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Event mobile apps are a reality of today's events. Here are some useful notifications to push to attendees through your mobile app.
Let me make two things clear.
1. Mobile apps for events are not a trend. As I said in the Event App Bible, the wave is massive and it is surely changing the way we attend events.
2. Push notifications can be annoying if used improperly. Making sure to send the right messages and to pace them correctly is paramount. Bugging attendees with silly notifications can only kill your event app adoption and you don't want that to happen.
As I shortly anticipated I believe there are two elements in good push notifications.
Relevancy. Sending relevant updates is key. Push notifications make you feel violated. No matter how mobile interfaces are smart, a push notification is an interruption. If I am at an event I can accept that interruption. In fact the immersive nature of events makes our mobile weapons of mass participation. Push notifications can be accepted during such intense times. This is provided that the update is relevant.
There is nothing worse than dedicating attention to an irrelevant message. In a sense the following list is an almanac of what can be relevant.
Pacing. The best way to screw relevancy is by abusing your push powers. It is very easy to be caught by the excitement of positive feedback to one update. It is super easy to let go and start sending hundreds of messages.
Scheduling your updates will prune last minute excitement. You know that super excited boyfriend or girlfriend who sent you 90 SMS the morning after the first date? You don't want to be them.
Now that you know how to send push notifications, let's look at what to write in them.
Session Alerts and Recommendation
Of all the events I have attended, I believe this has been the most valuable notification I've attended. If your event app allows attendees to fave specific sessions, alerting them when that session is about to happen is the most natural thing.
As an attendee you are just thankful when you get such updates. Looking through the paper event guide for that session you were interested in, belongs somewhat to the '90s.
Being aware that a competition is happening may actually be valuable. It can add that gamification flare to get attendees engaged with the app. Watch out with this one as it can get easily out of hands with continuous badges and rewards that can annoy on the longer term (we have all experienced the joy of Farmville notifications).
Check in Rewards
Surprise is another cool element of your event that can be conveyed through notifications. Why not rewarding check ins with unexpected gifts and using notifications to announce the rewards.
Incentivizing mobility and stimulating engagement with different areas of your event will be increasingly more important with time. Check in rewards notification can help stimulating such engagement.
I still remember when I was at a conference last year and I was having a shower in the morning before hitting the show floor. I was trying to remember at what time breakfast was served for that day. After a few minutes, I heard a notification sound on my mobile to discover a message saying 'Breakfast is being served right now in the lounge'.
I don't believe I need to further explain the value of receiving such an update.
Attendees like polls. The Vitruvian Attendee has an army badge because she wants to be involved. Polls make attendees feel part of the game.
Pushing polls during a session through the official event app makes sense. Period. It is real-time, relevant and makes us feel happy we've been asked our opinion.
For the same reasons above rating is always a great way to make attendees feel involved. The test here is that ratings give you incredibly precious feedback about what usually is one of the biggest expenses of live events: performers.
If you want to know whether that super paid keynote has been worth the investment, make sure to push an update to your attendees asking to rate the talk. You'll gain invaluable intelligence.
If your event is happening within bad weather conditions, attendees will be nervous. Despite we all like to play it cool, an approaching tropical storm is not a good thing if you are travelling.
Using notifications to let others know about the evolving weather conditions is very relevant. Of course you want to keep that party feeling but it is also good to show you care for your guests.
Thinking that event apps are worth only during of the event is very limited. In fact tech savvy events make sure to stimulate adoption well before the party has started.
In this perspective sharing news about who is going to perform at your event is a smart move. If an important speaker joined your line up you can announce that through the app and keep the attention high even before the event starts.
Potential Networking Match
A lot of the app action revolves around networking. If your app caters for that, it is wise to let the user know once a networking opportunity is close. Helping to match users and break the ice is a great use of technology.
If two attendees get a notification that they are close to each other and should meet, it can be a fantastic conversation starter. One of the biggest reasons why we attend events is networking and establishing new relationships.
Health and Safety
Last but by no means least. Not taking care of your H&S should keep you awake at night. Endangering people security has trashed event reputations' through the years.
Letting attendees know of fire exits location or what to do in case of emergency through the app is a great addition to your verbal announcement. It keeps attention high.
Great push notifications without relevancy and pace are awful push notifications. Think about the timing of your updates and keep the content relevant.
I gave you a few pointers to think about when pushing messages through your event mobile app.
More to add? Use the comment section.
Photo by John Biehler