Event apps have never been so popular. Most event attendees expect an app these days – and most organisers want one too. A new research study, however, has found that despite attendee engagement being the top reason why organisations invest in event apps, only 20% are enjoying adoption rates of 75% or more.
So what kind of things can organisers do to encourage adoption of event apps? What are the features attendees value the most? And what are the best approaches to take to maximise the return of your event app investments?
Let’s take a look:
1. Design with the Attendee Experience in Mind
Event app design is key to whether apps are used once attendees download them on their phones. If your app is too difficult to navigate, people will simply give up and not use it. So make sure your app is straightforward and easy to use. Apps can also have a significant impact on impressions when people arrive at your event and start their day. And factoring in the ‘attendee experience’ is something you need to do in all design conversations – right from the start.
2. Think of Motivation for Using Your App
How can you motivate attendees to use your event app? You could use a mix of techniques to encourage delegates. For example, you could incentivise attendees to download the app so that they can then take part in business exchanges or meetings. If they haven’t logged into the app, then they won’t be able to take part. You could also provide specific content that is only available on the app. For example, you could provide additional resources and presentations from your session speakers.
3. Offer Valuable and Relevant Event Content
Focus on providing app content that attendees want and value. Anything they do not want is just clutter and will prevent them from being able to navigate easily within the app. And if your attendees find it too difficult to access content that is of value to them, they will not engage. Our research showed in terms of the top app features that attendees want or value the most, information on sessions and speakers came out top at 70%. This was followed by personalised agendas and then further down was the need for maps and floor plans. Think of the content that is essential and then ensure that it is easily available within your app.
4. Don’t Ignore Security
As well as having great design and brilliant content, your event app needs to be strong in terms of security and data protection. The EU GDPR has made the whole issue of data protection a much bigger priority in our industry, and mobiles being infected with harmful viruses is one of the ways that organisations can be vulnerable to attack.
If you want to boost your event app engagement, you need to give attendees reassurance that their data is safe and that you haven’t taken any design short cuts at the expense of security protection. It was pretty devastating for the UK Conservative Party last year when it was discovered that their annual conference app had a security flaw that allowed anyone to access the personal data of attendees. Logging into the app only required an email address. Don’t go down the same path. Make sure your security is top notch.
5. Test, Test and Test Again
Make sure you test your event app thoroughly before asking attendees to download and use it. You need people outside of your events team to test it. Only then will you be given independent objective feedback that will help you. Find out how long it takes to login, what they like and what they don’t like. Listen and record all their feedback. Imagine you are at your event and need to push notifications through the app about a session or room change. Try this out and make sure that everything works. Test it and test again.
6. Promote Your Event App at the Right Time
When it comes to promoting your event app, consider when and how you will get the messaging across. If your app is ready to launch a couple of months before your event, then you can start promoting it then. But if you have an app with little content, then there isn’t much point. Our research found that 75% of apps are downloaded in the week prior to the event. Of this figure, a staggering 32% of attendees don’t download the app until the day of the event.
Look into these figures from your past events if possible and schedule your marketing activities accordingly. No point in spending time and money promoting apps months in advance when most people only download it on the day. Think about the promotional channels you’ll be using too. Our research found that email is the top marketing platform for promoting event apps at a whopping 91%. Other effective tools used by survey respondents include event websites, social media and registration forms.
7. Pride in your App Makes a Difference
If you and your team are not proud and confident of your event app, then it’s unlikely that your delegates will be. Attendees can be swept along with your enthusiasm and positivity which is likely to lead to greater engagement. Also, your attendees could have a fear of missing out especially if everyone else is using it and talking about it. Rather than point vaguely to your event app, embrace all the good work that’s been done on it. More importantly, be clear on how it will enhance the experience of the attendee.
8. Time for Downloading is Crucial
As mentioned in our point on promotion, 32% of attendees download apps on the day of the event. And this means taking in account the time it takes for them to do this. The usual format at some events is that the host or chair welcomes everyone, mentions the app and gives a minute of two for people to download and then moves straight into a voting exercise or the first speaker. This is rarely enough time for attendees to download the app.
A little more time and maybe showing a video on the big screen with steps to follow and benefits of the app would make a big impact on overall engagement by attendees. You could also provide a ‘How to make the most of the app’ leaflet in a ‘goodie bag’ as another way of helping attendees engage with your app.
9. Make Sure App Content is Always Up to Date
Ensure that the app is updated correctly for live changes as your event unfolds. Apps bring value to events only when they successfully connect attendees to the right people and the right content at the right time. And to do this effectively, you need to make sure that the information attendees see on the app is always accurate and up to date. However, our research shows that data transfers between apps and event management systems is a problem for more than 1 in 3 organisations. Dealing with one fully integrated platform like Eventsforce to manage registrations, sessions and apps not only eliminates this problem, but can also boost adoption rates. It will also give organisers a clearer picture on all their event data.
10. Have an App Team That Wants to Help
Have a team of helpers that can guide delegates on all things app-related. The team could be stationed at a kiosk area that is clearly signposted leaving delegates in no doubt that this is the spot to go to for help. Many of the enquiries will happen as attendees arrive for the start of the event but keep this area throughout. Delegates arrive at different times and you will want to ensure they download the app. It could be that a delegate has sat through the first session of the day without the app but wants to use the refreshment break as an opportunity to download it and may need help doing so. Make sure your app team is helpful and has a service mentality, otherwise there will be no point in having them.
In our research 48% of respondents stated that they measure the ROI of the event app by looking at the adoption rates. If you focus on your event app as being integral to the success of your overall event, then you are likely to increase your adoption rates. Too often event apps can be ignored by delegates as being too much hard work. If you use some of the ideas provided, they should help you boost your event app engagement and offer attendees a much more memorable event experience.