Creating a mobile app for your event is a great way for associations to engage with their members. An event app can remove time consuming manual processes by providing automation features, generate leads or extend interaction beyond the event to enrich the experience for the attendee.
Recently Results at Hand decided to consolidate our experience launching mobile event apps into a best practices brief to help association executives and event professionals discover the full impact mobile can have on member engagement. Here are four easy tips from the brief to having a successful event app.
- Set goals and measure success. Break the status quo! Pinpoint your event-specific goals and align app features to help meet them. For example, for education/certification events, collecting and verifying CEUs from attendees, disseminating credentials to certification boards and presenting certificates to participants can be tedious and time-consuming. Have your app simplify the process and set your event goals accordingly – e.g., save staff time by tracking CEU via the app; increase the number of attendee certificate submissions; or decrease the timeline to deliver the certificate.
A tradeshow example: To increase exhibitor and attendee networking, plan to include an exhibit hall map and networking game to encourage more booth visits but also include in-app contact sharing and lead generation. Measure effectiveness by results for your exhibitors: How many hot leads were generated? If the show increased foot traffic but didn’t increase new leads, how can the app be more effective?
- Build an app for everyone. Your app should extend engagement with participants, not limit the experience to a select group. Support the full buffet of devices our BYOD (bring your own device) culture embraces with an app platform that supports both native and mobile web; don’t just target iOS or Android exclusively. (SEE Chart A: smartphone subscription by platform.) With multiple devices, consumer preference varies by time, place and activity — laptop at the office, tablet in the hotel and smartphone at the airport. Accessibility from all devices interchangeably will maximize app use and support natural usage patterns throughout the day!
- Promote the app. You’ve included local attractions and golf outing details on your conference website and materials, but what information about the app have you shared? The app can enhance educational sessions, track attendance for certification, enable networking, gather live feedback and push alerts — tell your participants! Your app messaging should be an integral part of your conference campaign and should tell attendees WHERE to find the app, HOW to use the app and WHY to download the app.
Speaking of “WHERE” — share the app QR code and URL everywhere. Create an intuitive app listing with prominent keywords in the App Store or Google Play listings. In the pictured iPhone example to the left, searching the conference title “MPI MAC 2014” provides the event app as a top search result, making it easy to download from the app store even without the QR code or link.
- Use the app to communicate and engage before, during and after the event. An app can extend the interaction well beyond the days of the event to enrich the experience, but ONLY if organizers and speakers use the app! Share event information and session resources prior to the event; communicate event changes and reminders; and utilize the feedback and engagement features (like surveys, audience polling, games and chat) before, during and after the event.
An app doesn’t need to go to the recycle bin when the event is over; many mobile app platforms support multiple event types so you can communicate and interact all year long with one app for every event.
Mobile technology is evolving and it's important to stay relevant in an ever-changing digital world. Attend the November 6 Tech Talk and learn the newest trends for mobile and digital technology, as well as how to apply these trends to your organization's overall digital plan.