This post was originally posted on October 26, 2016. It has been edited for updates and accuracy.
The show floor is no longer the only place where attendees can and should be inspired to engage. The new attendee experience is all about creating content and moments tailored to individual interests that compel attendees to engage.
And that means opening up your event to include participation during, post, and pre-event.
Technologies such as the mobile event app are now an integral part of the events scene, and a vital part of reaching out to your audience pre-event.
In this first part of our blog series, “Engagement at Every Stage,” we’ll talk about how to use event apps to motivate attendees before the event has even begun. You can also read part 2 here, and part 3 here.
Building Buzz with Exclusive Content
As your event approaches, you can drive excitement by tantalizing future attendees with glimpses of the upcoming event. Welcome videos or behind-the-scenes photos uploaded to the app will give attendees an idea of what to expect, while also keeping the details under wraps enough to raise their curiosity.
You can also spread this content via social media channels, or other promotion methods as suits your event marketing plan. This can also be a great way to encourage existing attendees to download your event app pre-event—offer glimpses of additional content that can be unlocked after registration and app install.
For those who have already registered, be sure to call attention to the content by using push notifications, messages, or reminders. This helps make sure that even before the event, attendees will get a clearer picture of what to expect and can prepare for the main event.
In addition to content, pre-event activities can help attendees feel connected and engaged even before the event begins. Pre-event gamification is a great way to get attendees to explore the features of the app, and can also help promote certain topics, speakers, or presenters.
Encouraging Prep with Pre-Event Access
It’s important to make sure attendees go into the event with the right information—who the speakers are, where they will be, details of the venue and so on. Not only does it make it easier for you at the planner to anticipate issues and questions, it helps attendees make the most of their time at your event.
Be sure to populate your event app pre-event. Interactive maps of the venue, as well as pre-written guides to the venue and available activities, give attendees the opportunity to explore the event location from anywhere. The more easily attendees are able to access and utilize event-specific information, the more likely they will be to follow through on the learning, networking and other opportunities that have been brought to their attention.
To support attendees in planning their day in advance, encourage (or introduce) them to their event app’s personalized schedule functionality before the event. The event schedule will have the general, practical details such as time, place, and presenters, but the ability to easily import items into a personalized schedule will help attendees lock in on the activities most well-suited to them.
Helping Attendees Prepare to Engage
Making the mobile event app available to attendees before the event gives them the opportunity to begin interacting both with the app and with each other. At the same time that attendees are becoming familiarized with the app, event planners can build anticipation and drive their future audience to explore the options available once the event begins.
The ability to do research into sessions, topics, speakers, and even fellow attendees, can give your event a boost in terms of engagement. By giving attendees the opportunity to do research and preparation pre-event, you cut down on the amount of time they have to spend doing that work during the event.
Why Engage Pre-Event?
Ultimately, pre-event engagement can help your audience become more productive, and your event more useful to them as a result. By leveraging the technology of your event app, it becomes easy for planners to provide content, interaction, and activities before they reach the venue.
What are some of the ways you promote pre-event engagement? For strategies for raising motivation and driving engagement once the event has started, check out part 2 of the series.