Smartphones and mobile apps have been with us for a long time now. The need for real-time information, instant communication, and simplifying daily tasks due to the ease of convenience has made them a necessary part of our lives today. We hire cabs, buy movie tickets, get groceries, and manage our personal finances through mobile apps – there is an app for literally everything under the sun. In fact, there are even apps like this one which allow you to say ‘Yo’ to your friends! Yes. Just. Yo.
Given the astonishing popularity of mobile apps and how intertwined they are with our lives, you will be surprised to know that they have just recently become must haves for event organisers. As internet penetration increases rapidly around the globe and new technologies like 5G transform the way events are organised, demand for personalised experiences through mobile event apps have significantly increased. With these apps, you can maximise engagement with attendees before, during, and after the event through personalised scheduling, instant push notifications, and social networking opportunities. Moreover, mobile event apps have become a smart economical choice as they help cut printing costs by allowing attendees to access all information on their phones. Needless to say, it is not possible to organise a successful event today without using a dedicated mobile event app.
Why it is important to select the best mobile app for your event?
Selecting a mobile app that will work perfectly for your event can be a tricky task. There are numerous options to choose from, all with identical interfaces and similar features. Which one would work for you?
If you take a closer look at the details, you will get your answer. There are many freemium or low-cost solutions that may seem fit to do the job but you need to be careful lest their performance is sub-par, because that will reflect poorly on your event and make your attendees frustrated like anything.
While sorting through the choices to select the best mobile event app, you need to take into account the need and objectives of your organisation, as well as your attendee expectations. So, it becomes of paramount importance to take an informed decision and select the best app that will facilitate an enriching experience and make your event a resounding success.
With industry relevant information and lucid explanations, this short guide will help you select the app that will be a perfect fit for your event.
Getting the basics right
Organising an event can be a complicated affair, especially if it is a large-scale conference or trade show. You need to manage, maintain and update a lot of content and ensure this information can be easily accessed and navigated by attendees. A mobile event app helps streamline this content and makes management easier. For instance, if you need to make last-minute changes to schedules, speaker information, and more, you can do so easily with a mobile event app. Compare this with a scenario where you have pre-printed schedules and brochures and a speaker isn’t able to make it or a keynote goes 30 minutes over the planned time. Other sessions get cancelled or pushed, wreaking havoc on the overall schedule.
However, using just any mobile event app won’t do. While selecting the best mobile event app, you need to look for the following features:
- Templates + Bulk updates: Templates aren’t a unique feature, but many providers offer templates that have a complicated UI that makes updating difficult. For example, you might have to update the sessions and speakers separately and then connect the two manually. Or you might have to re-create the entire spreadsheet to update the content.The mobile event app you select should have a flexible template that allows multiple pieces of content to be uploaded simultaneously across a consistent format, and enables bulk changes by uploading the existing template. Overall, it should save you several hours of making data input.
- Live updating features: Events aren’t static. They change dynamically and one might even see last-minute changes and even on the day of the event. In such a scenario, what you need is a mobile app with live updating and push notification features so that the users are immediately notified about any changes. With user segmentation, you will be able to notify those for whom the content is relevant, helping you avoid spamming your audience.
- Smart/Customisable content: Each person attending your event is unique. They will attend different sessions with different goals and takeaways, and the content provided by your app should reflect that and speak directly to each person’s needs and interests. The mobile event app you choose should allow you to easily segment delegates with personalised schedules, tracks, and tags. The templates provided should include these segmentation options as well.
- Schedule integration: You work hard to provide a robust offering of speakers, exhibitors, workshops, and networking events, and you want your delegates to get the most out of the sessions you’ve planned. But how do you manage a packed schedule? The mobile event app you select should make the process easier with customisable schedules that will keep delegates on track. Once downloaded, the app should be able to prepopulate their personalised schedules with the sessions chosen during registration.
Make your attendees stay engaged!
Getting people to attend your event is just half the battle – the real test is about the engagement. Your guests should get a rich experience with each session. They should be able to easily engage with speakers, exhibitors, and with each other. Let’s look at the different ways through which a mobile event app can maximise attendee engagement:
- Engagement across generations: Select the right mobile solution to deliver value to your delegates, which means packing the app with content and activating all the engagement features available to you. A good provider will give you a wide range of engagement features so you can reach every generation. For Millennials, social network integration may be the most valuable tool, while push notifications may keep Gen Xers on schedule. Look for an app able to provide consistent engagement opportunities throughout your event.
- Social media integrations: With social media entwined in our business culture, event apps should allow for users to connect their social media profiles for easy posting, hashtag tracking, and connecting with other delegates. As an added benefit, look for an app that can pull aggregated social feeds into the app for easy viewing for the less technically savvy users, or even project the social feed live at your event.
Make sure you’re in control with social monitoring features enabling you to remove posts from the in-app feed that don’t ft with your event messaging. If your event is less focused on outside social networks, you should have the ability to turn of social media integrations, while still allowing delegates to comment and connect natively within the app. That way you can still facilitate delegate interactions through photos and comments in a more controlled environment.
- Networking capabilities: Networking is often the top priority for event delegates, and the right event app should reflect that and facilitate easy connections. It should also act as an electronic business card, with a profile picture, contact information, and any additional profile notes the user would like to add. Through messaging, search features, social network integrations and export-import of new contacts, delegates can make more meaningful connections.
- Session-level engagement tools: Professional development is the #1 reason for people to attend events. Event apps can help them get the most out of individual sessions and give them all the information at their fingertips, which they’ve come to expect. If you can’t stop delegates from using their mobile devices during your event, you should use it to your advantage. Amp up your event with on-the-fly interactivity. When assessing providers, take a close look at the session engagement opportunities, like in-app Q&A and polling, allowing speakers to immediately engage with delegates. Native, in-app polling during sessions can push delegate engagement to new levels, enabling event managers and speakers to instantly gauge audience sentiments and embed real time results in presentations, creating a more connected and social event experience.
- Gamification: People are motivated to complete quests and don’t like to leave tasks half finished. The right mobile event app should consider this internal motivation and use it to drive delegate engagement and encourage actions you’d like them to take, such as social sharing, visiting a particular stand, or filling out a survey. We call this gamification. The mobile event app provider you choose should allow you to create fun and exciting challenges to get your guests to interact with your event in new ways. With in-app games, delegates can complete challenges, earn points and badges, and win prizes.
- Beacons: Beacons, sometimes called iBeacons, are devices small enough to fit in the palm of your hand that can be attached to a desk, wall, or doorway, and send out a low energy Bluetooth signal. When a delegate has your mobile event app installed and Bluetooth turned on, a message will appear on their device when they pass by a beacon. This message could be a simple, “Welcome to the event,” or it could direct them to content within the app such as a session detail page. Location-based beacons are a great way to grab your delegate’s attention as they walk by an exhibitor’s stand, enticing them to stop and interact. This is a smarter, more tactical way for delegates and exhibitors to engage during your event.
- Lead Gathering: Gathering potential leads is a high priority for these important event exhibitors, and a mobile event app is a great way to help facilitate networking. When looking at providers, make sure to look closely at their lead-gathering capabilities. It should be easy and simple and provide seamless lead retrieval from exhibitors’ smartphones or tablets. And be wary of simple contact exchanges. Look for an app that allows for you to scan delegate badges and easily export them for further action. Better yet, see if the app allows a trade show manager back in the office to grab the leads even before the sales reps come home, accelerating the sales cycle. Not only should exhibitors be able to gather leads through the app, but they should also be able to qualify them immediately. This quick action lets exhibitors see the ROI of your event, further proving its worth.
Usability and Stability
Having all the bells and whistles is great, but how usable is your app? Is the user experience smooth as butter? Or is it a clunky mess with complicated navigating and untimely crashes? Keep the following points in mind when vetting an app provider:
- Reliability: The app you select needs to provide a smooth and dynamic experience to your attendees. The initial experience should create a great impression and encourage them to explore it further. Many providers claim their event apps are intuitive, interactive, and dynamic but actually have limited functionality, which can lead to frustrating experiences. Select the partner that offers an app providing a complete experience across all platforms, including a native app for Android and Apple iOS devices, and support all other devices through a web app with HTML5.
- New feature roll outs: The app provider you select should keep rolling out new updates and features on a regular basis. They should also have a dedicated technology team that keeps working to improve their mobile offerings over time. This indicates their commitment to being the best in the industry and their capability to provide new, innovative features to get delegates hooked.
- Experience and stability: If you do a Google search of mobile event app providers, the search results will throw up endless options. After all, a mobile app can be built by any random tech geek, but how many have actually been in the industry for long and have the resources to deploy new technology and stay abreast of the changing industry trends? Newer companies often don’t have the resources to provide support and could you leave hanging on the day of the event.Look at the industry leaders with established credentials. How soon do they respond to emails? Do they have 24×7 troubleshooting options? Have they created tutorials, user guides or user-communities? Play safe and go for an experienced, stable and trusted partner
Getting enough ROI?
You have invested in a good mobile event app. Now how do you justify this purchase? Was it really worth it? You need to prove it with hard numbers to your event partners, sponsors, and your own leadership team. Your app should have an in-built dashboard that can track the stats and figures that will help you calculate the ROI of your event. The right mobile app provider will give you measurable savings and revenue opportunities in different ways:
- Increase sponsorship opportunities: Whatever cost you incur in the purchase of your mobile event app can be easily offset if there are ample sponsorship options available. Push notifications, banner ads, beacons, sponsored listings or splash screens – all such features can help you engage year-round with sponsors and maximise advertising opportunities, thus providing multiple channels for the sponsors to connect with the audience.
- Save time and money: A mobile event app not only helps you reduce printing costs but also saves countless man-hours with easy uploading, push notifications and social media integration. Look for an app that can not only cover your expenses but provide additional revenue opportunities for your event. Ask these questions when vetting a possible provider.
Security and Support
Entering a new business partnership is akin to striking a new relationship with your lifelong partner. You want security and assurance that they will always be there for you when you need them the most. When you invest in a mobile event app, you want your app provider to ensure they offer round-the-clock support for even the most miniscule issue.
While selecting a new app, ask these following questions to your app provider:
- How many people are on your support team?
- What is the average response time?
- What hours do you provide support?
- What other support resources are available to me (online resources, video tutorials, success groups)?
Data privacy is a major concern with any tech that collects user data. It’s important to identify the level of privacy and security apps can provide not only to event managers, but to users as well.
Ask these questions to determine the level of security and privacy offered to attendees through the mobile app:
- Can I hide events that I don’t want other delegates to see?
- Can they lock the event contents be locked behind a password?
- How often is data backed up?
- Where is the data stored? Are these locations redundant?
- What kind of monitoring is happening to immediately address security breaches?
- When was the last audit and what is the fault tolerance?
- Who has access to my data?
- What kind of physical and network security do you offer?
The sheer volume of mobile event app providers can make selecting one an overwhelming experience, but knowing the right questions to ask and what to look for can help you narrow down the field. Ultimately, the right solution depends on your requirements and the needs of your delegates. It should help you facilitate valuable engagement, boost your bottom line, and reach your long-term goals. Most of all, they should be a valuable partner in making your events successful now and in the future.
Once you have invested in a great mobile event app, find out how you stack up against the top performers with the highest adoption and engagement rates for mobile events apps. Download the ‘Mobile Event App Benchmark Report’ to learn more!