Evolving Sponsorship Strategies for Mobile Event Apps

Posted by Matt Milloway on Feb 24, 2016

As paper programs transition to mobile apps and conferences become more reliant on digital media, sponsors are shifting tactics to reach new audiences and ensure their reach is maximized. Event planners must recognize this evolution and plan accordingly to offer companies the best possible sponsorship packages. Consider the following ideas and strategies to ensure a sustainable return on investment and closer bond between sponsors and attendees.

Modern-Day Exhibitors and Sponsors 

Sponsors in years past were exclusively comprised of exhibitors physically attending events. Companies arrived with massive displays presenting a colorful logo and handed out paper brochures or cheap pens to passing attendees. Business cards were passed out and notes were scribbled on any available free space—only to be mis-placed before the attendee returned home. Exhibitors were in fact also the primary event sponsors. 

Today’s exhibitors and other companies attending events in person, however, greatly scale back their footprint with tablets and LED screens. Others skip industry gatherings all-together to host their own exclusive events or solely market through digital advertising. 

The significant shift in tactics for many companies means event planners can no longer look at exhibitors and sponsors in the same light. The former still attend the event, but relies more on technology, while the latter may greatly prefer funneling advertising dollars into digital marketing strategies and no longer show up to conferences and trade shows. The sum of both parts means sponsorships at an event are still incredibly valuable to all parties involved if planners and organizers utilize analytics, listen to attendees, and implement new technology to leverage today’s digital landscape. 

Increased Emphasis on Analytics 

Today’s companies are increasingly obsessed with analytical data to support advertising budgets and understanding a target audience or market often comes before blindly throwing money towards ad campaigns. Begin utilizing mobile app analytics and registration information to track user preferences and build a composite of the average attendee. 

Did the most-visited sessions contain specific technology or themes perfect for potential sponsors? Are attendees going the extra mile to register for password protected content tailor-made for another sponsor’s valuable white paper or e-book? Understand many companies evaluate spending decisions with statistics and get ahead of the game by presenting numbers targeted to each potential sponsor; the days of sending mass emails asking for sponsor dollars is becoming harder with each passing year. 

Sponsorships Generated From Attendees 

Attendees are the biggest determinant of a sponsor’s success. Smart event planners take attendee preferences and find the right sponsors as opposed to finding companies without a personal connection and watching their impact flop at the event. Are sponsor logos plastered on hotel key cards with little or no meaningful connection to the industry? Will an attendee genuinely appreciate the sponsor message and consume the information by choice? Consider how entertained, enlightened, or educated an attendee might feel from the sponsor and specific messaging before agreeing to inundate audiences with meaningless content. 

Mobile event app surveys enable event planners to dig deeper into attendee preferences for subsequent events. Integrate an event-wide survey in the mobile app and ask attendees what type of information and content is most impactful. Find potential sponsors who fit the most popular answers and provide this valuable information to companies in time for them to craft a much better message to attendees. Everyone wins and the emotional connection between sponsors and attendees improves as a result. 

Implement the Right Technology

Give attendees easily accessible and valuable sponsor content as part of a seamless mobile experience. A subtle rotating banner ad at the bottom of the event app with links to highly relevant media such as brochures and videos works much better than pop-up messages every 30 seconds and constant e-blasts with sponsor messages taking the place of valuable content.

Consider how to integrate sponsors with important event information so attendees often have a hard time differentiating between the two types of content. 

Think Outside of the Box

Sponsors can still be highly relevant and valuable without being involved in the specific industry. Attendees expect a personalized experience on the road with creature comforts and their best interests addressed. Does the company providing WiFi hotspots want to sponsor their personal consumer products at the event? How about 3rd-party companies organizing networking events? These entities may love the chance to provide marketing material at the event or take up a special section in the mobile app designated as event partners. 

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