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by Mike Woellert | February 13, 2014

Most planners know the importance of developing mobile apps for their events. Once one has been developed, the challenge is getting everyone attending the event to find and download it.

According to mobile app firm QuickMobile, the average adoption (download) rate for an event app is more than 70 percent (rates vary by industry). That’s a decent number, but in order to exceed the average, it takes effective and efficient promotion of the tool. Following are some suggestions on how to achieve a high download rate for your app.

Use beta-testers
Target a batch of your attendees or prospects and reach out to them as possible beta-testers for the app. This puts the tool in the hands of your followers ahead of time and will allow them to provide constructive feedback. Doing this provides a feeling of importance for the users, who are likely to mention it to other attendees.

Start early
Don’t wait until the last minute to promote the app, and don’t rely on last-minute downloads at the event. Promote the app in the development stages and communicate its value to your attendees from the start. Don’t just write product copy — communicate how the app will improve your attendees’ experience.

An announcement of the app should be prominently displayed upon deployment of your event’s website. If the app isn’t ready, link to a page that details its benefits and provide status updates on Twitter or Facebook. Take advantage of your website’s real estate and social space to create awareness of the app.

Let video help promote it
Video content is increasing in popularity as a method of promotion. Mobile devices are equipped with high-definition capabilities that allow for an inexpensive method of creating content. If it’s in the budget, you can get more creative and develop a commercial, like we did with our Engage app platform.

Engage your event attendees by creating video tutorials on how to use the app and its features. Here’s what we created for our lead retrieval app, SWAP (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc5xjGCzCoo). Tutorials can put your attendees at ease, making them feel more comfortable using the tool. Embed the video on your website and share it with your followers via social media.

Encourage networking
Make sure the app has plenty of networking capabilities that will satisfy your attendees’ hunger for interacting with others. A messaging system within the app will allow attendees to network with others as if they are texting. Let attendees connect their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts, so they can live-tweet, post photos to Facebook or send LinkedIn invites, all without leaving your app.

Promote the app on-site
Before every keynote or breakout session, remind audience members that the app is available and encourage them to download it. QR codes should also appear on printed materials and signage linking mobile users to their app store.

Kiosks should be available throughout the convention center, in addition to the registration desk, for app support. Make sure support staff is called out with specific colors or shirts if attendees need troubleshooting or help understanding the functionality. Your attendees have invested time and money to attend your event; don’t abandon them when they need support.

By following the above suggestions, you increase your chances of surpassing the average adoption rates of the typical event app. It will generate excitement among your attendees, and they will take advantage of your app’s capabilities.

Mike Woellert is a marketing specialist at Twinsburg, Ohio-based Experient.