Video: 4 Ways to Make Events More Trackable

Hi. This is the cardboard impersonation of SHIFT Communications CEO Todd Defren, nicknamed Cowboy Todd, and today I’d like to share four ideas about how to make your event more trackable for metrics purposes.

First and foremost, you need to make sure that you have your web analytics set up properly to track when people come in from an event. We’ll talk more about URLs in just a bit, but just be aware that you need to have goals and goal values set up in advance.

The first method of making an event more trackable is to add a hashtag for it. This is exceptionally straightforward with a few rules. The hashtag needs to be unique, so make sure you search for it on Twitter and Google first before rolling it out, especially on printed collateral. It needs to be as short as you can make it. Finally, it needs to be memorable, because you want people to share it with each other at the event. Another good rule of thumb is to pick up the phone and tell a colleague just once what the hashtag is. If they ask you to repeat it or to spell it, you need a new hashtag.

The second method of making an event more trackable, that dovetails nicely with a hashtag, is a meme. For example, the real Todd Defren was unable to make it to SXSW a few years back, so he sent me – Cowboy Todd – to the event. It make tracking the event very simple as people talked about me, shared pictures of me, and moved me around. If you go the meme route, make your meme event-specific; for SXSW, I wore a cowboy outfit. (Well, technically, I still am.) Make the meme trans-media: something that can be spread through more than one form of media. Here I am, three years later, a cardboard cutout, making webinars (as an example). And of course, make it memorable, then use good tracking software to track the conversations about your meme.

The third way of tracking events is with scannables. It’s a mobile world, so providing as many mobile hooks as possible is essential. Common scannables include short URLs, SMS short codes, and QR codes or tags. Scannables need to be highly segmented. Consider having a different QR code for a sign versus a booth, so you can tell which gets more scans. Have the underlying URL separately trackable and targeted. Finally, make the scannables easy to use; no one wants to text a 30-character line of gibberish or scan a QR code in motion!

The last way to track events is with custom URLs. Make the event URL something unique, make it easily pronounceable, and make sure you’re using proper analytics tags so that you know what traffic is event related, versus your regular marketing and PR efforts. Keeping them separate and properly tagged is essential if you want to ascertain the true value of your event.

Try these tactics at your next event to more accurately measure what’s being talked about at events you’re hosting or just attending. As always, if you’d like our help, SHIFT Communications is happy to lend a hand. Our results are never flat, even if our CEO stand-in is. Learn more at, or call us at 617-779-1800.

Download our new whitepaper, PR and Influencers: A Better Way

Posted on March 1, 2013 in Events, Metrics, Video

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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