When it comes to effective event planning and management, it’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of building an event engagement strategy.
We like to avoid cliches, but we find Abraham Lincoln’s words perfectly capture the value of a well-crafted event engagement strategy, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
Put to the task of hosting an exceptional event, it’s imperative that event planners devote the time and effort to building an event engagement strategy.
We’re here to help you do just that and have outlined best practices, simple steps, and successful case studies to empower your efforts, including the value of integrating the right custom mobile event app into your engagement strategy…
Understanding event engagement
What is event engagement?
Event engagement refers to the level of active participation, interaction, and emotional connection between attendees and an event.
It involves creating opportunities for attendees to actively engage with the event content, speakers, activities, and other participants. Event engagement aims to create a memorable and impactful experience that leaves attendees feeling involved, connected, and satisfied.
In its variety of forms, event engagement can be facilitated through different strategies and techniques. Here are some common examples:
Incorporating interactive elements such as Q&A sessions, polls, live voting, or interactive workshops encourages attendees to actively participate and contribute their ideas, opinions, and questions.
Organizing structured networking sessions, speed networking events, or icebreaker activities helps attendees connect with each other, build relationships, and exchange knowledge and experiences.
Introducing game-like elements such as scavenger hunts, challenges, quizzes, or competitions within the event framework adds an element of fun and competition, motivating attendees to actively engage and interact with the event.
Conducting practical workshops or demonstrations where attendees can learn and apply new skills or techniques fosters active engagement and knowledge retention.
Utilizing event technologies like event apps, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or live streaming platforms enables attendees to interact with the event content, access personalized information, or participate in virtual experiences.
Social media interaction
Encouraging attendees to share their experiences, insights, and photos on social media platforms using event-specific hashtags or handles creates a sense of community and extends the event reach beyond the physical or virtual space.
Tailoring event experiences to meet the specific needs and interests of attendees, such as personalized agendas, breakout sessions, or networking recommendations, enhances their engagement and satisfaction.
Designing experiences that evoke emotions, inspire storytelling, or create a sense of belonging can deeply engage attendees and leave a lasting impact.
By incorporating these and other engagement strategies, event organizers can create an environment that encourages active participation, fosters meaningful connections, and enhances the overall attendee experience.
Event engagement is a crucial aspect of successful events, as it leads to increased attendee satisfaction, knowledge retention, networking opportunities, and ultimately, the success of the event itself.
The importance of event engagement
It’s fair to say that without an engaged audience, your event strategy falls apart because event engagement results in a more memorable, impactful, and successful experience for both the attendees and the organizers.
When developing your event strategy, you want to be able to check all of the following boxes, without a doubt. Your event strategy should support and deliver:
Enhanced attendee experience
By effectively engaging attendees, event planners make them feel involved, connected, and valued, which creates a positive and interactive environment that enhances their overall experience. Bottom line: engaged attendees are more likely to enjoy the event, learn from it, and form lasting impressions.
Increased knowledge retention
Active engagement techniques such as interactive sessions, workshops, and hands-on activities promote better knowledge retention. When attendees participate and interact with the event content, they are more likely to remember and apply the information or skills gained. By ensuring opportunities for attendees to participate and interact with your content, you check all the boxes for the various learning styles, from visual, hands-on, etc.
Events provide valuable networking opportunities, and engagement plays a crucial role in facilitating connections. Interactive sessions, group activities, and networking games encourage attendees to interact with each other, exchange ideas, and build meaningful relationships. Strong networking can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and future business opportunities. Remember, the ability to expand their network is a chief motivating factor for attendees to register for your event in the first place. Supporting this expansion is central to your event’s success.
Brand awareness and promotion
Engaged attendees are more likely to share their experiences on social media platforms, providing free and authentic promotion for the event and its sponsors. Through social media mentions, posts, and live updates, event engagement helps increase brand visibility, reach a wider audience, and generate buzz around the event.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Event organizers invest significant resources in planning and executing events. Well-executed event engagement ensures that attendees receive value for their time and money spent on attending. Satisfied and engaged attendees are more likely to become repeat participants, recommend the event to others, or support future initiatives by the organizer. Whenever possible, put yourself in your attendees shoes and evaluate your efforts from that perspective. Consider whether you would be impressed or pleased with the value presented by the event and, if necessary, adjust accordingly.
Data collection and feedback
Engaged attendees are more willing to participate in surveys, provide feedback, and share their opinions. This valuable data can help organizers assess the success of the event, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions for future events.
Innovation and creativity
Interactive and engaging events provide a platform for innovation and creativity. By incorporating interactive technologies, immersive experiences, and novel formats, event organizers can capture the attention of attendees and create memorable moments that differentiate their events from others.
As an event organizer, it’s imperative that you focus on event engagement in order to create a positive attendee experience, increase knowledge retention, facilitate networking opportunities, promote brands, maximize ROI, collect data, and foster innovation. Prioritizing interactive and participatory elements can help you achieve these objectives.
What are the benefits of increasing engagement at events?
Increasing engagement at events brings several benefits, both for the attendees and the event organizers.
We’ve already covered that enhancing engagement results in a superior experience for your attendees and also provides you with actionable insights and data.
Additionally, increasing engagement empowers:
Engaged events foster a sense of community among attendees. By facilitating networking, collaboration, and shared experiences, events can create a strong community of like-minded individuals who continue to engage with each other even after the event ends.
You’ll see this in action later in this piece where we present a few compelling case studies.
The question is, with all this awareness about how impactful event engagement is, how do you get started? What is the best way to build your event strategy?
We’ve got a few ideas…
Creating an event engagement strategy
There’s no need to complicate the steps to building an event strategy. Like any other planning strategy, it helps to break the process down into simple steps, as follows:
1. Define goals and objectives:
Start by identifying the specific goals and objectives you want to achieve through increased engagement. For example, it could be fostering networking, increasing knowledge retention, or generating social media buzz. Clearly articulate these goals to guide your strategy development.
2. Understand your audience
Gain insights into your target audience’s preferences, interests, and expectations. This understanding helps you tailor engagement activities to their specific needs and motivations.
3. Imagine interactive sessions
Incorporate interactive elements throughout the event, such as Q&A sessions, panel discussions, workshops, or hands-on activities. Encourage attendees to actively participate, ask questions, and share their insights and experiences.
4. Integrate technology
Leverage event technologies to enhance engagement. This could include event apps with features like live polling, interactive maps, or gamification elements. Explore options like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or live streaming platforms to provide unique and immersive experiences.
5. Facilitate networking opportunities
Create structured networking sessions, icebreaker activities, or dedicated networking areas to facilitate meaningful connections among attendees. Provide tools or platforms to help participants find and connect with each other based on shared interests or goals.
6. Get on board with gamification
Introduce gamification elements to make the event more engaging and interactive. This can involve incorporating challenges, quizzes, competitions, or scavenger hunts that attendees can participate in and win rewards or recognition.
7. Make it personal
Offer personalized experiences by allowing attendees to customize their schedules, choose from breakout sessions, or access content tailored to their interests. This enhances their sense of ownership and engagement with the event.
8. Share and share again on social media
Encourage attendees to share their experiences, insights, and photos on social media platforms using event-specific hashtags or handles. Run social media contests or provide incentives for participants to engage online and extend the event’s reach.
9. Inspire an emotional connection
Design experiences that create an emotional connection with attendees. This could involve storytelling, inspirational speakers, or creating a sense of community and belonging.
10. Solicit feedback for evaluation
Incorporate mechanisms to gather feedback from attendees throughout the event. This can include surveys, polls, or real-time feedback collection to understand attendees’ satisfaction levels and areas for improvement.
11. Keep in touch consistently
Engage with attendees before, during, and after the event through various channels such as email newsletters, event updates, or post-event follow-ups. Maintain an open line of communication to keep attendees informed and engaged throughout the entire event journey.
Remember that the event engagement strategy should align with the overall event objectives and cater to the unique needs and preferences of your target audience.
Regularly evaluate and adapt your strategy based on attendee feedback and evolving trends to ensure continuous improvement and success.
How do I identify the target audience of my event?
Identifying the target audience for your event engagement strategy is crucial for effectively tailoring your approach to their specific needs, interests, and preferences.
Start with these steps to help you identify your target audience:
Define the purpose and goals of your event
Clearly articulate the purpose and objectives of your event. Understand the type of experience you want to deliver, the knowledge or skills you aim to impart, and the outcomes you want to achieve. This will help you determine the audience that aligns with your event’s focus.
Conduct market research
Gather data and insights about the industry or topic your event revolves around. Analyze industry trends, market demographics, and competitor events to understand the potential audience. Consider factors such as age, gender, profession, interests, and geographic location.
Create audience personas
Develop detailed profiles of your ideal attendees or customer personas. Consider factors such as demographics, psychographics (values, interests, lifestyles), goals, challenges, and pain points. These personas will serve as fictional representations of your target audience and help you better understand their needs and motivations.
Utilize existing data and analytics
If you have previously organized similar events or have an existing customer or attendee database, analyze the data to identify patterns and trends. Look for common characteristics among past attendees to determine who your target audience might be.
Engage with industry experts and influencers
Connect with industry experts, influencers, or thought leaders who have a deep understanding of your target audience. Seek their insights and perspectives on the demographics and preferences of the audience you should be targeting.
Conduct surveys and interviews
Design and distribute surveys or conduct interviews to collect direct feedback from potential attendees. Ask questions about their preferences, interests, and expectations regarding events similar to yours. This primary research can provide valuable insights into your target audience.
Analyze social media and online discussions
Monitor social media platforms, forums, and online communities relevant to your event topic. Observe conversations, engagement levels, and the demographics of individuals discussing related topics. This can help you understand the interests and characteristics of your potential audience.
Engage with your existing audience
If you have an existing customer base or email list, engage with them to gather feedback and insights. Use surveys, polls, or personalized communication to understand their interests, motivations, and preferences related to events.
By combining these research methods, you can create a comprehensive understanding of your target audience for the event engagement strategy.
The insights gained will guide you in developing engagement activities and tactics that resonate with your specific audience, resulting in a more impactful and successful event experience.
How do I define the goals of the event?
Defining the goals of your event is a critical step in planning and ensuring its success.
In order to clearly define your goals, you want to take the same approach as you will when building your strategy. Small, simple steps will support you as you go the distance.
Step 1: Determine the purpose
Start by clarifying the purpose of your event. Ask yourself:
- Why are you organizing this event?
- What do you aim to achieve?
- Is it to educate, entertain, inspire, raise awareness, foster networking, drive sales, or support a cause?
Understanding the overarching purpose will guide your goal-setting process.
Step 2: Identify key objectives
Once you have a clear purpose, identify the specific objectives you want to accomplish through your event.
It helps to think SMART:
What does a SMART goal actually look like?
- Increase attendee satisfaction by 25%
- Generate 35 qualify leads
- Secure 4 new partnerships
Remember, specific and measurable but also achievable. You’ll notice the goal wasn’t to secure 50 new partnerships or increase satisfaction by 75%. While it’s great to aim high, actually achieving your goals will keep your team motivated so you don’t necessarily want to shoot for the moon. Instead, ensure a win or two — it will go a long way.
Step 3: Consider stakeholder perspectives
Take into account the perspectives and expectations of your stakeholders, such as event sponsors, partners, speakers, or attendees. What are their motivations and desired outcomes? Balancing these perspectives can help shape your goals and ensure alignment with the interests of all involved parties.
Step 4: Prioritize and focus
Determine the key priorities for your event. You may have multiple objectives, but it’s essential to prioritize them based on their importance and impact. Focusing on a few primary goals will help you allocate resources, design the event experience, and measure success more effectively.
Step 5: Make goals measurable and set realistic targets
You’ve already been coached on the importance of measurable and achievable goals. The same holds true for setting targets. Think ambitious but plan for attainable. Consider past event performance, industry benchmarks, or expert advice when determining your targets.
Available resources, budget, and timeframe are also factors that cannot be ignored.
Step 6: Align with overall strategy
Sounds obvious, but trust us, it’s worth highlighting.
Ensure that your event goals align with your overall organizational or business strategy. Your event should contribute to the broader objectives of your organization or support specific marketing, sales, or brand-building initiatives. In other words, an event for event’s sake isn’t going to make much of an impact or move the needle on anything.
Step 7: Communicate and get buy-in
Clearly communicate your goals to all relevant stakeholders, including your team, sponsors, and partners. Ensure everyone is aligned and supportive of the defined goals. Their buy-in and understanding will help drive collective efforts toward achieving those goals.
Step 8: Review and refine
Regularly review and refine your goals as you progress in the planning and execution phases. Be open to adjusting or updating your goals if new information or circumstances arise that warrant a change in direction.
Ideally, well-defined goals provide a clear direction, help guide decision-making, and serve as benchmarks for evaluating the success of your event.
Check in on them along the way, just as you would monitor the fuel or oil levels of your car on a long road trip.
Which metrics help determine a successful event?
The metrics for measuring event success can vary depending on the specific goals and objectives of your event.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, start with these common and easily measurable metrics:
Attendance and registration
Measure the number of attendees or registrations to gauge the overall interest and reach of your event. This metric provides a baseline for evaluating the event’s success and can be compared to previous events or industry benchmarks.
Gather feedback from attendees through post-event surveys or feedback forms to measure their satisfaction levels. Consider factors such as overall experience, content relevance, speaker quality, networking opportunities, and logistics. High satisfaction ratings indicate a successful event that met or exceeded attendee expectations.
Assess the level of engagement during the event, such as the number of questions asked during Q&A sessions, interactions on social media platforms, downloads or shares of event materials, or participation in interactive activities. These metrics demonstrate the level of attendee involvement and interest in the event content.
If one of your event goals is to generate leads or new business opportunities, track metrics related to lead generation. Measure the number of qualified leads generated, new contacts made, or post-event conversions to assess the event’s impact on sales or business development.
Return on investment (ROI)
AKA, where the rubber meets the road. Evaluate the financial success of your event by comparing the costs incurred with the benefits and returns obtained. Consider revenue generated from ticket sales, sponsorships, or exhibitor fees, as well as any cost savings or efficiency gains achieved. Calculating the ROI helps determine the financial viability and effectiveness of your event.
Social media reach and engagement
Analyze social media metrics to understand the reach, engagement, and impact of your event on various platforms. Monitor metrics such as the number of mentions, likes, shares, comments, or impressions using event-specific hashtags or handles. This data reflects the event’s online visibility, brand exposure, and attendee advocacy.
Assess the extent of media coverage and the publicity your event receives. Measure metrics such as the number of press mentions, articles published, interviews conducted, or media partnerships established. Positive media coverage contributes to the event’s reputation, brand visibility, and industry recognition.
If your event aims to drive specific business outcomes, such as product launches, partnerships, or investor relations, track metrics related to those goals. For instance, measure the number of product demos conducted, partnership agreements signed, or investor leads generated to assess the event’s impact on business growth.
Post-event surveys and testimonials
Gather qualitative feedback through post-event surveys, testimonials, or case studies. These insights provide valuable qualitative data on the perceived value, impact, and success of your event.
It’s important to determine which metrics align with your event’s goals and objectives in order to track them consistently over time. Combining multiple metrics allows for a comprehensive assessment of your event’s success, highlighting both quantitative and qualitative aspects.
Consider these custom mobile app features for increasing event engagement
Mobile apps have become powerful tools for enhancing event engagement, particularly if they provide the following features:
Provide attendees with the ability to create personalized agendas within the app. Allow them to browse the event schedule, select sessions of interest, and create their own customized agenda. This feature empowers attendees to plan their event experience based on their preferences, increasing their engagement and satisfaction.
Real-time updates and notification
Send push notifications or in-app updates to inform attendees about session changes, speaker updates, or important announcements. Real-time notifications help attendees stay engaged and updated throughout the event.
Interactive maps and wayfinding
Incorporate interactive maps and wayfinding features to help attendees navigate the event venue easily. Provide floor plans, exhibitor booth locations, session rooms, restroom facilities, and other points of interest within the app. This feature saves attendees’ time, reduces confusion, and enhances their overall event experience.
Live polling and Q&A
Enable real-time polling and Q&A features within the app to encourage attendee participation and engagement during sessions. Attendees can submit questions to speakers or participate in live polls, fostering interaction and making sessions more interactive and engaging.
Networking and matchmaking
Facilitate networking opportunities by integrating networking features in the app. Allow attendees to create profiles, connect with each other, and schedule meetings or one-on-one interactions. Provide personalized recommendations or matchmaking algorithms based on attendees’ interests, industries, or goals to enhance networking effectiveness.
Social media integration
Integrate social media platforms within the app, allowing attendees to share their experiences, photos, or updates directly to their social media accounts. Enable social media feeds or event-specific hashtags to encourage attendees to engage in online conversations and amplify event reach.
Implement gamification elements and challenges to make the event more engaging and interactive. Create leaderboards, offer badges or rewards for completing specific activities, or organize scavenger hunts within the app. Gamification motivates attendees to actively participate, explore the event, and compete with others, driving higher engagement levels.
Live streaming and on-demand content
Provide live streaming capabilities for remote attendees or those unable to attend certain sessions. Additionally, make recorded sessions or on-demand content available within the app for attendees to access after the event. This feature extends the event’s reach and engagement beyond the physical confines of the venue.
Feedback and surveys
Incorporate feedback forms or surveys within the app to collect attendees’ opinions, suggestions, and feedback on various aspects of the event. This feature allows organizers to gather valuable insights, make improvements, and demonstrate their commitment to attendee satisfaction.
Sponsor and exhibitor visibility
Create dedicated sections within the app to showcase event sponsors and exhibitors. Include their profiles, promotional materials, interactive booth maps, or lead generation tools. This feature enhances the visibility and exposure of sponsors and exhibitors while providing attendees with valuable information and engagement opportunities.
Be sure to select app features that align with your event’s objectives and the preferences of your target audience. Tailor the features to create a seamless and user-friendly experience, enhancing attendee engagement and satisfaction throughout — and following — the event.
Benefits of using a custom mobile app for event engagement
Using a custom mobile app for event engagement is intended to enhance the attendee experience, empower networking, and increase engagement; additionally, mobile apps offer specific benefits that can enhance the overall event experience for both organizers and attendees, for instance:
Improved event navigation
Mobile apps with interactive maps and wayfinding features make it easier for attendees to navigate the event venue. They can quickly find session rooms, exhibitor booths, restrooms, or other points of interest, reducing confusion and saving time. Improved navigation enhances the overall event experience and ensures attendees can make the most of their time.
Real-time updates and communication
Custom mobile apps enable real-time communication between organizers and attendees. Push notifications or in-app updates keep attendees informed about changes, announcements, or important reminders. This feature ensures that attendees are up to date with the latest information, schedules, and any unexpected updates or adjustments.
Data and analytics
Custom mobile apps collect valuable data and analytics that can provide insights into attendee behavior, preferences, and engagement levels. Organizers can analyze this data to gain a better understanding of attendee interests, improve future events, and measure the success of their event engagement strategies.
Sponsorship and monetization opportunities
Mobile apps offer sponsorship and monetization opportunities, allowing organizers to generate additional revenue streams. Custom branding options, sponsored content, targeted advertisements, or featured listings within the app can provide exposure and visibility for sponsors and exhibitors, while also enhancing the attendee experience.
A custom mobile app can extend the event’s engagement beyond its duration. Attendees can access on-demand content, review session materials, connect with speakers or fellow attendees, and continue conversations through the app. This post-event engagement helps sustain the event’s impact, knowledge retention, and ongoing networking opportunities.
Branding and image building
A custom mobile app presents an opportunity to showcase your event brand and create a cohesive experience. Consistent branding elements, personalized messaging, and intuitive user interfaces contribute to a professional and polished image for your event, enhancing its reputation and credibility.
Sustainability and cost efficiency
Mobile apps can contribute to sustainability efforts by reducing paper usage for event materials and agendas. By providing all relevant information digitally, organizers can save costs associated with printing, shipping, and distributing physical materials.
Using a custom mobile app for event engagement empowers organizers to deliver a seamless and immersive event experience while maximizing attendee engagement, networking opportunities, and data-driven insights.
Event engagement case studies
Whenever you’re planning something, especially an event that requires a well-constructed event strategy, it can help to evaluate examples of what worked for other organizations.
To that end, we offer the following event engagement case studies:
SXSW (South by Southwest)
SXSW is a renowned annual event that celebrates the convergence of film, music, and technology. The event utilizes a custom mobile app that provides attendees with personalized schedules, real-time updates, interactive maps, networking features, and social media integration. The app enhances the attendee experience, facilitates networking, and helps navigate the extensive program of sessions, concerts, and events.
Dreamforce, organized by Salesforce, is one of the largest technology conferences in the world. The event utilizes a custom mobile app that offers personalized agendas, session information, interactive maps, networking features, and gamification elements. Attendees can engage in challenges, collect badges, and access relevant content, enhancing their event experience and encouraging active participation.
Adobe MAX is an annual creativity conference that brings together professionals in design, video editing, photography, and other creative fields. The event employs a custom mobile app that provides attendees with personalized schedules, session information, networking tools, and interactive features. The app allows attendees to connect with speakers, share their experiences on social media, and access session materials and resources.
TED Conferences are renowned for their inspirational talks and presentations. The events utilize custom mobile apps that offer personalized agendas, speaker information, interactive features for audience engagement, and social sharing capabilities. The apps enhance the attendee experience by providing seamless access to TED Talks, facilitating networking, and encouraging post-event engagement.
Mobile World Congress (MWC)
MWC is the largest mobile industry event, showcasing the latest innovations and trends in the mobile and technology sector. The event utilizes a custom mobile app that offers personalized schedules, exhibitor information, interactive maps, networking features, and real-time updates. The app enhances attendee engagement, facilitates networking opportunities, and provides a comprehensive guide to navigating the event.
These examples demonstrate how custom mobile apps have been successfully employed by various events to enhance attendee engagement, drive attendance, provide personalized experiences, facilitate networking, and deliver valuable event-related information.
By leveraging the features and functionalities of these apps, event organizers can create immersive and interactive experiences that leave a lasting impact on attendees.