As mobile devices have flooded our events, a new tool is on the rise – push notifications, the ability to push alerts, texts and messages through event apps and other channels to all attendees. This type of event communication can be powerful, but it can also be intrusive. A casual look online reveals a whole lot of encouragement to use push notifications (usually created by app developers themselves), but we wanted a more comprehensive look. When to pushed messages work, and when do they not?

What Works

  • Presentation Reminders: Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong with pushing reminders onto mobile devices. Attendees have seen the schedule and know what events they want to attend. They will typically be glad to receive brief updates on those presentation times, and any delays that may occur.
  • Notifications During Break Times: Messages about the event as a whole work well in break times. No one likes to receive a stream of push notifications during a presentation (especially the speakers!) but there is a place for them during break times. Announce catering, or how long the break will last, or how people can share the event/photos online.
  • Polls: Typically, attendees enjoy taking quick online polls, especially during the more quiet moments of the event. This is a great way to gather more specific information, so don’t be afraid to invite attendees to take part through push notifications.
  • Health/Safety: You have a free pass when it comes to pushing health or safety announcements. No one is going to mind these alerts, unless they are completely unnecessary.
  • Links to More Information: After a big presentation, consider pushing messages that include links to follow-up materials and applicable website. After the event has finished, consider doing the same with event materials that you want people to share around.

What Doesn’t Work

  • Advertising: If you are going to push messages so that people have to read them, those notifications need to be important and applicable. Advertising is almost always out of bounds. You can encourage attendees to allow those kinds of notifications themselves, but always give them a choice.
  • Frequent Notifications: As we just mentioned, teople are typically in control of their own push settings. This allows mobile users to turn off push alerts that they find annoying, and they expect that desire to be honored. Frequent push notifications will distract and anger your attendees, and no one wants that.
  • Check-Ins and Information Overload: It’s fine to monitor presentation check-ins and similar options, but you don’t need to send automated messages to everyone about it. As a general rule, if someone can find information throughout a presentation, handout, or website, it shouldn’t be in a notification. If they don’t need to know something – like their own check-in status – that shouldn’t be included, either.
  • Extraneous Announcements (Weather, Etc.): Again, make everything applicable to the event. This is not a channel for casual communication – and that includes greetings, unnecessary updates, vague reminders, and thank yous.
  • Sponsor Notifications: Sponsors can absolutely offer attendees the option of accepting push notifications from their own apps. They absolutey should not be able to push messages through an event app.

More question about mobile technology and best practices for events? McVeigh Global Meetings and Events can help! Let us know what you have in mind.