Integrating Data-Driven Decision-Making Into Event Planning

Presence has been digging into and pushing on the use of data in student activities and student support access, but you might still be asking, ‘how can I use this in my work everyday?’

Below are just a few examples combined with emerging trends that might become part of the toolkit that student activities pros have at their disposal as technology continues to develop, and questions to ask about of the incredible amount of data resources that exist their campus focused around the way that organizations share their message, track engagement, and measure impact.

Expand Organizational Brand and Marketing

The more you understand your event attendees and the strategies that work, the better you can align your marketing approach to initiate action (not to mention tell your impact story).

Overlay the data that you have in attendance and engagement in organizations and events with other trends to find “hubs” of student engagement to refine and target messages. What’s more, with technology increasingly being integrated into the physical and digital campus landscape (SMART TVs, technology platforms, social media, and beyond), the days of flyers and signs to get your message out are over.

  • How does an organization’s “brand” impact attendance at events?
  • How does co-sponsoring increase attendance?
  • What are the trends in attendance based on the event’s sponsor? How might that impact the way that you market events on campus?
  • How well do organization’s share their message?

Using the the resulting data resources to develop marketing strategies and in ongoing training for organizations will continue to refine your organizational practice, and built toolkits around the emerging trends and “what works.”

Expand Your Event Audience

The more accessible your message, the more people can interact with it.

With more and more services online offering “on-demand” content, this type of media library stands to build engagement in campus events through a ladder of engagement over time.

With the evolution of technologies allowing for easier live streaming like Facebook Live, Periscope, and Busker, consider how you can make attendance at missed events part of your institutional culture, and use them to communicate the portfolio of experiences facilitated by organizations across the year.

  • Where do events get the most traffic?
  • What do your organizations know about their audience?
  • Who attends, and why? Who isn’t attending your events?
  • When are events most highly attended?
  • How does attendance at those events overlap with attendance at other types of events, and who does it expand your audience into?

Attendance might be one indicator, but I’ve been to plenty of concerts that I didn’t enjoy.

Engage the student newspaper to cover your event, or ask student leaders to gather some quotes to add a qualitative dimension to any other quantitative measures of success for your retrospective (keep reading).

Deepen Your Event Impact

The more engaged your attendees are with your message, the more likely they’ll be to give feedback to you.

Once you know who they are, when they’re coming to your events, then you can start to engage them around their likes, their dislikes, and what they’re getting out of the event. No, it’s not a complete picture, but it’s a place to start. It’s also worth noting that if students aren’t ever coming to your events, they might not be shy about telling you why, and it might be worth asking. Use this information to explore non-attendee attributes in already existing data sets to look for trends.

  • How do you determine whether or not your events were “successful?”
  • What are attendees getting out of attendance from your events that contribute to larger organizational goal?

Build a “retrospective” into your events culture to conduct a “rose, bud, thorn” session around what worked, what could be improved, and what missed the mark.

With these questions outlined and a few tips along the way, below are a few challenges that I leave you with as you bring more data into your work based on emerging trends for 2017.

Your Thoughts!

Data is everywhere on a college campus, and, increasingly, will be part of how the campus creates a more personalized experience for students– and in fact, students are open to it.

What’s more, at many universities, the steps are already being taken to begin to transform the student experience reflect the rich data assets that already exist, and will continue to grow.

Card-swipe data into buildings tracks general student traffic while wi-fi ports narrow into time spent and location in buildings. Historic data sets, student information systems, course and learning management system engagement data alongside appointment systems might establish predictive trends about who may be likely to struggle in their progression towards graduation. Geolocation and social data provide a lens into the conversations taking place and campus climate.

All of these data points will contribute into an overall set of profiles to help establish a personalized set of content and nudges to get students both to graduation, and to your events.

Continue the conversation with us on Twitter @themoderncampus!

Thanks for reading.

Brian LeDuc

About the author: Brian LeDuc (he/him) is a design strategist at Intuit. Learn how we can help get your students involved.