How event apps can increase attendee engagement

Event app or no event app? That’s one of the biggest questions we get here at Canapii.

June 24, 2022

- 4 minutes

Event app or no event app? That’s one of the biggest questions we get here at Canapii. Event organizers certainly have their plates full these days. Not only do they need to consider the event format (e.g., in-person, virtual, or hybrid), but they also need to manage event technology expectations from their team and prospective attendees. An event app plays a big role in this process.

As the leaders in event software, we’re huge advocates for the event app. We’ve seen how effective they can be in boosting attendance, engagement, and revenue. And best of all, you don’t need to build an event app from scratch. An off-the-shelf version will do just fine, as long as you can customize it to your liking.

Here’s why we love the idea of an event app for in-person events and what you can expect from it.

What is an event app?

Before we get too specific on event app benefits, let’s clarify what we mean by an event app. Just like the apps on your phone that let you order food from a specific restaurant, check social media, or play a game, an event app is a purpose-built tool designed just for your event.

Your event app can contain features like:

  • Asking about which speaker they enjoyed the most

  • Learning their favorite part of the event

  • Asking why they came to the event

  • Find out what they want to get out of the event

  • A venue map

  • In-app purchases

  • Live event feed

  • Social media feeds

  • Event app gamification

  • Live polls

  • Q&As

  • Event surveys

  • And more!

In the past, event apps were custom tools that were expensive and time-consuming to create. However, event platform companies like Canapii offer out-of-the-box solutions that make it easy to integrate an app into your event marketing.

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Here are 8 reasons why you should consider using an event app:

1. Personalized agendas

What’s an event without an agenda? In-person attendees need to know what’s happening at a glance so they can maximize their visit and plan their time. Otherwise, they might miss out on the very sessions that brought them to the event in the first place.

Event apps allow you to share the event agenda at scale. Instead of using up your marketing budget on printing paper agendas and collateral, an event app digitizes your content. Event-goers can download the app and access all your event content from a single place.

Taking agendas a step further, uses can customize their agendas and set reminders for specific parts of the event. They can select the sessions they’re interested in, then get automatic reminders when those sessions are about to begin.

Interactive agendas can share key details at scale, such as the name of the session, the speaker or presenter, the room number or location, the duration of the session, and other information. If you have a large event with lots of sessions, users can search for sessions by topic, speaker, or other detail, making it easier to find items that interest them.

This is a great way to build engagement from the very start of your event. Users take their time into their own hands by building out their own schedules, ensuring they get as much value from the event as they hoped for.

2. Connections with other attendees

Going to an event where you don’t know anyone can feel daunting for many attendees. Networking is an expected benefit of event attendance, but some attendees may find it harder to start talking to a perfect stranger. A mobile event app can help by serving as an icebreaker and introductory tool.

Adding a mobile directory to your event app can help attendees find and connect with each other. Users can search by company name or attendee name, or even by job titles and shared interests. Each attendee can upload information about themselves, such as their name, a headshot, a bio, and more. This helps people put names and faces together when they meet in person.

Similar to the interactive agenda, a mobile event app can help attendees gain more control over the outcome of the event. They’re attending for a reason and meeting certain people can certainly help them on their way to those goals. It also encourages them to start engaging at the onset of the event, allowing them to get more for their time.

Event planners can further promote engagement by sending push notifications to users. For instance, you might make introductions to attendees based on shared characteristics.

During signup or registration, prompt attendees to input specific details about themselves, such as their favorite hobbies, fun facts, or other personal information. The more people participate, the more powerful your event app becomes.

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3. Surveys

Surveys are powerful tools to collect feedback from your event attendees and learn more about their experiences. Traditionally, event organizers have been limited as to how they make surveys available to attendees — and how often they do so. This usually translates into a single survey after the event concludes, allowing organizers to collect hindsight data and apply it to the next event. It doesn’t leave any room for improvement during the event, however, which limits the effectiveness of your attendee’s feedback.

With an event app, organizers can send surveys to attendees throughout the events. You can collect sentiments during each session and other components of the event that may prove useful in adjusting your approach for the following sessions.

For example, you might ask:

  • Did you enjoy this presentation?

  • Was the temperature of the room comfortable?

  • Was there enough seating?

  • Did the event session experience any technical difficulties?

  • Could you hear/see the content being presented?

We suggest sending single-question surveys throughout the event. They’re quick and easy to answer, which helps encourage participation. Get real-time insights into your attendees’ experiences so you can make adjustments as you go instead of waiting until the end of the event.

4. Activity feeds

Event attendees often get caught up in the moment. They don’t often gain a bird’s eye view of what’s happening at the event. Time is limited, so they feel the need to focus on their agenda. This could cause them to miss out on key event moments.

Event apps offer the best of both worlds. Event-goers can still focus on their own experiences. But they can also check out the event activity feed within the app to learn more about what’s going on around them.

Anyone can contribute to the activity feed, especially organizers that want to share important announcements and moments. Users can upload their own photos of the event, helping you build up an impressive library of user-generated content that you can use to market future events.

Activity feeds are a great way to keep your attendees engaged and in the know about every aspect of the event. It can even draw their attention to sessions, speakers, or functions they didn’t know about, making the event instantly more valuable to them.

5. Social links

Speaking of user-generated content, trust that your attendees are creating tons of it. The activity feed isn’t the only place they’ll be sharing it, either. They’re also likely to upload it to their social media channels to show their colleagues, friends, and family what they’re up to.

Ideally, you’ll share a branded hashtag with your audience so they can tag you in all of their social content. You can also include social links in the event app that automatically imports content your audience shares about the event. Any post that uses your branded hashtags will appear on the social feed within the app, allowing everyone to get a glimpse into other attendees’ experiences.

This serves several purposes. For starters, it encourages more people to use your event app and stay engaged instead of venturing away from it. It also gives you an easy way to capture your audience’s user-generated content. Use it in your event marketing campaigns to hype up your next event and add credibility to your brand.

6. Gamification

The most successful events know how to keep their attendees engaged. One popular way to do this is to gamify your event, where attendees earn rewards for their participation.

Gamifying an event is more challenging without an event app, though.  Using the app, you can send your audience challenges to complete and track their progress every step. Tie in each task or challenge to your event, such as visiting specific vendors or attending a certain number of sessions. Use push notifications to award points when users complete challenges or tasks. Help them see their progress, view rewards, and cash them in, all from the app.

Gamification turns your event into a friendly competition that everyone can win. The more they participate, the more impactful the event becomes to them.

7. Live polls

Similar to sending surveys during the event, adding a live polling option encourages more engagement from your audience. You can send them periodic polls throughout the event to collect important insights, or just learn more about your attendees’ preferences.

Some examples include:

  • Asking about which speaker they enjoyed the most

  • Learning their favorite part of the event

  • Asking why they came to the event

  • Find out what they want to get out of the event

  • Ask fun questions, like their favorite ice cream flavor

  • Use an Ask the Audience format to glean insights related to the event content

  • Pull a topic from a speaker’s session to get your attendees’ opinion

If you’re using live polls, you can share the collective results with your audience immediately after their input an answer. They can see how their opinions stack up against other attendees. When they see immediate results, they may feel more inclined to respond to other polls.

8. Post-event engagement

Engagement at your event doesn’t have to end when your event concludes. A conference app can help keep the conversation going.

For example, Canapii’s online conference platforms continue to be available to your attendees post-event. They can come back to the app to review content, keep a dialog going with their new connections, and use the data they collected during the event.

You also have an easy way to send post-event surveys, polls, and other communications with your attendees at scale. In the days and weeks following the event, you might ask your audience how they are using their learnings in the real world or find out about their biggest takeaway. This gives you a direct window into some of your event’s most impactful moments, as your audience may end up forgetting most of what they experienced.

This ongoing dialogue also gives you a jumpstart on next year’s event. If this is an annual occurrence, you already have a ready-made list of potential attendees to include in your marketing. They’re “hot leads” since they’ve already had the benefit of experiencing your event and brand and know how it might help them. You might offer them a discount on early registration or other exclusive perks for repeat attendees.

Building your event app strategy with Canapii

As an all-inclusive event management platform, Canapii simplifies the process of adding an app to your event. Our app provides a powerful foundation for your marketing and engagement strategies. It’s ready to customize with your graphics, colors, and other branding to make the app all yours. A range of ready-made features like polls, surveys, live chat, social media, activity feeds, and gamification are already baked in and ready to deploy for your use cases.

Combine your event app with the rest of Canapii’s event management platform features, such as real-time analytics, registration management, live streaming, sponsor management, and more. Spend less time putting the pieces together and free up more time to make an impact.

Request a demo and see Canapii’s event app in action!

Elliot

Elliot Jakobsen

Global Marketing Manager

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