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It's Time to Go Beyond Mobile 101 - 6/11/2013 -

Here are five ways association communicators can team up with their event-planning counterparts to drive overall engagement with a mobile app for your next event.

By Matthew Donegan-Ryan

You have heard it before — mobile is huge. And it is not just because there will be more mobile devices than there are people by the end of 2013. Or that smartphones and mobile apps are more popular than the Internet.

Mobile is huge because it impacts how we search for information and make decisions. Our smartphones keep us perpetually connected, so it’s no surprise that businesses are studying how these mobile trends are shaping our behavior.

Mobile is being sold hard as a marketing tool for association communicators and event planners for good reason. If you want the organization you work for to stay relevant, you need to connect with your members —and your members are increasingly mobile.

Association communicators who succeed with mobile are the ones who know how to leverage it. Apps can drive growth and increase revenue for the organization and its partners. The most savvy association communicators are spending a good deal of their time focused on how to create a great mobile experience and meet the goals of their members, readers, and conference attendees.

Here are five ways association communicators can team up with their event-planning counterparts to drive overall engagement with a mobile app for your next event.

1. Brand building

A mobile app can make or break your association’s reputation. Consider that 80 percent of our smartphone time is spent using apps, and 64 percent of app users view brands with mobile apps more favorably. Your app should be a constant source of value to your members and conference attendees. If their experience is valuable and memorable, they will feel more connected to your brand and overall mission.

2. Company culture

Your mobile app should incentivize people. More than 40 percent of people use apps to play games and network with people. You can meet these goals by offering an in-app game that also encourages networking between attendees, exhibitors, sponsors, and advertisers.

3. Push notifications

Your members and attendees want customized content. And while they’re familiar with receiving text messages from their friends and family, they’ll start to ignore you if your personalized messages to them aren’t timely and relevant. Think of what matters to them and where they might be when they read your notification. The key is to strengthen that one-on-one relationship and make sure they see the app as an ongoing resource.

4. Inspiring one-on-one meetings

It may seem like we’re so consumed with our smartphones, we’re less likely to look up from them, put them down, and network with others at the event. This isn’t the case with a mobile event app. While you want your mobile app to keep your attendees engaged, the goal is to connect your attendees to sessions, to speakers, to exhibitors, and more. Because the mobile app helps them see more and do more, they become inspired by what they experience and who they meet.

5. Integration with other solutions

Members and attendees like mobile apps because they’re simple and convenient. There’s no need to visit multiple places or search too long for what they need. Make it as easy as possible for your attendees. Offer them an all-in-one solution by picking a mobile app provider that integrates other services (like online registration and ticketing).

It is time to go beyond Mobile 101. Associations who combine the social media-savvy of their communications team with the marketing and customer service-focus of their event planners will create more overall value for members and attendees and boost their brand image.

Matthew Donegan-Ryan is director of mobile strategy for CrowdCompass, a company that develops mobile apps for business events.


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