The Top 5 “Dos” and “Don’ts” for Event Apps

Event apps are great; they can make the event-going experience much easier not only by delivering basic information to attendees’ mobile devices but also by providing them with additional content and helping them to network better.

But many apps for events leave a lot to be desired, often by relying too heavily on sponsored content that gets in the way of user experience or by focusing on content that isn’t actually that useful.

To help you avoid this for your next event, we have come up with 5 “dos” and “don’ts” of apps for events based on our experience of what has worked and hasn’t worked for our clients.

We hope you find our tips useful!

apps for events

1. DO take advantage of sponsorship packages, DON’T over-advertise

An event app is a perfect opportunity to provide extra value for sponsors and to help generate extra revenue. You can do so in many ways, such as:

  • Offering an option to brand the app
  • Including information about sponsors in app store descriptions
  • Including a section with sponsor information within the app. This can also include videos or interactive content to make this section more appealing to users
  • Allowing sponsors to send a push message to attendees encouraging them to visit their stand

However, once sponsored content start to take over app functionality this can become a problem, as it may take away from the app experience and annoy attendees.

A few rules of thumb to avoid this are:

  • Limit push messages by sponsors to one or two per day
  • Don’t include pop-up content that will disrupt the app experience
  • Don’t prevent users from accessing certain sections with the aim of, for example, getting them to sign up to a mailing list
  • Ensure that sponsored content doesn’t at all disrupt the app experience or user flow

2. DO encourage networking, DON’T bombard users with push notifications

One of the greatest things about events for attendees is networking and forming valuable business connections.

An app can help support your attendees here by including a networking feature with a directory of attendees and in-app messaging, so that attendees can chat via the app and arrange to meet during the event. Making networking as easy as possible will give attendees a very positive app experience.

Enabling attendees to use their LinkedIn login details to access the networking feature will make the experience much smoother. Their networking profile can be autogenerated from their LinkedIn profile and any connections they make can be added to their LinkedIn networks.

However, also bear in mind that too many push notifications and notification emails, not only from in-app messaging but in general, are likely to disrupt their event experience too.

Giving attendees the option to choose their own settings, for example by receiving notifications only from certain attendees and speakers or receiving a digest once per day, is a good way to empower them to manage them according to their preferences.

3. DO provide valuable content, DON’T overdo it

Sharing valuable and useful content will make your app a success, but there is also a risk of sharing too much content, which could make the app difficult to navigate. Knowing how to distinguish between useful and not-so-useful content could therefore be the deciding factor on your app’s success.

As a general rule, useful content includes:

  • Basic event information, such as location, time, speaker information and biographies, agenda, etc.
  • A registration feature, allowing attendees to register and check in via the app rather than in person. This could also help you save costs by notifying you when attendees arrive at the venue and printing passes and name tags on-demand. This way, you can save the costs of printing labels for registered attendees who don’t show up.
  • Videos and podcasts recorded at the event
  • Presentation PDFs and additional documents relevant to talks held at the event

Offering attendees additional and useful content such as this can really help you delight and build trust in your attendees. But making sure it is concise, useful and to the point will be key in ensuring it doesn’t hinder their app experience.

4. DO make the app work offline, DON’T expect users to install it before the event

If you’ve been to a few large events you will know that the Internet just isn’t reliable. Ever.

So if your app requires the Internet to be accessed but the connection is bad or nonexistent, your app will go to waste.

Making sure that the app works offline will therefore be key and we can’t emphasize enough how important this is! A good way of doing this is getting attendees to download the app prior to the event so that all content can be accessed offline once there.

However, unless you communicate this to attendees in advance it is unlikely that many of them will download the app before they get there. If you have a mailing list of attendees who have signed up for the event, sending them email reminders beforehand is a good way of ensuring this.

5. DO collect event feedback, DON’T require the user to sign up to access the app

Analytics and insight are invaluable parts of events; they can help you determine whether the event was a success, what could be improved, etc. And the same goes for the app itself: did it meet attendee expectations? Were there any features that flopped?

You can gather insight in many ways, such as:

  • Via surveys, asking attendees to provide comments about the event and app experience
  • Via live polling, asking attendees to “vote” on polls during presentations or announcements
  • Using mobile analytics such as Google Analytics and looking at metrics such as how attendees used the app, what the top app features were and what talks and booths attendees attended

Many event organizers feel tempted to require attendees to sign up with their personal details to access the app. Although this is a quick and easy way to get attendee data, bear in mind that this could also have a negative effect on the app user experience. It may be better to encourage them to provide their details in other ways, such as in order to access extra content.

In conclusion

We hope you found our tips useful and that they’ll help you create an awesome app for your next event! Are there any other “dos” and “don’ts” you think we forgot to include in our list? Please let us know in the comments section below if so.