Congratulations! You’ve hopped aboard the digital transformation rollercoaster & realised the potential that an events app holds for marketing your upcoming event.
Your events app gives your users access to session Q&As, information, multi-track agendas, speakers, holograms & whatever else you had the budget to include. This platform is a potential goldmine in terms of promoting your event to attendees. So why are you here?
We often get contacted by events managers who, like you, have an impressive events app, but they’re stuck with one ironic question: what are the best marketing strategies to ensure that people are actually using the app?
Thankfully, we have 8 strategies that will make sure your app becomes a staple on the devices of your attendees.
1. Do your research
If you’re one of the very few trade show organisers that doesn’t know your audience inside out (through creating personas & stealing ideas from studying your competitors), you’ve missed a crucial step. Forget about the app itself for a bit & focus on your audience. You can’t work out how to sell without knowing who you’re selling to. Bookmark this page, do your research, & then come back. We’ll still be here.
2. Milk your web traffic for all it’s worth
Ideally, you’ll already have an event website dishing out treats that will leave viewers hungry for more, but how visible is your app?
You want your website visitors to download your events app, either before registering or in order to become a registered attendee. The likelihood of this happening increases the more visible your app is - the more you wave an enticing, home-cooked meal in front of a hungry prospect, the more likely they are to eat.
Add a cheeky “download this great freaking app” wherever it makes sense to.
An omnipresent call-to-action (CTA) to download your app will attract way more attention than a meek, barely-visible CTA.
3. Market early
Yes, but how early? There are many factors to take into account when answering that question: when do registrations open? When is the event? What does your budget look like? How much free time do you have between Udemy courses & spinning classes?
The key point is: the earlier you can start marketing your event, the better. This holds true for your app as well. You could even combine your app promotion with an early-bird special, i.e. make the deal available only to app-users. Get creative - the more time you have before the event, the juicier your creative process will be. You’re welcome.
4. Get the most out of your LinkedIn account
You’re reading this blog, so you’re almost definitely in B2B events, which means LinkedIn will be your best friend when it comes to marketing. The broad, professional audiences & ability to segment (there are some powerful tools & practices for laser-precision targeting) are invaluable.
There’s a social selling strategy to expertly exploit LinkedIn for your event, which we’ve delightfully dubbed the “connect-pitch-nudge” (we haven’t gotten round to trademarking that yet). Creating personalised campaigns by adapting this template to your KPIs could see you reaping the benefits of the massive, virtual B2B marketing bonanza that is LinkedIn.
5. Create paid advertising campaigns
We’ve written extensively on how to use social media to drive registrations to your event & we’ll continue doing so. If you aren’t using social media to engage with your audience & inform them about your event (& your events app), you’re missing out on potential attendees.
It doesn’t matter if organic reach is dead or not. If your audience is on social media, you’ll want to incorporate paid campaigns into your marketing efforts. By running paid ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google Search & Google Display, you will make sure that the people who are looking for an event like yours actually find it.
Those are a lot of platforms, though. Using all of them all of the time would require a large budget for every event, so how do you decide which ones to use?
This is where agility comes in. The next section will show you how to become more agile.
6. Incorporate agility or pay the price (literally)
For us, the big A is Agile, which is something that all your campaigns should be. This is true regardless of the type or size of platform you’re using - in this case, size does matter.
Being agile means keeping track of which ads are underperforming & then reallocating that budget to the better-performing ones - the naughty ads have their gifts taken away & given to the nice ads. Cute.
Failing to remain agile throughout the duration of your marketing efforts could be damaging in several ways - the most obvious being a waste of money by throwing budget at ads that aren’t performing. Also, no one actually likes failure, so a social media advertising campaign that doesn’t meet its KPIs could put you off viewing these platforms as a viable marketing outlet (which is just silly).
Keep in mind that not all platforms are the same - & not all platforms are the right fit for your event. If your target is a Gen Z, artsy crowd, Facebook might be where you need to be, so investing in a LinkedIn strategy might not be the smartest idea. The only way to know you’re doing the right thing is by looking at the results - data is the big daddy & that’s why you need enough time to gather enough data so you can be agile.
7. Explore niche communities & bloggers/vloggers
Don’t rule out the marketing potential of Facebook/LinkedIn communities & bloggers. If your event is in a particular niche (like, say, an undertakers’ fashion show - yes, it’s a real thing), contacting bloggers in that niche to write about your event is a smart move. You could also find online communities where people connect around a shared interest (your event’s niche) & connect with your audience.
By cooking up a strategy that pushes out your website to these audiences, your event (don’t forget your “download this great freaking app”) will get visibility to the exact audience who has a direct interest in what you’re offering. By getting a blogger/vlogger to create content about your event, your audience will be receiving the same message, but from a trusted source.
Maybe creating your own blog & curating a niche audience sounds like a better approach to you, but ain’t nobody got time (or budget) for that. Pay someone else to do it for you.
8. Make your app ridiculously simple to use
I’m not sure what’s the current definition for “silly”, but I’m sure that “investing tons of money into marketing an app which isn’t user-friendly” is a good fit.
Create a concise, interesting, easy-to-follow description; create introductory videos that minimise the time taken for a first-time installer to “figure out” your app (a bad onboarding experience could be detrimental to your marketing efforts) & implement App Store Optimisation (APO).
Essentially, you want to make sure that the events app you’re sending your prospects to - the app that you’re using to convert them to engaged attendees - is a good app.
Final thoughts on marketing an events app
There are over a hundred billion app downloads worldwide each year. It makes perfect sense to use this platform to market your event - whether you’re trying to connect with prospects, to keep registered users interested, to convert them to attendees, and/or to engage with attendees at the event in real time.
Make sure the app you’re marketing isn’t a steaming pile of crap terrible. That’s a good start. Then, with solid research & planning, you’ll be able to implement a social media strategy that could push the boundaries of how much traffic your servers can handle & pack your events to capacity.