Member engagement is crucial to association longevity and success. The 2021 Marketing General report showed that lack of engagement was the number one reason for member lapse. This is especially true among younger members. So what’s the secret to keeping members engaged? For the answer, just look around at the people on the train, walking down the street, or even on the couch next to you. A mobile app for associations can help you reach members no matter where they are — and the numbers back this up.
According to an App Annie report, there were 230 billion new app downloads in 2021. That’s 435,000 apps downloaded per minute! Further, global users are spending more time than ever on their mobile devices. The daily use time increased 30% from 2020 for an average of 4.8 hours spent per user in 2021. So it’s no surprise that associations — faced with the challenges of COVID-19’s impact on in-person events — are reconsidering their approach to member engagement and making mobile apps a part of the picture.
Still, creating an engaging app for your association is often easier said than done. With limited time and resources, it’s important that you employ best practices to ensure you get your app right on the first try. From ideation to user retention, let’s explore what you need to know to make sure your association app is a success.
A guide to mobile apps for associations
A custom mobile app can increase member engagement, give you a way to relay important information in real-time, and build community within your association. To help you build yours, here are some best practices for association apps: from development to post-launch.
During development — Must have features for your association’s app
Building the app itself is the first step — but before you even get to that step, you have to decide which development model is right for you. Next, you have to decide, out of the hundreds of feature choices, which ones should you choose? Here are our picks for top features an association app might need:
- An event calendar. According to the aforementioned Marketing General report, 63% of survey respondents listed “networking with others in the field” as a top reason to join an organization. 39% reported “accessing specialized and/or current information” as another. Adding a calendar feature to your app will alert members to exclusive engagement and learning opportunities.
- Push notifications. This feature keeps your members in the loop. Whether you’re announcing a new event or going live with an in-app video, push notifications make it easy to keep your members aware of what’s happening and coming back to the app.
- Association resources. Resources like annual guides and directories are great tools, but physical copies aren’t the most travel-friendly. The Armonk Chamber of Commerce features their Community Guide and Directory on their custom enCappture app, so members can access it on-the-go!
- A social component. Mobile apps are an excellent way to expand community. The Toronto chapter of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association runs a mentorship program on its app by featuring a list of mentors each year that mentees can browse and schedule a meeting with if their bio entices them.
Best practices for a successful association app launch
You’ve developed your association’s app, now it’s time to share it with the world. Here are a few actions you can take to ensure members download and use this new tool:
- Market your app. Share your app release on social media. Send out an email update. Let your members know that it exists and what features to be excited about. Adding content and features that are exclusive to the app is a great way to encourage users to download the app.
- Add a pop-up on your association’s website. Pop-ups are a highly effective marketing tool — if used correctly. Members may be in the habit of checking your association’s website more than social media. So be sure to use all the channels at your disposal to build awareness and encourage downloads of the app.
- Create a video tutorial. Consider creating a short app-use tutorial. Walk your members through the main navigation screens and teach them how to access the information they need. If you have an in-app event registration or scheduling feature, demonstrate the registration process.
- Encourage members to leave a review. Reviews, especially positive ones, are a main factor in app-store optimization (ASO). Consider a giveaway for members that download the app and leave an app-store review.
Best practices to build engagement post-launch
Launching an association app isn’t a one-and-done project. It needs to be constantly maintained to stay relevant and useful for your members. Here are some helpful tips for keeping your app engaging after the initial launch excitement has worn off.
- Populate with fresh content. Adding new content not only keeps your members engaged and informed; it increases your app-store optimization. If you have a news feature, make sure you’re updating with pertinent information as it comes out.
- Keep your calendar updated. Members are more likely to turn to your app as a resource if they know it’s kept up-to-date. Add meetings, events, webinars, and other gatherings to your calendar feature as soon as, if not before, they’re announced.
- Update the app. For the app to succeed, it needs to run smoothly. This means staying on top of operating system management, fixing bugs, and implementing user feedback. (We know this can be a lot of work, but enCappture can help you stay on top of regular updates.) Writing a good update in the app store is also a great way to remind members of the association’s value and to announce new features.
Creating an app the easier way
Apps can offer exceptional benefits for associations, and it’s never been easier to create one. With a custom turnkey app, you can have a complete, easily navigable, and dynamic mobile app up and running in just a few weeks. To learn more about how enCappture helped associations and nonprofits like the Armonk Chamber of Commerce or athLEDA deliver a better experience for their members, take a look at our case studies.