A Complete Guide to Mobile Event App Promotion & Marketing

Posted by Matt Milloway on Oct 07, 2015

The benefits of mobile event apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android are only truly realized when a significant portion of attendees agree to adopt the technology and make it their go-to resource for everything related to a meeting, conference, or trade show. Even the best mobile event app in terms of available features and the potential to engage users can’t provide a human touch. Everything from promotion and availability to quality content and incentivizing attendees boils down to event planners and organizers devising a game plan to ensure mobile event app adoption success.

Read AppBurst’s comprehensive how-to guide for event app adoption to greatly increase users before the event and enjoy its many associated benefits like revenue generation and information retention.

All About Timing

While mobile events apps developed under short time frames are of great benefit to companies and organizations with a last-minute change of heart on going mobile, the ability to interact with attendees and increase anticipation for an event is important; significant time is therefore needed for promotion and ensuring maximum event app adoption numbers. The mobile app itself doesn’t necessarily need to be ready and made available months before the event, yet discussing its availability a minimum of two to three months before the big day arrives puts the new technology on everyone’s radar.

Once the mobile app is available to download—ideally a month or more before the event—immediately piggyback off ongoing promotion efforts with download links to get the native app in as many hands as possible. Much of a mobile app’s adoption success comes down to word of mouth amongst colleagues, repetitive reminders, and ease of access. The best promotion efforts will always fall short without enough time to run through these cycles; plan ahead and make sure internal employees aren’t scrambling around at the last minute to let attendees know about the mobile event app.  

Easy Event App Access for Attendees

Increasing mobile app adoption begins with making the technology widely accessible to users in ways that are not only intuitive, but reliable and easy to access.

branded landing pages mobile app events conference

Branded Landing Page 

Understand in advance a subset of attendees won’t be tech savvy. Assuming attendees are comfortable searching for the event app in the Apple AppStore or Google Play automatically hurts event app adoption numbers. Even providing attendees with easy instructions regarding the app title and keywords isn’t nearly as helpful as taking virtually all effort for users out of the equation with a branded landing page.

“Whether utilizing an app for the first time, or improving upon a previous, generic meeting app, a major issue will be to insure [your] diverse audience can easily download the specific native app for his or her device… alleviate the potential for confusion with a portal page.”

Event planners and organizers can simply choose a branded domain name (e.g. eventname.com) or alternatively, a subdomain of an existing website to keep branding consistent with any existing content. Upon tapping on the link, attendees will be directed to the App Store, Google Play, or the mobile web version of the app, while Kindle users are prompted to an application file for easy installation.

Fast & Reliable Downloads

Ease of access to a mobile event app is only helpful when the download and updates are accomplished quickly, reliably, and regardless of a user’s locale. Partner with a mobile app development team that makes the app available for download on multiple, fast servers across the world to accommodate attendees who may want the app months in advance from another country. Also consider the reliability factor—in other words, ask potential companies what service is used to host app content. A private in-house server is far less reliable than cloud hosting by a household brand like Amazon.

Utilizing Social Media in Mobile Event Apps

Social media events conference mobile appsHarnessing the power of popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is essential to making sure everyone adopts an event app. Given the fact nearly every company and organization devotes some time to social media year-round, make sure to divert some of the effort towards event-related promotion and reap the rewards.

General Promotion

Start early with registration reminders and ramp up promotion efforts as the app launch approaches with content teasers and screenshots of the demo app. Provide download links upon the app launches and include any incentives to download the app (e.g. giveaways) as part of a coordinated social media campaign. Also consider social media-specific contests that incorporate app features.

Determine a hashtag to use as the event’s official social media buzzword for posts across all platforms. For example, #eventname might be used and everyone from attendees and event planners to speakers and exhibitors can add the hashtag to their social media posts related to the event.

Mobile App Integration

Integrate all popular social media platforms into the mobile app and filter Tweets with the designated event hashtag into a separate feed to serve as the go-to resource for users staying abreast of exciting news and the most talked about happenings at the event. Including social media in the mobile app also gives attendees one less reason to leave the app to connect with friends and colleagues. Once attendees without the app hear about how easy it is to keep track of event happenings in real-time following the mobile app’s social media feeds, the event app adoption numbers will only continue to grow.

Generate Pre-Event Content for Mobile Event Apps

No event planner should feel pressured to make 100% of content ready months before the event, but useful information and resources do need to be made available in order to prove the app’s value to early downloaders. Consider making a section of the agenda, speakers, and exhibitors available from the get-go—even if keynote speakers and features presenters are withheld until a later date. The social and networking sessions alone provides some form of tangible intel for users worth sharing with friends and colleagues.

Also add evergreen content to the app that not only serves to increase event app adoption beforehand, but will turn the app into a year-round tool for attendees and even those not at the event. Integrate internal press release, blog, and news feeds into the app, as well as industry-wise resources such as important links, websites, and news sources. Easy inclusions like social media and generic event logistics are also a no-brainer to fill out sections of the app if the bulk of material needs more time to materialize.

The Mental Side of Event App Adoption

Increased Anticipation

Event planners and organizers naturally focus on uploading and publishing all of the event content, at least as much as possible, without stopping to consider how building anticipation amongst attendees only serves to increase mobile event app adoption and in turn the amount of time each user spends revisiting the app.

“Instead… only add the basic 95% [of content] and withhold keynote speakers and any featured exhibitors. Announce these high profile listings in a staggered approach after the initial event app is launched--complete with push notifications for each keynote speaker and so forth as a way to keep people visiting the app in subsequent weeks. The same strategy may be used for entire content areas like PDF abstracts and presentations.”

Also consider utilizing event app surveys—traditionally used for questions during or after the event—for pre-event engagement by posing questions like what attendees are most excited about and what makes their wish list for discussion topics, networking opportunities, and more. Making last-minute schedule tweaks to accommodate attendee preferences is not only a smart idea for the event’s success, but serves to engage users in the mobile app well before the big day arrives.

Highlight Mobile-Only Features

Attendees reminded of their inability to use a can’t-miss feature is an extremely effective tool. Events still offering a paper program are best served highlighting interactive features only available in the mobile app like live polling and exhibitor floorplan maps to incentivize those on the fence to go mobile and enjoy added features. Consider referencing mobile-only perks in paper programs or handouts to nicely let others know they are missing out by sticking with the traditional option.

The Environmental Card

“Don’t be ashamed of using attendee’s good intentions as another tool to increase mobile event app adoption. A growing percentage of people in developed companies with infrastructures in place are recycling, while climate change is an increasing concern for the entire world. Providing a mobile app instead of traditional paper programs is a great step in the direction to going green, so make sure attendees are aware of the effort and feel incentivized to jump on board. Many event planners ditch paper programs all-together, but at the very least a certain percentage of marketing efforts should center on the green element of mobile apps and urge attendees to use the app as much as possible for everything from viewing the agenda to note taking.”

Offer Incentives  

Incentives can take the form of discounts off next year’s registration, additional perks, or simply coming up with value-added prizes and giveaways for those engaged in the mobile app months before the event. In the same way incentives help during and after the event for things like generating accurate survey results or coxing attendees to a specific exhibitor booth, event planners and organizers can use the same bag of tricks to maximize event app adoption prior to the meeting, conference, or trade show.

Consider pre-event drawings for books written by keynote speakers or other incentives with lasting value. The giveaways can be tied into certain interactions in the app such registration or answering a questionnaire. Another option is to make prizes available for anyone who downloads the app and fills out a short form with either just a name and email or perhaps a quiz question as well. The form may also serve to generate leads and email addresses for future e-blasts and marketing material.

Turn many of the event’s biggest allies into backers of the mobile app by utilizing speakers to spread the word in a win-win scenario for everyone involved:

“Focus on finding and recruiting speakers—especially those in important keynote roles—who are comfortable making a mobile app and its content part of their presentations. Make sure speakers know well in advance their PDF abstracts or PowerPoint presentations may be available to access in the mobile app by attendees during [and in advance of] the session and urge them to let their own following know [well before the event].”

Prepare Speakers and Exhibitors

Speakers aren’t the only people with a vested interest in getting everyone on board with going mobile to increase event app adoption numbers. Consider the fact exhibitors pay significant money to have a presence at conferences and trade shows. The more they can promote the event app and its exhibitor-centric features like interactive maps through social media, ads, and email marketing, the more exposure their booths receive at the exhibit hall.

“Let exhibitors know their booths [will be] prominently displayed in the app so they can promote their booth to attendees well ahead of the conference… Exhibitors may also utilize the attendee and speaker directories in the app to generate [a list of] leads and potential clients.”

Event apps are also great lead generation and marketing tools for exhibitors who can use contact information and network before the conference or trade show even begins. Framing the technology as the best way for everyone involved to connect incentives speakers, exhibitors, and attendees to all download the event app and get the most out of their opportunities.

At the Event

Physically Discuss the Event App

Maximizing mobile event app adoption for iPhone, iPad, and Android doesn’t end once the big day arrives. Even the best promotion efforts fail to convert every attendee into app user before the event, so make sure to encourage people to download the app upon registration, at the opening ceremonies or networking sessions, and so on. Reference the mobile app for any content or logistics surrounding the event—even when the same information might be available elsewhere.

Signage & QR Codes

Posters and other signage—either physical paper or electronic—are great tools to promote the event app at popular hubs of activity around the venue like the registration area and locales for breaks in between sessions. Adding a QR code to the signage—easily generated for free at a number of sites–makes the app download process a breeze. The code can be linked to the branded landing page mentioned earlier in this guide to give all attendees at the event a quick and painless 30-second workflow to download and access the app.

QR codes on mobile event apps

On-Site Support

Whether bringing along an expert from the mobile app development company or training someone in-house to be the app guru, station someone at or near the registration area to answer any questions related to downloading and using the app. The sign near the person alone serves as a subtle reminder for attendees to download the app. A great option is to connect an iPad running the app to a flat screen monitor to show attendees features and how to navigate through the different content sections.

Gauging Success of Mobile Event App Promotion & Marketing

All of the work put into increasing mobile app adoption can be justified by mobile app analytics after the event ends. Many mobile app development companies offer a full lineup of statistics related to app downloads, retention, page views, and a myriad of other data to get a full picture of what happened in the mobile app throughout the meeting, conference, or trade show. Make sure these analytics will be available before signing up with an app provider and use the increased mobile app adoption numbers to impress higher ups, generate more money from sponsorships, and improve on the following year’s event.

For more information on promoting and marketing a mobile event app, as well as to speak with an AppBurst representative: