World With Phone

by Jennifer Hawkins, Director of Marketing of DoubleDutch

With 2 billion smartphones worldwide, it’s no surprise that mobile marketing spend grew 80 percent in 2013. The numbers don’t lie – consumers are addicted to their phones, so marketers can connect with their target audience in new ways. How can we employ mobile in a way that is 1) not creepy, and 2) beneficial to consumers?

Let’s talk about how mobile marketing can influence live events specifically. Events are great opportunities to bring people together to share knowledge, learn from experts, and (when you’re lucky) generate high quality business leads. Marketers know this, and as a result we spend a ton of time and money on events. According to Forrester, event marketing on average makes up the largest chunk of the B2B marketer’s budget at nearly 20 percent.

Nonetheless, I know why marketers have a love / hate relationship with events. ROI on events is simply more ambiguous than we would like. We have only a few data points to reference when we attempt to justify event sponsorship spend (booth traffic, etc). It’s hard for exhibitors or organizers to know for sure how well attendees are engaging with the content… or if that’s even happening at all.  Luckily, mobile is solving this problem by opening up new data sources and a new marketing channel.

Embrace Mobile Obsessions… and Win

Hand Holding PhonePast research has concluded that people look at their smartphones between 110 and 150 times a day on average, so attendees will be checking their cherished devices before, during and after an event. The best speakers in the world are worthless if they’re speaking to a room full of people checking email and browsing Facebook, but event marketers – like mobile advertisers – would do better to embrace this behavior than compete against it.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, marketers agreed on two things: mobile is going to continue to become a more important part of the mix, and consumers will demand higher quality mobile content that is easily accessible.  Therefore, marketing leaders are looking to native mobile technology to break through the noise and reach consumers exactly where they are. It’s become evident that a thoughtfully constructed app has a far more lasting impact than tiny banner ads and interstitial pop-ups. These best practices for mobile marketing hold true for events, as well.

Mobile Drives Event Engagement

Marketers should consider creating a branded app for the conferences they host in order to open up new marketing channels and maximize engagement. Here’s why:

Event AppAn app can multiply the number of opportunities to reach attendees with targeted messaging and branding. It helps drive interest pre-event with an easy-to-browse schedule of events, a list of who will be attending, and relevant info exhibitors and speakers. The event app kickstarts discussions, ranging from which local bars people are ideal for networking, to how to connect with speakers after a session.

During the event, marketers can fire up engagement with contests, driven by in-app activity. They can send push notifications before a scheduled session to encourage attendance, and survey requests afterward. The mobile event app also creates a hub for discussion, centralizing all social interactions into one platform, with the ability to share out to Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.

At DoubleDutch, we’ve seen that 56 percent of users engage with event applications at least 10 times on average, proving that attendees are eager for this type of timely, contextual content.

Mobile Uncovers New Marketing Data Sources

Event App Alternate View

What’s most exciting for marketers is this — mobile apps can make event marketing just as trackable as digital marketing channels. Yes, you read that correctly. With each tap of the application is a signal of interest, much like a click in an email, or visiting a website. Marketers can now better understand which messages and speakers are drawing the most attention, how attendees are spending their time, location-based traffic patterns at the event. We don’t have to rely on attendees to fill out surveys for feedback; we can get it in real-time from attendees, exhibitors, and speakers, based on their in-app actions.

Given the enormous investment of time and money that goes into events every year, marketers should be looking to maximize event ROI with best practices from mobile marketing. Mobile event apps embrace consumer smartphone addictions to increase event engagement and consequentially, increase the data from which marketers can make informed decisions. It is the next step in any marketing engagement campaign.

For more information on how event marketers can leverage mobile addiction, check out this whitepaper.