Why You Should Be Capturing First Party Data at Your Events & How to Do It

With the importance of first-party data on the rise, you need to take every opportunity available to gather information for your event marketing strategies. Keep reading to learn more about how you can use events to capture valuable and useful information about your audiences.

With privacy regulations becoming more stringent, the resulting decline in third-party cookies and data tracking means you need to find alternatives to gather important information about your audience, including potential customers and event attendees.

This is where first-party data can step into the spotlight. But what is it, and how can you collect this during your events? In this article, we’ll take you through the importance and benefits of first-party data, and how you can successfully implement strategies to capture it during events.

What is first party data?

Data is a guiding force within events marketing. It helps you drive awareness, target the correct audience, and improve your chances of success.

But what is this data, and how does the collection of it make a difference?

First-party data

First-party data, or 1P data, is information you’ve collected directly from your audience and their interaction with your brand. This could be from event attendees, people who visit your site, or any of your social media followers.

This can include, but is not limited to, information about:

  • Their demographic - e.g. age, income, employment, education.
  • Contact information like email addresses or phone numbers.
  • Their site behaviour, including what they click on, how long they spend on the site, and which pages they visit.
  • Any social media, email, online, or phone conversation transcripts.
  • Their purchase history (if you directly sell products or services).

What are the other types of data collection?

Of course logically, if something can be described as ‘first’, there’s usually a minimum of second or third to follow. This is fortunately true for data collection, as we’ll explain in more detail below.

Zero-party data

Taking a step backwards, the phrase zero-party data has been coined to describe information which is voluntarily provided by customers when they interact with your brand. 

This could be from quizzes or surveys in which customers choose to share information about their preferences and interests to personalise their service. It’s more proactive than first-party data, and can be incredibly valuable for crafting more bespoke events marketing strategies.

Second-party data

Second-party data is used to describe any information about your audience you didn’t collect yourself - but rather received from a secondhand source. This could be data shared by a marketing partner as you work together, or data purchased from another company.

Whilst this is often easier than collecting data yourself, it can work out more expensive, and you run the risk of not receiving relevant information for your purposes. 

Third-party data

Perhaps the most well-known within ordinary circles, third-party data is the term used to describe data collected by any business, without a direct link to you or your audience. 

In these cases, data agencies collect information from a random sample, and can sell it on to businesses. This can be expensive, and you have the same reliability risks as second-party data. This is also not exclusively available to you, as businesses can sell to your competitors - reducing the usability of the information.

Note - third-party data will also become harder to collect as web browsers begin to remove third-party cookies, or have done so already.

Data collection and privacy regulations

We feel that we cannot mention data collection without a brief interlude to discuss the privacy regulations that have a big influence on what information you can collect and your responsibility for its protection.

For any business looking to capture, collect and store information for anyone from the EU or EEA, you need to comply with the EU GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). Since Brexit, data collection in the UK is governed by the UK GDPR which shares several similarities with its European counterpart.

Note - there are several other privacy regulations around the world, like the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) which was modelled on the EU GDPR.

These rules set out what you can and cannot do with the data you collect, and outlines the individual rights people have to their data collection and privacy settings. Complying with these regulations is essential, as you could face severe fines for any infractions.

Why is first party data important?

With all of this in mind, you may be wondering why first-party data is so important for you to collect. However, there are a lot of benefits to capturing more information directly from your audiences.

It’s reliable, relevant, and accurate

Unlike other data collection types, you receive first-party data straight from the source. This removes any complications from other involved parties - for example, you don’t need to rely on another company to gather the information.

As for the data itself, capturing first-party data is more reliable and accurate because it’s taken directly from your audience

These are people who are already interested or invested in your brand and the events you organise, which also means the information is more directly relevant to any goals you’re trying to achieve.

It’s yours

Linked to this, first-party data is yours. You own the rights of use, have gathered the correct permissions from your audience, and as such can use it as you see fit to help you make business decisions (within reason).

Another benefit of owning first-party data is that it’s only available to you - not your competitors. Owning and using this information can help you make your event stand out for all the right reasons.

Note - establishing your own first-party data collection usually makes it easier for you to comply with privacy regulations because you’re in control of the data you capture and how you store it.

It helps guide business decisions

Perhaps the main reason capturing first-party data is important is that it can help you to make relevant and useful business decisions.

Effective event marketing relies on having the right information to create advertising strategies, choose the right themes for your audience, and even personalise events and communication to build a stronger relationship with attendees. 

By capturing your own first-party data, you have a better chance of improving your relationship with your audience and having successful future events.

Want to learn more about the impact of personalisation for your event marketing strategies? Check out our blog on The Essential Guide to Event & Conference Personalisation.

How to collect first party data at events

With all of this in mind, your next step is to actually use your events to capture data from attendees. To help you out, we’ve included a selection of ideas and best practice tips for how you can collect information from attendees and potential guests throughout your event.

Track online behaviour

The first stage to collecting first-party information should happen before you even put on your event or conference. Tracking online behaviour helps you collect preliminary information that can help you design your event, and create a successful event marketing plan.

This is because, at this stage, information like audience demographics and interests can guide you to come up with interesting themes and topics for your events that will attract your attendees and encourage them to register.

Top tip - make sure you’re using tracking pixels (small lines of code) that will record how visitors behave on your website.

From there, you should also make sure you pay attention to registration information and social media engagement during, and after your event - as this will help you gauge how successful different aspects were amongst your delegates.

Use icebreakers or activities

Once the event has begun, you need a way to continue capturing first-party data in fun and innovative ways to ensure you can continue the relationship with your attendees in the future.

Using activities and icebreakers are an excellent way to gather information without becoming intrusive, or feeling like you’re constantly investigating or mining for more data.

For example, you could include photo booths, quizzes, and competitions that need a contact email address for participants to receive the results. This offers you an avenue to continue the relationship once the event has ended, and keep in contact with your attendees.

Icebreakers are another way to gather relevant data about people’s interests, hobbies, and opinions. This can help you target different groups with information they may find interesting, and encourage them to attend other events in the future.

Top tip - be transparent at every stage of the data collection journey. Use tick boxes for contact preferences, and make sure participants know they may be contacted in the future.

Offer badge-scanning technology

Badge-scanning technology is an easy way to capture reliable first-party data about your event attendees in real time. QR codes can be linked to individual registration details, printed onto a badge or lanyard, which can then be scanned multiple times during the event.

For example, if you’re managing a trade roadshow or conference with multiple booths and vendors, badge-scanning at each point of contact allows you to see trends in participant behaviour. You can see what stalls were popular, with whom, and use this to build on your future event marketing strategies for each attendee.

This is a simple, non-intrusive way to collect data about attendee behaviour. It also removes the need for people to constantly need to share their information, streamlining the process and making it more enjoyable for participants.

Top tip - badge scanning is also useful for safety and security, as it allows you to monitor attendee figures in case of emergency.

Consider offering incentives

You never want your first-party data collection methods to feel too transactional, because this could alienate event attendees and discourage them from coming to future conferences. After all, no-one wants to feel like they’re being interrogated for personal information.

However, offering incentives for sharing information does give you the chance to build a more reciprocal relationship. Whether this is via discounts, samples, or classic event freebies like tote bags and pens, giving something in return (with no pressure) can help encourage attendees to share more relevant information with you.

Offer forums for feedback

Having spaces for feedback both during and after your event can help you gather reliable first-party data about event success, and how to improve in the future.

Surveys, reviews, and direct conversations are all excellent methods for capturing more information about your attendees. This could include:

  • Their thoughts about the event.
  • Future topics and themes they would be interested in.
  • Which event marketing strategies were more successful.
  • Demographic information.

Using this first-party data can guide you when you’re planning for the future; both in creating new event marketing roadmaps, and adopting personalisation techniques when you’re reaching out to interested parties.

Our top tips for first-party data collection at events

We understand that capturing first-party data effectively can be daunting, especially for the first few times - which is why we’ve also included some of our top tips to help you make the most of your event marketing.

Be transparent

The most important tip we can give you when it comes to collecting data (first-party or otherwise) is to be transparent about it.

People have become more aware of how valuable their data is, and are much more conscious of what it can be used for. By being transparent about your data collection policies, audiences can trust that their information is safe and secure with you - and they may be willing to share more in the future.

Make it natural

When you’re collecting first-party data during events, you want to make the process as natural as possible. You never want to disrupt the event experience and make attendees feel like they’re being used for their information.

Try to incorporate tech solutions, like QR codes or apps that won’t disrupt the flow of the event. Alternatively, you could include data collection as part of a game or activity to make it feel more natural and like part of the event.

Accept the ‘No’s

No is a complete sentence - and always an acceptable answer. Not everyone will be willing to share information all of the time, and you need to be aware that this will happen during your event.

Instead, look at refusals as a learning opportunity. These could indicate there are too many mandatory fields on registration forms, or that your current event marketing strategy is too invasive. This can help you adapt and shift the focus onto other ways to collect first-party data, and create a more approachable event experience.

Be consistent

Whatever event marketing strategies you choose, make sure to stay consistent. Consistency helps to make sure your information is reliable and accurate, and allows you to make the best decisions in the future.

Another aspect of consistency comes with organising frequent events. Multiple events in a series helps you understand more about your audience, including overall engagement with your topics and which demographics are more willing to attend events.

Know what you want

Whether you’re organising a trade show or a conference, events are excellent for collecting first-party data of all kinds. But, you should always know what kind of information you’re looking for!

Knowing what information is relevant for your purposes helps you avoid spending time and money in areas where it isn’t needed. This ensures the data you actually collect is more useful and will actually help you in the future.

For example, knowing that you want to collect data about attendee behaviour on the day can help you design an effective strategy to capture this (through badge-scanning, event registration forms etc).

Planning an event? Contact ACC Liverpool for expert assistance

At ACC Liverpool, we have an excellent Event Management team who can help you make the most of your event here. Whether you need IT Support, Sustainability information, or want to experience our Virtual Tour, don’t hesitate to Get in Touch.

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