An Event Planning Blog by Gather Digital

When is an Event App More than an Event App? When it's a Game-Changing Data Machine.

Written by: Pete Skeele

Pete Skeele


Facebook: A Data Juggernaut

It’s amazing to think that what is now the global social phenomenon, Facebook, started when Mark Zuckerberg and some friends built a social platform for fellow college students. Now more than one billion people globally use Facebook and the company has one of the largest market caps in the United States economy. It has turned into a juggernaut of advertising revenue and is valuable to marketers because of the amazing amount of data it throws off about its users.

Why do companies advertise on Facebook? What makes Facebook so authoritative when it comes to analyzing user behavior?

Because Facebook is a big data gold mine.

The case can be made that Facebook knows more about its users than almost any other company that exists, with the possible exception of Google. Facebook’s proximity to its users offers unparalleled insights and access to companies, associations and all types of other organizations looking to reach their constituents in intelligent and targeted ways. Facebook provides a forum where its users contribute to a shared communal experience, interact with offers, view links, give opinions, and in the process, reveal information about their interests.

Mobile event apps are the Facebook of events and trade shows.

Like Facebook, the mobile event app space started as something new, flashy and non-crucial in the late 2000s. “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to have an app for our event?” early adopters likely said. However, as often happens with many innovations, the value that a leader in a new industry eventually comes to deliver is not something they intentionally sought in the early phases. It is a value proposition the leader stumbles into, almost by accident, during the process of iterating to improve the user experience.

Check out this related content: Mobile Tech Analytics for Event Planners [ebook]

The mobile event app provides a forum for rich (data-rich!) interaction by participants. As a result, the event app has become another channel, or medium, through which organizations can communicate to, and receive communication from, their users, customers and members. It is becoming a gold mine for marketers and communications executives everywhere. As increasingly more participants are downloading event apps, creating schedules, viewing documents, answering surveys, participating in live polls, networking with other participants and contributing to the experience through posting photos and comments, the mobile event app is creating huge new swaths of valuable content and data.

In the same way that tools like Google Analytics, Moz, Mixpanel, Adobe Analytics, Hubspot and Kissmetrics make it possible for digital marketers to track user engagement on their websites with click-through volume, page rank, screens per session and call-to-action conversion rates, mobile event apps make it possible for event managers to track participant behavior at their events and during their programs.

Related content: How Skillful Marketers Leverage Event Apps to Know Customers Better and Drive ROI [infographic]

A mobile event app reporting suite can inform based on a variety of actions a user takes in the app:

  • Checking in to sessions
  • Adding sessions to a personalized custom agenda
  • Viewing documents
  • Checking in to an exhibitor’s booth
  • Having their name badge scanned on the expo floor
  • Completing a conference survey or session evaluation
  • Participating in a live poll or open Q&A
  • Clicking on sponsored images or messages
  • Earning continuing education credits
  • Earning badges in a game
  • Checking off to-do tasks
  • Posting photos
  • Contributing to a discussion board

So…that’s all great, but so what?

Events have historically been a big black hole of expenses, hosted regardless of whether or not there was a tangible return on investment from the event.

The mobile event app solves this problem because it not only helps you, as the event manager, to measure ROI, it empowers you to give your colleagues working in other areas of your organization the information they need to perform their jobs better. If you can track activation and engagement at a conference with exactly the same level of granularity that a digital marketer can track clicks-through on a website, it changes the game in two huge ways:

  1. It changes how you can measure the effectiveness of your event.
  2. It drastically increases the value of your event to your sales, marketing, communications and member services colleagues after it’s over.

Read a related post: Know Your Participants Better [blog post]


Let’s use a hypothetical scenario as an example. Let’s say you are an event planner for a large association. While it’s obviously very important that the event go well, it would also be great if you could make the case that your event generated a nice ROI for your association. How do you measure ROI? In dollars.


Analytics insights and pay off chart.png 


Once you start collecting this kind of data and understanding the insights behind it, you can send reports to these colleagues as part of your post-event wrap-up:

  • Director of Membership—increased member satisfaction
    • Results of a member survey
    • New member joins and renewals in the app
  • Director of Education—year-round program participation
    • Which sessions were most popular
    • What were the chatter topics on the discussion board that can inform future webinars
    • How many CE credits were earned by whom for which sessions
  • Director of Marketing—sponsorship and publication revenue
    • Ad revenue from sponsor placements in the event app
    • Additional subscriptions to the association magazine gained through the app
  • Director of Sales—revenue from members, exhibitors and sponsors
    • Revenue earned from selling lead retrieval to exhibitors
    • Number of leads generated for exhibitors at the event
    • Badges earned and check ins from visits to exhibitor booths
  • Executive Director—better member intelligence, stronger brand power, better value proposition over time, profitability
    • All of the above, plus
    • Money saved from foregoing printed programs and shipping

If you’re getting excited about turning event management into a revenue-driving machine, you’re on the right track.

The deeper the attendee engagement in your mobile app, the more opportunities are created for future communication with your participants. And this has tangible and measurable outcomes.

By generating this type of data, the event or program can help you know your members or customers better, provide more value to them and ultimately increase revenue—not only at the event, but across the board, year-round.

Get the latest, greatest insights on using event app analytics to drive engagement and increase revenue. Download this free ebook.

Analytics for Event Planners


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