Marketing Your Event App Stage 1: Before the Event

You’ve taken a great step and got yourself an Event app to take your events and conferences to the next level, whether they are live, hybrid or virtual. Now, for the app to function at its best, it needs to be downloaded and used, and in order to achieve the numerous advantages an app offers you, your app must be properly marketed. The marketing stage of the conference app is as crucial to its success as the development of the app itself.

Have a plan

Marketing an event or conference app takes some forward-thinking and it is unwise to leave this until the last minute or to approach it without a strategic plan. There is evidence to suggest that for every two months spent marketing, app downloads can double.  

When drawing up a marketing plan consider three basic stages of the marketing – before the event, during and after – as well as the target audiences for the conference app.  Any app marketing plan should at least give consideration to these basics:

– Engaging sponsors.

– Using social media.

– Promoting through a website, mailshots, newsletters, press releases and adverts.

– Having app ambassadors at the event to promote and explain.

– Pushing the app at all opportunities, from registration, through to speaker sessions.

– Using the app to collect valuable information from those attending the conference.

(these are covered in more detail below)

Target users

Who is your app designed for and why? We understand that today, as the event sector has been shaken up due to the global pandemic, relevance is everything. Attracting the right audiences, at the right time, via the right means is crucial now more than ever. Its likely your app will be used by multiple audiences, each bringing different benefits. Here is a simple break down example list:

– Attracting sponsorship revenue (target: sponsors)

– Efficient, ongoing event organisation and management (target: delegates)

– Advanced networking opportunities (target: delegates)

– Filling exhibitor space at the event (target: exhibitors)

Each conference app will be different and you may want to target some of these potential app users or all of them.  Once the target audience(s) for the conference app has been established then the marketing itself can begin.


Pre Event Marketing

Before contacting potential sponsors carefully consider the app you are offering.  In particular make sure it has a professional design, relevant functionality and that you understand how it works so that you can market it correctly.  The design of the conference app is particularly important as an amateur design that resembles a cheap website is unlikely to attract a premium, high-value sponsorship. Insight Mobile provides full training on app usage if this is a sticking point for you.

Decide where you want to place the sponsorship on this app – do you want to sell the entire front page to a single sponsor, or include smaller sections throughout the various pages of the app?  When working with the designer to put the conference app together, include messages to sponsors in the advertising space that you want to sell, along the lines of ‘insert your advert here’ so sponsors can see what is on offer.  You can also include data that shows how often adverts in certain places are ‘tapped’ by those who have downloaded the app – this will make the space more attractive.

Create your basic marketing materials –  Your event website should already be up and running and you can considerably boost your app by promoting it via a link on the front page of your site.  When users click through, take them to a simple description of the conference app, listing how it will benefit them and where they can download it. Your app provider will give you the various links for apple, web or android downloads.

You might want to tailor this marketing by breaking the conference app benefits down into those specific to delegates, sponsors or exhibitors. Including these individuals on the pages devoted to those potential users will boost the relevance of the message.

Social media We all know the power of social media. Encourage followers and friends to pass on information about your event app by retweeting and sharing, and provide regular updates on the app content, whether you’re describing the app’s venue mapping function or its networking potential.  If your event is being championed by influencers – this is a hugely important aspect of your pre-event marketing strategy. The same goes for any of your sponsors or exhibitors taking part in your event – this widens the social net of your posts enormously. 

Use existing channels of communication that you have opened with those already registered – exhibitors or delegates – to promote the app via mailshots and newsletters. You can provide details of the advantages of the conference app and even offer a prize to the 100th downloader etc.  Make sure that any press in which the event is featured also mentions the app – whether it’s a magazine cover, show previews, or amateur editorial – and dedicate a paragraph to it in every press release.  It’s a good idea to include an image of the app to preset its premium design as well as some of its key features.

Use the traditional pre-event literature and materials as a platform for promoting the app – such as an event handbook, pens, registration forms, even the tickets themselves.  If you have enough room (for example, in the event handbook) then cover the full range of benefits for all delegates and exhibitors.  Make sure that it’s really easy for a reader to make the jump from reading this information to downloading the app itself.

The conference app uptake is likely to be particularly successful if the features assist exhibitors and delegates with pre-conference organisation – for example you could use the app to allow delegates to pre-register.  This will ensure app uptake is increased, and will also establish a channel of communication through which you can encourage more registrants to become delegates.

Include the app image and information on all the advertising, with direct click-throughs to dedicated app pages where possible. It’s also a good idea to ask anyone else who is publicising the event – such as the exhibitors – to attach the image of the app to their own publicity.

So, there you have our top tips on marketing your new event and conference app before the event happens. This is arguably the most important stage in promoting your app and maximising downloads from your audience(s). This applies to virtual events, too, although during virtual events you have more opportunity to maintain advertisement of your app more consistently. Check back soon to see the next in this series: Marketing Your Event App Stage 2 – During the event.

As always, we welcome any questions and would love to hear how this might have helped you.

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