You can boost conference attendance by using data to analyze the characteristics of your core attendees. Today, organizations have found a way to measure nearly everything. If your organization sponsors trade shows or large events, the fountain of information generated by attendees can serve as a lead generation goldmine. Data, as it turns out, is a boon for marketers. It helps them to understand the best ways to connect with the latest up-and-coming event attendees and its buyers. The Numbers Behind the People Acting solely on instinct, former JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson executed a radical transformation that completely changed the look and feel of the company’s retail stores. He also replaced JCPenney brand clothing was designer brands. Unfortunately, those brands were too expensive for JCPenney’s core consumer base. Also, Johnson replaced continual coupon and markdown marketing with “everyday low prices.” Within months after Johnston’s arrival, JCPenney’s sales bottomed out. Unfortunately, Johnson never took the time to understand JCPenney’s ideal consumer. The lack of understanding that he had about his audience led to him making changes in his branding that didn’t appeal to his consumers. If he developed a buyer persona, he would have developed better insight into the ideal JCPenney customer’s wants and needs. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of buyer characteristics and behavior formulated using data. They enable decision-makers to view the company from the perspective of consumers. However, many enterprises build personas using low-quality or irrelevant data – or no data at all. Sourcing Quality Data For conference and event sponsors, registrant information is invaluable. Loyal event attendees are your ideal consumer. You should analyze what they do at your events as well as their common character traits. This information will inform the type of people you will target in future marketing initiatives. It might also be valuable to look at those who expressed interest in your event but did not commit to attending. What were there hesitations? By studying at what point on the website they bounced off, you can tell a lot about a person’s needs. Was it at the point right before buying a ticket? Was it when they looked at details of the venue? Big data has its name for a reason – there’s a lot of it! Resultantly, pooling customer data together for analysis can prove overwhelming. However, you can leverage a combination of technological resources to make the process easier. Persona Tree Data Sources Don’t use guesswork to build your persona tree. Instead, leverage technology to make informed decisions. You’ll need to combine data from disparate sources, such as: Association memberships Event registration Google analytics Social media Website activity Email marketing campaigns This data will identify the most active event participants and their behavior. The common traits among attendees make up the trunk of your persona tree. You can conduct analyses using this information to develop incentives that encourage repeat attendance and builds awareness about upcoming events. You can also extract segmented commonalities and use them to develop the primary branches of your targeted marketing campaign. Now, you can see the persona tree coming to life. In addition, you can leverage the smaller branches, or persona groups, of your tree as advocates and influencers who spread word-of-mouth among prospective attendees. Furthermore, you can use the commonalities of the persona tree trunk to target new host cities and new perspective attendees, called leaves. Crunching the Numbers As the field matures, the cost of big data technology is dropping. As a result, big data analysis tools are within the budget range of smaller organizations. For example, every business should have a social media presence and web site by now and should analyze the activity of their digital assets using Google Analytics. Tools such as MixPanel enable you to use the data generated by your Google Analytics account to delve deeper into consumer activity. For both your mobile and web applications, you can use heat maps to evaluate consumer behavior via visual representation. You can collect live feedback from potential attendees who consume your media content using a tool such as UserTesting. You can leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning using tools such as IBM’s Cognoa Analytics, and KissMetrics is another and analytical tool that you can use to gain powerful insights into consumer behavior. Part of the reason many of these kinds of services have fallen in price is that vendors can use the internet to take advantage of an economy of scale. However, if you provide an offering where security is a primary concern, you may want to use an in-house analytical tool. For example, Matomo is an open-source analytics platform that you can leverage to evaluate event metrics, but understand that you also need staff members who know how to install and work with the software. Today, marketing – like many aspects of business – is all about data. Business owners can get on the fast track to marketing acumen by earning an online business analytics degree. Business analytics is a key component of strategic marketing and prove useful in a number of marketing avenues: event marketing, digital marketing, product marketing, and others. Persona trees aren’t limited to event marketing ventures as well. Once you’ve grasped the fundamentals of building a persona tree, you can apply the method to understanding the audience of any marketing campaign. Data can help you build a profile of loyal attendees with uncanny accuracy. No matter what tools you use to build your persona tree, however, remember not to get lost in the technology. If you lose sight of the human element of your enterprise – your customers will soon follow.