In our last lesson, we walked through the basics of event app creation. Once your event app is created the next step is to get as many attendees into that app as possible. This isn't always an easy task, this lesson will outline not only how to drive event app adoption, but also how to engage attendees in your app before, during, and after your event.
After your app is published, the next step is to distribute it to all of your attendees or prospective attendees (if the app is open registration). Let's jump into how to distribute and promote your app first, and then how to engage attendees in the app.
How to Distribute Your Event App
Two channels you might consider to increase app adoption rates are email and text message. When attendees register for events be sure to ask for their email address and cell phone number so that you can adequately follow-up and remind them about the app.
A framework to use Email & SMS to Distribute Your Event App:
- Send a post-registration email and text message with a link to the app download page immediately after someone registers (make sure it is optimized for all devices, both mobile and desktop).
- Send a welcome email and text message to anyone who downloads your app. Encourage them to set up their profile, and to share with their colleagues who are attending your event too. Offer some fun, scripted social media messages for them to share with their network about the app.
- One to two weeks prior to your event, send details to registrants about special in-app offers (contests, VIP areas, etc) via email and text message with a link to the app download page to further spark interest in what's going on in the app.
- On the day of your event send an event welcome email and text message to all attendees with a link to the app download page. For added adoption, use your app to check-in attendees to your event or sessions.
- Ensure your event staff understands how to assist attendees with finding your app and downloading it. Also, ensure that the opening keynote or moderator mentions the app and how to download it while they have everyone's attention.
How to Promote Your Event App
Outside of reminding attendees to download the app, you may consider running marketing campaigns specifically aimed at getting more attendees into the app.
Here are some other effective tactics and offers you might consider trying to further encourage adoption pre-event:
- Go the eco-friendly route! Ditch paper and only offer you agenda on signage and in-app. This forces attendees into the app, where they can find all the info they need.
- Include download instructions in all event marketing materials (your website, emails, brochures, etc).
- Include signage at your venue with reminders, features, and QR download codes throughout the event venue.
- Offering early bird registration discounts to app-adopters.
- Offer perks like express check-in to those with the app downloaded.
- Create app user-only event experiences and personalized content exclusive to the app.
Attendees are now in your app, what's next?
It's not enough to simply drive attendees into the app; you'll want to retain them there and use the app as a key channel in your communication strategy throughout the event experience. This brings us to attendee engagement.
How to Drive App Engagement
There are unique campaigns you can run during the event to encourage attendees to interact with partners, salespeople or products. Here are four key components of your event engagement strategy:
1. Fuel Social Interactions
The Activity Feed
Your in-app social community, or activity feed, can facilitate introductions between professionals who share common interests and create lasting connections. By browsing through community profiles, event stakeholders and visitors can use direct messaging to connect with their peers and arrange for in-person meetings.
Attendee engagement can also be encouraged through your activity feed with:
- Commenting and liking of photos and videos
- Tagging of employees, speakers, and attendees in networking sessions
- Leaderboards highlighting the most active community members
- Visual posts such as impactful slides
Gamification and Interactivity
Fan the embers of social engagement by encouraging participation with innovative tactics enabled by technology. Attendees expect an immersive experience at events and are growing more and more comfortable with the blurring lines between the digital and physical spaces they interact within. Try the following to spur participation:
- Live Q&A sessions: Event speakers may not have the time to meet with everyone in the audience, however, they can engage with the audience with during a live question & answer session facilitated through the mobile app.
- Discussion forums: Provide an outlet where attendees can ask questions of their peers at your events, and answer questions that they have subject matter expertise in. These conversations and the sharing of knowledge can spark business partnerships and keep attendees learning long after a session has ended.
- "Gamified" Happy Hours: Your mobile event app can act as a catalyst for great networking opportunities, however, you might need to take proactive steps to get conversations flowing. Icebreaker games can be a fantastic way to facilitate this, all within the app.
2. Incentivize Participation
Increase the energy and enthusiasm around your event by offering incentives to attendees through in-app experiences. Attendees should feel like they are missing out on something by not downloading the app--because in many cases they are!
Exclusive Experiences: Create exclusive experiences for just app users such as trivia challenge games, or chances to win access to VIP lounges at your venue. You can also create QR code hunts and challenges that encourage attendees to visit different spots around your venue.
Exclusive Prizes: You or your sponsors can offer prizes for attendees to participate in fun activities like scavenger hunts, trivia challenges, leaderboards or ice-breakers.
3. Enable Exhibitors & Sponsors
Help to support your Exhibitors and sponsors' goals by including partner-centric features in your event app. Consider doing the following:
- Enable exhibitor partners to upload their marketing collateral via an exhibitor portal.
- Send push notifications for special exhibitor presentations, or to send thank you messages to key sponsors.
- Facilitate lead retrieval through your event app so your partners can more easily manage their prospects from your event.
4. Run Post-Event Campaigns
Lastly, before the buzz of the event wears off be sure to connect attendees with the content they might be looking for. After your event you should consider sending push notifications to attendees to remind them to open the app and discover:
- Popular event discussion topics, sessions, and user-generated content
- Answers to session Q&A
- Awards and contest winners
- Survey and poll results on the quality of the event venue, content, and speakers
- Videos of sessions or speakers visitors may have missed
Now you've distributed and promoted your app. You've also engaged attendees with key features and messages. Now what? It's time to collect all of that data and measure your event's effectiveness. There is likely a lot of data and analysis taking place in the background of your event programs. That is why in the next lesson we'll dive into measurement and data management for your event program.