#EventTechQuestionTime Wrap Up: Your Data Questions Answered!

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The pot plants are back!

Missed the latest edition of event tech question time on event industry data? Didn’t get your data questions in on time to be answered by our expert Noodlers? Never mind, because we’ve only gone and added the highlights to a blog along with an actual video recording of the live chat. I know – we’re ace aren’t we?

In April, Team Noodle released the first ever Noodle eBook, The Complete Guide to Data for #EventProfs! It covers everything from data metrics, how to gather great data, how to get delegates on board and an overview of GDPR. And as if that wasn’t enough, we thought, hey, we love talking about data, so let’s host an awesome live webinar on the topic too! Thanks to the magic of event tech solution Glisser, Team Noodle went live online on May 2nd.

Take a look at the live video recording below:

Why is Data so Important?

“Data gives us a tangible way to measure the effectiveness of live events as part of the marketing mix. We all know the power of face to face events, data just gives us a way to substantiate this. Data is essential across other marketing channels. Channels such as search and email marketing use data like audience profile and behaviour to add value and demonstrate the effectiveness of those services. In the same way, gathering data at events can help you to understand delegate behaviour such as event attendance, session popularity, networking uptake etc. It helps organisers understand and improve the delegate experience, as well as ultimately providing a better return on investment for other stakeholders in the event.” Adam

“One of the main drivers for starting Noodle was that I had a background in online marketing. I was used to using Google Analytics to demonstrate the effectiveness of everything I did and really demonstrate the ROI of what I was doing. As I was working with an increasing number of multi-agency teams I could clearly see the value that events were offering, but I couldn’t see a way for that to be backed up with stats. What I really like about event data is that not only can it demonstrate effectiveness, but it can also improve the delegate experience as well. I don’t think anyone has ever logged onto their email marketing stats and thought, wow, this is so much fun. In other marketing channels data is functional, but with event tech it can also add to the experience of being at that event.” Clemi

“We are living in an increasingly data-driven world, the web offers a wealth of personalised experiences from Netflix film recommendations or Spotify music recommendations. For me, there is a possibility for more personalised event experiences if the data is used well. I am quite excited to see where the industry goes.” Kiarash

“Yes, if we can bring the level of personalisation we see on the web over to events then the possibilities are endless. I am definately starting to see that being more included in the briefs we are using.” Clemi

Need more info? Check out pages 5-10 of the event industry data ebook, or take a look at our guide to how much data to gather at your next event.

What Metrics Should I be Tracking at My Event?

“We get asked this a lot. The first thing is that it depends on the aims and objectives of your event. There are loads of metrics that can be tracked via the effective use of event technology and the best way of answering it is to give you a quick outline of the standard event journey. First of all you have event check-in. That can measure the arrival numbers, initial queiries and length of stay. Then you have session check-in (swiping in and out of sessions), so you can track the average number of sessions attended on the day, monitor room capacity and content popularity. Delegate interactions can be measured using event apps can measure session engagement via live Q&A and polling, networking interactions via instant messaging and meeting making as well as overall delegate journey. You can also measure partner interactions which can tell you about number of leads generated, the most popular stand positions and popular exhibitors or sponsors. Once you’ve identified the metrics you want to capture you can move on to selecting the most apropriate event tech to achieve that.” Hannah

“I always recommend asking for a sample report from an event tech provider during the procurement stages. This is a very simple request and it ensures that you are able to gather the metrics you need to report on your event. The last thing you want is to implement technology at your event and then find out that actually, the tech you used wasn’s able to track that data.” Kiarash

“I always like to work with our clients to map out what their perfect report will look like post-event and then map out the perfect mix of tech to achieve this. It is really looking at the desired outcome first and foremost and then reverse engineering from there. We need to look at the appropriate inputs to make sure that everything we input along the way is going to lead to the right outputs at the end.” Adam

“It’s a really smart idea. Everyone is aware of what the goal posts are and then your event tech provider can work their tech knowledge to help you get there.” Clemi

Need more info? Check out pages 11-12 and 14 of the event industry data ebook, or take a look at our blog on key event data metrics.

What is an API Integration and Do I Need One?

“API stands for application programming interface. Essentially it allows two platforms to transfer data between themselves. A good example would be sharing a registration list between pre-registration software and an event app. Whether you need one depends on your event. In an ideal world, everyone would be integrated by an API because it does offer the most seamless data transfer, but they can be quite costly and they can require significant time in testing. You really do need to look at your event and see if there is a way to achieve the transfer via a more simple CSV upload. If the data set is not likely to change much, so for example, you have pre-registration and it closes at 10 pm on a Wednesday (and you are not allowing any signups after that time) then you can probably opt for a much more cost-effective CSV.” Kiarash

“I always think of trade shows as a good case study. With trade shows an API integration definitely makes sense. That is where we do the most API integration. Very rarely does registration close for a trade show. I’m always the person who is getting off the train at Olympia and registering as I walk through the door. My expectation is that I can still walk up 2 minutes later and get my name badge and then a few minutes later download the event app and start booking into sessions. For that experience to be possible there needs to be an API integration between the pre-registration system, the on-site registration system, the event app and the room capacity monitoring system. This is where an API integration makes sense. They are costly even if they are out of the box. To make them work you do need to do a significant amount of testing because you really want that interaction to be smooth.” Clemi

“At the other end of the spectrum, we get a lot of requests for smaller scale events with less than 100 people. The other day we had a small, invitation-only event that as RSVP only. In that case, there are not going to be big changes in the dataset. They are only going to be using event technology at the registration desk. In that case, extracting the data and using a CSV format is absolutely fine. I don’t think there is any real need for API integration from a cost and time implication perspective. We usually work with clients on a case by case basis and work out what is best for each individual circumstance.” Adam

“We ran through a lot of this with the events team when we were creating the eBook and they gave us their take, you can see what they had to say in the Noodle Live ebook.” Clemi

Need more info? Check out pages 20-22 of the event industry data ebook.

How do I Ensure Data Accuracy at My Events?

“We talk about this a lot with our clients. We do need to accept that nobody likes to feel that they are being tracked and not getting anything in return. We call this data currency. Think about the tools you use in your personal time, such as Facebook and Instagram. We are aware that these companies are using our data to generate revenue via advertising, but most of us are happy to hand the data over to them because we are getting something back – we are able to use their services for free. It’s the same at events. If you are creating attractive data points for your delegates you will incentivise them to follow the desired pattern of behaviour. For example, if you want people to swipe in and out of sessions to measure data about attendance etc, then incentivise them by allowing them to collect documentation from that particular session. That can be sent directly to their inbox. It is going to be interesting to see how GDPR and recent Facebook scandals influence the way people feel about handing over their data.” Hannah

“GDPR is a very hot topic at the moment. Everyone seems to be talking about data at the moment. When it comes to event technology, most of the time with event technology, you have got a human being operating it. Let me use the example of RFID scanners to scan people into sessions. Sometimes on the delegate side people just manage to slip through the net, especially if they are not being offered anything in return. Some of them may not want to be tracked, some of them seem to view it is a big game and there might be an error from the person scanning the badge. There is no need to lose confidence in your event tech here. Human error should fall between the 1-5% mark and that is what you should expect. I don’t think we have ever seen a data set without at least one instance of human error. There are some things you can do to mitigate this. We like to do really good briefings with our registration, session scanning staff and exhibitors to say – these are the common things that could cause inaccuracies in the data so watch out for them. If you’re using a self-serve solution, that is one thing to run through with your supplier. Find out what could potentially cause inaccuracies in those data sets.” Clemi

“You also need to ensure that you are working with a large enough data set. We recommend 30-35% of your delegates in order to draw any meaningful conclusions.” Kiarash

“If 2 people have used your event app I don’t think you can say that this is representative of your entire event. I think as part of your marketing you need to demonstrate to your delegates that it does add value and there is value there for them rather than just being tracked.” Clemi

Need more info? Check out pages 15-19 of the event industry data ebook, or check out this EventLab article from our founder, Clemi Hardie on data currency.

What is GDPR in a Nutshell?

“Everyone will be familiar with the new data protection legislation that is coming into play at the end of May. It governs the way we manage personal data – which is defined as any information that can be used to identify an individual. That comes with 4 key areas: data permissions. This means using clear and transparent language to request data at the point of capture and then providing mechanisms to allow individuals to request a copy of their data and also the right to request removal of that data as well. This is really part of the pre-registration process. When you are initially capturing data at the first point of contact, you need to make sure that they can request that data back themselves and that this is very clear up front.

The second point is data access. This means that at the point of capture, organisations must outline who will have access to personal data, especially if it’s being passed on to third parties. Again this is very important at pre-registration. At events you need to think about other stakeholders that are involved, such as exhibitors, sponsors etc. This is really just about being really clear and transparent and outlining who will have access to that data when people are registering.

Thirdly, you need to think about data storage. Personal data needs to be encrypted when stored and you can only store what is necessary for “completion of duties”. An example of this is storing particular personal data from an event, thing such as session data, you need to track who is coming and going from sessions to make sure you are adhering to fire regulations or health and safety regulations.

Finally, you also need to think about data transfer. Personal data needs to be encrypted when it is transferred and you must have clear documentation around where you are transferring or processing that data. We’ve already touched on this today when we talked about secure data uploads. There needs to be robust process in place whenever transferring anything that could identify an individual. Most importantly, any breaches of the new legislation must be reported to the ICO within 72 hours of occurring.” Adam

“There have been a lot of conversations around making sure you are becoming GDPR compliant. That is something to be cautious of because this is new legislation. There isn’t a precedent there. They have laid out guidelines on how to adhere to the legislation. We’ve been working on this for around 12 months now and working on having a GDPR defensible position. We have been looking at what the legislation is trying to achieve, which seems to be greater access for consumers to the data that is held about them. It is about giving the consumer more control. It’s also been good for our own internal processes and looking at how we are using people’s data and whether it is actually strictly necessary. There has to be a balance. It will be interesting to see the precedent that gets set. Some people are predicting that this will be very stringently enforced but some people have suggested that it could be similar to the cookies button on the website which caused a lot of controversy but was then easily implemented and didn’t cause too much confusion. Let’s see what happens at the end of May.” Clemi

“For me it is really important that we are having these conversations with clients upfront and being really transparent about the process from the first point of contact. It impacts our clients as the data controller and us as the data processor. Having an early conversation creates better relationships from that first engagement.” Hannah

Need more info? Check out pages 23-26 of the event industry data ebook, or take a look at our quick guide to GDPR made simple.

How Will GPDR Effect the Way We Run Events?

“We have been working with onsite registration and RFID smart badges and event apps (which collect quite a lot of data) to look at our own compliance. For us, the most important point was ensuring that where possible, ensuring that data permissions are captured at pre-registration. It is much easier to gain all the permissions you need as a condition of entry to the event rather than having to request opt in at a later stage of the delegate journey. We are requesting that our clients identify us as the data processor, outline the nature of how our tech is used (eg we are going to be scanning people into sessions for health and safety purposes) and linking into our privacy policy. That is mainly RFID smart badges. For the event app, it is slightly easier, it is just part of the user journey because it is a little bit more linear. For badges, it wouldn’t make sense to run through that individually with each person who arrived. If you have an event with 30,000 people, that’s not going to work. Our events team came up with a really smart idea which was putting a QR code on the back of the badges where people can link to a copy of our privacy policy and also get the link they need to request a copy of their data and the link they need to request removal. That clearly demonstrates that we are aware of GDPR, we are being very clear about this and we are giving the information that people need to make an informed decision.

Another really important one is briefing your staff. The power of all of the humans at your event knowing what the GDPR position is great. It is much easier and much less scary to ask someone why they are being scanned. If that person can then tell you, ‘yes, we’ve got to do it for health and safety, you will be sent relevant content after this session, it was in the terms and conditions you signed up for and feel free to chat to my supervisor if you want any more information at all,’ it all feels much more friendly and approachable. We are talking to our clients about this a lot. Ultimately it is all about delegate experience and we can’t forget that.

In terms of the delegate data that is being provided to us, we have actually developed a secure upload form so that we don’t have any spreadsheets coming across via email. Even if that data is encrypted and a password is provided by another channel, that can work but we like the clean process of the upload system. We are also asking our clients to identify where that data comes from. We encourage them to have a clear audit trail. It might be pre-registration and that is fine but if we get a query about why that data is in our database, we have a clear paper trail to show how that happened. Of course, we’ve also got some fairly heavy paperwork around it all. We’ve been supported by a team of solicitors through this process. It is really important that you sense check your own process and look at your own internal processes.” Clemi

“It is very important that you work very closely with your event tech partners. They will be able to ensure that you are maintaining a great delegate journey that provides the path of least resistance and is actually enhancing the experience rather than providing a barrier to it. I think it is understanding the best ways to navigate this without impacting the delegate experience. Technology is actually a great way to empower your delegates and put them in control of their data and who they pass it on to. With RFID badging for example, it is a very distinctive action when you swipe your name badge. That gives the control to the delegate to choose when they share their data.” Adam

Need more info? Check out pages 27-35 of the event industry data ebook, or learn more about how Noodle Live addressed GDPR.

What does GDPR stand for?

“Simple one – general data protection regulations.” Clemi

How Can I Choose the Right Tech to Help Me Gather Data?

“When you are speaking to an event tech supplier, start by talking through your objectives for the event and what you are hoping to achieve. From there, they will be able to suggest the best technology to help you achieve these goals.” Hannah

“For event apps, you can capture data that is as granular or as a top line as you want it to be. Again, it goes back to understanding what you want from that event. Generally, the requests that we get the most are first name, last name, email, job title, company, location etc. It really depends on what you are trying to capture for the overall event experience. That could be what the stakeholders are looking for, or for the networking opportunities and follow up that you want to do. Event apps are slightly more general in that way really.” Adam

“In terms of the event data from event apps you are able to see who is planning to go to what sessions, you can do Q&A and live polling, what questions people are asking. You can send out surveys through the app, ask the questions that you want answers too. You can track the interactivity and see who has specific interests. I think people underestimate how much useful data you can get from event apps. With swipe points you can also see who is collecting what type of documentation and you are able to see who is interested in what so you can do personal follow ups. Real-time surveys are also a good data point with the swipe points.” Hannah

“Being able to see when the guests are arriving, being able to have room capacity for each session, or see how many people have checked in for the breakout sessions at each event and being able to have another scanning point as people leave, that gives great data about when people started leaving and what was happening at that moment. All this can help you to improve the event for the future.” Kiarash

If You Link to Policies on the Back of Your Badge, How Does That Square with Policies for Explicit Consent?

“The ideal is that the explicit consent has been gained at the point of pre-registration. You need to consult with your legal team to ensure that those terms and conditions do gain that explicit consent. Even if that data is gathered they can always request that it is removed. In terms of the terms and conditions, if they haven’t accepted that then we would have a senior member of staff at the registration desk explaining the policy to them. It needs to be explained very clearly but we can’t do that with every single delegate that arrives to a multi-thousand event so it is preferable to get that explicit consent pre-registration. Having the links on the badge is just a reminder.” Clemi

Are There Other Ways to Make Data Points More Attractive to Delegates?

“There are lots of different ways to make the touch points more attractive. Work closely with your tech provider because they will have plenty of experienc with this. First and foremost, make the points transparent and easy to use. Swiping is a very easy action, it is hassle free for the delegate. Also, as we touched on earlier, incentivise people. Offer something in return. You can also offer drinks vouchers or exclusive offers via the data points. You can also create personalised messages when people swipe to make it more appealing and interactive. When people swipe and see a personal message they tend to be more inclined to keep interacting throughout the day.” Hannah

“If we have an event check-in point followed by a cloakroom where you can just tap your badge to check your coat rather than worrying about paper tickets, we have found that those are two valuable data touch points for the organiser (they give loads of great information about the length of stay and numbers of people in the venue) but that they also create a really nice delegate experience which then prompts higher use of the tech around the rest of the event.” Clemi

“It is a quid pro quo experience. I always tell the client to put themselves in the delegate shoes. If there is nothing in it for me, then why am I swiping?” Adam

“I also tell clients to try to give the delegate an overview of what the badge is and what they can get when they use it at the point of hand over. The support is key. If people can be sold the idea of swiping in terms of what they can get from it, we find the uptake us much higher.” Hannah

“I’ve seen with event apps that you can tell people that they simply put their details in, they get reminders for sessions and for lunch and they can interact with speakers etc. That makes people much more enthusiastic. The hardest part is getting people to engage, but if enough effort has been put into creating a smooth experience then people are likely to engage.” Clemi

Are Email Attachments Safe for Transferring Data?

“An unencrypted spreadsheet is not safe to send out over email. We need to establish rules around the safe handling of data. This is just part of the due diligence that needs to be done. Emailing spreadsheets across is probably going to be the biggest habit that will be hard for people to break because that is how we have done it for years. But I can also see that it is not secure and it needs to be changed. That is going to be mutual learning for everyone.” Clemi

“That is part of the due diligence that is done when choosing an event tech supplier. It is building a relationship with them to understand what mechanisms they have in place to ensure they are adhering to the legislation. You need your own policies too, but your event tech supplier should be able to give you some workflows.” Adam

How Does GDPR Change When it is B2B Rather Than Personal Information?

“It is any personal data. There was a slight grey area with the 1998 legislation. With GDPR be on the side of caution and think that anything that can be used to identify another person is personal information. That could even be an IP address. Anything that can track someone down. If it can be used to identify someone then it falls under GDPR. Talk to your event tech supplier as soon as you can and don’t leave it to the day before.” Clemi

We Don’t Have a Huge Amount of Tech Expertise on Our Team. Will Using Event Tech Work for Us?

“Your tech provider should ensure that the tech is simple and easy to use and friendly to the organiser. For those initial events, if you don’t have as much expertise in your team then get some on-site support. Once you have delivered a couple of events and you have seen how it works then you can decrease the on-site support. Ask loads of questions and ask for some training to get a basic understanding. We see a lot of clients in this position and it is not long before they are able to take the tech and use it themselves.” Hannah

“Lots of event tech providers offer support services. Talk this through with them and ensure that if you feel you want support, they are there to provide it. If you want them to be hands-off, they can also do that. Find the working solution that is best for you.” Adam

Still got questions about event industry data? Why not give us a call? We love talking about data and our panel of experts are on hand to give you some tips and pointers at every step of the journey. You can catch us on 0203 633 4032 or you can book a free event tech demo to check out the ways our tech can help you capture great event data. 

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