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14 May 2019

Boost Onsite Engagement with Mobile Apps

Abelene Hu

We live in a world of competing distractions, always connected to the work that regularly encroaches on our time away from the office. Mobile phones are a key culprit, so you might think that encouraging your attendees to use them at your conference or meeting is the last thing you’d want. But with two-thirds of your guests using their devices anyway, doesn’t it make sense to use the distraction to your advantage?

A carefully crafted mobile app can help your delegates optimize their individual conference experience and interact with other attendees. Paired with a smart social media strategy, your event app can generate year-round interest that translates to an engaged audience and a more successful event. In fact, mobile apps have been credited with both a positive return on investment and a positive impact on attendee satisfaction, two key metrics for most event planners.

Event apps also offer a significant benefit to event organizers by creating an efficient communication channel with your attendees…but only if you’ve convinced them it’s worth downloading. We’ve come up with this short guide to help you build an attendee app that’s useful, intuitive, and fun.

Market Your App

The more attendees use your app, the greater the benefits for every stakeholder: you, your team, your speakers, your event sponsors, and your guests. Set yourself up for success by marketing the app effectively.

Be sure to sell the benefits that are most relevant at each touchpoint:

  • When website visitors view your online program, let them know about the real time schedule and personal agenda planner in your event app.
  • If you send out email notifications of any event changes, remind attendees the best way to get up-to-date information is through the app.
  • On your registration confirmation screen and in your follow-up email, invite your guests to download the app instead of printing their itinerary. Include links.
  • In your onsite registration area, display posters encouraging attendees to skip the queue with mobile check-in.
  • When promoting your event dinners or functions on social media, mention that the app is fastest way to receive and use your tickets.

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Make It Personal

A useful app is one that’s tailored to your audience – one that can be personalized for each individual. In the case of your event app, that means presenting information dynamically and giving users control over what they see on screen.

For example, say you’re organizing a week-long conference with three different streams, and your delegates want to choose sessions across all of them. Your app could simplify their schedule by letting them filter the program by day, room, stream, or session type, and then select sessions to add to their own personal agenda. And rather than blasting every attendee about a change of room, speaker, or schedule, you could simply send a push notification to registered guests.

Allowing your attendees to build a profile in the app or link the app to their social media profiles will help them keep in touch with other delegates who share their interests. Need a more confidential environment? There’s no reason why you can’t restrict communications to conference ecosystem, sharing relevant resources or pre-reading material through the app.

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Let Everyone Have Their Say

It’s not uncommon for the loudest personalities to get the most speaking time. You can balance the scorecard by including live polling and online Q&A in your event app, giving everyone equal voice – including remote attendees.

Your mobile app can also provide convenient way for guests to share goals with a presenter before or during a session, for on-the-fly customization. And it’s a great way to collect feedback after the event is over, influencing your follow-up actions and future events.

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Add Value For Your Exhibitors Or Sponsors

With an event app, you can now go paperless at your event – there’s no need to print a glossy program. But what does that mean for your advertising plan?

It means you can offer innovative event packages to your potential sponsors and advertisers, with greater value and variety than print programs. An event app could let you:

  • Rotate multiple ads from one or more sponsors through the same screen space.
  • Play high definition video ads and show high resolution, full color images.
  • Link directly to your sponsors’ landing pages or online stores.
  • Selectively present ads to a target audience segment, based on their profiles or registration details.
  • Set a later deadline for receiving digital ads from your sponsors.

The precise list of benefits will depend on your app’s features, so ask about advertising features when you’re choosing an event app provider.

Fitocracy

Keep It Fun

An event app provides a serious feature list to make life easy for your attendees, but that shouldn’t stop you from making it fun. Use the push notification features in your event app to build mobile exclusive offers and competitions into your delegates’ event experience.

Even better, opt for the most exciting new tool in the event manager’s kit: gamification. Simply set a challenge for your attendees and use the app to track their progress from outset to end goal, using mobile check-in, location services, and in-app rewards. For example, you could award prizes to the top scoring guests who earn points by visiting exhibitors, attending sessions, or sharing updates on social media. A live leaderboard will give them an extra nudge to level up their gameplay.

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Building Your Event App

In this blog post, we’ve highlighted some of the engaging features your event app can provide for your attendees. But you’ll need to make sure you’ve covered all the basics first, because your guests are unlikely to feel inspired by an app that crashes or contains more bugs than features.

The good news for event planners is that you don’t need to start from scratch or hire your own software developers. There are many commercially available, white labeled apps with reliable and diverse feature sets ready to be customized with your branding and event information. By choosing one that’s bundled with your event management platform, you’ll be confident your attendees always have the right information at the right time, right at their fingertips.

For more ideas on building an event app for community building and onsite engagement, talk to one of our EventsAIR consultants or check out our videos.