There is a lot of valuable information being stored in the heads of attendees walking out of your event. Each of them knows what went right and what went wrong. They know if they want to come back next year. They know what they will say to their friends. They know crucial secrets that you will need to make your event bigger and better. The best way to tap into this wealth of knowledge? A simple and pointed post event survey.
Of course, getting decent data out of a post event survey takes some serious consideration. Here are some strategies to make sure you are getting the most out of yours.
1. How to Present the Survey
When it comes to asking your attendees to complete a survey, there is a paradox of sorts. You want to present it to them soon after the event while their opinions are fresh. Yet if you contact them too soon, they may be too tired to care about your silly survey. After all, think of how exhausted you are at the end of an event.
If you want your survey opened (of course you do) then email it out a day or two after the event. This is the sweet spot, where your attendees are still thinking about the show but aren’t too tired to answer your questions. You can also help to put your survey up on social media outlets. This gets it in front of more eyes, especially since few event-going young people actually check their emails.
Of course, many if not most of your attendees will not want to take the time to answer your survey without some kind of incentive. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to convince someone that a five minute survey is worth their time. Try offering a minor discount on next year’s tickets. Maybe you can enter everyone who responded into a raffle for a new Ipad or free tickets. Don’t break the bank on the incentives you offer, but it never hurts to sweeten the deal a little.
2. Keep it Simple, Silly
The internet age is known for many things, but patience and long attention spans are not among them. Your survey will get maybe five questions before the vast majority of the audience will get bored. Bored audiences are not great at answering questions.
The questions themselves need to be simple as well. Multiple choice or ratings are the most likely to retain attention because they do not ask for complicated thoughts. Asking for a free response answer might as well be throwing away the question. Plain and simple, the easier your post-event survey, the more responses you will get.
Getting as much data from as many attendees as possible is the entire point of sending out a post-event survey. Having a low response rate destroys the credibility of your results. Do yourself, and your attendees a favor and make things quick and painless.
3. What to ask?
With such low limits on the quantity of questions, you need to make sure each one counts. Here are a few questions we have found to provide rich and useful data.
Rate the event
A concise numerical rating (1-10) can tell you a lot about the perceptions of your event while not asking for much from your attendees. In a great survey, this rating can help determine what questions to ask next. Did they hate it (i.e. a score less than 6)? Ask them what went wrong. Did they think it was a modern Woodstock? See what worked and do more of that.
What was their favorite thing?
It is okay to be specific on your survey. Though you can’t ask about every little part of your event, you can at least ask about something that matters. If there is something controversial or new you were trying out, having attendees rate it can give you insight into if it was worth it or not. Try offering different parts of the event (for example panels in a convention) and asking the attendees to choose their favorite. This will show you what to keep for next year.
Will they come back?
There is one attitude that trumps all in importance: desire to come back. That is the attitude that drives your growth. For that reason, it is useful to know how the other attitudes in your survey impact a desire to see your show again.
How many times have they been?
This question allows you to segment your data and see how your long-time attendees feel about the event as opposed to your fresh faced noobies. Armed with this understanding, you can make sure you aren’t losing old attendees in your pursuit of new ones.
How likely are they to recommend a friend?
Every brand needs to know who their advocates are and what they think. Word of mouth is and always has been the most powerful form of advertising. A good event does a great job generating this potent marketing for free, as people leave and start annoying their friends with stories of how much fun they had.
It’s always important to remember that your results will be inherently biased by extreme opinions. People who feel strongly in a certain way will always be more eager to tell you about it. Eliminating this bias is a task that people tackle with entire careers. Because of issues like this, perfecting a survey can be an art in itself. Still, a thoughtful post event survey can still take you a long way and allow you to craft the best event possible next year.
What tips and tricks have you found helpful for developing a post event survey? Tell us about them in the comments below!