Post authored by Beth DeFrates, MSHTM, Manager, Product Group
While most conferences and trade shows are at least a few cycles deep into a mobile app,
event guest happiness continues to be an elusive goal for many.
Among the chief mobile app “sins” that frustrate event guests most of all:
- Too many options (endless scrolling to find just-in-time info they need)
- Too many interruptions (ads, pop-ups, and alerts that fail to matter to attendees)
- Speed and functionality snags (inadequate Wi-Fi, slow load times, frozen screens, etc.)
With more than 70 percent of Americans wielding smart devices, event guest “app-etites” are growing more sophisticated by the day. Most rely on their smartphone to navigate their day-to-day world. It stands to reason that as they travel to a less familiar setting, they’d depend on an event’s mobile app even more.
Is your mobile app built for maximum guest utility?
It’s time to deliver the mobile app experiences event guests crave. Thanks to a flurry of recent technology breakthroughs, delivering on this app promise isn’t just possible – it’s crucial to keep your event at the top of the “must attend” list.
7 Mobile App Tweaks That Will Delight Your Event Guests
In any given year, we’re working with hundreds of event organizers to perfect the mobile app guest experience. We’re constantly studying what works, what doesn’t, and a host of near-successful ideas that with a few tweaks could transform “ho-hum” guests into die-hard fans.
Here are seven tweaks we recommend adding to your event mobile app checklist:
No. 1: Remove complexity – Keep it simple.
Most events have app content organized by icons, which is fine. Unfortunately, these icons tend to multiply and they’re often listed in alphabetical order, rather than by order of importance as defined by your guests. Less is more, especially when guests are consuming content on a four-inch screen. Identify a shorter list of the most important icons to highlight on the main screen, while adding a “more” button and a search tool to provide even more options if they need them. Keep in mind, first app impressions are make-or-break moments. If guests open your app and feel overwhelmed, it will negatively impact adoption rates, the ultimate success driver for any app.
No. 2: Align mobile app experiences with your event’s mission & purpose.
Why are you hosting this event? Once you hit the finish line, what two or three things do you want your attendees to remember most of all? Make sure the majority of your app content is wired to support these most important outcomes. Deliver on that goal first and foremost — and you’ll be amazed at how much more time guests will invest to dig deeper.
No. 3: Align mobile app experiences with attendee.
Your event guest’s journey spans well beyond the onsite moments. Before they arrive, they’re booking flights, making hotel reservations, building itineraries, etc. Is your mobile app responsive enough to showcase what’s top of mind for your attendees at any given point in their journey? Be sure to download The 8 Phases of a Successful Event eBook. Then gather your event team to identify needs that can be addressed within the app for each of these eight phases.
The app also serves as a nimble, just-in-time communication channel to ease unanticipated snags – like long lines forming at the buffet. Imagine if you could instantly send out an alert like this: “Lines are shorter at the buffet table near the East Ballroom entrance.”
No. 4: Boost education value with smart learning aids.
The one question most often asked by attendees during education sessions is: “Will you be sharing the slide deck?” Today’s participants want to take a closer look at fewer slides that matter more. Uploading the full 73-slide deck to your app isn’t smart and can be a drag on speed, but providing one-click access to the dozen or so slides with statistics and charts that most interest them is even more effective – for them and your app.
No. 5: Boost networking with fast, easy peer-to-peer connecting capabilities.
All too often, when event guests open a mobile app for the first time, they’re encouraged to complete their profile. Yet for repeat attendees, most of what they’re supplying is known by the event organizer. Make it easier for guests to complete this step with pre-populated profile data that can be confirmed with one click. You can even go a step further and make a few recommendations via the app, based on something they shared with you at registration.
One question you’re likely not asking, but should be: What is(are) the most important thing(s) you are looking to accomplish at this event? Insights like that are unique to your event and will tee up opportunities to connect them with other experts (exhibitors, sponsors) who can help them. This would also open up new revenue streams, as you sign on sponsor experts to cover needs categories.
No. 6: Tap the marketing muscle within your mobile app.
For many events, word-of-mouth (WOM) buzz about your event starts to surge as people start registering, yet most event apps don’t go live until a week or two before the event. Consider going live sooner and include an incentive for downloading the app early. Now you’ve earned a spot on the device they carry 24/7 – which means more opportunities to upsell. Another idea: Consider a lighter version of the app (no password required) for those who haven’t registered yet or for those who wanted to attend this year, but couldn’t. Again, with this coveted spot on their smart device, you can now give non-attendees a glimpse of what they’re missing. This should improve conversions, plus seed next year’s attendance acquisition list.
No. 7: Extend the Mobile App Value Runway.
In No. 3, we called out opportunities to amplify the pre-event value runway, but there’s plenty more value runway to be seized after the live event. Enthusiasm is high as the event is taking place, but once attendees get back to the office, they’re often swamped with demands on their time. Leverage the app to provide “short drips” of content connected to the best moments they experienced. One example might be a recap of sessions and activities guests raved about.
In the weeks following your event, the app can serve as a powerful “Show & Tell” tool, as attendees show their colleagues highlights (handouts, slides, photos and more). Sharing experiences at your conference also increases the likelihood they’ll win approval to attend the following year and bring others with them. Consider hosting a few post-event webinars with popular speakers and the app serves as a communication channel to remind them about these new learning opportunities.
What other smart tweaks are you making to your event mobile app strategy? How is this impacting event guest engagement and loyalty?