Thanks to SmartSurvey, our communication strategy is making us stand out from the crowd. By using SMS, asking the right questions and acting on results, IKEA is one step ahead of the competition.
Feedback is essential to successful events
From a large trade exhibition or global conference, to a smaller training course or award ceremony, whatever event you are running, the ability to gather and measure the views of your audiences will help you to plan, organise and host even more successful events in the future.
Given the wide range of audiences you could be interacting with at different stages of your event, which could include delegates and speakers to exhibitors and sponsors, it’s important to be able to gather feedback before, during and following events.
You may have a good gut feel for knowing roughly how well your past events have performed, but human experiences vary, which makes it challenging for even the most experienced event planner to accurately assess their event success and use this as a basis to inform their future decisions.
In contrast, the right event survey and questionnaire can enable you to remove the guesswork from your evaluation process, helping you to gain a more accurate insight into what your event audiences are thinking and improve your event planning going forward.
Most marketers (31%) believe that event marketing is the single-most effective marketing channel - Endless Events, 2018
Three steps to an effective event survey
- Define your goal
- Define your audience
- Write your survey
- Create the survey
- Distribute the survey
- Gather data
- Generate reports
- Next survey
What is an event survey and why run one?
An event survey typically involves sending a questionnaire to a range of different event audience groups before, during and following an event.
Collecting their views at various stages to better understand what they expected to see, what they were thinking during your event and their overall satisfaction levels afterwards.
This data from these surveys will help you to better track and evaluate how well your event met their expectations and make any necessary changes to further improve future events.
Top tips for creating a great event survey
Mix up your question format
From your respondents’ views on the quality of your speakers, topics discussed and supporting materials, to their satisfaction with your event venue, location and its catering, there’s many different areas you could be looking to cover off and get feedback on, so it’s prudent to bear this in mind when devising your event survey questions.
Ensuring your survey is balanced with a mix of closed and open-ended questions will not only help you to cover off a lot of issues, but it will keep your respondents interested and engaged, and able to provide more detail and clarity where it is needed.
Know who your respondents are
While giving respondents the opportunity to reply anonymously so they provide you with honest and insightful feedback is a good idea, given the wide range of audiences that typically attend events, you’ll want to know what type of attendee they are.
Whether you are interested in their job title, job function or the type of company they work for, or their age range or gender, ensuing they have the means to provide you with this information will be extremely valuable when you are trying to evaluate the opinions of different audience segments post event.
Consider including an NPS Question
Think about including an Event Net Promoter Score question.
If you use this question, which measures how likely attendees would be to recommend your event to others, it’s a quick way of identifying those attendees who were really happy with your event and would attending, speaking or exhibiting to colleagues.
70% of users become regular customers after an experiential marketing event - EMI & Mosaic, 2016
Four key benefits of running event surveys
Better understand your audiences
With more information about their likes and dislikes, their expectations of your products and services, and what would make them most likely to attend or support one of your future events.
Identify areas where you need to improve
With feedback and suggestions from respondents about what they felt could have worked better and ideas about what you might like to include next time around.
Make your event even more relevant in the future
From sponsors and exhibitors, to speakers and delegates, given that your event is likely to have many different interested audiences, by surveying all these groups you’re more likely to get a broader perspective of how well your event is meeting your industry’s needs. Trends and issues change, so the more audiences you survey the more likely to be able to keep abreast of this and shape your marketing strategy to become even more relevant in the future.
Attract more sponsors and increase your success
By running more surveys and using your positive post-event survey results to demonstrate your event’s success story, which helps to draw in more sponsorship and funding.
According to a recent study nearly a one-fifth of all event planners consider getting sponsors to be among their biggest challenges - Bizzabo
Six ways of maximising your event survey response rate
At whatever stage you are distributing your survey, whether it’s before, during or following your event, to improve your chances of obtaining high-quality and impactful feedback you’ll need to maximise your survey response rate. Here’s some actions you can take to achieve this.
Keep it short
Generally, the longer your survey the less people will complete it. So, aim for no more than 5 – 15 questions in length.
Offer an incentive
Depending on the type and size of event you are running you may want to include a survey incentive to encourage more participants to respond. Whether its cash, a gift or entry into a prize draw, whatever your incentive, putting a time limit on how long it’s available for can elicit a faster response from your audience.
Send reminders, but not too many
Many respondents will be too busy, or just unavailable when your original survey invitation is sent, so sending reminders to persuade them to complete your survey at a time that is more convenient for them can be very effective at increasing your response rate. However, it’s important to not overdo this.
Choose your survey distribution method
The great thing about online event surveys is that they can be distributed in a myriad of ways, from an email invitation, website pop up or an SMS to distribution via a QR code, a social media channel and even an offline survey if you are in an area where there is no Internet connection. So, whatever stage your event is at, or the demographics of your event audience, there will be an effective option available to distribute your survey.
Reassure respondents of their data privacy
Data protection and data security are more critical than ever before. So, if you can reassure participants that you have the right procedures in place to protect and secure their data, they will be more likely to respond to your survey.
Whether looking to send a pre-event or post-event survey, or even get your audiences to complete a survey during your event, sending it as soon as they sign up for your event or when it ends is more likely to capture their attention when everything is fresh in their minds.
Reaching out to new attendees is a major challenge for 90% of all those involved in organising B2B events - Eventbrite
Event survey questions
Examples questions for each stage of your event survey
Knowing what questions to ask respondents at different stages of your event, whether that’s before, during or afterwards can provide valuable insights that you can use to tweak your operations and help improve its overall success. Tip: you might like our list of conference survey questions.
"What is it about our event, that made you choose to attend?"
"What are you hoping to take away from the experience?"
During the event
"What is your overall opinion and level of satisfaction with our event so far?"
"Which elements are you enjoying the most and what areas if any are you less happy with?"
"Did our event meet your expectations? And if yes, or no, why was this?"
"How likely are you to participate in any of our future events?"
An overwhelming majority of event marketers (86%) believe that technology can have a major positive impact on the success of their events - Endless Events, 2018
Why use online event surveys rather than paper-based versions
Given the wide range of events that an event planner may need to organise, their size can sometimes determine whether they choose to use a paper-based or online survey to collect feedback.
For a small training course, a paper-based survey can seem like a quick and effective way to collect post-event views from your participants. However, with written questionnaire responses often difficult to read and the ever-present risk that bits of paper can go missing, which can affect your results, going digital is ultimately a more reliable and effective option.
In contrast to paper-based surveys, online event surveys offer many advantages:
With digital data collection there are no paper, postage, printing and data input costs to worry about. It’s quick to set up and create a free online survey and then simply upgrade your account to a paid plan when you need more advanced features.
More professional look and feel
Through design tools that allow you to customise everything from your logo, fonts, colours and background images. You can even add domain branding to ensure everything is on-brand, which helps to build trust with respondents and can increase your response rates.
It’s easier to reach respondents anywhere
As you can make your survey simpler to access on any device via email, social media, an embedded link on a website and even SMS.
Improved data security
Following the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act in May 2018, the steps that organisations need to take to secure their data became even stricter. No matter how small or informal your event, confidentiality and data protection are critical, particularly when collecting personally identifiable information.
Compared with information on paper-based surveys, which can easily go missing, survey information held online is easier to secure, particularly when you are working with an ISO27001 certified company like SmartSurvey, which in order to retain its accreditation status needs to have some of the most robust industry processes and infrastructures in place to secure customers’ data including hosting in a secure, UK based data centre.
Simpler evaluation and analysis
As you can view real-time results and easily perform in-depth analysis on the data you collect through customised reports.
Better plan future events
With the scheduling tools available with online survey software you can even boost the attendance at your future events. Rather than the traditional way of chasing people and trying to juggle suitable dates, times and venues, through an online scheduling survey you can quickly ascertain peoples’ availability and preferences for your event, which can ultimately help maximise its overall chances of success.
Different types of event surveys you could run
The online survey is one of the most powerful tools an event planner has available to them for gathering suggestions and ideas in the run up to an event, to collecting feedback during and following events to review what people thought of them.
Survey feedback questions can range from obtaining attendee views about the quality of speakers, topics discussed and exhibitors to more logistical questions, which examine their opinions about the venue, on-site catering, parking facilities and even the ticket prices.
Here are a few examples of where the online event survey could be extremely useful for event planners and organisers…
Corporate event planning
Online surveys can provide a professional and efficient method of assessing and managing different opinions during the planning of corporate events. From gathering attendee thoughts on speaker preferences and any questions they would like to see addressed, to assessing whether they have any specialist dietary requirements, sending pre event survey questions can ensure you are better prepared to meet attendee needs and deliver a more successful event.
Event satisfaction and event evaluation surveys
Whatever event you have hosted, from a seminar to a large conference, or training course to a fundraising event, sending post event survey questions to your attendees to collect their feedback can help you evaluate their success and make any necessary improvements going forward.
RSVPs and attendee information
Either over or under catering can be disastrous for an event. Remove the guesswork by sending potential attendees a quick online RSVP survey. Collect everyone’s names, contact numbers, +1 details and any other information you need to plan your event accurately.
Networking, meet-ups and social gatherings
Whatever your reasons for meeting up, ensure these gatherings run without a hitch by asking potential attendees to complete a quick online survey. What day can they attend? What refreshments do they prefer? Who would they like to be invited?
Meeting planning and scheduling
Using an online survey poll can help you to more efficiently and professionally plan any meeting. Poll possible times, decide on a venue that suits everyone, assess which issues need to be raised and gather the lunch orders.
Between 2017 and 2018 the number of companies organizing 20 or more events per year increased by 17% - Bizzabo
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get feedback from an event?
Given the wide range of ways in which it can be distributed, from an email invitation, website pop up and SMS to a QR code, via a social media channel or as an offline survey that can be accessed on any device; online surveys are one of the most effective ways to get feedback from your event.
Why is feedback and evaluation important after an event?
It’s essential, as rather than relying on guess work, it gives you a more realistic view from your event audiences about what they believe went well, or not so well. You can then evaluate this feedback to make any necessary changes to improve future events.
What are the benefits of event feedback?
By obtaining feedback from your survey audiences, you’re better able to understand their likes, dislikes, wants and needs and make the necessary improvements to improve their satisfaction with future events that you host.
How do you get customers to complete event surveys?
There are several things you should do. Firstly, by going online, you will immediately make your survey accessible. It’s also essential to keep your survey short, make your questions clear and easy to understand, include survey incentives and follow up with respondents to communicate how you have been able to use their feedback to make positive changes.
What is a pre event survey?
A pre-survey questionnaire is a something you would send in the run up to an event, to help gather suggestions and ideas from your event audiences to make help make your event more successful.
What is a post event survey?
You would use a post-survey questionnaire to gather the views of your event audiences after your event had finished. By examining their feedback, this would enable to evaluate how successful your event had been and make any necessary improvement going forward.
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