When people get together to exchange ideas, more and more they're turning to technology as the conduit for connection. The pandemic, far and away the game-changer for events and meetings in recent years, gave rise to a host of virtual tools and mobile apps that planners today can leverage to maximize attendee engagement in a number of useful ways.
Of course, the technology platform employed in this way is paramount in meeting success, based on a number of factors, including your objectives, attendee counts, security, and sponsor presence. The most current technology enables planners to make an event a hybrid, combining a mobile app for onsite attendees with a web-based interface for virtual participants, where the two experiences merge seamlessly together. When properly applied, this can have the effect of boosting attendance by as much as 20%.
Meeting-specific mobile apps — which are increasingly becoming the norm — deliver connectivity, communication, collaboration, and even gamification to not only help attendees plan for and navigate an event but also stay engaged as the programming unfolds. In fact, according to the Event App Bible, some 49% of app providers state that clients interacted the most with the app engagement elements.
With years of experience using multiple app platforms, we have distilled down the top ways a mobile meeting app can actually increase your attendee engagement and your return on investment.
Did you ever want to reach over and look into your audience's head? These are features that can capture your attendees' thoughts and feedback in a way that is engaging, interactive, and effective. For those whose professional careers revolve around bringing people together, a meeting or event cannot achieve its purpose without participant engagement.
The days of having speakers merely speak to an audience are long gone. The world is creeping into our meeting rooms, vying for attendee attention, and it's up to us to keep them mentally in the room and participating. Planners are utilizing polling in non-traditional ways, such as using polls to role-play scenarios to see how their audience will react.
The savviest planners are not only able to keep attendees engaged but also use their feedback to drive the direction of each session and upcoming discussions. This type of direct feedback loop can be used to continually improve activities in near-real time. After all, meetings can scarcely become more relevant than when reacting to the trends and social currents discovered in the room.
2. Attendee networking
Through social feeds, mobile apps provide an excellent medium to harness the power of networking to create a sense of belonging, culture, and connectedness. Conversation walls or social feeds are features within a mobile event app that provide attendees an opportunity to post comments and pictures during your event. This can have the effect of reinforcing those growing bonds while adding to the overall vibe of the event.
Event attendees can engage and build a rapport through social feeds, giving them the chance to include 1-1 scheduling, either in person or virtually via an instant Zoom meeting. Perhaps most importantly, mobile apps also provide the opportunity to easily exchange contact information so that contacts made at your event are contacts kept. This freedom to truly connect allows your attendees to bring value to each other, both during the meeting and afterwards.
This heightened level of engagement is also a golden opportunity for your sponsors since it can drive awareness and facilitate connections with a broader audience than those in physical attendance. When attendees see other app users sharing their experiences, they'll want to seek out the interesting events they might not have noticed otherwise.
3. Push notifications
Push notifications present an ideal way for attendees to stay in the know with the most up-to-date information, keeping them engaged and even helping to generate revenue. Cvent reports that an event with 11–14 push notifications can result in a 20% increase in event app adoption.
Critical information like program changes, sponsor messages, special offers, and surveys can be pushed out to your entire audience all at once. Just think — conference planners from 20 years ago would have killed for this kind of functionality!
Today, we work in an advancing world where paper agendas and even laptops are becoming old hat at events. Attendees are now quickly reminded about meeting locations, times, and session topics through push notifications. Planners can be proactive in controlling the messaging and truly seeing the im pact to event ROI that's sought after the most.
4. Experience gamification
Again, Cvent reports that some 59% of mobile attendee apps use some form of gamification, if that tells you how effective a tool it can be to drive engagement. So, if you're event struggles with low engagement, there is a way to help incentivize your attendees to pay close attention and give more of their mental buy-in to the matter at hand: gamification.
This is where you can couch a task, an activity, or even a full event in the elements of a game, turning what might otherwise seem a mundane or boring task into something that attendees will throw themselves into with gusto.
This can take any number of forms, including trivia contests or knowledge sharing, timed events, scavenger hunts, and many more. When you keep score, you might be surprised at the cooperative and/or competitive side your attendees suddenly show. All of these elements goin to boost your engagement, if nothing else than for the bragging rights of winning!
This is also a way for sponsors to get into the mix as well by providing prizes, swag, and goodies that can begiven out to attendees to further draw them into what is going on, especially if the items are particularly attractive or interesting to your audience. Prizes are the icing on the cake, serving as a tangible reward for playing along.
In short, gamification is one of the most effective ways to get your attendees involved, alert, and ready to meet the challenges you set — all while creating a fun, engaging atmosphere that they will remember for years to come.
5. Attendee profiles
Mobile apps give you another precious piece of the overall puzzle, both during and after your meeting: behavioral data. With the multitude of datasets you gain from your audience, you can learn how and what your attendees engaged with the most, what activities saw a spike of interest, and what information was clear, and what might have been confusing. A review of attendee data is a staple of any after-action event review, and mobile apps deliver all of that in spades.
Beyond the event itself, this type of information can help you plan for your next outing, particularly if there is an overlap in the attendee pool. With this data, you can qualify your session breakouts and itinerary by seeing what things were received well and which ones did not land the way you thought. You might even be able to determine individual profiles to be able to really tailor an experience for your high-level attendees.
Once again, your sponsors might benefit from this if you are able to determine any movement metrics of how your attendees travel around the venue. Sponsors might, for instance, be able to put up key messaging points in places with the highest foot traffic orthose areas where attendees are likely to congregate in large numbers. This can really refine your sponsor's placement of information and marketing collateral.
The truth is, if you're event is not engaging, it's not going to be nearly the success that it potentially could be. Managing and maintaining attendee engagement is one of the most crucial factors for any event. It can determine not only the current event's effectiveness but can also set the stage for future events, either by holding your attendees' interest, or losing it.
Because engagement can make-or-break an event, mobile apps are like having several aces up your sleeve. They can simultaneously give you a platform for drawing attention and keeping it present and focused, allow you to distribute information fast, and collect data to improve the overall experience for your current event — and all those to come.
If you are planning your next event, and would like a hand with mobile apps or any other aspect of event planning and execution, contact us today. We can help you take your next event to new heights.