This is a question I use to get asked when we first started developing event apps in 2009, when everyone else was still using paper maps and programs. Now, I do not get this question often enough.
Just producing a mobile app does not mean it will be successful. Sadly, some organizers buy an app just to have one or they got it for free (ok, don’t get me started on a free app – you’ve heard the old saying “you get what you paid for”).
Then the responsibility of getting content into the app gets added onto some staff member’s already full plate and consequently it shows in the app. As Mr. Wonderful (aka Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank) would say… “STOP THE MADNESS!”
It is not hard to have a successful mobile app. Really, all you need are three (3) things:
- An app that is user friendly
- Content that is relevant
- Promotion of the app
Each of these items are very important and have many parts to them. Having an app that is user friendly requires an app that anyone can pick up and use without any training. It must engage the audience with relevant content.
They should want to continue using it not only during the event but pre and post event as well! Promoting your app so that users know about it is just common sense but you’d be surprised the number of events we see that produce an app and never really promote it.
These three things take planning. First, know the demographic for your event. Find out through some simple polling what you audience uses for mobile phones, tablets, and how they would like to get their content.
Over 70 percent of adults use some social networking on their mobile device. So, you want to choose a social platform that will return an ROI for your event.
Event-based social platforms return little to no ROI so ask about social networking platforms they would like to use during the event and also what they use on a regular basis. It is important to know what they will use during the event vs what they use on a regular basis because during the event their activity will be different from what they use regularly. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule.
Next, plan out the content you wish to present to the audience. Besides what is typically found in a program guide and standard in most apps, this can encompass many features.
Features like audience response, session check-in, video, sponsorships and iBeacon to name a few. All are a part of presenting content to the audience.
You should also plan out your content for more than just the event dates. Plan this to be for the whole year until next year’s event. YOU have an audience – take advantage of using the app to communicate with them!
Promotion of the app is more than just putting up a link. Let the audience know what the app contains. Let them know that you plan to use the app year round.
Highlight some of the cool features or new features in emails and your website. Provide your app’s link and a button for all of the event’s partners to put on their websites.
Promotion has to start early and continue during the event as well as after. During the event, put signs in registration. Did you know that about 60% of your total downloads will come two days before the event starts and then through the event??
Downloads are great, but usage is king!! Keep in mind, one million people could download the app but if only 100 people use it then it is worthless. No one sees the content, sponsorships and most likely they will delete the app from their phone. So follow these steps above and look for the usage to grow!!
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