Mobile Event Apps Taking Over:
7 Pitfalls to Avoid
Cave paintings > Stone and hisel > Pen and paper > Computer > SmartPhone
This is a general progression of how humans have grown to write and communicate, and the technology developed throughout time. Within the last 15 years, the ways of communication have been changing more rapidly than ever and it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with. It took thousands of years to go from cave painting to pen and paper, but only a fraction of that to jump all the way to the computer, cell phone, iPad, iPod, Skype, and every other piece of modern technology you can think of. But where does that rapid incline leave us today?
With the shift of technology to mobile devices, the latest and greatest trend for meeting and event planners is to have a mobile event app. Since the market is competitive and elite, planners need to have any edge they can to make their event the best, and often feel that technology is the way to do that. A combination of trends and competition leave planners scrambling trying to figure out this whole ‘mobile app thing,’ but that might not be the best idea.
Michael Shapiro wrote an article sharing the 7 common pitfalls to avoid when creating/using an event app. To have a successful app, it takes patience and persistence and is unique from a website or booklet, not just spewed information from each. The point of an app is to have an easy way to view information quickly and on the go but more often than not, the apps end up being counterproductive. Understanding how to avoid the following 7 points will help you create a truly successful event app and increase engagement so it can benefit you and the viewer:
- App Envy– Create an app to solve an existing problem or because it fits in your corporate strategy, not because everyone else has one. This should be a business decision, not an experiment with cool gadgetry.
Feature Frenzy– Don’t get caught up in offering everything. 80% of engagement comes from 20% of the features. According to SwiftMobile, the most viewed feature is the session information page, not the fancy extra additions.
- User-Friendly– Apps are all about usage and they need to be easy to use or they are pointless. If the navigation is too difficult or takes too long to find relevant information, that person will not visit that page again. A suggestion is to track views and see which pages are getting the most, and how many second-time viewers there are. Also, avoid password protection. That just adds another step people don’t want to deal with. Don’t be afraid to ask viewers for feedback. That is the best way to see what is working or not working.
- Budget Busting– This isn’t one of those products where you get what you pay for. There are a ton of great apps you can get made in the low-mid price range. Don’t waste your money on customized features that almost nobody is going use, or be too complicated for anyone to figure out.
- User-friendliness should be the goal and a lot of times the more expensive the app, the more complicated it is to use.
- Failing to Promote- Introducing any app requires a lot of promotion to make successful. People need several reminders in different ways to encourage them to try something new and explore this new app and this needs to be budgeted for up front. People generally don not like change so find a reason for them to use your event app over just looking at a website or program book. SwiftMobile recommends at least 3 announcements to get the word out; An e-mail sent ASAP, a second blast 2 days before the events, and an announcement the day of the event. Each should include a link and brief demo video.
- Underestimating Sponsorship Potential- Most people just try to generate enough sponsorships for the cost of development, but why stop there? If you can show your app has high engagement, sponsors are going to want to be a part of that. To do that, make the app interactive for attendees and sponsors. Shapiro suggested letting sponsors have access to their profile and update their own information.
- Rushing to Judgment- If your app isn’t the next global sensation, don’t freak out! Slow adoption in the first year is completely normal. The main aspect to pay attention to is usage. If the same people are returning to the app, that means it is a great app that people like to use once they have tried it and all you have to do is have it reach to more people.