Market research is the bedrock of organising and running an event. Whether it is a small event or a large, complicated one, you need to know precisely what you are planning for.
- What is the attendee profile?
- Which caterers address your Food & Beverage needs?
- What conference material will you require?
Additionally, you need to plan for the research you will gather during the event that will help you to further understand your audience and plan for future events. How many people came versus the number that registered? Did they use the resources available (e.g. show guides, mobile event app)? What content did they enjoy or dislike?
By undertaking comprehensive customer and market research, you gain critical insights to organise your events. This research requires a clear strategy and data collection techniques that are qualitative and quantitative in nature. So, what are these research methods and how can you utilise them successfully!
Qualitative research for events
Qualitative research methods provide answers to “how” or “why?” These methods are ideal when there is no fixed set of questions, but when a discussion is more useful to explore issues. Qualitative research discussions are determined by the respondent’s opinions and feelings. Primarily, qualitative research is done face to face, most commonly in focus groups of 6-8 respondents.
But more and more, as the use of technology increases, marketers and event organisers have found new ways to gather data. This has paved the way for capturing the type of qualitative information that, at one time, was only possible to gather using more traditional methods of data capture.
For example, the integration of mobile applications with events has led to increased use of networking and social sharing during events. Online discussion provides invaluable feedback from event attendees as it makes it clearer to understand the sentiment of attendees concerning the content you provide, the people they meet, the sessions they are attending and the overall event.
Quantitative research for events
Quantitative research focuses more on the ability to complete statistical analysis. With quantitative studies, each respondent is asked to respond to the same questions:
Surveys and questionnaires are the most common technique for collecting quantitative data. With online survey tools becoming more available with advanced features, more researchers are adopting web-based survey collection for quantitative research.
This type of research should be done well in advance of your events, should fit in with your overall event strategy and feed into your event planning. When you launch your event registration, online line registrations tools can help you to capture even more data that can assist you in planning the right event for your audience. It is an opportunity to gather data on popular sessions as you track which are pre-booked. You can ask questions around the type of people registrants would like to connect with, the solutions they are interested in discovering, the region they come from or the budget they have.
This data can then be used to tailor and finalise content to ensure you are delivering the right information to the appropriate audience, thus adding more value to your events.
As you might imagine, quantitative research can often be cheaper than qualitative research – but less expensive may not always save you in the long run. It’s important to always consider market research goals when determining your collection method. For example, if you need to understand how respondents brush their teeth to improve the design of a toothbrush, choosing the quantitative research method is probably not the way to go.
Striking the balance
It may seem that the more questions you ask your delegates, the more information you build up, so why not ask as many questions as possible? Well, the simple fact is, proper marketing research consists of having clear objectives, and those objectives should result in a clear and straightforward set of questions. This will result in not overloading your database with superfluous information which you find you can’t use.
Besides, bombarding your registrants with too many questions probably won’t score you any brownie points with your attendees so choosing the right mix of questions is extremely important for not only looking after your database but also your delegates.
And finally, it is advantageous to utilise a balance of qualitative and quantitative data as, though it will give you a great starting point, numbers and static information will only get you so far when it comes to creating outstanding events. But it’s the detail that you get from qualitative data that will help to contextualise the numbers and will give you the depth of information you need to please your attendees while assisting you in proving the ROI on your events.
Organising an event can be an arduous task, especially when there are several moving parts. While doing in-depth research can provide you the necessary insights to organise your event, maximising attendee engagement and feedback during your events requires you to leverage event tech such as mobile event apps. Find out how you stack up against the best with Cvent’s Mobile Event App Benchmark Report.