Implicit vs. Explicit: Beyond the Badge Mass Personalization

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Whether your data capture and personalization efforts are implicit, explicit or a combination, it’s critical to develop a rubric.

When combined with behavioral data, paths for mass personalization will emerge.

Many associations are at the beginning of this journey and will learn much from internet commerce best practices.

My Big Move

Late last year, I made the big move from a lifetime in Ohio to sunny Orlando. Our new home needed a bit of TLC so I’ve been doing a lot more online research and shopping…and Facebook is stalking my every move. Items viewed on sites like Home Depot end up as ads in my news feed. Does that creep you out?

Facebook thinks it knows me, but it really doesn’t. Just because I did a bit of research or a drive-by browse, I’m not a strong target for a presumptive ad. It actually turns me off. Facebook is serving up mostly implicit mass personalization. Adopters of iBeacons, RFID and NFC for conference tracking are taking a similar implicit capture and personalization path.

Explicit is Better for Conferences

Explicit personalization is more “amazon like” and yields greater conversion. Explicit capture on Amazon looks at your buying history, ratings and items on your wish list. It serves up smarter recommendations because it’s action driven vs. drive-by. Explicit is a superior data capture tactic; especially for B2B conferences where attendees are investing hundreds or thousands of dollars. You capture less data, but the data is much more meaningful as it requires a higher level of attendee engagement and lots of opting in.

Shifting from Implicit to Explicit Capture

iBeacons, and other passive tracking technologies, are cool but offer very low attendee benefit. Your technology budget is much better spent on gathering rich data that allows you to better personalize to your premium conference customers. Here are some do’s and don’ts for improved customer behavior capture and insight.

1. Session Interest

If an attendee views a session, adds it to their itinerary, shows up, participates in polling, accesses the handout, posts a photo of a slide on Instagram and completes a survey, they’ve given you a bunch of explicit cues for future personal communications. Assign point values for each of these touchpoints based on the level of engagement.

2. Expo Interest

Some larger shows use implicit attendee tracking to help them renew exhibitors. They’ll track how many badges walked by a certain area or even attempt to calculate number of hours spent on the show floor. Never implement a technology to help prove your exhibitors wrong. If they perceive that they had a bad show, no data set will convince them otherwise.

Instead, encourage attendees to favorite exhibitors they’d like to see on the attendee website and mobile app. Aggregate data on exhibitors visited where the attendee agreed to have their badge scanned. Those are always either explicit opt-ins or cues that they are only interested in winning an iPad.

How are you using data to improve your ability to personalize communications and be more relevant? What are some methods that you have found successful?

Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2015.

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