MeetApp CTO: “Event Apps Drive Performance for Both, Organisers and Participants”
The global B2B events industry continues to grow and is currently worth more than $30 billion in revenues. Geographically, more than 40% of the revenues are being generated within the United States, with about 20% coming from emerging markets, about 15% from continental Europe and about 6% from the United Kingdom. Digitalisation already had a great impact on the event industry with many new technologies improving participants’ event experience and adding value to event organisers. Unfortunately, in terms of digitalisation, the German event industry is at best average in an international comparison. Reason enough for Ubermetrics to speak to a company successfully driving the digitilisation within the event industry: MeetApp, an event technology platform. We spoke with Marcus Falck, CTO and Co-Founder of MeetApp, about industry trends, how to maximize the value of event apps and how to measure event ROI. Read on to find what he has to say.
What is MeetApp and why should communication & event pros know it?
MeetApp is an event app built to make meetings and conferences more fun and motivating. MeetApp improves the experience for both, event organisers and event participants. MeetApp improves the event experience for participants as these can access relevant information and messages via their mobile phones and also interact with other participants during events. MeetApp also increases the ROI on event investments for organisers and supports any kinds of events from conferences, kickoffs and internal meetings, client and partner events, training and professional development.
How do event apps fit into wider communication strategies?
Events are an important and powerful way of communicating and building relationships with customers, prospects, employees and other stakeholders. To have a branded, mobile, digital channel for communication before, during and after events – aligned with the respective communication strategy – leaves a strong impression on all using it. There are many benefits to event apps but the most important one is to engage and activate participants who will, therefore, get more out of the gathering. Participants who remember more, buy more or are more open to new views.
What features make an event app a great one?
A great event app enhances the event experience in a fun, consistent and easy-to-use way. At MeetApp, we focus on three major pillars of what we believe a great event app should provide. Easy and efficient distribution of event information is key; the app should be a one-stop-shop for all information relevant to event participants. This also includes information tailored for specific participant segments. Secondly, it is about providing tools to encourage participant interaction and engagement. The app should provide features for giving the audience a voice during the event. Tools such as audience polling, evaluations and surveys provide a high level of engagement and measurability. And, lastly, the app should help attendees to network. Features in this category include browsing and filtering participants, an option to share content on private social media walls as well as a participant chat functionality.
We have a wide range of customers around the globe from large enterprises like United Airlines, Microsoft, GE and Volvo to public sector organisations like the City of Stockholm, the City of Chicago and the US Justice Department. We also have smaller companies putting our app to use such as non-profits, membership organisations and educational institutions.
One great example is how one customer used MeetApp’s engagement feature by using an app we customised for them to improve their product development efforts. At an event, our customer divided clients into groups organised by product areas. Each group discussed and submitted their top product improvement ideas which were mixed together with our customer’s internal ideas. Clients were then asked to vote for their top three ideas. In the end, there was a ranking of product development backlog ideas based on a mix of internal and client expectations. On top of that, this approach proved our customer’s dedication to its clients’ input enhancing its standing within their target group.
How does MeetApp stand out from the crowd?
Ease of use for both groups, attendees and event planners, is crucial to us. We’ve created an offering focused on usability that makes it easy for event attendees to quickly understand what they need or find out details about what they want to do. We’ve also built a platform that makes it easy for an event professional to quickly create and distribute any kind of event. Our audience engagement features are natively built and streamlined to be highly responsive. Most competing offerings rely on third parties for their audience response features which in many cases incurs more cost.
Another major reason why customers love working with MeetApp is our dedicated support setup. A MeetApp product specialist works with a customer to understand what kind of event they are planning, what their event goals are to then create a strategy on how to reach these goals by leveraging our event app technology.
How does MeetApp help measure and improve event performance?
MeetApp helps to improve event performance in many ways. As its a mobile app, it makes it much easier to keep attendees easily informed in real time. The immediate availability of relevant event information keeps your attendees in sync, even when there are the inevitable last-minute changes.
Reducing the use of paper not only saves money but also a massive amount of time in terms of production, shipment and distribution. All this is done through a superbly branded media channel resting comfortably in the hands of the respective audience. When attendees receive a push notification, it’s from a branded app. When they interact with information, presenters or other attendees, our clients’ brand is always front and centre.
When measuring success, certain KPIs may differ depending on the type of event you’re hosting and the goals for those events. There are, however, common metrics that you can monitor as part of your organisation’s PR measurement strategy. Some of these metrics include: total number of interactions within the event, most popular sessions and data items, most responded polls and text feedback and number of interactions within the event activity feed. Many of our customers leverage these usage stats with in-app surveys, evaluations and questions to validate what attendees think, want or how they feel about the event. This, in turn, gives the event professional valuable insights to continuously provide not only better content before, during and after the event but a much improved overall experience. It also helps shape future events based on actual attendee response.
How do you recommend measuring event ROI?
In order to effectively measure the ROI of an event, you first need to define what kind of event you are hosting and what your goals are. Are you trying to achieve better information awareness or better information retention? Is your event purely focused on networking and creating higher quality connections among the attendees? Is it all of the above? Ultimately, we believe that the most important factor is “did we create a more fun and engaging experience”. With an event app like MeetApp, it’s easy to measure that.
How do new technologies impact your product development?
Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are technological breakthroughs with the potential to change our industry for the better. We already use AI techniques in both, customer-facing features as well as for backend optimisation. For example, AI provides recommendations of event attendees you as a participant should consider reaching out to. We are also heavily using AI to optimise our server workloads, thereby allowing us to provide a cost-efficient reliable solution. Regarding AR we are still investigating how we can leverage its potential in a meaningful way, for us it’s very important that the tools we build don’t create additional complexity.
What are the most important trends within the B2B event industry?
A long-term trend that has been true several years already is that events become more and more important both for organisations’ internal communication and for marketing. People need to meet to do business and to work together. At the same time there are higher requirements on events delivering on targets and ever higher ROIs. Therefore, pressure continues to increase on planners so that planning, tools and execution of events be more effective and contribute to be truly making a difference – regardless if the desired effect is to influence opinions, selling a product or building relationships. Within the industry, apps are not seen as ‘modern, something new and cool’ any more; rather as an advanced business tool to engage participants in a meaningful dialogue, for information sharing and also to measure results. This trend will continue.
Marcus Falck is Co-Founder and CTO of MeetApp with many years of experience as a consultant and management within technology companies. Experience within advanced technical product development. Architect and leader within development in the Microsoft and open source arena.
The Ubermetrics team thanks Marcus wholeheartedly for this interesting interview.