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How To Segment Your Event Audience… And Why

How To Segment Your Event Audience

This is the last post in our Corporate Event Measurement Best Practices series.

In our first post, we looked at the need to move event measurement programs from quantifying what happened at the event, to analyzing the impact of the event on the business. Our second post explored why you should review the event market research that your company already has in place. In our third post, we offered five tips for how to maximize your sample by ensuring that your surveys are user friendly. In our fourth post, we looked at seven criteria for choosing the right event survey engine.

In this post, we are going to discuss how you can make your event data more valuable by segmenting your audience. Let’s start with the concept of segmentation itself, and why you should be concerned about it.

Our belief is that a successful, sustainable event depends on meeting both corporate objectives and attendee needs. The flip side is that different groups of attendees want different things from the event. Sometimes these are nuances, sometimes they are quite distinct. Just remember that these differences are always important to the individuals who make up your audience.

Once you start looking at the differences rather than the similarities, you will quickly understand the benefits of segmenting the responses.

Here are five segmentations that we commonly use, there are of course many other possibilities:

· Alumni versus First Time Attendee

· Small and Medium Business versus Large Enterprise

· Customers versus Partners

· Long time experience with the product or service versus little or no experience

· North America versus other regions

Each attendee in our hypothetical audience fits into all five segments. Depending on the issue being explored, only one or two segmentations may show a significant difference. In fact, many of the audiences that we have studied over the years tend to be quite homogeneous – teasing out the important differences takes a lot of thought and constant refinement.

> Think about the ways that it would be useful to segment your audience. 

Identifying the segments that are relevant to your company  is usually the easy part. The trick is where you will ask the questions that will enable you to put each attendee into the appropriate segments.

There are two ways to do this. Each approach has its advantages.

1/ Registration Data

As we’ve previously discussed, registration data are an extremely valuable tool for anyone who studies audiences. We sometimes call it “census” data because it is the one data set that at least in theory contains all of the information about each attendee.

There are two things you have to do to leverage “reg” data. First, you have to make sure that a question exists to identify every segment that you want to track. As suggested in our second post, start by looking at the existing registration questions. We spend a lot of time tuning registration questions to get the information we need.

Second, and this can be very challenging depending on your skills and suppliers, you must be able to tie the registration data file to your survey responses. This requires the use of a unique identifier that we call a linchpin – typically a badge number works well.

 2/ The Post Event Survey

We try to avoid asking census type questions in our Post Event Surveys for two reasons. The first reason should be obvious – by leveraging data we can keep the survey as short as possible.

The second is a bit more subtle. Data gathered this way only represents a portion of the audience (the respondents) as opposed to all attendees (the registrants). If your survey response rates are on the anemic side, this can provide a misleading picture.

Still there are times when there are no other options – for instance when registration for the upcoming event is already open. If the results are useful, then put the question into the next registration set.

Are you currently segmenting your audiences? If you are, how has the information been used to improve the event? If not, what are the challenges you need to overcome?

Thanks for reading. Please be sure to subscribe to the blog. Let us know what topics you would like to read about next.

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