Welcome to the golden age of event technology!
Back in the dark ages, event marketers had a slim handful of solutions to choose from. While these platforms were good, they were limited. The result was that it was difficult to find event management software that fits like a glove.
Today, event professionals have a vast ecosystem of event platforms to peruse—each of which is able to provide unique advantages. If you look at the event marketing stats, organizations are investing more so than ever on these platforms. But the explosion of options has given rise to a new challenge: Which event management software is the best for your organization?
To help you answer this question, we’ve put together ten other questions that should help you determine how you can find the event solution that fits like a glove.
What are my goals?
This is the most important question that you can ask yourself.
Repeat: The most important question.
What are you trying to accomplish with your event strategy?
- Are you trying to create a stellar experience for your customers, employees, business partners or other stakeholders?
- Are you trying to win big on ticket revenue?
- Are you running an unpaid event and would really just like it if the house were packed?
- Is the accumulation and retention of sponsorships a primary concern?
- Is press and exposure your primary goal?
It may be that your event strategy is actually a mix of all of the above. It may be that your event strategy has to deal with something entirely different. Regardless of what your event goals are specifically, the understanding of them will enable you to choose event software that’s best able to help you accomplish them.
We generally shy away from using superlatives, but here’s one that we can share with complete confidence: No event management software can do it all. Some may be able to do a lot, but even then, they will have different strengths and weaknesses.
For instance, some event management software may come with easy-to-set-up event registration pages, but be lacking in comprehensive event promotion and analytics tools. Other platforms may come with comprehensive event marketing and analytics tools but are lacking in functions for engaging attendees.
At the end of the day, you will have to settle for an event management platform that can’t do it all. What matters is that your event software does what your goals require it to do.
How is my current event technology stack helping me achieve my goals?
Maybe you are already using event management software. Maybe you are currently using an assortment of tools to cover your event management needs. Are your tools enough? Or should you seriously consider another solution?
When choosing the right event management software for your organization, you’ll want to evaluate how your current technology stack is assisting you in achieving your business goals and whether or not a new event management solution will be able to better help you.
If you’re looking to get a better understanding of your tech stack, we recommend taking an event technology assessment. After running an assessment of your event technology you should have a better idea of how your current event technology is assisting you in achieving your goals, and where there is room for improvement.
What types of events am I running?
Piggybacking off your goals and event technology, different events require different needs. It will be a lot more helpful to have a mobile event networking app at a conference or tradeshow than it will be at an internal training event or activity. Likewise, it will be a lot more important to have a hefty suite of event promotion tools for an external event than for an internal event.
Consider INBOUND: A 25,000+ person annual flagship marketing event produced by the marketing automation company HubSpot. The team at INBOUND has deliberately grown their audience over the past several years to the point that the event now requires a lot more logistics management than it did initially. Knowing that they needed to streamline their processes, get more analytics out of their event, and drive more event growth, the INBOUND team chose an event management software that catered to these unique event needs.
Whether you find yourself with a diverse event strategy featuring many types of events or a leaner event strategy with a few event types in mind, the event management software that you choose should be tailored to the events you are producing.
What do other people think of the platform in question?
Phoning a friend is just as valuable when shopping for event software as it is when answering questions from Regis Philbin for the chance to win a million dollars.
Whether you are reaching out to your own network or beyond, it pays to get a second opinion. Initially, you may want to reach out to your network and ask what type of event management software your peers are using and how they like it.
After you’ve tapped your initial network, you may want to consult a third-party review site like G2Crowd or Capterra. The reviews on these websites are completely by software users for software users, providing a great resource for objective data.
After tapping your own network and the reviews available on third-party platforms, you may find yourself in conversation with several event management software providers. There are a lot of questions to ask these providers (some of which are included on this list), but one question you should seriously consider asking is if they are willing to put you in contact with any current customers. These customers should be able to give you a good indication of how the software is at the moment vs. when someone used or reviewed it a year ago.
Does the platform in question offer a free trial?
After all of your research, you still might not know if a product is a good fit for your needs. That’s where a free trial can help out.
Ask potential providers whether or not they are willing to give you a free trial, for how long, and for how many members of your team. The more you are able to play around with a platform, the better feel you will have for it. Ditto for your team.
If certain features are unavailable, or if the free trial itself is completely unavailable, ask why.
What degree of branding and customization does the platform in question provide?
We’re long past the days of bland user interfaces that communicate nothing about your brand’s identity to audiences. This is especially the case when someone is interacting with the digital content of your event brand.
When selecting an event management software, check to see if it offers tools for easily putting your event brand front and center. These include:
- A drag-and-drop website editor
- A customizable event agenda module
- Customizable email templates
- A branded event app
- A white label event app
- Embeddable widgets that allow for customization
Exactly which branded features you need are up to you. Chances are that you will want the option to put your organization’ branding front-and-center, and you will want to be able to do so without a headache.
Speak with your event software provider to better understand the full extent of their event branding functionalities.
Does the platform in question integrate with marketing automation or CRM platforms? If so, which platforms does it integrate with? Do these integrations require additional fees?
No person is an island. The same could be said for event management software. The overall strength of an event management platform lies not in what it can do on its own, but in how well it can work with other platforms in your technology stack.
It is not uncommon for many event marketers to leverage a variety of different platforms to accomplish their business goals, including:
- Event marketing automation software
- CRM software
- Business intelligence software
- Customer success software
Fortunately, many event management platforms come with a variety of software integration functions via third-party integration platforms as a service (iPaaS) and native open APIs.
In researching an event management software, take the time to see how it will work with the other technologies in your organization’s tech stack. Doing so will likely make it easier to manage your event, prove ROI and maintain alignment with other teams.
What degree of analytics does the platform in question come with?
We’re in the midst of a data revolution. Through the grace of modern digital marketing, it is now possible to track activities and make data-informed solutions more so than ever before. Now, you can—and should—be able to expect the same from your events.
Depending on your goals, different metrics will be important to you. This will in turn influence the event software that you end up selecting. For instance, depending on the event management software you select you may be able to track analytics like:
- Gross event revenue
- Total registrations
- Total check-ins
- Event sponsors page views
- Event sponsor links clicked
- Promo code performance
- Event app adoption
- The number of messages sent by attendees in your event app
- Event session and speaker ratings
- Net promoter scores (NPS) on the event in general
What’s more, some event platforms enable event organizers to easily view metrics between events. This can be especially helpful when trying to analyze successes and areas of improvement in your event strategy.
In fact, there’s so much data that can be mined from event platforms that this is just scratching the surface.
When shopping around for an event management software, determine which metrics you are aiming to track. Then determine whether or not the platform in question will be able to track them (and easily allow you to draw meaningful insights from them).
What is the product roadmap of the platform in question?
Investing in an event software is a long-term commitment and, rightly, you’re going to want to select a platform that will be around for a while.
While it may be worthwhile to investigate an event software provider’s funding and overall business trajectory, one of the most useful questions that you can ask is about an organization’s product roadmap. Here’s why.
As we’ve mentioned above, no one event management solution is perfect. Each has its strengths and its weaknesses. However, these weaknesses might change in the future.
The first reason to ask about an event software provider’s roadmap is to understand whether or not the product will more closely match your event needs moving forward.
The second reason to ask this question is to gauge how an organization handles customer feedback. If enough people request a feature, will the organization consider adding it to their roadmap in place of another feature?
The third reason to ask this question is enthusiasm. If the provider that you are speaking with is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their product roadmap then you know that their heart is in it. A lack of knowledge or enthusiasm may speak to a disconnected and disinterested company culture that you should engage with at your own risk.
Does the product in question provide a structured onboarding plan for new users? If so, what does it entail?
When you purchase software, you’re purchasing more than a product. You’re purchasing a relationship.
So, how does your event management provider handle their customer relationships? Learning about how an organization onboards their new customers is a great way to open up this conversation, but it’s only the start.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles a program has. Nor does it matter how seemingly easy it is to play those bells and whistles. At some point, something’s going to go wrong. You or someone else on your team might hit a dead end with a product feature or something on the back-end of the product might break.
Having a dedicated customer success team to help you get the most out of your events and a customer support team to help you when things go wrong can make a world of difference in your experience with an event management solution.
Drill your prospective event software providers on how they approach their customer relationships. It matters.
Wrapping Up: The Right Questions for the Right Event Management Software
This is the best time to be in events. There are more solutions on the market than ever before. Many of these solutions are impressive in their own right. To find the solution that’s right for your needs, you just have to figure out the right questions to ask.