4 Strategies to Market Your Event App Without a Budget
Managing events is an incredibly intricate and stressful profession, ranking in the top 10 most stressful job lists. Clients’ high expectations, strict deadlines, and the attention to detail needed to successfully run events creates a logistical nightmare.
There are so many moving parts to consider, marketing the event app might not seem like a priority and can fall to the wayside. However, without properly promoting the event app, attendees won’t know what they’re missing out on and your event technology ROI will plummet. Luckily, there are a number of strategies that turn the tables and use existing parts of the event to market the event app for you.
We spoke with Leah Charters of iDashboards about an event she recently put on where she was using event technology for the first time and implemented most of these strategies to yield an 89% event app adoption rate at no extra cost. Her comments give an honest and fresh perspective on marketing event apps onsite.
Photograph from left to right: Trip Dixon (iDashboards), Leah Charters (iDashboards), Bill Rancic, Jenna Ryberg (iDashboards), Jonathan Kucharski (iDashboards) Photograph by: Andrea Pecoraro of Identity Public Relations
“I attended a conference this past summer where they had an app but didn’t really promote it. I found the session feedback functionality myself and noticed that there wasn’t much feedback for each session in comparison to the size of the conference, and I attributed it to the lack of promotion on behalf of the event staff.”
Through educating her staff and tactfully promoting the conference’s app before and during the event, Leah was able to engage her audience and provide value to them like never before, with technology she had never used before.
Align Your Event With Your Speakers’ Credibility
A great resource at your disposal is your pool of speakers. By virtue of their speaking position they are known as industry experts, lending credibility to whatever they say. Additionally, they tend to have very strong and dedicated networks that they have accumulated throughout their careers. Therefore building relationships with your speakers to turn them into advocates for the event can be an invaluable asset. Get speakers invested in the technology by sending them self-edit profiles and encourage them to include their own picture, presentation documents, and social media links. By turning speakers into supporters of the event their credibility and network can be accessed in your event’s favor to increase attendance, participation and event app adoption.
Ask your speakers if they would be willing to make a guest blog post on your site, or write a post that plugs your event app on their own blog. This is a win-win proposition, as the speakers can reach a wider audience, demonstrate their expertise, and bolster event app adoption before the event has even begun.
The iDashboards’ event had room captains in each session responsible for introducing the speaker who also reminded attendees to download the event app and submit their feedback. The technology was still new to Leah, so she was hesitant to get speakers directly involved but now that she’s familiar with the functionality, she’s eager to take full advantage of the different features available and give speakers the reigns. If you’d like to familiarize yourself with how to effectively market an event app download the comprehensive guide here.
When working with your speakers, make it as easy as possible for them to advocate for you. Pre-write tweets and social media posts that include the app and event hashtag. If necessary, don’t be afraid to propose a pre-written blog post for them too; “ghostwriting” as it’s called in the publishing industry is common practice in marketing. Helping your speakers become advocates for your event also positions you as a good planner to work with which can go a long way.
Encourage Staff to Speak Up
Like most marketing efforts, word-of-mouth is most effective. Training your onsite staff and volunteers on how to use the event app and how to talk about it with attendees can make a huge impact on event app adoption. It’s important for everyone to be up-to-speed on your event app and everything it can do. Selling your staff and volunteers on the benefits of the conference’s app increases the chances of your attendees taking note and becoming a part of the conversation. Ensuring your staff has a comprehensive understanding empowers them to share it with other attendees.
For example, Leah at iDashboards had the emcee give a brief demonstration of the app during the conference kickoff address, including where to download the app, agenda details, how to create their own schedule and how to submit feedback for each session. As a result, more than 70% of attendees created unique schedules.
Make your event feel professional and polished by educating your event support team. A helpful team will reduce the overall number and frequency of attendees posing questions to message boards or one another. There will inevitably be questions about how to install the event app on different devices, how the event app functions, the WiFi password, and the different features. Just make sure your staff and volunteers are ready and excited to help, as well as willing to direct attendees to the event app for relevant information. Good vibes go a long way!
“We encouraged our employees to download the app ahead of time to become familiar with the app and the agenda. That way they could help attendees should they have any questions.”
Turn Attendees into Advocates
Provide value to your attendees, whether it’s content, functionality or exclusivity, to the point where they want to share it with their peers. Make it easy for attendees to share the event app with each other. A multi-platform event app like EventMobi provides a unique URL for every page making it simple for attendees to post and share very specific parts of the event app. That link acts as a bridge for other attendees to adopt the event app.
We’ve made this even easier by including a “Tweet about this Session” button. In one-click, attendees can tell everyone the session they are currently in, or planning to attend. Instead of simply telling others to download the conference app, attendees are showing and sharing the value of the conference app, drawing interest and increasing adoption and engagement.
Event planners that are unfamiliar with event technology are often timid to fully commit and eliminate all physical collateral from the event. Leah Charters was no exception but she found a productive compromise.
“In previous years, our attendees came back for multiple agenda books because they would leave them behind somewhere, so we thought an app that included an agenda would be a great solution – we included details of the app and how to download in our printed agenda.”
iDashboards’ event gave each attendee a piece of event app marketing by including the details and how to download the event app in the printed agenda, eliminating the need to go back for multiple hard copies.
Get Sponsors to Encourage Mobile Engagement
Sponsorship is a valuable asset to your event because it opens new channels of communication, revenue, and recognition. Patting yourself on the back never looks good and rarely communicates the intended message, so why not make it a mutual situation with a sponsor? You scratch their back and they post a blog for you.
Advertising for your sponsor and having them speak for you pre, post and especially during your event brings your brand and event exposure to an entirely different, but relevant, market while strengthening your attendee’s opinion by aligning yourself with a brand that’s trusted and respected. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to think about who is going to sponsor your event. Sponsorship is not just a source of revenue, it’s another voice that’s speaking on your behalf, meaning their faults become your faults just as much as their triumphs become your triumphs.
By incorporating event app on-boarding into her staff training, including event app marketing in the conference kickoff, room captain demos at the beginning of each session, as well marketing the event app in the hard copy agenda Leah Charters was able to engage her audience in a new way using a new technology platform. With no extra cost iDashboards’ event was able to introduce and begin to optimize new technology that not only adds value to their audience but also generates valuable data iDashboards can go back to and evaluate the success of their conference app and event. For a more comprehensive explanation of how to effectively market an event app download the Ultimate Guide to Event App Marketing here.