Everyone in event technology talks about data — how to use it, leverage it, monetize it, and protect it. Safeguarding your data and making sure that it is GDPR- (General Data Protection Regulation), CASL- (Canada’s Anti- Spam Law), and now CCPA- (California Consumer Privacy Act) compliant is critical, but there is another piece of the data conversation that is often overlooked: making sure your organization respects it. With events, the value of your data — everything you know about your attendees, exhibitors, and prospects — cannot be understated.
It’s the information they’ve given you, the transactions they’ve had with you from event registrations, pages they’ve visited on your website, exhibitors that have scanned them on the show floor, purchases they’ve made from you and so on. This data can help you plan the future of your event and how you’re going to market to your audience.
As event marketers increasingly depend on email, one of the most important pieces of data we need to collect is our audience’s contact email address — and even more critical is permission to send them communications. When a contact opts out of your email communication, it is like someone has cut the power off on your data and the grid goes dark. You can send them direct mail if you have their physical address and call them if you have a phone number, but your instant-response channel — outbound email — is gone, and your chances of continuing a relationship with that contact are minimal.
Trying to Compensate for Cuts
While working with an association client last year, we found that almost 7 percent of its database had opted out of receiving email communications within the course of a year. If left uncorrected, this trend could render more than 20 percent of the contacts in the association’s database unreachable by email within another two years and undermine the success of its event.
The root of the problem was that with marketing budgets tighter than ever, they no longer felt they were able to leverage a multichannel approach to marketing, and project stakeholders were insisting that their programs and services be marketed via email to the entire database at all times. Their “email is free” mentality meant that contacts were getting three to five email communications from the association per week, regardless of their interest or preference. Open and click-to-open rates were low, and opt-outs were rising as more contacts grew annoyed.
So, how can organizations balance the marketing needs of their stakeholders and the health of their database at the same time?
A contact’s lifetime value is the most important metric your event can measure. In the B2C world, this value is usually calculated in terms of revenue; in the events space, there is more to take into consideration, as exhibitors also place huge value on access to these individuals. A simple web search can produce a variety of methodologies to determine the value, making it as simple or as complex as you like.
Calculating the contact lifetime value for your database can reveal the true cost of an email broadcast when you look at the revenue achieved of the broadcast minus the value of the contacts lost due to opt-outs — busting the myth that email is free.
Once everyone in your organization knows that email is not free, you can begin to develop marketing plans that align with organizational goals and objectives in a way that keeps the integrity of your data at the forefront of the conversation. And then, the focus also can shift for how you grow your data and your database, how you leverage content marketing, how you use automated marketing, and how you can make your data work for you.
Maggie Stevens is an account strategist at mdg, a full-service marketing and public relations firm specializing in B2B events.