendees down with them by actively disparaging your event. Their cost to you as a marketer is significant.
They will require a compelling marketing message that you still love them and you have changed, backed up by enough spend that they definitely hear it.
Hostages and Mercenaries present their own particular challenges. Whilst it might not be too difficult to get them to register they will need plenty of quality contact to get them through the door. Mercenaries are not loyal to your event and in many cases not loyal to the whole idea of events – they will easily be put off by any perceived barriers to attending so you will need to make their lives as easy as possible.
You still have a chance with your Hostages
Hostages feel attending an event in your sector is very important, but they are only coming to you because they believe there is nothing better out there for them. Should a rival event appear in your space, you will have to fight to hold on to this group of delegates. But if you put the time in to find out more about your hostages and manage to develop the event to meet their needs, they have the potential to become your most active Apostles – remember they strongly believe in the concept of events.
Translating insight into marketing strategy
This is the moment you will be truly thankful if you have made a habit of conducting a robust attendee survey after your show each year. You have already collected a wealth of information that will help you to create a content and marketing strategy that will keep your visitors coming back for more.
If you don’t have a process in place to collect feedback, it’s never too late to start!
When you are analysing your post-event feedback, try segmenting your data by where the responder falls on the Loyalty vs Satisfaction Matrix. This can often reveal what are the most common pain and pleasure points for each group. It can also reveal what their objectives were for attending your event and how well you met them. A perfect blueprint for improving their experience next time.
Look for similarities within each group - for example seniority or sector that will help you understand where you might not be serving the needs of a segment of your audience.
Focus on the opinions of your Hostages – they are loyal to your event and desperate for you to make them happy. Tailoring your offering to their needs gives you an opportunity to secure a sustainable pool of repeat attendees.
Disregard the preferences of your Mercenaries - If you need to prioritise your spend, disregard the preferences of your Mercenaries, even if you completely met their needs they are still not guaranteed to turn up to your next event.
Apostles need very little investment - You also have some leeway with your Apostles. You’ve already done the hard work with these delegates by creating an event that they value, you just need to let them know that there is plenty more waiting for them. It is also rare for Apostles to become non-attendees within a single cycle – if you have tough choices to make with your promotional budget you could access this group with very limited investment.
Protect your marketing budget - Share your Hostages and Apostles insight in your marketing plan and budget setting meetings. They are a powerful tool for negotiating increased marketing investment, or protecting your existing budget.
Your event marketing budget wrapped
Growing numbers of Apostles = You should be able to gain a larger number of delegates for the same budget next year, or the same number of delegates for a reduced budget.
Growing numbers of Disaffected = You should expect that a flat marketing budget will only deliver a smaller number of delegates next year.
Can you afford not to know who is who?
If you would like any support in understanding the data you collect on your delegates, or improving your insight into your attendees, please feel free to get in touch with the team at Explori.