Chloe Barnes is the creator and leader of the Digital and Innovation team at MCI Australia, a full-service events agency. With almost 15 years of experience within the events industry, Chloe has a passion for using technology to facilitate meaningful connections and add strategic value within events.
In this article, Chloe shares her insights into creating an event app with lasting value for all stakeholders, including a case study from Direct Selling Australia (DSA), who have been using the Entegy Suite, delivered by MCI Australia since 2017.
While not the latest innovation on the market, event apps can still influence an event outcome – by expanding and gamifying the audience experience and equipping strategists with actionable insights.
Event apps cannot be considered new. Rather, they are now a staple element of any conference or brand event. They are expected by tech-savvy attendees, while sponsors and partners love the rich data they can capture. Versatility, positive ROI and insights are few of the reasons why adoption of event apps is seen as so valuable by event strategists.
But what are exactly the essential characteristics that cannot miss from an event app? Unsurprisingly, they are those that focus on attendees. Aligned with the current trend of reinforcing audience inclusion and dialogue, event apps have become one of the main vehicles towards that goal.
Event apps for networking
An event networking app helps build strong connections and spark conversations among attendees. Several apps on the market offer top-notch networking features that can really extend the live experience.
Within apps, attendees can connect with one another before, during and after an event through their detailed professional profiles with links to their social media accounts. Thanks to an attendee directory for target contacts, users can safely send private messages and even start scheduling one-to-one meetings in advance. Plus, Artificial Intelligence-powered apps can make personalised recommendations based on the user’s profile to facilitate the matchmaking.
Event apps for engagement
It goes without saying that engagement should always be the ultimate goal for event strategists. It might sound counterintuitive, but event apps can actually help give attendees a voice at a live event. Real-time live polling, for example, allows attendees to be engaged during sessions and creates a direct line of communication between audience and presenters. At the same time, presenters can receive real-time inputs from attendees and adapt and cater their presentations.
Another effective tool to drive engagement is gamification. Featuring games in the app or gamifying certain actions can do wonders in influencing attendees’ behaviours and facilitate learning through fun and entertaining challenges.
Event apps for data
With so much going on at the live event, it can be hard for event strategists to keep track of attendees’ behaviours and understand which parts of the event are working better than others. Event apps solve this problem by providing in-depth data on different audience touchpoints. Given the variety of functionality and information contained in an app, attendees use it in a variety of ways. Putting together all this information can help measure the event’s impact and draw actionable insights.
And if you want to raise the bar, connect attendees behaviours on the app to your CRM or marketing automation system. The more data points can be linked to the same contact, the better idea you can have on the event impact on that person.
The case of the DSA Conference App
Each year, MCI Australia create an event app to support the Direct Selling Australia (DSA) Conference. In 2019, the Conference theme was ‘Get in Touch’, aiming to increase engagement between delegates and suppliers, encouraging more collaboration and creating more opportunities to get in touch with one another post-conference.
To the already existing event app (designed by MCI), MCI Australia introduced a gamification feature that included prizes from exhibitors, supporting the theme of the conference and encouraging uptake in the use of the event app. Thanks to this, organisers were able to gain more data, from speakers, sessions, general feedback on the destination or hotel, and ultimately how to improve the event next year.
Within the app, a QR code allowed delegates to scan one another to exchange details and stay in touch. Each supplier had his own QR code on their stands, which delegates could scan in order to earn more points to win prizes or be added to a mailing list. Scanning the QR code instantly exchanged supplier and delegate contact details into a ‘lead generator’, which exhibitors could download post-conference resulting in further sales opportunities.
The event app and the gamification feature were a huge success for delegates, exhibitors and the event organisers, achieving a 340% increase in engagement, 11% increase in event app uptake and 427 additional sales opportunities for exhibitors through the QR code.