8 Reasons Why Event Apps Fail and How to Avoid Them

reasons event app fail
Sophisticated, complex conference with loads of prelections, panel discussions, and many other time-consuming activities. Additionally the venue with huge space covering many rooms and a crowd of attendees. Can you imagine attending such an event without using an adequate tool like event app? Me neither. Yet not always event applications enrich the meeting. Sometimes it’s just the opposite!

Such a tool seems really cool – it increases engagement, enhances communication and facilitates management. In a word: makes attendees and organizers’ lives easier. Most people attending any kind of event these days expect an app to be present and it looks like the majority of event planners want one as well. According to a recent poll by Eventsforce, 80% of event planners think that apps are a great investment for promoting engagement around their events and are willing to continue to use them. But before you decide to employ it during your event, reflect on that for a while.

There are some things that can go wrong and many scenarios in which event app will be a failure. We’ve listed the most possible ones along with our suggestions on how to avoid a catastrophe. Let’s get to it!

#1 Forgot to mention: unaware attendees

The moment you decide to use an event app, it becomes an integral part of the event. That’s why it should be marketed! It’s important to communicate about the tool before you open your venue’s doors. Think about a situation when someone brings printed agenda with marked interesting points and finds out there is an app available. If you think they will download the app and mark everything again inside, think again. This case also shows that if you don’t announce the event app properly, you cannot completely give up the printed materials. That means zero points in CSR category for you.

Poor promotion of the app leads to low Adoption Rate (no. of attendees vs no. of active app users) and there are few things more frustrating for an event organizer than investing hundreds of dollars into an event app and seeing very low Adoption Rate. It’s an important metric as it provides you the real data and shows if you did a good job marketing your app.

Let people know what advantages it gives and what they should expect during the event with such an app. Lack of awareness leads to confusion and aversion. After all, most of the people feel insecure in the face of unknown.

#2 Is that the right one?

Customization makes a difference! If the application in a store isn’t properly branded, how will participants know it’s the right app to download? It’s essential that event apps are visibly branded so attendees can be sure this is the right one. Event apps come in the variety of shapes and sizes, but most of them can be branded or white-labeled on request. It’s worth to consider such an option, even if you would have to pay extra for it. Otherwise, it may get attendees confused and having problems finding it, resulting in little or no downloads.

#3 What to do with this app?

Once you announce that there will be an app available during the event, the work isn’t done yet. If you won’t make sure your attendees know how to use it and what it is for, the app is actually useless. People must know where they can find it (Google Play, iTunes, etc), how to locate them in app stores, and most importantly, what it offers and why it’s useful for them. It’s good to share a simple guide or if it’s possible, encourage attendees to download the app before the event so they can have a general idea about it. If you do so, it’s just about a few words of explanation at the event on-site. Remind them with instructions added to badges or swag bags. What’s more getting to know and making use of the app prior to the event create a brand new communication channel! That’s a huge advantage.

#4 Untapped potential

Even if your needs regarding the app are not complex and you care only about the agenda, speakers profiles or just the map, it’s reasonable to take full advantage of offered components. To make it work, the app has to serve multiple objectives, especially when there are so many great functionalities available on the market. Social media feed, PUSH notifications, gamification, networking and many more (some of them can be used in various ways e.g. in combination with beacons or QR codes, providing an ultimate experience).

If there are just a few options, which additionally can be easily substituted – for example by printed map or leaflet with agenda, not many attendees will decide to use the app, thinking “Next app taking memory of my phone, I pass”. If it doesn’t appeal, it bounds to fail.

#5 Isn’t it available? Different platforms

Your attendees always diverse and that’s not surprising. I bet we all know someone who prefers Android rather than iOS, and reversely. No matter which platform seems to be better or have more enthusiasts – the situation when the event application is available only for one of them is nothing more than just asking for failure. It’s crucial that the event app works across multiple operating systems, not only on one specific device. Can you imagine that only half of the audience is allowed to enjoy the experience from app features? Exactly! Some of them may feel left out, which definitely doesn’t help your event’s outcome.

#6 Connection

Although almost everyone today has an access to mobile internet, you cannot give up the WiFi connection. In fact, it’s an essential aspect of your event venue – the speed and coverage also play a big part. After all, even in the age of mobile internet, there is sometimes a need to download a few bigger files like interactive maps or to share some photos taken during the event. That can significantly increase the data usage.

Make sure the network is able to handle a large group of attendees downloading the app at once! Leaving your audience without connection, and consequently, without the access to event app makes it simply useless.

#7 Better late than never?

Event app adoption and customization don’t happen overnight. Your app should be part of your overall strategy from the beginning. If you decide to use an event app at your event, it cannot be implemented too late. If you think it’s only about content upload — be ready to fail. Including the event app at the early stage of planning your event lets, you set time for its promotion and collecting content in order to build a really helpful tool.

#8 Abandoned and blank

One of the ways to measure event app usage as well as engagement is activity and interaction in social feed. That’s where your attendees will search for recent info and interesting posts from both event sponsors and fellow attendees. If they open the app and find little or no content how can they feel the spirit of your event? Blank feed leads to event app’s failure but can be controlled quite smoothly with minimal effort.

I’m talking about adding your two cents: make your staff “users”, so they will post content and create engagement on the go. Especially before an event, a good idea is to post pictures, videos or short updates about event preparation. Building excitement and keeping the event app alive prevents its failure.

It won’t win a battle instead of you

As you can see, there are many issues to take care of while employing an event app. That’s not a product you will pay for and will surely make your event a winner. Keep in mind this list to avoid disappointment and wasting the tool. By all means, the use of event app is one of the best steps to make every event better, but it also requires a while of reflection, prior planning, and strategy.

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