On the face of it, implementing a mobile strategy beyond making your organization’s site mobile-friendly shouldn’t be any more complicated than other initiatives you already successfully put in place. While we all agree mobile is a game-changer, most haven’t really committed to a mobile plan much less implemented one.
According to a fairly recent Marketing Sherpa report, most organizations are hampered by the lack of an effective mobile strategy as well as the people and budget to execute. Makes it much easier to back-burner the whole idea doesn’t it? The crux of the issue is that we can’t push this initiative off any longer.
So let’s break down the plan to see if we can make it easier and more actionable.
1) First, the research part. You already know your members are in love with their smartphones, so much so that desktop and laptop sales have steadily declined. In fact, for the first time, the total number of PC sales fell from 352.8 million in 2011 to 348.7 million in 2012. Why is this important? This migration shows the urgency of becoming mobile-focused this year.
To help propel your strategy off the ground, consider sending an online survey to your membership or placing a survey button on your member’s only section of your website. Give them a list of mobile options to choose from and report your results back to your members. This helps keep them engaged and lets them know you’re focused on this initiative.
2) Having a goal firmly in place will help you determine your next steps. Hopefully, your survey has helped you determine the prioritization of delivering mobile features. For example, your members might benefit from a specialized mobile app or the ability to handle mobile donations, or perhaps it’s a mobile-optimized member directory. Pick one initiative, not 10.
You’ll also need to decide if you want to offer a mobile optimized website and/or a native mobile app. A native app is one that is specifically designed to run on a device’s operating system and machine firmware, and typically needs to be adapted for different devices. A Web app, or browser application, is one in which all or some parts of the software are downloaded from the Web each time it is run. It can usually be accessed from all Web-capable mobile devices.
Here are some pros and cons to think about:
3) Let’s say your research indicates that you want to offer your members a fabulous new location-based directory. Some member management software provides mobile-optimized member directories. However if it’s web-based, it is generally not location-aware. Some associations are developing their own native applications, which, while nice, is typically expensive. If this is your preferred path, you’ll simply need to do the same due-diligence on these potential vendors as you would for anything else. Consider the following:
- Ease-of-use (user interface on mobile is much harder to do well)
- Possible monetization options
- Roadmap – what are the new features to be added and when
- Referrals & number of customers
- How well supported is the app
- Contract terms
- Ease of doing business
- How hard/time consuming will it be to maintain the app on a regular basis
In short, a solid recommendation is to start with a clearly defined goal and a deadline for completion. Ensuring your organization’s site is mobile-optimized is an excellent first step. People are searching for information from their phone, so you need to give them a mobile-friendly view of your association and members. Adding a mobile app to your repertoire of member benefits will help dramatically advance your member marketing. Talk to several vendors, see who can best meet your needs and keep that initial project small and manageable. You will need to dedicate time and resources on an ongoing basis to mobile and make sure you incorporate your mobile initiatives into your overall marketing plan for your organization.