Event Surveys: A Powerful Engagement Tool

Experiential marketing is one of the more recent—and more successful—means of marketing products and services to prospective customers. Experiential marketing is a partnership between brands and their customers where brands build their campaigns using customer feedback. Rather than sending campaigns out to mass audiences and hoping they’re relevant, experiential marketing listens to customers, determines their needs, and delivers personalized campaigns based on feedback.

For events and EBC meetings, experiential marketing is crucial to providing exceptional customer experiences. But to engage in experiential marketing, brands must have a way to listen to audiences.

A whopping 70% of Millennials feel responsible to share feedback with companies after a good OR bad experience - InNetwork

One popular, highly effective means of gathering customer sentiment is through surveys. Surveys are a more contextually-relevant way of getting instant feedback from guests regarding their in-venue experiences. They allow for real-time responses: a valuable source of meaningful information that can help shape future event experiences.

Let's explore how and why surveys can be a helpful tool for interactivity before, during, and after events and EBC meetings.

Uses and Benefits of Surveys

Surveys are a means of getting the most unbiased, valuable feedback possible from customers. Because they can be anonymous, event and briefing participants can provide honest reflections of their experiences. When paired with an event of briefing app, surveys become ‘in the moment’ mobile facilitators. Surveys can then be administered before, during, and after events and meetings in order to collect feedback that can be used to shape current and future events to deliver exactly what attendees need.

  • Before the event, surveys can be sent to either all attendees or individual attendees to measure sentiment on agendas, sessions, speakers, and even food choices. The results of these surveys allow organizers to replace aspects of the event that are not meeting customer needs with sessions or options that are more favorable. Speakers can also revise their content to better cater to the topics participants are interested in.

  • During the event, surveys can be administered through the event app at the overall event or meeting level as well as at the specific session or topic level. For example, if you’re trying out a new presentation style or featuring a new speaker, you can survey attendees after the session to determine the success and effectiveness of the presentation. If responses are favorable, you can incorporate that presentation style into future sessions on subsequent days of the event.

  • After the event, surveys can be administered to collect overall information about the entire event experience. This information is crucial in shaping future events. Surveys allow brands to measure what information received more coverage than needed, what was perfect, and what needs improving.

One thing to keep in mind with smartphones, is they are always with you, so too is your event or meeting mobile app with built-in survey tools. Be sure to leverage existing technology, like notifications, to alert attendees of survey availability or remind them to take an overdue survey.

Bad vs. Good Uses of Surveys

While surveys can be an excellent means of capturing customer sentiment, there are some ways surveys can be abused so that the data provided is incorrect, or customers simply don’t respond. To get the most valuable feedback from your surveys, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Send surveys with discretion. If you send surveys before the event, after each event session, and after the event, people will tire of taking surveys and will start ignoring them. For the best results, conduct a series of tests to determine the maximum number of surveys that can be sent before your response rates start to decline. Otherwise, you risk low response rates on your final surveys, which may be your most important sources of information.

  • Refine your survey questions. According to Survey Monkey, leading questions, questions that are asked in absolutes, and questions that ask multiple questions but allow for only one response result in audience confusion and can undermine data collection. Spend some time A/B testing questions to determine the best ways to write questions to collect valuable results. 

  • Open channels for more meaningful responses. Inherently, event attendees are on the go, so speech-to-text dictation is a helpful option to offer with surveys. This increases the likelihood of more meaningful responses (compared to checkboxes and lists), by inviting participants to provide feedback by speaking directly into the app/survey field, rather than trying to provide long-form comments using a small phone keypad.

While testing, don’t be afraid to conduct a survey about your survey. Asking users to identify any questions they found confusing or difficult to answer and collecting responses as to why can help you easily identify where data may be skewed due to recipient confusion.

Surveys and Emerging Technology

Surveys are a great way to engage event attendees, but filling out a text form is not necessarily everyone’s idea of a good time. Using emerging technologies, it’s possible for forward-thinking brands to incorporate surveys into more engaging mediums during the event:

  • For non-anonymous surveys, consider allowing attendees to submit responses through audio or video feedback. This eliminates any inconsistencies that result from talk-to-text and allows participants to provide feedback easily without text revisions if a word was misinterpreted.

  • Customer service robots can direct visitors to important areas of events. While they’re walking with visitors, they can make small talk by surveying the visitor about their event experiences.

  • Increase your response rate exponentially by installing a virtual reality center at your event. By designing a survey that takes responses by actions performed in a virtual world, you can gather responses while providing a fun and unique experience for attendees.

In a Marketo survey from mid-2016, the number one priority for marketers for the next year was to shift to digital and engagement marketing, mimicking the success of other forward-thinking brands who laid the groundwork for this blend of marketing and customer experience. For event and briefing organizers, engagement is simple with a mobile event app that has built-in survey tools that allow for the simple capture of customer sentiment, enabling interactive, highly successful planning for future sessions.