Written by Jim Hennessey and Katie Zupancic

Back in March, we wrote about the value of Participant Profiles in concepting, marketing, and executing your event. Participant profiles are “mini-biographies” of your most common event participants and your desired participants. This month, we are talking about using those profiles to map the journey of your event audiences.

What is a Customer Journey Mapping? Sometimes referred to as a participant experience map, participant journey maps are documents or illustrations that represent the experience people are having at every interaction with your event.

Mapping the journey of your event participant provides details on what motivates your audience to follow your event, register, attend, enjoy and come back again the next year. The map also provides your team with a quick way to assess areas for improvement and identify new ideas to keep your event fresh.

There are five steps along the Event Participant Journey:  Awareness, Action, Engagement, Experience, and Renewal.  Each represents a key stage in your event’s lifespan and will have multiple pieces to evaluate and define.

  • Awareness – How do your participants and potential participants become aware of the event and the cause it supports? The points in this step include advertising, social media and public relations. The map should not only include what will be done in these areas but also, how each participant is expected to interact and respond to the planned messaging.
  • Action – This could also be termed cultivation. Once your participant becomes aware of the event, how do you cultivate them and encourage them to register? Social media, email, website content, and SEO all play a role. We encourage you to evaluate your event’s online experience during this phase. Optimizing your website for mobile and creating a good user experience online is crucial.
  • Engagement – Depending on your event model, engagement can simply mean buying a ticket, or it could mean registering and fundraising. Map out the quickest and easiest ways for participants to register or buy with the least amount of effort. Make the transaction quick, easy and secure. While the checkout process seems like a natural point to gather additional information from your participants, is a lengthy registration process filled with demographic and survey questions causing participants to abandon their purchase before completion?
  • Experience – Production teams often have the easiest job mapping their participant journey, because they almost always have an actual map, floor chart, or diagram of the event. But encourage them to go deeper. Map out how you want your participant to interact with your plans. Think about creating signage/messaging that “speaks to your audience, not at them.” Use the map to determine how participants will flow through everything you have planned for them – both physically and emotionally.
  • Renewal – After the event is over, it’s not really over. What do you want your participants to do now? For annual events, you want them to come back and bring friends and family. For one-time events, you want them to champion your cause and share your message. Renewal is also where to evaluate how you introduce your audiences to other events or opportunities to get involved with your organization.

We want to answer the two most common questions we hear about Participant Journey mapping before we close.

What should your participant journey map look like? Be visual. Use a flow chart or spreadsheet. Just make sure whatever method you use has meaning for the people involved and works best for your team. Remember, no two journey maps are exactly the same.

There is actually a great Pinterest Board that provides examples of different map formats – check it out here!

How much detail should the participant journey map include? If you have the data – use it. Some steps in the journey align nicely with data – Awareness metrics are very beneficial. Other steps, like Action and Engagement, might be more storytelling or narrative in nature. Of course, the Experience area should be visual.

Don’t let the idea of creating Participant Journey maps intimidate you. Start small and build over time. The maps don’t need to be re-created each time your event rolls around. Use the map from the prior event as a starting point. Evaluate where you stayed on course and where you made a U-turn. Finally, grow your map as you grow your event.

Jim Hennessey and Katie Zupancic work on MuckFest® MS, a fun mud and obstacle 5K in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. Connect with them here: Jim (LinkedInTwitterGoogle+) and Katie (LinkedInTwitter,Google+).

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