What Makes Mobile Apps Effective Marketing Tools at Live Events?

HIMSS Media

For better or worse, this is the age of the smartphone. The little, handheld device is an inescapable part of our culture, and naturally, that means huge marketing opportunities. Of course, that also means a wave of winning and losing marketing ventures into the mobile marketing space.

While there are already plenty of proven formulas, and, equally important, cautionary tales for mobile app marketing, at HIMSS Media, we’ve seen first-hand success in one particular area – mobile apps for live events.

To keep things simple, below is a point-by-point breakdown of tips and tricks you can use to identify your own best options for harnessing mobile marketing opportunities from live events.

1. The Power of Participation: Last year, at HIMSS18, of the 44,000 registered attendees, 27,000 had documented usage of the mobile app for the event. That’s more than a 60% usage rate among attendees. For any kind of ads, websites, or marketing assets, having 60% of the available audience interact would be unheard of in terms of engagement. In other words, there’s already consistent behavior around mobile apps for events to tap into.

2. The Tangible “Why” for Event App Usage: How is something like 60% usage commonplace for event apps? Think of the why… For any seasoned event attendee, it only takes a reflection on what events were like 5 or so years ago. You needed paper event hall maps, paper agendas, brochures with speaker bios, lanyards for exclusive sessions or tracked entry. As a sponsor, you collected business cards in fishbowls or boxes. Today, as an attendee, it’s all in the app. As a sponsor, an app can scan badges and manage much of the data capture process as well. In short, apps for events are one of the few instances where technology (with minimal exceptions) truly makes life easier. 
 
3. The Form of Event Apps Balances the Marketing Functions: Admittedly, we all, as marketers, share in a history of going slightly overboard on good ideas. Just think of the NASCAR slides in marketing-made sales decks, or the branding on actual NASCAR cars – if there’s a good point to be made, or a good place for placement, we’ll make that point or take that place as many times as we can and with little regard for how many others do the same. In event apps, however, there’s only so much space to be had. Actual event logistics, information, and other user-serving functions take up a lot of space while delivering a lot of value. There’s a healthy level of scarcity in sponsorship and branding opportunities which prevents NASCAR-like oversaturation, but does present clear associations of value for sponsors.
 
4. The Three Vs of Effective Mobile Marketing – Value, Value, Value: Above all else, mobile marketing works because it delivers value to users. As an event app sponsor, a brand is affiliated with the value delivered via the app. If the app makes live event attendance and participation easier, that ease, in some part, is thanks to the sponsors. If the app helps attendees catch the most informative sessions, that value association is made too. While mobile apps can certainly garner lots of attention, impressions, or eyeballs, they’re there to do something valuable for the user. Ad space and involvement with event aps doesn’t have to be an intrusion or a disruption; it’s an assistance in capturing as much of the value at an event as possible.

To dig deeper into mobile app sponsorship opportunities for HIMSS19, visit our HIMSS19 Mobile App web page.