Events are based on 'buzz.' You can kill it or you can build it, either way, the buzz around your event can make or break your event. But the fact of the matter is this, an average of 18 percent of a marketing expert’s annual budget is dedicated to events.
Of course, 80 percent of promoters use social media extensively, chasing likes, followers and mentions to build awareness and engagement -- all with the aim of converting knowledge into paying attendees for their event.
Traditional and digital marketing both have their place in targeting an audience and capturing their attention, but there is a new method of reaching and distributing your news and increasing event attendance: mobile apps.
Some of the largest global events in the world have an app for attendees to download and interact with, often creating fantastic results. Global brands such as Cirque Du Soleil, Coachella Music Festival and SXSW to name just a few.
Your event may not be on the same scale, but if digital marketing has achieved anything it’s the ability of event planners to compete with the big names. With mobile marketing, you can create an experience equal to that of the global names in events. So how can a mobile app benefit your event?
Help build event buzz
Before your event even starts your app can do some heavy lifting by getting your audience excited about it. If they’re excited by what you’re sharing, they are almost sure to tell everyone in their network. Already, you’re building brand advocates who are spreading the word for you.
Content is essential for building buzz about your event. Many famous events provide exclusive extras within their mobile app such as:
Interviews with performers
Some exclusive backstage video or mini-performances
Exclusive updates on the main announcements
Insight into the buildup of the show
For example, Cirque Du Soleil offers backstage footage and interviews, Glastonbury Music Festival has a camera in their famous Pyramid field which shows the stage being prepared for the festival.
Offer attendees mobile planning
Many potential attendees will consider attending your event, but you can encourage them to part with their cash by helping them plan their visit. Offering tools to book accommodations and travel are examples of ways to convert people who are considering attending your event into customers.
If necessary, you can provide listings and location details to help people plan their visit. This is especially useful for events over several venues or days such as music/arts festivals or conferences.
Information on who is appearing when and where helps your customers get the best out of their experience. If they have an excellent time they are more likely to recommend it to others and attend again next year.
Create a personalized experience
One size doesn’t fit all in the event sector. To be blunt, 70 percent of consumers expect a personalized experience. Attendees to events like to personalize their experience and pick and choose what they see and do. A mobile event app is a terrific opportunity to allow people to choose and save their favorites and research the opportunities being offered at the event they’re attending.
The ability to providing interactive maps, for example, allows people to make choices about what they can and can’t get to throughout the event and also enables them to link up with friends.
Improve event networking
If your event lends itself to social or professional networking, your app can be instrumental in enhancing the experience of attendees.
If your attendees want to network but find the opportunities to do so are limited, then you aren’t delivering the user experience they’re looking for. A dissatisfied attendee is unlikely to come back the following year or tell their social network how valuable the event is.
For example, SXSW offers a directory of attendees and has a social network for the event itself. People can identify people they would like to meet up with and approach them before the event starts, they can even start the conversation before meeting up at SXSW.
An app with networking capabilities will remain ‘sticky’ even after the event has come to a close. This means people will continue to use your app long after the event is over to retain their relationship with those they met.
Keep the relationship going
Even after your event, the attendee’s relationship can continue through the mobile event app. This helps with customer retention (keeping attendees coming back time and time again) and up-selling.
If you have promoted your event app for a concert, theater performance or movie premiere, but then diversify by releasing a DVD, or you return to the same city with another movie, you can use the app to sell to people who are already your fans.
Take care not to abuse this power, or you’ll lose your attendee base, people will remove the app and you’ll lose your relationship with them.
Don’t bombard them with sales messages -- spam is spam whether it’s via an app or more traditional communication methods.
Get ahead of the curve
Mobile is big business and becoming an early adopter of mobile technology for your event will differentiate you from your competition. Waiting until everyone else is doing it will be a missed opportunity; no-one will identify you as a leader in your sector if you’re just following the crowd.
First mover advantage is not to be sniffed at, especially if your core audience is early adopters and love to try something new, or if your brand or product lends itself to new technology. Consider your brand values and whether an app is a great fit for you and your audience.
The event industry offers endless possibilities for events and conferences that may find an app a valuable addition to their marketing efforts. There are many types of events that would benefit from interactive apps such as:
Local festivals -- there are a growing number of local arts festivals, which may include: food, music, literature, art, fashion and film.
Conferences -- industry events are often held in local venues. They may be targeted at professionals (IT security conference or Facilities Management conference) or at consumers (crafts or wedding events are big business).
Trade associations -- often trade associations will create an event for their members to gain knowledge and network.
Individual brands -- brands that put on events such as theater groups, dance companies or orchestras may have a need for an app to link with their customer base.
An app can become an integral part of an event promoter’s relationship with his/her attendee base. Creating an app that works with the needs and desires of the attendee base can enhance the user experience before, during and after the event.
The opportunity to maintain a conversation with an audience beyond the short time frame of the event itself is one not to be missed. It gives events the opportunity to build buzz, helps attendees plan their event experience and deliver the opportunity to up-sell or encourage repeat ticket sales.
Too often an app is considered the ‘gloss’ on an event, but it has real potential to deliver exclusive content and enhance an event’s relationship with its customer base. That is too good of an opportunity to miss.