Get It Together Part 3: “Out of the House” Data Collection

Online Form for EventHow to Collect Data When at an Event

As an organizer of marketing data, my job often takes me out of the office and into the bigger world – conferences and events. Do you remember the old days when you had a booth or a table at an event and you would provide a bowl for business cards or a clipboard with lines, asking people for their email address to join your newsletter? Or perhaps you were an attendee walking the exhibit hall floor, speaking with people and asking them for their card, then scribbling notes all over the back?

Let’s fast forward to today where many people simply add a contact to their phone, handing the device to the person to add their own information so you don’t spell their name incorrectly.

If you have a booth or table at an event, my recommendation is this – loose the bowls and clipboards! These methods of collection are tedious, time consuming and fraught with data entry inaccuracies.

Almost all events these days have some sort of wi-fi availability. If it is not free, you will save yourself countless labor hours if you purchase the wi-fi. Where am I going with this? There are so many online form builders out there for you to use. Some are part of your website’s backend. Some are free-standing. And some are even free!
(CAUTION HERE – these are your contacts and if their information is sensitive, you need to ensure your data is secure).  

When choosing a form, there are a few features I recommend:

  • Customization
    • This may come in the form of branding it as your own with a banner and your organization’s colors, but be sure it is recognizable as your own to the visitor.
  • Embed Feature
    • If you are unable to customize the form, then I highly recommend that you can embed the form on your own website. If that is not brand recognition, then I don’t know what is!
  • Load Time
    • The booth rule is 3-5 seconds to grab someone’s attention. If it takes 15 seconds for your form to load, then you’ve lost your prospect. This is especially true when the form is embedded in a website and the website takes forever to load. (If this is you, then call me and I will refer you to someone who can help you with that.)
  • Data Fields
    • Think about why you are at the event. This is a captive audience for a specific theme. Never, (wait, let me repeat this…) NEVER ask for just an email address and a name. If someone is taking the time to fill out your form, then they are interested in your products or services. Ask pre-qualifier questions. Find out if they are a true lead or someone who just likes free stuff. Always offer the “out” question so you don’t have to clog up your CRM system with unnecessary clutter.
  • KISS
    • Keep It Simple Stupid: This is a contact information form. It should be quick and easy to fill out with pertinent information. You’ll have your chance to call them back later (and sound super intelligent because you know what they want), so don’t bog down the flow of traffic with in-depth essay questions.
  • Delivery
    • I highly recommend using a tablet for your events. Computers are okay, but then people have to bend over to fill out the information. If they are carrying bags or have a bad back, this is not conducive to an appearance of you being accommodating. Tablets are relatively inexpensive these days – make the investment if you don’t already own one. And by the way, if you do use a tablet, brand it with a custom case. Yet another way to always have your brand on hand.
  • Export
    • Whatever form you use and however you deliver it to the attendees, you’ll want to ensure you can easily upload the information back into your CRM system. Look for a .*csv or .*xlsx export feature when shopping for your form. If they offer one, make sure that if it is an additional cost, you are willing to pay for it.

All of the above information applies if you are the attendee as well. I carry a tablet with me and ask exhibitors to complete my form so that I too can follow up after an event. It makes it super easy when I upload the information and my Lead Source is already identified.

If you are unsure about setting up a form for your next event, or need assistance with deciding what information is appropriate to collect, contact me today to schedule an appointment.