This article first appeared as a guest post on the Marketo blog.
As part of your overall marketing efforts, you’ve probably had to organize an event, such as a conference or a seminar. Events are unique opportunities to meet new people and get new leads, but they also allow you to capture product interests from visiting prospects.
Obviously, hosting an event is a major investment of time and resources, and it can be a challenge to get the highest return on your investment. You have a limited period of time to talk with as many people as possible, and the chances are that you’ll end up missing out on a lot of valuable lead information. So, until cloning yourself becomes a viable option, a mobile app for your event might be the perfect solution.
While event apps have become pretty standard for professional events, they’re rarely used for lead capturing – and that’s a shame. If your event app provides value to your attendees, they’ll use it, and the more they use the app, the more information you could potentially collect.
Provide the Perfect Event App
The first step is to build and publish an event app that your attendees will love using. Your app should be so good that people will forget to look up from their smartphones during the keynote…just kidding.
Your ideal event app will be used by attendees before, during, and after the event. Before the event, they’ll want to browse and select speaking sessions to attend. During the event, the app helps them find their way around, see the agenda, and to meet other attendees or representatives from your company. Afterwards, the app can be used to review slides, papers, or brochures that were bookmarked during the event. An excellent event app can be a Swiss army knife in the pocket of your attendees. Here are some features your event app should include:
- Basic event information. First things first: your app should provide all of your event’s practical details. The location, with easy click-through for driving instructions, the schedule of the event, information on parking, public transport, hotels, etc.
- Floorplan. For larger events, a floorplan is useful, so people can easily find exhibitor booths, rooms, and other useful places – think restrooms, bars, and elevators.
- Tracks, sessions, and speakers. Include detailed information on speaking sessions, speakers and their bios, and, if applicable, session tracks.
- Personal agenda. Mobile apps are more powerful when they are personal. A personal agenda allows the attendee to select sessions from the list and make a personal program. The app can also alert the user shortly before a next session starts.
- Personal “conference bag.” A personal “conference bag” is a feature that attendees can use to bookmark whatever they find interesting during your event: speakers, other attendees that they meet, papers, slides from speakers, etc. Bookmarking should be done easily by selecting items in the app, or by scanning a QR code.
- Networking for attendees. People attend events for two reasons: to learn, and to meet other people (it’s a bit like high school, remember?). You can publish an attendee list in your event app, and allow people to send messages to other attendees through the app – while preserving privacy, of course.
- Live voting and Q&A. If you really want to boost interaction between speakers and your audience, and guarantee everyone in the room stays awake, consider live voting and live Q&A through the app. With live voting, audience members answer polls, and results are displayed on a large screen. In Live Q&A, they use the app to type a question, which is then displayed and answered. If you’ve got a tough crowd, you may want to screen questions before they’re displayed.
- Push notifications with last minute announcements. Use your event app to stay in touch with attendees throughout the event. You can send out push notifications with last minute announcements, to promote a session, or my personal favorite: “The bar is open, you’re welcome to mingle”.
Promote Your Event App
Once your app is ready and published to the app stores, you’ll need to promote the app – with strong promotion, event apps can reach an adoption rate of 80% of attendees.
- Before the event. You’ll want to promote the event app the moment people register for your event. Immediately provide a download link – preferably on the registration confirmation page. Highlight the benefits of your app e.g. “discover who else is coming” – and use screenshots to make the page even more attractive. It may sound obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway: you should promote your app in mailings before the event.
- At the event. Posters and QR codes are great ways to promote your app during the event. A good practice is to make a standard slide that is shown at the beginning of each session, asking audience members to “download these slides with our app.” At the end, show a slide asking them to rate the session through the app. Ratings provide you with instant feedback, so you’ll know which speaker to ask again next time.
Capture Lead Information in Your Event App
An event app is not only a great service for your audience – it’s also a “sensing device” that captures lead information for your sales team. As I said before, most event apps are not used for lead capturing, which is a missed opportunity. You’d be amazed by the valuable information an event app can provide.
Important side note: if you’re going to collect lead information, make sure you inform your app users and get an opt-in.
- Forms. Include short forms in your app that can be filled out to request information on specific topics, products, or services. These forms can be linked to content inside the app – you might link a form about a topic to a related session in the agenda. Keep your forms short, as they’ll be completed on a smartphone.
- In-app user profiling. If you have a lead scoring algorithm, you can measure the user’s activity in the app. When a user adds a session to their agenda, for example, it might increase the “lead score” of that user for a certain topic. If a user attends sessions on product A, and bookmarks slides on product A, you can be pretty sure that user is interested in product A.
Sounds complicated? Start by emailing information to attendees after the event, based on the contents of their “conference bag.” It can be as simple as providing the slides of sessions after the event, or accompanying those slides with brochures and other collateral.
I hope I’ve convinced you to put an event app on top of your priority list – not only to capture leads, but to improve the value of your audience’s experience. Don’t forget to include some amazing speakers… I’m available, especially in sunny locations close to a beach.