A new research study has found that engaging attendees is the top reason 81 per cent of organisations are using event apps but difficulties in measuring ROI, low adoption rates and the complexity of launching apps are still limiting efforts.
The study by Eventsforce also found that despite a 50-75 per cent attendee adoption rate for most event apps, 67 per cent of organisers don’t see any value in using apps once the event is over.
The findings of ‘The ROI of Event Apps’ study are based on responses from over 190 event professionals in the US and the UK and represent corporates, associations, government, PCOs and event management agencies.
“The popularity around event apps has evolved so much over the last few years. Most people attending events these days expect an app and it seems most event planners want one too. Our research, however, shows that despite attendee engagement being the driving force behind event apps, only 20 per cent are enjoying adoption rates of 75 per cent or more. It also shows that a large majority are still finding the management of apps an issue,” said George Sirius, CEO of Eventsforce.
Current uptake of event apps
The ‘ROI of Event Apps’ study found that 57 per cent of organisers surveyed are using event apps, with the majority (45 per cent) focusing on larger events that gather more than 300 attendees. When investigating the reasons for not using apps, 35 per cent stated that apps were too expensive, while others were discouraged by the time and effort it takes to launch one. Other barriers include lack of management buy-in (26 per cent) and difficulties in justifying the value apps bring to their organisations (16 per cent).
The results also showed that the majority of those who do use apps enjoy an average adoption rate of 50-75 per cent, with information on sessions and speakers topping the list of features attendees value the most. Other popular app features include personalised agendas & calendar synching (60 per cent), maps and floor plans (38 per cent), live polling and surveys (35 per cent), networking tools (33 per cent) and push notifications (31 per cent).
Pros and cons of event apps
When investigating the business drivers behind using event apps, the study found driving attendee engagement was the main reason why 81 per cent of organisations are using event apps. Another 57 per cent are using apps as a tool to update attendees on changes in agendas and schedules. Other reasons include saving money on printed programmes (41 per cent), driving traffic to sessions through push notifications (29 per cent) and gathering data on attendee behaviour (21 per cent). Nearly 30 per cent also said they use apps because their attendees expect them at their events.
The study also looked at some of the challenges organisers are currently facing with event apps. Nearly half of those surveyed found that creating and launching apps takes up a lot of time. Low adoption rates is also a problem for 42 per cent of organisers, as well as issues in measuring results (39 per cent) and managing data transfers between systems (37 per cent). When asked how they measure the ROI of their apps, adoption rates, feedback from surveys and in-app engagement stats (ex. page views and poll stats) were the top performance metrics used by most organisations.
“Apps bring value to events only when they successfully connect attendees to the right content and right people at the right time. To do this effectively, organisers need to make sure that the information attendees see on apps is always accurate and up-to-date. Our research, however, shows that data transfers between apps and event management systems is a problem for more than one in three organisations. Dealing with one fully integrated platform for registrations, sessions and apps not only eliminates this problem, but can also help boost adoption rates. It will also give organisers a clearer picture on all their event data,” Sirius continued.
Promotion of event apps
How organisers market event apps was another area that the study investigated. Email campaigns were seen as the most effective promotion channel for 91 per cent of event planners, followed by event websites (64 per cent) and social media (40 per cent). When looking at how much effort organisers dedicate in promoting apps, the results showed that a majority of 87 per cent promote their apps one to three months prior to the event. Despite this, most attendees only download the app one day prior or on the actual day of the event. Only 20 per cent promote their apps after the event but majority agree that this drives very little engagement with attendees.