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Karmen Vladar looks at the three biggest event app sins and offers advice on how to avoid committing them.

Your upcoming event is planned perfectly: the venue’s booked, you’ve got state-of-the-art AV, meaningful content and awesome speakers to relay the planned messaging… you even have an event app!

With so many moving parts, the pressure is enormous for everything to go exactly as planned. Despite your best efforts to employ your event app, there are some common pitfalls that you can prepare for. As the saying goes, the devil is in the detail, so here is what to look out for:

  1. Promote the event app

One of the most important metrics for event planners is app adoption rate, which is the percentage of attendees who installed the app. It helps in answering questions like: “Was the event app worth it? Did anyone actually use it?”

In order to boost uptake, event planners must encourage downloading and installation of the app with vigour and persistence. Attendees will simply not see the value of the event app investment if they don’t get over the biggest obstacle to adoption – downloading and installation.

While this seems pretty obvious, it is surprising how often event planners completely sacrifice event app marketing for event marketing. Before your event, the website, email communications, registration page and social media posts should all prominently feature the event app, driving downloads and installation.

Note: Once the event app is installed on an attendee’s device, the event planner has a dedicated and uninterrupted direct marketing channel to those who matter. Failure to promote the event app is a failure to maximise return on event technology.

  1. The slippery slope of push messaging

I have yet to meet an event planner whose eyes didn’t beam with excitement when they were first told they could send a message to every attendee’s device whenever they want! Push messaging is a powerful communication tool that grabs attention and makes an impact.

Despite this, many planners underestimate the organisation and work needed to make the event communications effective. There is definitely an art to push messaging – it lies somewhere between missed opportunities and spam.

Tip: Don’t wait too long to plan all your announcements and push messages – be strategic in your communications but definitely don’t overdo it. How much is too much? The right mix will depend on your event objectives, your attendees and your sponsor obligations.

  1. Prep the players

This really is key to engagement features that may have some additional stakeholders in the mix. For example, if a presenter is going to hold a live poll during the session, make sure they are aware of how it functions. They need to be coached on the attendee process of pulling out their phones, opening the app and activating the poll. Otherwise, attendees get rushed through the poll and end up abandoning the engagement opportunity altogether.

Gamification is another area that typically needs a short discussion with event staff and sponsors. If the game includes some sort of interaction between attendees and certain individuals and groups, then everyone involved needs to know what game mechanics are in place and what are the expectations. I have seen exhibitors who found QR codes on their tables one day without a single clue that they were an integral part of the event’s gamification! A flood of attendees soon enlightened them, and the game went on painfully.

Takeaway: Make sure that event app features and intentions are clearly communicated in your pre-event briefings.

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