Dar­ren Ed­wards throws light on lever­ag­ing apps to pro­mote events

You can lever­age mo­bile tech­nol­ogy with an app that will pro­mote and in­form all about your event. How­ever, what is the key to a suc­cess­ful event App? Read on to find out...

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Agood Na­tive Event app will sup­port and en­hance the event ex­pe­ri­ence for all stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing at­ten­dees, spon­sors, ex­hibitors, speak­ers, lo­cal venues, restau­rants, ac­com­mo­da­tion providers and the event man­ager. Na­tive Event apps are the tool of choice and de­liver con­tent and en­gage your au­di­ence well be­yond the walls of the event. De­vel­op­ing an app that is na­tive to mo­bile de­vices takes ad­van­tage of the faster sync­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, the en­hanced graph­ics and the larger screen size of tablet de­vices.

BUILD A NA­TIVE APP THAT WORKS

Due to the need to en­hance the live at­tendee ex­pe­ri­ence, the value of mo­bile de­vices for events has in­creased im­mensely. The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for hav­ing one has now moved be­yond rea­sons that solely ben­e­fit the event or­gan­iser (be­ing green, go­ing pa­per­less, cre­at­ing rev­enue streams or be­ing able to com­mu­ni­cate changes to par­tic­i­pants in real time) to those that also ben­e­fit the event par­tic­i­pants. Now, it's en­tirely pos­si­ble to build an at­tendee ex­pe­ri­ence around

the ben­e­fits (util­ity, jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, con­nec­tion and recog­ni­tion) af­forded by mo­bile de­vices —an ad­van­tage that no other event-in­dus­try tech­nol­ogy has or can of­fer.

Sim­ply pro­duc­ing a mo­bile event app does not mean that it is go­ing to be a suc­cess. Sadly, some event or­gan­is­ers spend con­sid­er­able sums of event funds in app de­vel­op­ment only to have the en­tire process fail as the app did not de­liver what the at­ten­dees were hop­ing or they were not even aware of the apps ex­is­tence. The num­ber one fac­tor de­ter­min­ing the suc­cess of your app is the ex­tent to which it en­hances the event ex­pe­ri­ence for your at­ten­dees. Un­der­stand your au­di­ence and en­sure that the app you de­liver will pro­vide them with the tools they need to gain the most from your event. If your at­ten­dees are there to net­work, pro­vide them with the tools to sched­ule meet­ings and get so­cial. If they are look­ing for posters, speaker pre­sen­ta­tions, ab­stracts and tech­ni­cal data en­sure that the app you build can de­liver this con­tent seam­lessly.

HOW DO YOU EN­SURE YOUR APP IS USED

Ef­fec­tively pro­mot­ing your mo­bile app is vi­tally im­por­tant to fully achieve your down­load and us­age goals.

Early pro­mo­tion is the key to suc­cess­ful at­tendee take-up. As an event or­gan­iser, you want to cap­ture as many app down­loads as you pos­si­bly can through pre-event pro­mo­tion. It is nec­es­sary to not only pro­mote down­load­ing the app but also to en­sure that it is ac­tively used be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter your event.

My sug­ges­tion to all of my clients is to start your pro­mo­tional cam­paign as early as 60 days out from your event. Sta­tis­tics show that this proves to be very ben­e­fi­cial strat­egy. List all of the app's fea­tures and ben­e­fits and let ex­hibitors and at­ten­dees know how they will be able to use the app to their ad­van­tage.

Make sure you pro­mote the fea­tures of the app and how at­ten­dees can use the app to make their life eas­ier and their over­all ex­pe­ri­ence more ef­fi­cient and con­ve­nient. In­clude this in­for­ma­tion in all of your pro­mo­tional ma­te­ri­als.

SO HOW DO YOU EN­COUR­AGE IN­CREASED APP US­AGE?

It's quite sim­ple re­ally. As early as 60 days from the ac­tual event, start men­tion­ing the app ev­ery­where. And I mean ev­ery­where. Here are a few of the most ef­fec­tive ways to en­gage with ex­hibitors and at­ten­dees based on my ex­pe­ri­ence: Pro­mote the app on your web­site home page and make it easy for all stake­hold­ers to find this in­for­ma­tion. Your event web­site is the best source of in­for­ma­tion pre-event. Pro­mote app use on the home­page of your event web­site along with a ded­i­cated page that in­cludes the 3 es­sen­tials: QR code, im­age of the app, and down­load in­struc­tions. Make noise on all your so­cial me­dia ac­counts. Whether it's Twit­ter, Face­book, LinkedIn, YouTube or what­ever type of so­cial me­dia ac­count you might have, tweet, post and blog away all about the app. Add the three app down­load es­sen­tials to event com­mu­ni­ca­tions such as reg­is­tra­tion con­fir­ma­tions, news­let­ters, and e-blasts. These chan­nels are a great way to di­rectly reach your at­ten­dees and ex­hibitors.

Reach out and ask your ex­hibitors for help. They are one of the best peo­ple who can help pro­mote your brand, en­cour­age at­ten­dance, and pro­mote the app.

Sched­ule a we­bi­nar to demon­strate how easy it is to down­load the app and how to utilise some of the most im­por­tant app fea­tures. Record the we­bi­nar and send out the link for quick ac­cess and ref­er­ence.

Pre­pare a press re­lease. Press re­leases are a great way to fea­ture your up­com­ing event and the tech­nol­ogy you'll be us­ing. These also pro­vide you the op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote your event as the most an­tic­i­pated event within your in­dus­try. Men­tion your new app in in­ter­views and news ar­ti­cles for in­dus­try and as­so­ci­a­tion pub­li­ca­tions. In your prospec­tus, fea­ture the app and along with spon­sor­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Add app down­load spiels and links on your staff email sig­na­tures. This will also serve as a sub­tle re­minder to ex­hibitors and guests each time they in­ter­act with the staff.

I ad­vise all of my clients that it is not only im­por­tant for at­ten­dees and ex­hibitors to down­load the app, you must also en­cour­age them to use it. As an event pro­fes­sional it is your job to un­der­stand your at­ten­dees and pro­vide them with an ex­pe­ri­ence that en­sures their goals are met. Event apps should place a lot of the con­trol in the at­ten­dees' hands, of­fer­ing the abil­ity for them to per­son­al­ize their own event ex­pe­ri­ence from man­ag­ing their sched­ule, cre­at­ing their own ap­point­ments and mak­ing new con­nec­tions ac­cord­ing to their ar­eas of in­ter­ests.

Ef­fec­tively pro­mot­ing your mo­bile app is vi­tally im­por­tant to fully achieve your down­load and us­age goals

The keys to a suc­cess­ful event app are to un­der­stand your au­di­ence, de­velop an app that al­lows you to eas­ily fa­cil­i­tate the at­ten­dees ex­pe­ri­ence then vig­or­ously pro­mote your na­tive event app well be­fore the event.

Dar­ren Ed­wards is the founder of In­vis­age Cre­ative Ser­vices in Aus­tralia. With more than 23 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the meet­ings and events in­dus­try, Ed­wards’ pas­sion is to con­nect peo­ple through sup­ply of cre­ative de­sign and in­no­va­tive event tech...

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