Today’s guest post comes from Jennifer Pitts, the Director of Marketing at Pathable. Pathable provides event apps, mobile conference apps and websites for trade shows, events and associations.  

As mobile devices and messaging apps become ubiquitous, mobile apps at conferences and events goes up, as well.

According to Mashable, mobile-app usage increased 115% in 2013 with the largest surge in the use of messaging and social apps, up 203%. So as event apps continue to move from nice to have to the norm, event planners must create a strategy to maximize adoption and ROI. Here are a few tips to consider when creating your strategy.

1.  Promote It. Promote your app early and promote it often. Give yourself enough time before the event to promote the app, we suggest two months. A few ways to get the word out: include a link and information with the registration confirmation email; use the app for agenda change notifications so attendees are directed back to it; put links to the app in prominent places on your website and any communication with attendees.

2.  Make it Easy to Access. Depending on the provider and the needs of your event, there may be several different ways to access the event app, such as mobile web, native, or desktop web. Unsure of the difference? Read our Native v HTML5 – An Event Planner’s Primer.

3.  Include Sponsors, Exhibitors and Speakers. Your sponsors, exhibitors and speakers have invested time and money into your event; help them get the most out of it by using the app. Educate them on how the app works and how it benefits them. Does it include a landing page for them to highlight their company and collateral? Does it include lead retrieval? How should they participate in discussions with other participants? Give them some good examples to follow.

4.  Educate Attendees. Depending on the knowledge level of your attendees and their experience with event apps, you might need to educate them. Send a specific email with instructions on how to access and use the app, create a post on tips, tricks and best practices, provide a few short 5-10 minute webinars or create a short video for your website to help them get started. Ask your event app provider if they have content to share to help you succeed.

5.  Lead by Example. As the host, you or someone on your team should take part in using the app. Start with a welcome message and tips to help your attendees get started. Pre-populate it with content to get the conversations going.

6.  Provide Something Special. Create a fun engagement campaign around the use of the app with free giveaways, private social events at the venue or a drawing for prizes.

7.  Promote During the Event. Chances are you won’t get everyone on board before the event, so promote it during the event as well. Mention it at the opening of the event and periodically during the event. Mention it in social media using the hashtag for your event. Note it on any banners or signs at the event.

8.  Provide Assistance on Site. Dedicate a space for attendees to get assistance if they have questions or are experiencing any issues.

9.  Don’t Forget to Promote it Afterwards. Just because the event ended doesn’t mean you should stop promoting your event app or communicating with your audience. Making it available months after the event is a great way to build community and increase renewals next year.

What have you done to increase app adoption at your event? What worked? What didn’t work?

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