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Since exhibition marketing and management (actually, most of the business world) has gone digital, there has been an explosion of data. Granted, not all of it is significant or revelatory. Nevertheless, it's worth taking a look into the various spaces where data exists around a trade show to begin forming a three-dimensional profile of attendees.

Registration is the most obvious place to collect attendee data. In addition to basic identifiers, experts say, be sure to collect information that enables you to track customers on other channels. For example, requesting Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook information (single sign on makes that possible), as well as email addresses, opens up other doors to data for event producers.

Social media is one of the newest and most prolific frontiers for data. With attendees' social media accounts in hand, show organizers can use various platforms to observe customers' activities across multiple channels. They can also use tools—paid and free—to monitor social media sentiment (social chatter and buzz) in and around the event.

Mobile event applications deliver near-real-time behavioral data. As users click on banner ads, download session content, read speaker bios, set appointments with exhibitors, and perform other tasks on the app, a snapshot of attendee behaviors and preferences emerges.

Surveys, polls, and evaluations add information to the attendee profile. Post-show questionnaires, speaker and session content evaluations, and ad hoc polls embedded in PowerPoint presentations (although often anonymous) add to the body of general and attendee-specific information available to event organizers.

Beacons, scanners, RFID, NFC, and video help to complete the data picture. A variety of technologies can capture the specific behaviors of attendees while they're on site to confirm where they go, the sessions they attend, and the amount of time they spend on the show floor (or in specific booths).

Websites are crucial to understanding areas of attendee interest. Every piece of content downloaded, every page viewed, and every link clicked, tells a story about what an attendee (and prospective attendees in general) are interested in. Marketing automation platforms and analytics tools can identify website visitors so that organizers can correlate visitor data with actual registrations.

Email platforms can help organizers categorize attendees. The manner in which attendees respond to email communications—unsubscribe, open, click though, reply—provides organizers with data on their preferences. But, it also allows show producers to segment the audience more efficiently.

General industry data can provide context around attendee behaviors. Raw data can describe what's going on, but it doesn't always explain why. Economic indicators, stock prices, mergers and acquisitions, analyst opinions, innovations in technology, and media coverage of the specific business vertical in which the show exists, for example, can help organizers interpret attendee behaviors.

No single data point, experts say, can describe an individual. It is the collection of information from multiple sources on a recurring and consistent basis that yields the fullest understanding of attendees and the most credible insight for building profitable events.

This post was written exclusively for Ungerboeck by Michelle Bruno, MPC, Bruno Group Signature Events

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