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What’s the Best Way to Improve Event Apps?

By / Jun 20, 2019 (PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images Plus)

New research from Eventsforce shows that more organizations are using event apps but that there are still challenges when it comes to adoption rates and measuring ROI. A look at how to improve both.

For many associations, a conference’s traditional printed onsite guide is starting to be replaced—or has already been fully replaced—by an event app. According to a new Eventsforce study, “The ROI of Event Apps,” 57 percent of U.S.- and U.K.-based conference organizers are using them. Their top reason for doing so: to better engage attendees.

But that doesn’t mean it’s going as well as it could be.

“Most people attending events these days expect an app, and it seems most event planners want one too,” said Eventsforce CEO George Sirius in a press release. “Our research, however, shows that despite attendee engagement being the driving force behind event apps, only 20 percent are enjoying adoption rates of 75 percent or more. It also shows that a large majority are still finding the management of apps an issue.”

Another interesting stat from the study: 67 percent of the 190 organizers surveyed don’t see any value in using apps once the event is over.

So, what should associations be doing to improve event app adoption rates and better measure ROI? Here are a few ideas.

Boost App Use

According to the study, the majority of conferences with a dedicated event app have an average adoption rate of 50 to 75 percent. While that’s not too shabby, 42 percent of organizers still say that low adoption rates are a problem.

To encourage app usage, associations have to offer features that attendees want. According to the study, the most popular features are session and speaker information (70 percent), personalized agendas and calendar syncing (60 percent), maps and floor plans (38 percent), live polling and surveys (35 percent), networking tools (33 percent), and push notifications (31 percent).

Associations should also consider hosting games or contests within their apps that encourage attendee use. For example, you could award attendees points when they share their notes from a session in the app or connect with fellow attendees. The attendee with the highest number of points at the end of the conference could even be awarded free registration for next year’s conference. Or you could host a scavenger hunt where clues are shared via the app.

While the study showed that only 20 percent of organizers promote their app after the event, consider pushing out content year-round. You could share related articles, session handouts, or even videos. This repository of content could draw more attendees in after your event wraps up and encourage use at the next one.

Improved ROI

Since event apps require time and money to develop, it’s not surprising that low adoption rates and the inability to measure results and easily calculate ROI can leave some event planners skeptical. According to the study, organizers often can’t calculate ROI because there is a disconnect between the app and other event management systems they use.

“Dealing with one fully integrated platform for registrations, sessions, and apps not only eliminates this problem, but can also help boost adoption rates. It will also give organizers a clearer picture on all their event data,” Sirius said.

Have you found a way to get more attendees to download, use, and actively engage with your event app? Tell us how you did it in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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