Data Hygiene During Busy Conferences: 5 Tips for Success

When it comes to managing a conference, there are so many tasks on your plate. From securing sponsors to engaging attendees, the process can quickly become overwhelming.

Amidst all the conference chaos, however, remember that data is the key to unlocking important insights about your audience and improving future events. To ensure your conference data is useful and error-free, follow data hygiene best practices and build these strategies into your conference management plan from the beginning.

Keeping your data clean and actionable doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or labor-intensive process. With these tips, you can get the most out of your data with the least lift possible, allowing you to focus on other aspects of conference management.

1. Streamline Data Collection

Streamlining the data collection process and creating a system to capture attendee details can help minimize data hygiene issues in the future

To collect attendee data efficiently and effectively, follow these best practices:

  • Allow attendees to pre-register. When you enable attendees to register for your conference ahead of time, you can collect essential data in advance, such as contact information and session preferences. That way, you can minimize data collection tasks during the event and avoid errors caused by rushed in-person data entry.
  • Limit data fields. The less information you collect from attendees, the less clutter you’ll have in your database. Only request necessary attendee data that helps you better understand your audience and communicate with them, such as their communication preferences and accommodations needed.
  • Use predefined formatting. For the information you deem necessary to collect, use predefined formatting in your registration and data collection forms. For example, if you’re collecting attendee birth dates so you can segment your audience by age, configure your date of birth field to automatically require your desired format, such as YYYY-MM-DD or MM-DD-YYYY.

Additionally, consider eliminating physical forms and data collection methods. Going digital will make it much easier for attendees to fill in their information and for your team to organize and analyze the responses.

2. Develop Data Standards

While your first line of defense should be perfecting the data collection process, in some cases, you’ll already have attendee information in your database. Or, on occasion, you may need staff members to manually input information during or after a conference.

A man sitting in front of a computer, thinking how to best implement data standards as part of his conference data hygiene strategy.

Creating data standards ensures you can organize existing data and get your team on the same page about how to enter information in the future. Consider your preferences regarding data points like:

  • Phone numbers. The two most common formats for phone numbers are (123) 456-7890 and 123-456-7890. Additionally, if you have attendees from different countries, you may add the country code, or omit country codes if your audience comprises people from your country only.
  • Addresses. If one staff member always enters “Street” and another uses “St.,” you may wind up with unnecessary duplicates or an overly complicated search process. Determine whether you’ll spell out addresses or use the abbreviated versions of street names such as “St.,” “Rd.,” “Ln.,” “Ave.,” and “Blvd” to keep everything consistent.
  • Job titles. If networking is integral to your event, you’ll likely collect information about attendees’ jobs. You may choose to spell out titles like “Chief Executive Officer” and “Doctor of Dental Surgery” or simply use their abbreviations “CEO” and “DDS.”

It doesn’t matter how you choose to standardize your data; as long as you have clear data entry rules in place, it’ll be easy to look up important information in your database and segment your attendees into relevant groups using your constituent relationship management platform (CRM).

3. Sync Data Between Platforms

Automate data sharing between your event management platform and other tools to reduce manual data entry and errors. For instance, your CRM or database should integrate with your event management technology so updates on one platform easily transfer to the other.

In addition to your CRM, you may use secondary tools that would benefit from integrations with your event management software. For example, eCardWidget recommends using online invitation software to boost event registrations, and syncing this tool with your event platform will allow you to link to your event registration page, import contacts, and use data about open and click-through rates to inform your event outreach.

Check to see if any new platforms you’re considering integrate with your existing software to make this process easier. You may be able to access integration information on each platform’s website or need to reach out to a sales representative to learn more.

4. Allow Attendees to Update Their Information

Considering how often people move, change jobs, get married, and switch their email addresses, your attendee information can quickly become outdated. Mitigate the risks of inaccurate data by offering attendees the opportunity to update their contact information themselves during the check-in process.

Putting attendees in charge of updating their own information ensures it’s accurate. Another method for obtaining updated attendee data is through attendee profiles. Through your event app, you can allow attendees to create networking profiles with their contact information and ensure this data matches what’s stored in your CRM.

Attendee woman updating her profile's personal information using EventMobi's Event App.

Additionally, consider sending out surveys after your event to collect event feedback and ask attendees to update their contact information so you can stay in touch. As Deep Sync explains, this data is considered “zero-party data,” meaning it comes directly and voluntarily from attendees. This data collection method allows you to be confident that you can reach your guests and build long-lasting relationships with them.

5. Audit Your Database After the Event

After your event, take the time to audit your database for any errors. If you notice any inaccuracies or inconsistencies, create a plan to rectify them and delegate responsibilities to your team accordingly.

If you find any gaps in your attendee information that would prevent you from reaching or targeting them effectively, consider enriching your database with supplementary information. A data provider can source reliable third-party data and add it to your database. This information may include guests’:

  • Demographics
  • Contact information
  • Education levels
  • Marital status
  • Income
  • Net worth
  • Lifestyle information

Let’s say you’d like to run an SMS marketing campaign to engage attendees after your event but notice only half of your attendees entered their phone numbers during the registration process. With data enrichment, you can append attendee phone numbers to your database and launch a campaign that reaches as many audience members as possible.

Prioritizing data hygiene during your conference doesn’t take much effort, but it will make a huge difference in terms of your data quality in the long run. Consider assigning a staff member or volunteer the role of data steward to oversee your data hygiene efforts and keep your team on track in the future.