Back in 2011, roughly 9% of events offered mobile apps as part of the attendee experience (MPI, 2014). Fast-forward to the present, and the event technology landscape has changed dramatically, with a recent study projecting that 86% of US planners will use mobile event apps by 2016. Event apps have evolved into so much more than a digital agenda, but with all the bells and whistles that event app providers are offering, how do you discern between necessity and frivolity?
We decided to answer these questions in our newly released ‘Event Apps for Dummies’, but here is a sneak peek at the top seven questions every event organizer should be asking when considering an event app:
1. Does the Event App Include the Basics?
First and foremost, you want to make sure your app covers all your event-critical information. This includes the agenda, session descriptions, speaker bios, exhibitor and sponsor information and a map of the venue. The information should be presented in a way that is clear and accessible.
2. Is it Easy for You and Your Attendees to Use?
The platform you select shouldn’t require an engineer to understand. Make sure the app CMS (content management system) is easy for you to use and that you can quickly make updates or changes when necessary. With all the last minute stresses of pulling off an event, there is no need to add a finicky technology into the mix. But building your app is only half the battle; the next step is getting your attendees to use it. You want your app to be as intuitive and user-friendly as possible to incentivize high adoption and deeper engagement. Most of us have already developed fairly entrenched social habits; the second our minds start to wander we check our phones. This is why you want an app that is supremely engaging and going to play into those pre-existing tendencies so that instead of checking email, attendees using your event app to share what they’re learning or plan their next move.
3. Is it Social?
One of the main added values of an event app is its ability to create a closed social network for your event. Every DoubleDutch app, for example, has a built in activity feed, where users can post photos, status updates and questions, creating an online community to complement your event (not distract from it). This social network is what will incentivize attendees to actually use and engage with your app, giving you a bird’s-eye view into event activity as-it-happens. In addition to delighting attendees, these social features generate valuable data and insights about your event.
4. Is it collecting the right data?
One of the most exciting features of the latest generation of event apps is the ability to capture every tap, post and activity to provide actionable insights for event organizers. This allows you to monitor engagement before, during and post event. Aside from the social features of the application, in-app polls and surveys are great tools for gathering targeted feedback from attendees. An event app can be an extremely powerful tool to measure event success and provide a blueprint for future improvements. However, it’s crucial that the data you are capturing in your event app be in line with how you will determine the success of your event. Be sure to map out what these metrics are before you start shopping for an app, so that you can guarantee they are being measured throughout your event.
5. Is it presenting the data in an easy-to-understand way?
Once you have mapped out your metrics for success, and you have ascertained that your app is measuring them, the next step is checking whether that information is being presented in a digestible way. Be sure to ask any potential app provider about how post-event and real-time data is presented to ensure that once you have the data, you are able to interpret it.
6. Can you monetize it?
When leveraged strategically, event apps can also make you money. By pinning promoted posts to the top of the app’s Activity Feed – in the same way one might pin a Tweet on their stream – event professionals can lease that real “valuable app real estate” to sponsors for a fee.
When your event app also has a Lead Retrieval feature, you can capture even more information about your audience. Exhibitors can use it to retrieve leads instantly, without having to rent old clunky hardware, and then qualify and take notes on prospects directly in the app. Organizers can also generate additional revenue by charging exhibitors to have this capability.
7. Does it integrate with other event software?
When throwing a modern event, an app is usually one of several software platforms you might be using to help streamline the experience. For example, you may be using a registration system or CRM (customer relationship management). While some companies will offer an end-to-end event software solution, be sure you aren’t compromising the quality of the app for the sake of convenience. Many apps will integrate seamlessly with other software solutions, allowing you to go with a best of breed for each solution.
While your strategy will vary from event to event, these questions will help you identify the best technology to improve your delegates’ experience, and increase event success.
Want to learn more about what to look for when considering an event app? Check out this newly released Event Apps for Dummies