An event app can make a big difference in terms of engagement and attendee satisfaction.
However, according to a recent study, only under 50% of event attendees use the event app provided by the organiser (not so at events using Grip, check out this event where 97% of attendees used our app).
There are a number of reasons why people don't use event apps. Some may have bad memories of old school tech and won’t download the newer generation of event apps. Others simply may not be aware that the app even exists for the event they’re attending. Isn't that depressing when you've just spent thousands on the latest piece of event technology for it to get low adoption?
With over 218 billion apps downloaded worldwide in 2021, it's a crowded market. We're vying for the attention of busy event participants to ensure that our event app is one of the 10 apps they open each day.
With so many apps available, it can be difficult for event planners to ensure that their event app is downloaded.
Four tips to increase adoption
If you're struggling to get people to use your event app, don't despair. With a little effort, you can increase app adoption and get people using your event app to its full potential. So don't give up on it just yet!
Here are five strategies you use to increase adoption:
- Promote your app before and during the event
- Incentivise app use
- Get creative with your content
- Use push-notifications to engage participants
- Ensure your app is user-friendly and easy to navigate
1. Promote your app before and during the event
This may be an obvious one, but is often overlooked beyond sending one email to an audience. The email generally has an email open rate of 20.5% and click rate of 2.36%**. This means it's likely a very small audience that will actively be aware they can download your event app.
Let participants know what's in it for them and why they should be downloading it. For example, in a bid to drive uptake, some events make their valuable event content only available via the app, such as:
- The event schedule (e.g. don’t print it out or put a detailed version on your website)
- The ability to create a personalised schedule where participants can star sessions they’re interested in
- Speaker profiles and the ability to contact them via the app
- Badge scanning (e.g. not via dedicated devices) and the ability to add new contacts for follow ups (don't rely solely on exhibitor lead scanning)
- Notes that can be taken in the app (e.g. exhibitors who can make notes on the leads they capture during the event via badge scanning)
- Details on after hours networking opportunities and parties - people are there to connect right? Make it a cool, secret VIP experience that can only be ‘discovered’ via the app
2. Incentivise app use. Offer discounts or prizes for people who use the app during the event.
One way to encourage people to download and use your event app is to offer incentives. Some ideas include discounts or prizes for people who use the app during the event which you can also monetise from your exhibitors or sponsors. Not only will this help motivate people to download the app, but once they've completed a certain number of tasks such as completing their event profile, it will help to increase engagement within the app too.
How to make the most out of app incentives:
- Think about what would appeal to your attendees and make sure the prize is relevant to them. For example, the hottest tech at the moment is a £299 Meta Quest 2 headset, a technology event could give one of those away as a prize to boost app downloads
- Make the prize something that can be easily redeemed at the event where attendees don't have to go out of their way to claim it
- Ensure the incentive is visible within the app so people are aware of it and motivated to complete tasks to earn it. You could use those push notifications we talked about earlier "you only have two more tasks to complete to get your prize."
3. Get creative with your content. Think beyond the basics when it comes to what you include in your app.
Non-writers often get stuck with this as they feel they need to pump out hundreds of articles to make "content" available within their application. But content isn't just the written word. This could include anything from exclusive networking events or competitions to speaker interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the event itself. If you can make your app useful and interesting for attendees, they're more likely to use it both before and during your event.
Your event app is the perfect platform to get creative with your content and really engage with your audience beyond showtime.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Interviews with keynote speakers
- Exclusive networking events
- Competitions and giveaways
- Event itineraries
- Event map
- Session information
- Speaker bios
- Sponsor information
- Behind-the-scenes event footage
4. Use push-notifications to engage participants. Already have attendees signed up? Use notifications before and after the event to send timely reminders and updates straight to people's phones.
Not confirmed all of your speakers yet? Are you able to reserve seats in the event theatres? Share push notifications via the app to enable users to be the first to reserve those exclusive front seats or better yet, a meet and greet with the speaker after their session. Generate FOMO so attendees feel they're missing out if they don't download and use your app. Top tips for using push notifications:
- Keep them short and sweet
- Use rich media such as images and videos
- Use emojis to add personality
- Personalise them as much as possible
- Don't spam...you'll lose users if you send irrelevant messages!
Don't stop pre-event either. When your attendees arrive or check-in (virtual or in-person), send them useful notifications such as giving a 10-minute reminder when their starred sessions are about to start. This is useful information your attendees want to make it the most efficient event experience.
5. Ensure your app is user-friendly and easy to navigate
Ease of navigation is crucial to your app’s success. If people can't figure out how to use it, they're not going to bother.
Talk with your event app supplier and get them to demo the app ‘user journey’ to you. Even better, get a range of competing event tech providers to show you their app user journeys and why their software is more intuitive than the competition. Finally, ask your tech provider to show you the tutorials that help ‘onboard’ event participants for the first time as this is the period where they’re most likely to churn.
There you have it, five ways to increase app adoption for your next event. By incentivising users to download and use the app, offering creative content, and using push notifications to engage with attendees, you're sure to see a boost in usage. And don't forget about using the app as a way to stay connected with attendees before and during the event. It's a great way to build hype and keep people informed about what's going on.
Want to see what a world-class event app looks like? Check out Grip’s mobile app, here.
Source 1 * https://buildfire.com/app-statistics/#:~:text=The%20Apple%20App%20Store%20has%201.96%20million%20apps%20available%20for%20download.
Source 2 ** https://mailchimp.com/en-gb/resources/email-marketing-benchmarks/