Why the Best Associations Use Native Mobile Apps Over Mobile Responsive Sites

April 2, 2020

Most associations create a dedicated website to engage with their members. But as standard rates of engagement drop for associations on the web, embracing new technology is the only way to remain relevant. Having a presence on your members’ mobile phones has become critical to ensure your association stays top-of-mind.

More than likely, your existing association website is already “mobile responsive,” meaning it adapts the desktop interface to a mobile view. However, mobile responsive sites are severely limited with regard to member engagement, retention, donations and more. With no stable presence on the user’s phone, website visits can be brief, sporadic and generally limit your association’s ability to interact with members.

Native mobile apps, by contrast, offer a suite of benefits that association managers would be keen not to ignore. We will explore the respective features of native mobile apps and mobile responsive websites, offering association managers a clearer picture of each as they consider their options.

How Associations Can Engage and Retain Members With Native Mobile Apps

Unlike mobile sites, association mobile apps live on your user’s mobile device and enable you to have more touch points with your members. In fact, people spend as much as 90% of their mobile time using apps, compared to texts or calls. This staggering statistic speaks to the power of having an app in lieu of just a website. 

When compared to a mobile responsive website, here are some ways in which a native mobile app built specifically for your association can excel:

Timely Communication with Push Notifications

An inherent benefit to native mobile apps is the ability to send and receive push notifications to anyone with the app already downloaded. With this feature, association boards can make sure that time-sensitive information is communicated to members. Meanwhile, members have access to renewal notifications and payment reminders so they don’t have to worry about remembering on their own. Push notifications are particularly beneficial for notifying members of upcoming events.

Integration with Your Association Management System

When you work with the right app builder, the member data housed in your Association Management System (AMS) can easily be pulled into your native mobile app. This not only facilitates data collection and record keeping, but also allows you to automate notifications and reminders based on the data available on each member. For example, after accessing membership expiration information from the AMS, the app can send timely reminders to members as their expiration nears, directing them to the membership renewal page. Any updates to member data collected from the app are funneled back to the AMS, ensuring your records stay up-to-date. 

24/7 Engagement Opportunities

Thanks to a native mobile app’s easy accessibility, you can drive higher engagement with your association members. In fact, the average person touches their phone over 2,500 times per day and every time they unlock their device they are a mere tap away from your content. Since mobile devices are typically carried by people anywhere they go, you can use your association mobile app as a medium to engage all of your members anytime, or anywhere. Additionally, a mobile app gives members the ability to network with each other directly inside your organization’s app.

The Challenges of Mobile Responsive Sites for Associations

While having a responsive site is an important initial step for any association, it does not offer the same features, functionality and engagement that a native mobile app is capable of. One of the pitfalls of relying on member engagement through your website is that accessibility relies on a stable internet connection, while a native mobile app does not. 

Members are limited by a number of factors when only having association information accessible through a responsive website. These include:

Poor UX and Navigation

Consider how much smoother your user experience is when using the Facebook mobile app rather than Facebook.com in your mobile web browser. With their longer loading times, mobile responsive sites lack the speed and ease of use that native mobile apps offer. From Facebook to GrubHub to your personal banking app, there is a reason that apps play such a central role in these organizations’ consumer engagement strategies. Despite being accessible from their mobile responsive website, consumers routinely sidestep the site in favor of the more user friendly app and the convenience it provides. 

No Icon on Phone Screen

Because mobile sites can only be accessed within a browser, members will inevitably have fewer touch points with the association. Without the readily accessible home screen icon offered by an app on your mobile phone, your association can easily fall to the periphery of a member’s mind.

Reliance on Email for Member Communications

The lack of push notifications is a hefty disadvantage for mobile responsive sites. Without them to entice engagement, associations are left to rely on email as a primary form of member communication. This means that announcements, upcoming events, member messages and more will only be received when the member is in their email inbox.

Lower Conversions on Member Donations

Mobile responsive sites are not always able to store donor information. This is a question of convenience, as members are more likely to donate if the process is seamless. Re-entering their personal and payment information each time they want to give to the association can be cumbersome.

How to Create Your Own Association Mobile App With MobileUp

Native mobile apps have swiftly emerged as one of the most effective ways for associations to reach members. Associations that are not taking advantage of mobile apps are likely to fall behind other competing organizations. 

Historically, mobile apps have been more expensive and difficult to develop than a mobile responsive website. This has proven a deterrent for some associations, who may not think an app is in the budget. However, expert app builder MobileUp eliminates this obstacle with customizable apps built specifically for associations. By leveraging their SaaS technology architecture and cloud-based delivery platform, they are able to provide a custom branded app solution at a lower price point than custom development shops.

With an easy-to-use interface and a team of developers ready to help you kick off, building a native app with MobileUp is the most efficient solution for associations, bar none. MobileUp will build you a custom branded native mobile app, designed specifically for member retention. These apps have the ability to automate membership renewal reminders and offer the most user-friendly experience possible. If you are an association with just a website looking to take your member communication and engagement to the next level, schedule your complimentary demo with MobileUp today!

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