65% of all the time spent online is now occurring through mobile. Apps and mobile are slowly but surely eclipsing desktop. For those of you familiar with using an event app and meeting apps generally this is unlikely to be shocking news to you. Regardless but it probably leaves you still sighing in frustration over one key question:
How on earth do you get attendees to really engage with an event app?
While attendees are certainly more comfortable with using meeting apps than they used to be, a lot of event organizers aren’t going to be satisfied until their usage rates start hitting above 80-90%. Thankfully, there’s plenty you can do to maximise download rates before your event and usage rates during and after.
In this blog we’re going to break down exactly how you go about doing that in simple, actionable steps.
Our app usage has grown not only because of the ubiquity of smartphones, but also other factors – like faster speeds provided by 4G LTE networks, and smartphones with larger screens that make sitting at a desktop less of a necessity. In addition, the app stores have grown to house millions of downloads – so there really is an app for just about anything you need.
– Sarah Perez, Techcrunch,@sarahintampa
What’s hurting your event app usage rates?
Hate to break it to you, but it’s probably you.
The top reason that usage rates are low for an event app or apps for conferences is that communication with attendees was lacking. Attendees are excited about your event, they trust you as an expert and hence if you tell them something? They’re going to pay attention.
Problems emerge when you forget that your attendees have lives outside your event. There’s work to do, families to see and any number of things which rank higher than downloading your event app. It doesn’t help that most of us (thanks to prolific smartphone use) have goldfish memories.
What does that mean for you?
Your attendees need to be told over and over again, in lots of different ways, why they should download your event app. Apps for conferences and events aren’t going to rank highly in anyone’s priorities unless you make sure they do.
This is a question of drip feeding attendees information about your meeting app. Leaving it to the week before? You’re shooting yourself in the foot.
The first thing to do is analyse the social media data you already have. When are your attendees generally online looking at your posts? Does this vary across different platforms (LinkedIn and Facebook tend to differ significantly for example)? What devices are they on at different times of day? All these factors will impact what sort of content you post at which times.
In ideal world, you should start talking about your event app from the moment you begin your event marketing campaign. It should be well integrated from the outset. Scale up the number of posts you make as you move closer to the event.
📝 Don’t leave event app development to the last minute
📝 Create a clear promotion schedule early on
📝 Make promotion of the app one person’s responsibility
When you don’t communicate well enough in advance about your event app, more people will download it at your event rather than beforehand. Downloading an entire meeting app is a significantly larger burden on your event’s wifi capabilities then were they just receiving new notifications as to event progress.
If you notice event app download rates are low in the run up to your event, don’t assume that this will mean that usage rates will be low. 60% of event planners rank on-site internet as one of the most important elements of a successful event. Make sure that you’re wifi infrastructure is capable of handling the pressure of many attendees downloading the app.
If your event app is relying heavily on online access (which in 2017 is likely to be most of you), slow or patchy wifi is likely to drive your attendees insane.
Given the choice between using frustrating wifi to go on Facebook versus engage with your meeting app? I know which one most are going to choose.
No matter how brilliant it is, apps for conferences and events are very rarely going to be entertaining enough to merit waiting for slow wifi over.
📝 Talk to your venue about wifi limitations
📝 Look at download rates the week before your event to predict what download rates during will look like
📝 Create an incentive to download beforehand (extra content, free coffee etc)
3) Make it interesting
Gone are the days where you could post a text update on Facebook and it would appear in sequential order to your attendees. The ability of your social media to tell attendees about your app lives and dies by its engagement rates.
What gets you engagement rates?
Visual Content. A photo is a nice start, but really video content is taking the lion’s share of timeline space on social media. Gifs or even something like Instagram Boomerang can be a great halfway point if you don’t have the time or resources to look into more complex video content and are easy to set up with an event app.
Video is growing to dominate your audience’s online activity: 78% of people watch videos online every week, and 55% watch videos online every day.
Sophia Bernanzi, Hubspot, @soph_bern
📝 Keep text only posts to a minimum
📝 Be strategic in when you post
📝 Investigate new means of creating visual content
4) Tell your attendees why they should use your event app
Posting links to the app store is only half the battle. You also need to sell your attendees on what benefit this app is going to be to them. Why did you choose this app for your event? What initially made you think that your attendees would get good use out of it? You’ve already convinced yourself, now it’s time to convince them.
Again, this is somewhat a question of repeat exposure. You’re likely to find yourself saying the same thing several times, but familiarity increases people’s openness to trying new things.
Try to stay to a few core messages that fit your ideal attendee, rather than trying to cover too many target audiences with too many features.
📝 When deciding on an app, keep a clear list of why your attendees will enjoy it
📝 Get testimonials from past users where possible
📝 Keep your message streamlined along a few key points
5) Don’t forget about onsite promotion
You’ve put a huge amount of work into getting a panel of presenters that your attendees respect and want to hear from. They are best place to make a compelling case to your attendees about why they should use your event app. Getting them to mention the app at the beginning of each session and point attendees to the download sites.
It can be stressful to try to download apps when attendees are also trying to handle registration or travel. Hence, a space where everyone is settled and attentive is an ideal location to reiterate the value of your meeting app.
Make sure you have someone onsite who really understands the app and can help attendees with their problems. This can either be someone from the event app company itself or just a team member who enjoys technology.
Make it clear and visible to attendees that this person exists and they can ask them anything about how the event app works. Ideally this person should be at or near the registration desk so they are immediately obvious to attendees as they enter your event space.
📝 Leverage key speakers influence
📝 Create small lulls in activity to give attendees a chance to download the app
📝 Have onsite support available to attendees
📝 Support should be clearly visible
Event usage rates are one of the leading causes of frustration among event organizers. A lot of resources go into putting together an event app.
Getting your event app to be used by your attendees is key to gathering ROI on the investment you made. Without a good usage rate, your data analytics will be limited, event engagement is not going to see the boost it normally would from an event app and ultimately you will be left wondering whether the experience was worthwhile or not.
Give yourself, your event and your event app the best chance at success by starting promotion early and often.