iPad and Smartphone event apps: 10 ideas that drive downloads

After some consideration, you may have come to the conclusion that a conference or an exhibition like the one that you run requires a native smartphone and/or tablet app. Congratulations! You took the right decision! In case my previous post on app technology and providers has given you some inspiration, I’d be more than happy…

Now comes the tricky part. The reasons to offer a native app for your event might be various.

  • Branding aspects: Being present on the personal devices of your target audience and exposing them to your event brand.
  • Service aspects: Delivering functionalities that go way beyond what a catalogue or website can do, e.g. networking of the delegates before, during and after the event, location based services or personalization.
  • Marketing / sales aspects: Encouraging target audiences to visit your event, sponsor or exhibit.

Whatever your strategy might be, it is important that you focus not only on building the app, but as importantly also on promoting it. Particularly when you have the 3rd aspect (marketing) in mind.

Here are my tips what to bear in mind when you think about promotion tactics for your app:

  1. Consider the best timing for launching your app. A lot of apps are downloaded on the weekends, so it makes sense to choose a timing for the launch that assures that you appear in the “New Apps” section exactly when people are browsing the app stores.
  2. Make sure your description on the App stores contains the right keywords that your audience might be looking for.
  3. Start by generating a QR code (e.g. at Kaywa) that will link directly to the download page on the iTunes and/or Android stores. Scanned with your smartphone, the example on the right hand side will take you directly to the download page of the new Google+ app on the iTunes store. By the way: Add your company logo to the QR code (up to 30% of the surface) and you have a good chance to increase the scans. Berliner Bank did that and registered 6 times as many scans than without their logo!
  4. Make a screenshot of your app and include that screenshot together with the QR code and a brief description of the app features in all your advertising material (brochures, website, roll-up banners etc.). However, there might still be people not familiar with QR codes, so you should also include a download link.
  5. Write a press-release about the launch of the app, together with screenshots of the features and the QR code. You might want to include not only your usual PR contacts, but also special magazines that write about apps.
  6. In case you are using a html-based email marketing system, it is quite easy also to include the download link and code in your email newsletters.
  7. Include a rating functionality in your app (e.g. Appirater), to get people to rate and share their experience with your app.
  8. Use your social media channels to spread the word about your app. Not only your own channels, you may also want to search for groups related to your conference content and post the link to your app there as well. By the way, that is an important element of any social media promotion strategy for your event.
  9. Submit your app to the websites dedicated to App reviews (e.g. Appreview).
  10. Post a How-to-Use guide on Slideshare, showing the main features of the app.

I believe that apps are a great tool for interaction, customer service and innovative branding for your event. My team and I are currently working on launching our app for the World Newspaper Week in Vienna, which will be available for iPad, iPhone, Android and RIM Blackberrys soon. I’ll keep you updated as soon as it’s available.

4 thoughts on “iPad and Smartphone event apps: 10 ideas that drive downloads

  1. Interesting article! Medium-term to come I believe will also be NFC technology tags and touch points where visitors can access in real-life rich information with their mobile apps. While NFC mobile phones are rare today, I believe you need to think about the integration of NFC hardware with mobile apps today, linked to a software back-end that makes the link. At the other end of the phone there are Tags, and one of the event technology providers that spearheads this development and offers today an eco-system which already does this is Poken. Interesting stuff.


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