Why Associations Need an Association-Focused Mobile App (And Not Just For Events) (Part 1 of 2)

By Alexa Kade • May 5, 2022

Most people are turning to their smartphones first before any desktop or laptop website. So what does this behavior mean for an association’s engagement strategy? This means associations should consider developing their own mobile app that more holistically and permanently represents the association and its members in order to stay engaged – in the most engaging place.

The reality is that people are now spending the majority of their time engaging in everything else in their lives via a mobile app. Banking, shopping, entertainment, social media, gaming – you name it! Mobile apps are ubiquitous in just about every facet of life. In fact, 90% of time spent on mobile devices is spent on apps, while only 10% is spent on mobile websites due to better user experiences and functionality (eMarketer).

The idea of an association leveraging a mobile app is a recent phenomenon in relation to the decades that many associations have been around, but then again, so were websites only 20 years ago. Can you imagine not having a website now? 

Think of a mobile app for your association as the first point of contact when a member picks up their smartphone. Associations need to be considering a mobile-first mentality so they aren’t left behind as members engage in other mobile applications.

The Advantage Mobile Apps Bring to Associations

When developed correctly, while being properly rolled out and managed, apps are far more accessible, approachable and acceptable to member audiences than desktop solutions. You may think, “Sure, it’d be nice to have a mobile app, but that seems like a big undertaking.” But the reality is that applications have  become an essential element of any omnichannel approach – and they’re easier to implement than you may think. Push notifications, which enable the mobile app user to receive alerts on their mobile device, are the fastest, most effective way to get eyes on important content, news and announcements. Still, there are ways to make the various communication channels work in concert, leaning into the expectations of the end-user in how they interact with each unique platform. 

Looking at mobile apps from a numbers perspective, it’s easy to see that there’s a clear advantage in leveraging them for engagement:

  • Email open rates are around 0.78% to 4.5%, meanwhile, push notifications on mobile apps reach the heights of 12% to 29%.
  • Email marketing click-through rates account for 0.2% to 2%, whereas push notifications on mobile apps are northward of 12% to 44%.
  • In-app messaging open rates equate to approximately 64% – 85%. (Reckless)

Phones are integrated into every aspect of daily life now. They’re quite literally with us as we move throughout the day all day, every day. Shouldn’t your association take advantage of that constant ability to communicate with its members?

Are There Any Challenges Associations Face With Mobile Apps?

Adoption of an app is essential for success, but even the very best apps in the world only succeed when organizations are fully committed to connecting the right audiences, to the right content and in ways that resonate with that audience. When it comes to member engagement, the value will be found in the substance of the information and the ease with which they can interact and engage. In a word, commitment is the secret ingredient to leveraging your mobile app to get the most out of it.

Additionally, there are a lot of fly-by-night app developers out there (and a lot of great ones too), so choosing the right developer from the outset can help prevent unnecessary hiccups, problematic coding delays and unwanted headaches as your association grows and you make changes to the app. 

How Association Members Engage In Mobile Apps

Engagement metrics need to focus on interactions with the content itself and the ability for that content to spark interest and action. Your association’s engagement strategy must constantly be asking – and answering – the question of member value. A mobile app offers the unique ability to help manage your strategy while providing the channel from which your voice, via your content, will flow. 

The center of any successful engagement is rooted in an outside-in approach. This allows you to focus on how your audience sees the world. Every step your association takes toward meeting your members where they are and communicating content that matters most to them, through the media channel of their choice, is an opportunity to show them they are important and they are being heard.

To learn more about how Naylor can help you develop a right-fit mobile app solution, reach out to our team today and connect with purpose.


Alexa Kade has had over seven years of experience working with associations. In her role as Clowder’s CEO, Alexa has seen it all when it comes to engagement challenges and roadblocks associations often face.  Alexa strives to be an educator in the space, pushing clients to think beyond what has traditionally been expected of membership organizations. Lover of all things wine.




Statistics source: 2022 Guide to Mobile Engagement