54 tips to increase mobile event app adoption

54 tips to increase mobile event app adoption
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Mobile event apps dramatically improve engagement, communication and contribute to the overall event experience. Of course, we would say that as we have an award-winning event app(!) but research shows they have numerous benefits. In this article, our resident expert, Abi Cannons, will detail over 50 tactics to increase event app adoption.

Benefits of using a mobile trade show event app

First, it’s worth outlining the benefits of implementing a mobile event app. The top 3 include:

  1. A better event experience as notifications can be used to drive behaviors, like ensuring participants don’t miss important sessions and meetings for better networking.
  2. Increased revenue as you can sell key sponsorship opportunities in the app like banner ads and featured listings.
  3. Reduced costs and improved sustainability as you don’t need to print show guides. All the information would be included in the app instead of being printed. In fact, a mobile event app will provide an even better experience because each participant’s schedule can be personalized and your floor plans will be interactive.

Low app adoption and the experts here to help

Low conference, trade show and confex event app adoption is a real problem facing some organizers.  However, there are a range of experts who can help. They have been involved in some of the highest event app adoption we’ve seen (for example, check out this case study which had a huge 97% app adoption rate).

These experts, such as Ashley Roina, Director of Audience Engagement, Clarion Events - North America, were recently featured in a Grip webinar: “The ultimate guide to event app adoption”. You can watch the recording here.

One of the experts on this webinar was Abi Cannons, Senior Strategic Account Manager at Grip. She has drawn on her 17 years’ experience in events, working at places like RX, to draft over 50 top tips to boost app adoption and engagement. This is a masterclass in the strategies you can employ to get the maximum number of participants downloading and using your event app.

54 tips to increase mobile event app adoption

Here are a host of tried and tested strategies for boosting event app adoption, feel free to try them out yourself:

Pre-event engagement and incentivization

  1. Incentivize everyone who downloads the app pre-event with entry into a prize draw to win a (sponsored) item.
  2. Create ‘easter eggs’ in the app, like exclusive content or networking opportunities (e.g. intimate Ask Me Anything - AMA - with one of your keynote speakers).
  3. Encourage downloads in advance of the event to bypass any issues with WiFi at the venue.
  4. Make the app available at least 3 weeks in advance of the event to encourage engagement with content and exhibitors.
  5. Host a pre-event webinar for exhibitors on how to maximize their ROI at your event, including how to get the most from the app.
  6. Offer to plant a tree or donate £1 to charity with every app download.

User experience benefits

  1. Enable badge scanning  for simple contact exchange and lead export (buyer <> supplier / any <> any).
  2. Allow participants to connect in advance and pre-arrange meetings to maximize their limited time onsite.
  3. Deliver personalized recommendations of who to meet and what content to see, using AI to help them meet their attendance objectives more easily.
  4. Host an interactive floor plan within the app to help attendees navigate the venue. Use blue dot navigation to make it even easier.
  5. Design your app homepage differently for each attendee type, giving them a more tailored experience.
  6. Use a variety of homepage blocks for visual appeal; include carousels, images, profile images and banners to make the app more visually appealing.
  7. Modify the homepage of your app daily, highlighting the unmissable features of the day.
  8. Include local transport, restaurant recommendations, food outlets, and hotel information for added value to out-of-towners.
  9. Make your app multilingual for broader accessibility to your local audience.
  10. Host tickets/badges in the app so they have to download it to get into your show.

Marketing and communication

  1. Sell the value and benefits of the app, not just listing the features in marketing materials. i.e. what problems does it solve rather than what it does. Show participants that it’s easy for them to find what they’re looking for using the searchable exhibitor directory (rather than simply ‘exhibitor directory’).
  2. Mention and tease the app in every marketing communication leading up to the event.
  3. Produce a one-page quick start guide for the app.
  4. Create a ‘sizzle reel’ video of the app to use across your marketing channels and between sessions in conference theatres.
  5. Include app access and its benefits in any sales packages and collateral, to demonstrate additional ROI.
  6. Use insights from the organizer dashboard to determine which exhibitors haven't activated the app pre-event. Use your sales team or concierge team to reach out to your clients.
  7. Encourage exhibitors to promote their attendance at your event through their own marketing channels, suggesting using the app to arrange a meeting with them (include the link for both registration to the event and app download).
  8. Schedule a campaign email a few days before the event to all inactive users.
  9. Consider a ‘last push’ of the app on the first morning, timed for when participants are travelling to the venue.

Content and interaction

  1. Add meal or coffee vouchers in the app so participants get value from downloading it.
  2. Allow attendees to sync their event schedules with personal calendars (e.g. Outlook, Google or iOS).
  3. Include feedback surveys in the app for sessions and meetings; including embedding your post-show.
  4. Embed Q&A/polling features for live session interaction.
  5. Share the venue wi-fi code via the app banners.
  6. Provide an app-exclusive discount link for stand rebooking/next event tickets.
  7. Include PDF links, URLs, and video links on company profiles for additional app content.
  8. Use targeted push notifications to send app-exclusive links to slide decks for session attendees

Networking and community building

  1. Include a specific networking ‘track’ in the event agenda for side events and evening functions, to maximise the opportunities for connection and conversation.
  2. Incentivize ‘networking actions’ made in the app (e.g. most meetings arranged, connections made, etc.)

Exhibitor and sponsor engagement

  1. Add an item in the exhibitor manual checklist to activate their company profile, add reps, and download the app.
  2. Allow exhibitors and sponsors to add their products/services to their profiles for added participant value, recommendation and context.
  3. Draw attention to participant groups by segmenting attendee lists using custom groups, making finding people even easier.
  4. Include video links on sponsor profiles to help express brand identities.
  5. Encourage exhibitors and sponsors to offer ‘event exclusive’ or ‘show special’ offers, displayed on their profiles in the app.

Employing printed QR codes for easy app download

  1. Display the QR code in registration areas.
  2. Show QR codes near any foreseeable queuing points.
  3. Highlight QR codes on holding slides in theatres, between sessions.
  4. Use printed signage around the venue to display QR codes.
  5. Tables in networking areas, meet up points, food and drink outlets should feature the QR code.
  6. Get the QR code printed on support staff t-shirts.
  7. Display the QR code on event website banners.
  8. Put QR codes on all the seat backs (a lot of work but an organzier has actually done this successfully before!)
  9. Create unique QR codes for all of the above so you can track them.

Bonus tips

  1. Stop printing collateral to encourage app usage (and save some trees!)
  2. Train your information/support staff to refer to the app when answering questions on-site, to encourage downloads.
  3. Hold a training session with your entire event team (especially sales) when the app goes live, ensuring that every person who might communicate with clients can demonstrate the value. Get everyone on the team to download it themselves!
  4. Have sales teams create their own account in your mobile app so they can experience it themselves, in the same way their customers (i.e. the exhibitors) would. Get them to walk a mile in their shoes!
  5. Measure your event app adoption rate, that way you can test some of these tips and see which ones move the needle, then double down on them.

A massive thanks to our resident expert, Abi Cannons and all the other leading lights who provided these invaluable tips:

- Yesenia Tokosch, Senior Account Manager, Grip

- Alex Barlow, Head of Digital, Arc Network

- Giles Denning & James Hogg, PerformX Live

- Adam Parry, Co-Founder, Event Tech Live

- Matt Coyne, Copywriter, Workshop & Event Host, Waves Connects

Now it’s time to start experimenting with these strategies yourselves. We’re sure you’ll quickly see an increase in adoption and engagement with your event app. Let us know how you get on.

This article will be constantly updated. So if you have a top tip you’d like to add, please contact us: