Hewlett-Packard Co. debuted a new mobile engagement strategy for events at the Interop IT conference and expo in May. The company introduced an event app called HP Connect and also promoted quick-response barcodes and text keywords that linked customers to everything from the app to white papers via their mobile devices.
“We launched a full enterprise mobile ecosystem,” said Chad Summervill, who heads worldwide corporate mobile marketing at HP. “This is a new field. We're innovating as we go, and what we're doing is putting us on the path to the next generation of mobile-infused events.”
The app will serve a broad array of events in which HP participates, providing booth and presentation details, access to social networks and a QR code scanner that allows users to access a file by taking a picture of a bar code. The files can then be viewed on a mobile device or sent to a desktop computer.
“We're using mobile technology to give customers more information faster,” Summervill said.
HP promoted the app through email and its website before the event, but booth staffers also wore badges with QR codes and text keywords that linked customers to the application. “We wanted to eliminate the friction and the difficulty of getting the app,” Summervill said. He declined to share the number of downloads.
HP Connect provides an unobtrusive way for the company to get information to event attendees, and it is only part of a broader strategy that champions on-demand delivery rather than unsolicited text messaging, Summervill said.
The company has focused on integrating multiple mobile engagement points into its events. Customers may encounter QR codes and text keywords on signs in the booth, on screens during presentations or as part of a conversation with a company representative.
A few simple rules govern the development of mobile shortcuts at HP, Summervill said. First, before generating a QR code, weigh the risk of the exposure. Low-risk exposures—for example easily adapted PowerPoint slides—can be generated from Web resources that provide free codes but do not allow changes to the linked file. Vendors that provide a dynamic code for a small fee should handle high-risk exposures, like print advertisements.
HP always partners QR codes with text keywords or short URLs, Summervill said. Though the use of QR codes is growing, about 70% of the people who interact with the HP cues opt to send a text message rather than scan a code, he said.
The linked material must clearly add value, he said. “If you don't have a compelling call to action, no one is going to scan or text.” Presenters should supply information that carries forward the conversation started through a session or keynote. And an audible mention of the mobile shortcut can accelerate interest.
HP already has learned a few lessons about mobile engagement at events, Summervill said, but the flexibility of the platform and the ability to look at metrics in real time and change things quickly can make adaptation relatively painless. In June, for example, after deploying its mobile strategy at HP Discover, the company realized bigger in-booth visuals would get better results—so a staffer ran out to the copy store to resize the signs.
“[We can] be innovative and take risks without huge costs,” Summervill said.