You’re so proud of yourself, your client is proud of you and you’re proud of your team. “We did this!” you think. “We’ve managed to launch the event app! Now let’s sit back and watch how the attendees fall in love with it . … Ehm, wait, nothing’s happening. The app is pretty enough, but only a few people seem to love it.”
There’s no need to say that people have a lot on their mind these days. That they are bombarded with information. That everything is important, at least from the sender’s perspective. But what is your audience’s perspective? Next month, I’ll talk in detail about designing an event app with the attendee in mind. For now, let’s discuss what’s actually needed to get people to download your app before they arrive.
Why should I?
First, you need to give them a reason to download the app in advance. If the app is solely about providing information during the conference, they may not be need to download it pre-conference. But if it’s about networking, registering for sessions with limited capacity or catching up on pre-event news, it’s a game-changer.
Go with the flow
Connect the app to attendees’ natural information-seeking route. For example: If an attendee visits your event website with a mobile device, make sure he or she notices that you have an app. Web technology enables a detailed detection of mobile devices, so let’s say someone is visiting your website with an iPhone. You can present a splash screen once, with an announcement of your app — “Hey, we have an app!” — and link to the app store or web app. Place this by the question asking if he or she wants to proceed to the regular site. For examples, look at how major players like Twitter and LinkedIn promote their apps in a natural way.
Mention the existence of your app in any and all communications and make sure people know how they can get it. This is an awareness step; there’s no need to be too specific too early. My experience is that most attendees really start to engage in an event one week in advance at the earliest. That should be the moment you increase your efforts. Tell them exactly what they can do with your app and educate them. Don’t assume everybody knows what an event app is, how to look for it or how to use it. Again, give them a reason to use it.
Promoting your event app boils down to the good ol’ adage “Know Your Audience.” What drives them? What do they want? What do they need? If you can’t answer those questions, and don’t cater to them with the right kind of app, they won’t be interested enough to download it.