In the app world, alerts are considered the most direct way to communicate with users; these are people who have already taken a step to connect with you and your event by downloading your app. But still, many organizations don’t take advantage of this situation to the fullest capability.
Today we will look at an organization that uses alerts at their events to bolster the attendee experience. For their annual conference, the American Counseling Association (ACA) employed a variety of consistent alerts that kept their attendees up-to-date about event details while furthering organization goals like increasing social media exposure and sponsorship revenue. Each of these alerts falls into a few crucial categories.
Before we do, let’s cover the basics of mobile alerts. Typically, experts warn organizations not to overuse alerts for fear that users will opt-out; sending more than 1-2 alerts in a day would qualify for the overuse category. But events and event-related apps are different. With event-specific apps, users are looking to receive information about the event, so sending 1-2 alerts an hour is justified as long as they provide useful information about the event. Alert push notifications, the short part of the alert that pops up at the top of the user’s screen, should catch the user’s eye enticing them to open the alert and the body of the alert should be direct and include all necessary information.
Here are key areas your organization's alerts should hit for each event:
1. Provide information to attendees – there are some alerts that just make sense to send during every event. These alerts provide specific information relevant to the event. A few examples:
- Welcome to the event
- A short “what to do” for first-time attendees
- Room/time changes for sessions
- Instructions on how to use the app or parts of the app (like session evaluations)
These alerts do double duty because they provide details to attendees while also showcasing the importance of alerts in general.
ACA took advantage of the alerts to push first-time attendees to show up at the first timers orientations:
2. Highlight functions within the event – technically these alerts could fall under #1, but they have an added purpose of drawing attendance to particular sessions, social events, opening ceremonies, etc. Most events these days have a daily schedule that includes an overwhelming number of functions/sessions. By highlighting particular functions in an alert, you’ll raise the likelihood of getting the most number of eyes on the session details.
Early on, ACA used alerts to highlight some sessions where they were targeting big audiences:
3. Promote social media – make sure to send alerts that highlight your event hashtag and encourage users to post about the event. It is also a good idea to mention any event social media posts in the final “thank you for coming” alert.
ACA included their event hashtag in their welcome alert and also tied in a contest for free registrations for next year’s event:
4. Promote sponsors – organizations are always looking for new ways to promote sponsors and alerts are a great opportunity. You really have two options for sponsor alerts: send alerts dedicated to a single sponsor or incorporate sponsor messaging into one of the other types of alerts mentioned above. The first option is beneficial because you can charge higher sponsor dollars for it; however, limit these types of alerts to just 1-3 per event or your users will feel like they are getting spammed. The second option is really something you can take advantage of with every alert. By providing useful information in addition to a sponsorship message, the alert will feel less sales-y while still getting the sponsor’s name and message in front of your attendees. Depending on the sponsor opportunities you normally sell, though, you may need to value this option a little lower in terms of sponsorship-costs.
ACA mainly incorporated their sponsorship messaging into their other alerts as shown in the example here:
5. Promote the next event – the best way to keep the momentum going at the end of an event is to shift the energy to your next event. Send 1-2 alerts that start providing the details of your next event during the mid to end of your current event. Make sure to highlight any onsite discounts you may be offering along with the location where users can sign up.