16 Ways to Use CRM to Get the Most Out of Your Event

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Business conferences and events are more technologically advanced than ever. If you’re hosting an event, there are so many different methods you can use to learn about the attendees and connect with them. And you can use CRM to gather information and organize it in a way that can benefit your business.

Below are some tips about ways to use CRM for events, including what kind of information to gather and how to gather it, from CRM experts . You can make your next event successful in more ways than one.

Do Some Research

Before the event, take a list of the people who have signed up to attend. In your CRM program, make sure you have a contact record for each attendee and enter any other relevant information you may have. Consider using a program such as Nimble that helps you gather and organize information about people through their online footprint.

You should also decide on some goals for the event – what do you want to learn? Who do you want to connect with? What else do you want to accomplish?

Connect with Key Attendees

In addition, consider connecting individually with some of the key players such as speakers or presenters before the event. CEO of Nimble Jon Ferrara recommends that event organizers, or even those attending events who want to get the most out of them, can benefit from reaching out to people in advance.

He recommends reaching out on social media by sharing some of your content or offering valuable feedback. Once you’ve connected with someone a few times, you can suggest meeting at the event or asking for any additional input to make the event better.

Set Up Lists

Also prior to the event, you should have some lists set up that will help you identify and categorize the people attending. According to Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials, this will help you organize and decide how best to connect and followup with people afterwards.

For example, you might be looking to connect with people who are in charge of marketing at their company and who have buying authority. You would connect with those people differently than you would with those who work in management and don’t have a say in marketing purchases.

Ask Questions at the Event

To get the most helpful responses from people, you should ask your questions while the information is still fresh in their minds. There are a few different ways to gather the information you need. But if you ask people for feedback while they’re actually at the event, you’ll likely get more responses and more accurate information.

Automate as Much as Possible

To make it easier on yourself and those you hope to get feedback from both during and after the event, Leary suggests automating as much of the process as possible. Set up contacts for the attendees in your CRM system before the event. Then when people answer your questions or scan their badges at various sessions at the event, you’ll automatically be able to collect that information once the event is over.

Keep It Short

When you ask attendees to answer questions at the event, you want to get as much information as possible. But you can’t expect them to sit and take an hour-long survey. Prioritize the information you’d like to get from people and ask only the essentials. You may be able to find out more when connecting with people afterward.

Find Out Who and Why

What kind of information should you try to gather? That will depend largely upon your goals. But two pieces of information you should definitely obtain no matter what are 1.) who attendees are and 2.) why they came. This means at least getting some basic background information like a job title and then finding out exactly why each person decided to attend in the first place.

Use Your Favorite Survey Software

To actually collect this information, Leary suggests using any number of survey programs that work with your CRM. For example, Salesforce can integrate with multiple feedback programs including GetFeedback, SurveyMonkey and QuestionPro.

If you use a program that automatically connects with your CRM, it will prevent you from having to manually enter in all of the data you collect at a later date. Depending on the size of your event, that could prove to be a huge time saver.

Utilize Mobile Technology

Leary says a growing trend over the last few years at multiple events he’s attended has been having people answer feedback questions during an event using their mobile devices. Since most people carry their phones everywhere anyway, this is one way to make the process easier for attendees, he observes.

Give People Options

You could also offer a few additional options so that people can choose the method that’s most convenient for them. For example, Leary says some events utilize text messages while others even have dedicated mobile apps. By offering different options, you can increase the number of responses you get from people. This gives you the best chance for accurate feedback on your event.

Track Attendee Activity

But you can also get information from people without having to actually ask them anything. A popular method for event organizers to gather information is by using badges that attendees can scan as they attend different sessions or segments of the event.

For instance, if your event features speakers on various topics, you can learn about the attendees by seeing which speaking sessions they attended. If you’re looking to specifically get in touch with people who work for ecommerce companies, for example, then you can set up a segment for people who attended sessions related to that industry.

Monitor Social Media

Another useful tool for monitoring feedback and learning about attendees is social media. Events often designate hashtags that people can use to share feedback and connect with others. By going through the posts under your event’s hashtag, you learn what people thought about the event. But you also learn basic details that may help you connect with them in the future.

Add Information to Contact Records

After the event, make sure the information you’ve collected on each attendee is fully updated in your CRM. You should have contact information along with all the feedback you’ve gathered. Take the details that you’ve gathered and separate each attendee into the segments that you designated before the event.

Follow up Shortly After

You can also continue to gather information from people shortly after the event. For example, send a quick note via email thanking them for attending. Then, if you’d like, ask them if they would answer a few follow up questions. These could be more questions about themselves. Or you could ask how they enjoyed the event or what they would change. This feedback will help you make improvements to the events you plan in the future.

Decide How to Connect with People Moving Forward

Using the different segments into which you’ve separated your attendees, you can now decide how to connect further with each group moving forward. For example, send information to people based on their interests or industries. These segments may be based on information your attendees provided you before ever showing up at your event. But they may also be based on the sessions they attended and the feedback they offered during the event too.  If you are trying to identify people who work in manufacturing, for example, you may be able to do that based on the information you’ve collected. The same is true of any other segment or niche you may want to connect with.

Make Meaningful Connections

Finally, remember not to rely on automation for all your interactions with customers, clients and other contacts. The names on your list are not just part of a marketing segments but real people. Treat them accordingly. Remember, automation may make it easier to reach out to a large number of people all at once. But there are certain people you should reach out to on a personal level. In a phone interview with Small Business Trends, Ferrara explains:

“You have to add real value to the conversation. If you build authentic conversations and pay it forward over time, then that person will begin to see you as a trusted advisor and then they’ll be more likely to not only come back but also to bring friends.”

Event Photo via Shutterstock


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

4 Reactions
  1. Connecting with attendees is a must. It may not build your customer base but it is a way of winning a list of potential customers. After all, they went out of their way to attend the event. So all you need to do is promote to them.

    • I think that’s the most basic idea behind all of these points. The people at your event are already at least a little interested in your business. So you have to figure out how to connect with them!

  2. A very insightful article indeed. Thank you for posting Annie Pilon.
    Events may not get you a customer base but they carry the reputation of your organization and precisely provide you the point where you can make or mar the fate of your product. Many CRM systems available in the market today offer complete automation so you can track the responses of people towards your marketing events and plan accordingly. All you have to do manually is to set up a message that could be sent to your target audience along with the automated response to further queries containing complete information about the event and your CRM will do the rest for you. Modern CRM systems track all the social media profiles associated with your lead’s email ID and connect with them automatically.