by Will Rogers
Event management isn’t easy. Event management software can be even more difficult to grasp. Things change so much and so often. I want to give you a look behind the curtain of event management software for this post.
When it comes to event management and software, there are seven secrets I want you to be aware of. I think knowing these seven secrets will give you the advantage you need to thrive with your ministry or business.
You no doubt have lots of questions when it comes to event management and software. Let I talked about recently when it comes to online membership management software, asking the right questions for you and your ministry or business is important. Asking the right questions early and often can set you on the right course for success—and have you not get on the wrong track to start with!
Here are just a few questions you should be asking:
What do I need my event software to do most?
What experience do I want an event attendee to have?
Who all is involved in my event—from attendee to manager to post-event?
What is each person (or group) at my event looking for?
How is my event different from other events?
What tools do I need for my exhibitors?
What tools do I need for my speakers?
With so many unique features to look for, what should you look for and what features are the things you might consider as part of your event strategy?
I have a few ideas of some features that are both important and what features that might matter to you:
Turning event attendees into members (memberships)
Keeping them engaged after the event in a group
Ability to recommend content, exhibitors, and other attendees to participants
There are so many tools. Depending on which software you’re using, it’s tough to know what’s most important. Here are a few tools I’d consider to be core event module tools that are worth your time to review:
Analytics and Reporting
Email and Communication
Live or Virtual Facilitation
From the start of marketing your event, through the actual event, and on to post-event experience for your attendees, there are many things that are a must for your attendees when it comes to the event experience.
It’s important you know what type of experience you’re hoping to deliver to your attendees. Here’s teh way to frame your attendee’s experience. I think of the experience in three stages:
Preparing people well before the event
Creating a great live/virtual experience
Following up well after the event
This is big! Is what you’re planning just an event or are you inviting people into more? I asked this to a 20,000 person event a few years back—one that has a global legacy—and they said they were simply an event and not a movement. Sadly, I think most events think the same way.
But if your event is leaving a lasting impression and building a tribe then you certainly might have a movement on your hands. It’s all a matter of perspective. Is your event only about getting the most people to attend that you can? Is an event a one-and-done experience for people or some obligation or is your event a stepping stone to what’s next? Challenge yourself to consider shaping your events for the purpose of creating a movement. What do you have to lose?
Integrating data is important. I’ve listed here a few vital questions worth your time at this state.
What data do you need to bring over from your events to systems like CRM or automated marketing tools?
How is that data going to move from the event to the other system?
A few examples of what you might use are as follows:
Manual export and import
What data is actually needed? Seriously, ask yourself what you’re going to do with each and every piece of data before building any integrations. Unless the data is useful, you can get in trouble and spend lots of money and not have useful insights.
What best practices will you want to follow -- that will need integrations?
Email automation: Create attendee drip campaigns once registered
Contact information: Logging attendee data in your CRM system
Text: Sending attendees text messages
Event to CRM: Adding attendee to general marketing communications
I saved the best for last! Setting a budget is the best thing people forget to start with when it comes to event management software. Don’t start shopping before you have a handle on your budget. Keep that figure close in your pocket.
Every event platform is different in how they charge, some things to consider:
Subscription costs - monthly, quarterly, annually -- many cases -- the longer you subscribe the lower the expense.
Per ticket charges
Exhibitor lead capture charges
Number of contacts expense
So, we’ve covered a ton in this post. Did these secrets spur you to think? Trust me, if you start with asking the right questions, if you know the features that matter most to you, if you know the tools that fit your needs if you make things about your attendees' experience, if you start and keep the bigger picture in mind, if you understand the importance of integrations, and you keep your budget in front of you, you will thrive knowing you have done your due diligence when it comes to event management software.
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About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to a shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands-on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.