Is an Event App Right for You? What You Need to Know

7/6/2016

Event app

As a B2B marketer, I’m sure you’ve attended many conferences and trade shows. Perhaps some of them have even featured a corresponding app to provide you with an even greater experience. If your company is hosting an event, you may want to think about providing a similar experience for your attendees. Event apps give people information they need, when they need it; allow them to give feedback; and provide greater networking opportunities. Here are some things to consider and help you decide if an app is right for your event:

  • You have a large attendee list and people may have trouble making the right connections. Help make it easy for them. Networking features allow attendees to find each other through common interests, titles or needs. Some apps even allow you to schedule meetings with attendees, and attendees to schedule meetings with each other while at the event.
  • Session information can be overwhelming. From multiple sessions in numerous meeting rooms to speaker bios, an app can provide your attendees with the information they need in an organized fashion. For example, when there are many sessions or multiple tracks to choose from, help make it easier for attendees to plan which sessions they’d like to attend and allow them to create their own schedule.
  • You have information you need to share like venue maps, documents and presentations. Event apps allow you to easily provide access to documentation, as well as track who viewed them. This may even reduce the amount of printed literature you need to produce.
  • Event information is ever-changing. An app will allow you to announce event updates leading up to and even during the events in real time.
  • You want organic event promotion. Attendees can tweet and post right from the app, driving interest from other attendees or non-attendees.
  • You want more insight into the attendees’ wants, needs and actions before, during and after your event. Apps come with real-time analytics that help provide an understanding of your attendees. By seeing attendees’ session interests, you get insight into their desires. You can pre-plan by reviewing what sessions attendees have added to their agenda before they even arrive and adjust rooms or accommodate to meet the demand. You may even be able to see trends that can help target and customize future sales or service to them.
  • Real-time feedback. Users can give trackable real-time feedback within the entire event life cycle. Have you had quality issues that you wish you knew about during an event? How did you find out about it or, more importantly, when did you find out about it? Most likely, after the event or session was over. If you use an app, attendees can provide feedback while sessions are in progress. If you are paying attention to the live feedback, you can do a mid-session correction. For example, making adjustments to audio levels. You can also use the feedback to evaluate speakers and topics so you know who to invite back next year or how to adjust later presentations, making them more effective and engaging.

When to Start Planning

How long does creating an app take, from concept to execution? Consider starting at least six months or earlier if you can and no later than three months before your event. You are probably asking: Why so long? You and your team are going to need time to do the following:

  • Outline the features/fuctionality that is needed in the app
  • Compare the desired fuctionality with off-the-shelf solutions to determine which one fits the requirements
  • Select and purchase the event app
  • Customize and brand the app
  • Gather and generate content
  • Begin promotion and ramp up the excitement for the app via push notifications
  • Publish into app stores, which can take as long as days or even weeks

How Much Does It Cost to Build an Event App?

Even the leading event apps have affordable pricing for smaller events. Fortunately, there are many vendors that offer innovative and robust feature sets at all price levels. App prices can vary, but for a small event with a few hundred people, most start under $10,000. You might be able to find a reduced-feature, low-budget option for around $2,500. This is a bargain considering custom app development can easily cost six figures. Here are some parameters to keep in mind:

  • Not all apps are equal. You are going to get what you pay for. Higher prices tend to indicate stronger branding features, as well as enhanced capabilities.
  • The more you pay, the more personalized the experience you’ll receive. Even though many apps are easy to populate and use, most app vendors have a team waiting to walk you through everything you need to populate your app. How much one-on-one interaction and support you receive can correlate to the price you pay.
  • Don’t forget your internal and external costs. You’ll also need to consider other factors such as integrating app features into your event activities, branding your app and populating it.
  • Advertisements can help offset the cost of your app. A number of apps allow advertising space within the app itself. By selling ad space, you can reduce your overall app investment.

Still Wondering If You Need an Event App?

You should weigh the rewards an event app yields over everything you and your attendees are missing out on by not using one. How useful is it to analyze and react to all the attendee data around your event? How much is it worth to have just one more energized, future customer? How about a hundred? Or thousands? If you’re looking to take your event to the next level, the use of an event app could be just what you are looking for.

About the Author

Brian Wanger
Manager, Software Development
Godfrey

My team meets complex challenges with simple solutions. Digital marketing doesn’t have to be rocket science. 

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