April 16, 2019

Smartphone addiction: How it can create better event experiences

Elin Warfvinge

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Whether we like it or not, the smartphone has become intensely embedded in our everyday life. In ways, it has become a distraction and hindrance to our daily activities; in other ways, it has the potential to be a useful tool that has the power to enhance an event experience. Leveraging conference attendees’ smartphone addiction can drive stronger engagement and more awareness to your information in a mode that is becoming more natural to people in place of antiquated communication methods (i.e. letters, brochures, and emails).


The advantage of push notifications

One of the most notable victories of an event app is the power of the push notification. Because of the behavioral changes that have occurred in mobile users over the past couple of decades, the push notification has the most optimal response rate, more so than email; the average open rate for emails is 18-24%, whereas the average open rate for push notifications is 55-85%. Depending on the nature of the app, the content, and the audience, push notification open and response rates have even reached 95-98%, with post-event response rates as high as 75-80%.

The fact of the matter is that people are not proactive anymore when it comes to information-seeking. Expecting your audience to unearth information on their own is unfortunately an ideal—not a reality—which is why web-based apps are not as effective, because once someone closes out of the browser, you have lost connection with them. However, a smartphone app that can reach your audience anytime is what is going to drive information awareness and facilitate stronger participation, creating a more meaningful overall experience.

The counterargument that is often mentioned in regards to push notifications is the fear of bothering or annoying attendees. To some, push notifications are a nuisance, to others, they’re irrelevant, but for the majority, push notifications are helpful guides in navigating an event and using Smartphone addiction to your advantage.


From disruption to convenience

We have reached a point in our technological evolution where there are no stopping people from looking at their phones because it’s become second nature to us; it’s no longer about erasing the disruptions, but disrupting the disruptions in a way that draws people’s attention to your information.

One constructive way of disrupting the ultimate disruption (a smartphone) is to stage 2-3 questions in 30-minute windows during a presentation—these questions can be sent to the audience in push notifications every 8-10 minutes. Subsequently, the audience will be compelled to interact upon receiving the push notification where the results of the questions will be screened upfront in real time.

People and smartphones are like moths and light bulbs; nothing will stop our urge to look at our phones, but that channel can be disrupted and used to enrich an event experience. Through push notifications, you can beat the smartphone at its own game and divert your attendees’ attention to where you want it to be at that moment.

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