The Challenge of Event App Adoption
According to MPI, the biggest challenge with event technology isn’t figuring out how to design it into the event. It’s not even deciding which technology to purchase – it’s the slow event app adoption rate! Which means that even if you get the buy-in from your board or executive team, you’ll likely run into challenges with event app adoption.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. Promoting the event app as an integrated part of the event experience through touchpoints pre-event, during, and post-event will increase the odds of your target audience adopting and engaging with your technology. If attendees believe they will be missing out on a substantial part of the event or be excluded from activities, they are much more likely to download and use the app.
Define Your Value Proposition
Attendees need to know what’s in it for them before they do anything for you, i.e. download your event app. This means that the messaging you use has a huge impact on your ability to convince attendees why your event app is necessary for the best possible event experience. Focusing on how specific features will help create an easier and more enjoyable experience are usually the winners. Emphasizing the benefits of the event app throughout the entire event lifecycle, i.e. before, during, and after the event, will guarantee an increase in event app adoption, usage, and engagement.
Here are examples of features and messaging that can be used to encourage attendees to download your event app:
CREATE A PERSONAL SCHEDULE
“Get what you want out of your event! Create a personal schedule with the sessions and speakers you’re interested in seeing.”
“With direct notifications you won’t miss a beat! Receive event announcements directly to your phone or email.
“Don’t just attend the event; get involved in all the action! Let your voice be heard by participating in live polls.”
SURVEYS & SESSION FEEDBACK
“Make sure your opinion is heard. Whether it’s a specific topic or general event feedback, your ideas will help shape and improve future meetings.”
Create a Timeline and Action Items
Timelines always differ depending on the type of event. But one thing’s for sure no matter what type of event you’re planning; promoting your event app only a couple of weeks into registration or the day of the event is way too late if event app adoption is your goal. Promotion needs to start as soon as possible.
Event apps are so common at events nowadays that attendees have come to expect the technology. So if it seems like your event app is an afterthought in your event communications, most likely it’ll also be an afterthought to your attendees. Whereas, if you promote your app as an important and integral part of the event, attendees will understand that they need to download the app to get the most out of their event experience.
Convincing attendees to continually use the event app, on the other hand, will need to be emphasized throughout the entire event lifecycle, not just prior to your event.
The table below shows a simplified example timeline for a registrant-only event, where the app is being promoted through email and social media.
Promoting Your App Pre-Event is Key to Increasing Adoption
Before your meeting or event starts, leverage speakers, sponsors and stakeholders to promote the app via their social media channels and through email. The goal is for your attendees to download the app early on and start engaging with the content. To improve the likelihood of promotion, provide stakeholders with pre-written social media posts and email content. They’re more likely to share app download links on your behalf if you make it easy for them to do so.
Below are additional tactics you can include in your pre-event promotion:
- Clearly outline the benefits of the app, suggest best practices, and incentivize usage before the event starts
- When you publicize your event, talk about your event app in tandem. Use industry publications, press releases, ads, videos or print media to highlight the app
- Create a landing page on the event’s website that social media and emails direct to
- Include instructions and information on how to download and use the app
- Use banner ads to promote the app on the website, and write an article or blog post that talks about the app at last year’s event (if possible) plus what’s new
- Create a pre-event game to encourage engagement on the app with incentives and a leaderboard
- Release content on the app before anywhere else to drive engagement
- Create a step-by-step intro/tutorial video or instructional walkthrough with pictures and descriptions of how to download the app and use its features and include in a pre-event email
- Use pre-event emails to also position the app as a year-round communication tool attendees should use in order to stay connected with gamification, other attendees, and the most up-to-date information for upcoming events
Promoting the App During Your Event Will Increase Adoption AND Usage
No matter how thorough your pre-event promotions and communications are, there will always be those who didn’t see the emails or don’t know how to download the app.
Reminding attendees about the event app the day of your meeting or event is crucial to ensure that no one gets left in the dark. This is especially important if you’ve made the app an integral aspect of your event experience (ie. through gamification or content libraries).
Encouraging attendees to download and use the event app during the event can be done in multiple ways:
- Use on-site marketing and signage to direct attendees to download the app. The best locations for signage are at the registration desk and high traffic areas (refreshment stands or keynote session rooms)
- Set up a help desk in a visible and popular area where attendees can go to ask questions and get assistance with the app
- Designate distinctively dressed staff to mingle with attendees and help manage the app. Enthusiasm spreads! This will help participants engage with the app, connect with influencers, and troubleshoot problems
- Enlist the help of speakers and sponsors to reference the app and take advantage of the features like surveys, Q&A’s, and uploading notes or presentations. Speakers should reference the app in the beginning of their session, as well as in the end
- Send targeted messages to remind attendees of special functions or useful features
- Phone charging stations and having devices available to loan for those whose phones are not compatible are best practices
Remember that WiFi is an essential part of most events, and necessary for attendees to take full advantage of your event app. Most event apps get around this by caching the most pertinent information offline. But you’ll still need reliable WiFi during your event to send out notifications and updates, and enable your attendees to use any networking features.
Don’t Forget to Continue Promoting the App Post-Event
Keeping attendees engaged with the app after the event can be a challenge, but just as important as attending the event. Your goal is to keep the conversation going, so get the ball rolling! Sharing pictures, recap videos, session recordings or surveys, and crowdsourcing stories from attendees will all do the trick.
Here are some ways you can achieve this:
- Use alerts and notifications within the app to drive attendees to follow-up content
- Repurpose event content to reinforce event themes and values in the follow-up messaging
- Alter incentives and extend time limits on event game challenges to continue gamification usage after the event has finished
- If the app is positioned as a year-round hub, ensure there is a content strategy to support that. Communicate to event attendees that there is still content to come and if you plan to use it year round, let them know that too. You don’t want them to delete the app before you roll out the post-event content.
Recommended Read: For a more in depth view on event app adoption and promotion, read our Ultimate Guide to Event App Marketing.
Other Helpful Tips
In order to counter slow event app adoption, design and promote your event app as an integral part of the event experience. Emphasize the importance of downloading the app in all your communication touchpoints pre-event, during, and post-event. If attendees believe they will be missing out, they’ll be much more likely to download and use the app.
Also, don’t forget the power of word of mouth. Leverage your speakers and staff in promoting the event app before and during the event. You can also offer app-exclusive content and organize onsite support to help increase app adoption. Use alerts and notifications to keep the conversation going after your event and increase app usage even further. In the end, showing increased engagement and sponsorship ROI through the event app will make it easier to pitch an event app again for your next event.
For an in-depth look at this topic, download our eGuide on The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Event App Adoption & Usage today!