MOBILE EVENT APPS are on just about every 2014 trend list for the events industry.
Just having one isn’t enough, though—you have to create and employ it effectively. Here are key tips for doing so.

Set goals and measure success. Break the status quo! Pinpoint your event-specific goals and align app features to help meet them. For example, for education or certification events, collecting and verifying CEUs from attendees, disseminating credentials to certification boards and presenting certificates to participants can be tedious and time-consuming. Have your app simplify the process, and set your event goals accordingly—e.g., save staff time by tracking CEUs via the app; increase the number of attendee certificate submissions; or decrease the timeline to deliver the certificate.

To increase exhibitor and attendee networking at trade shows, include an exhibit hall map and networking game to encourage more booth visits, and include in-app contact sharing and lead generation. Measure effectiveness by results for your exhibitors: How many hot leads were generated? If the show increased foot traffic but didn’t increase new leads, how can the app be more effective?

Build an app for everyone. Your app should extend engagement with participants, not limit the experience to a select group. Support the full buffet of devices our BYOD (bring your own device) culture embraces with an app platform that supports both native and mobile web; don’t just target iOS or Android exclusively (see chart). Consumer preference varies by time, place and activity—laptop at the office, tablet in the hotel, smartphone at the airport. Accessibility from all devices interchangeably will maximize app use and support consumers’ natural usage patterns throughout the day.

Promote the app. The app can enhance educational sessions, track attendance for certification, enable networking, gather live feedback and push alerts—tell your participants! Your app messaging should be an integral part of your conference campaign and should tell attendees: WHERE to find the app, HOW to use the app and WHY to download the app.

Share the app QR code and URL everywhere. Create an intuitive app listing with prominent keywords in the App Store or Google Play listings. In the pictured iPhone example to the right, searching on the conference title “MPI MAC 2014” provides the event app as a top search result, making it easy to download from the app store even without the QR code or link.

Use the app to communicate and engage before, during and after the event. An app can extend interaction well beyond the event to enrich the experience, but only if organizers and speakers use the app. Share event information and session resources prior to the event, communicate event changes and reminders, utilize the feedback and engagement features (like surveys, audience polling, games and chat) before, during and after the event.

An app doesn’t need to go to the recycle bin when the event is over; many mobile app platforms support multiple event types so you can communicate and interact all year long with one app for every event.

For more helpful tips to launch an effective mobile event app, go to resultsathand.com/whitepaper or scan the QR code at bottom right.

Kim Harwood is president of Results at Hand Software (R@H). R@H builds mobile apps for event planners, associations and savvy leaders everywhere.

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