Event App vs Event Website: What Generates Maximum Buzz About Your Event?
Last year in the United States, over 70% of the total digital traffic came from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets and phablets) alone. Globally, mobile usage has trumped desktop usage for 4 consecutive years – and the gap is likely to widen further in the foreseeable future. In such a scenario, having a strong mobile presence for your upcoming B2B events and conferences is absolutely a no-brainer. Everyone is on mobile – and if your event isn’t – you are going to miss out on a significant chunk of your target attendees.
With that being the case – the debate now shifts to something else: should event planners go for a dedicated mobile event app (available for download at App Store and Play Store), or does having a responsive event website suffice? In this event app vs event website comparison, we will try to find out which option gives your event the optimum level of exposure and buzz:
1. Need to download
If you do not want your attendees to download an extra application on their mobile devices, you would be happy with a website-only solution. For visiting an event website, all that the users have to do is type in the URL in the browser of their smartphones or tablets (or desktops/laptops, for that matter) – and all the event-related information will be accessible. In case you go for an event app, you will need to make your potential attendees aware of its presence – and convince them to download it. In a way, that’s an extra layer of work.
2. Network connectivity requirement
Your attendees would have access to the internet most of the time – but what about those times when network connectivity is poor, or worse still, absent altogether (think of people traveling in underground tubes, and trying to check out your event)? An event website will NEVER be accessible offline – and while many features of an event app are also likely to require connectivity, the basic app can be viewed on an offline device. Cached app screens and information can also be viewed. If you are depending on an event website only, network glitches can be a major issue for many users. An event app, on the other hand, retains its basic functionalities offline.
3. One-way communication vs two-way communication
In an ideal scenario, you want your target audience to be actively ‘involved’ with your event, right? An event website – or any website for that matter – typically delivers one-way information. People can read off the information shared on the different pages and the blog (if available). The maximum interaction with a website can be in the form of filling up a form or chatting with the website support bot. Mobile event apps, however, take user-interaction to a different level altogether. People can participate in live polling and Q & A sessions, send/receive private messages, network with each other, and even create their very own social communities (based on common interests). Engagement levels are much greater with an event app than an event website – and the former delivers much more value in this regard.
4. Greater customisations
– Event apps can handle and cater to specific user preferences and requirements in a way that event websites cannot come close to matching. Right at the time of registering on a mobile event application, a user has to set up his/her profile, with information on his/her viewing preferences, interests and other personalised stuff. For instance, an event app with tag-based networking will help in connecting like-minded fellow-attendees to the event. Unlike apps, websites are generic – and visitors (even those who have signed up/registered) have to view the same information and the same media content. Event apps deliver customised content to users, while event websites rely on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy.
5. The UI factor
Making an event app gives much greater flexibility and freedom to developers. If you use the services of any digital event app building platform, you get these benefits too. The UI advantages range from easy swiping and drag-and-drop, to pinch-and-zoom, taps, and other simple gestures. The usability of a mobile event website, however, depends a lot on the precise browser(s) – on web or mobile – that people are using. More specifically, the nature and functionality of things like the ‘back button’ and the ‘refresh’ function can have an adverse role on the overall user-experience (UX). Gesture-based features enhance the functionality of an app – but they are not present on browser-dependent websites.
Note: Your event website might work like a charm on Google Chrome, but can you be sure that no one will use Internet Explorer to try and view it?
6. Using features of the smart device
Let’s cite an example: your attendees need to upload a scanned picture of themselves on an event website. (S)he will have to take the picture, transfer it to a computer (or use a scanner) and upload it on the portal. On an event app, things are significantly easier and faster – visitors can simply click a photo with the camera app, and upload it in the app. In addition, things like QR code/barcode scanning, GPS location and navigation, and contact lists can be directly accessed from the phone itself. In essence, an event app can optimally utilise important features of smart devices – something that event websites simply cannot do.
7. User-retention and conversions
Stats do not lie, and they are overwhelmingly in favour of event apps in this regard. On average, a person checks out 4-5 items.products/pages more on a mobile app, than on a mobile event website. Apart from higher user-retention levels, the conversion rates on mobile apps are significantly more too (up to 3X times higher). In other words, this means that potential attendees are likely to stay on an event app for longer than on an event website – AND a casual viewer is more likely to sign up/register and become an attendee, by using the app. A lot of traffic is all very nice – but at the end of the day, you want maximum ticket sales, and event apps are more helpful regarding this than event websites.
8. The SEO factor
If you wish your event to be easily visible on online search engines, event websites – and not apps – should be your top priority. An information-rich, regularly updated, keyword-optimised event website has high chances of ranking near the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs). That, in turn, boosts the chances of more traffic and greater engagement. App Store Optimisation (ASO) is the term that describes ‘SEO for apps’ – but higher Google rankings is not the prime objective of ASO strategies (rather, the main aim is easy visibility in the already overcrowded app stores). As an event planner, you wish to generate maximum awareness about your event on the World Wide Web – and having an optimised event website portal is absolutely crucial for that.
9. Last-minute changes and updates
Event apps make it easier than ever for you to communicate to your attendees about sudden changes in anything related to your event (dates, schedules, speakers, venue, etc.). Through an app, you can send instant global push notifications or direct emails (or both) – intimating the users of the latest information. What’s more, you can send notifications to specific groups of users too (for example, a message only for the exhibitors). Updating a website is time-consuming – and you cannot make sure whether everyone has seen the newly-added or edited info. An app also allows you to track the status of the push notifications you send – making it that much easier to stay on top of things.
Note: You can highlight changes in your event website through social media channels – but that too is not instant, and the visibility is uncertain.
10. The speed factor
11. Risk of brand dilution
Your company is not your event. If you decide to present your event details on your official website, there is every chance of your company’s brand to come in direct conflict with the branding elements of your event. The alternative option of creating a dedicated event website is viable – but comes with its separate cost and time requirements (apart from the efforts to optimise it). To make the brand presence of your event really strong, having a white-labeled event app is the best option. After downloading, your users will encounter the event’s branding elements – logo and banner and theme colours and designs – repeatedly, and the brand value of your event/conference will automatically go up. There are no chances of brand conflicts either.
12. IoT at your fingertips
That’s precisely what a well-designed, user-friendly event app brings to the table. You can provide users magic links to sign in, scan QR codes to register themselves, use the built-in secure payment gateway to buy tickets, provide gamification features, and do a lot more. In fact, event apps can easily serve as end-to-end tools for paperless event promotions. Certain event apps also allow users to build social communities, use augmented reality (AR) features at the venue, and use beacon technology – all with the goal of delivering a well-rounded, immersive event experience. You cannot do ALL of these with an event website. Having a website is necessary, but not sufficient, for event managers.
Note: According to a recent report, people spend more than 85% of their ‘mobile time’ on apps. Less than 14% time is spent on mobile browsers and websites. On a YoY basis, the average time spent on mobile apps is also increasing.
The prime objective of any business event or conference is to serve as a common networking and interaction platform for participants. With that in focus, it can be easily said that event apps deliver greater competitive advantages (particularly in re to networking opportunities) than event websites.
Creating an event website is still a vital part of the overall event promotional plans on the digital medium. The website can serve as an initial point of contact – and you can share your event app details (i.e., their download links) on the home page itself. As an event organiser, the onus is also on you to decide whether to use a common mobile event platform, or to go for a fully white-labeled event app. One thing is for sure though…to create greater buzz about your event, an event app is a much more powerful tool than a standalone event website.