As a content creator, you may know that a membership app can be a great way to make the most out of your content, maximize member engagement, and, ultimately, boost your membership site revenue too.
Why — and, very importantly, how to build a membership app even when you don’t have an endless budget?
We’ve covered it all for you in this article, so read on to find out more.
Why Build a Membership App
Ever considered how many people in the world have a smartphone?
You might want to hold your breath for this one: it’s 91%. Yep, that’s it, more than 7.2 billion people in the world own a smartphone. Which means there’s a huge market for membership site apps too. Obviously, not all of the 7 billion smartphone owners out there will actually be interested in your membership site content — but chances are that the majority of those who are interested in your expertise in a specific niche are smartphone owners.
This isn’t, in itself, a strong enough reason to build a membership app. However, you should consider the following advantages of having a membership app:
Offering More Value for Members
A membership app can help you offer more value to your members. By being available on the go, your content will become much more accessible to members, which is bound to encourage them to engage with it more often.
It’s not just about content accessibility though: a membership app can also help you offer exclusive content and features that can only be accessed via the app. This is a great way to encourage people to download and use your app, as they’ll know they’re getting something out of it that they can’t get anywhere else (not to mention it will make them feel special for getting access to such exclusive content.)
Generating More Member Engagement and Retention
As we just touched on, making your content more accessible can help you encourage members to engage with it more often.
In turn, this increased engagement will help you boost retention rates too. If people are regularly accessing and using your content via an app, they’re much less likely to cancel their membership than if they were only accessing it via your site.
Building a More Personal Relationship with Your Members
There’s something almost personal about using an app, isn’t there? It feels as though you’re inviting members into your own little world, and this can help you build a more personal relationship with them.
Notifying Users of New Content
A membership app can help you notify users whenever new content is up. Push notifications (which, by the way, you can easily incorporate in Ultimate Membership Pro) are a more persuasive way of inviting people to check out your new content than, say, an email notification. Because the push notifications come from the smartphone and people spend a lot of time with their smartphones, it’s likely they will see it sooner — and thus, it’s also more likely they’ll click on it too.
Create More Flexible Interaction for Your Members
Meeting your members where they are is key to success, and a membership app will help you do just that: it will make your content more flexible and allow people to interact with it in the way they want to.
For example, they can choose to read an article, listen to a podcast episode, or watch a video — all without having to leave the app. Even more, they can do all these things at their own pace, without worrying they’ll miss a live session or a webinar.
All of these little things add flexibility to how members interact with your membership app — and thus, they help you improve loyalty and retention as well.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Building a Membership App?
Nothing is ever perfect, and a membership app makes no exception from the rule. Some of the more commonly mentioned disadvantages to building a membership app include:
The Development Cost is Higher
Building an app costs more than building a membership website. You’ll need to factor in the cost of development, design, and testing — which can quickly add up if you’re not careful.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are a lot of alternatives that are much less expensive than you think, so even if you’re running on a tight budget, you can still get your own membership app.
The Time to Develop a Membership App is Longer
It takes time to develop an app — there’s no way around it. You need to factor in the time needed for development, design, and testing, as well as any potential delays that might come up along the way.
That said, even though it does take some time to build a membership app, the options we’ll show you later in the article are quite time-sensitive as well.
Some Communities Might Not Be Interested
Truth be told, you have to really know your audience. Are they likely to use your content on an app more? Will they be bothered by push notifications?
These are the kind of questions you need to ask yourself before deciding whether or not a membership app is a right move for your business. Take some time to imagine what the daily life of a typical member of your membership app looks like. Is the app really included in it, or would they much rather prefer to sit down at a laptop to consume your content?
You Will Have to Deal with More Complexity
With a membership app, you’re dealing with more moving parts. There’s the website, the app, and then there are the integrations between them.
This can make things more complex to manage, which is why it’s important to have a clear plan from the start on how everything will work together.
Making Sure It’s Integrated with Your Systems
Although this doesn’t have to be a hurdle, it is a point you should be keeping in mind. A membership app should integrate with your email marketing system, your payment processor, and any other software you’re using.
The good news is that this is easier to achieve than ever before, thanks to the myriad of available integrations and APIs. But it’s still something you should be aware of, as it can make or break your success.
Methods to Build a Membership App
There are many methods you can settle on when you want to build a membership app, but the following are more widespread:
Hire a Website Converter
If you already have a membership site built with a membership WordPress plugin (like Ultimate Membership Pro, for example), you can hire someone who will convert your site in an app. Usually, this is a pretty costly option, and you need to make sure you hire someone who knows what they’re doing.
Hire a Development Team
Want your membership app to be fully custom? In this case, you will need to hire a development team — and be prepared to pay the price, as building a mobile app from ground zero can start at a minimum of $15,000 (and it can also go much higher than that, depending on your requirements.)
Convert Your Membership Website into an App
This is by far one of the easiest and most affordable ways to turn a membership site into a membership app. There are many apps that can do this for you, and some of the most popular ones include:
- VidApp (just for video content-based membership apps)
- And many others
These plugins are not expensive at all and they can do a very good job at converting your membership site from a browser-based experience to a mobile membership app one.
Tips for Building a Successful Membership App
There’s no give recipe for creating a successful membership app, but there are some tips and best practices you can follow to give your app the best chance at success.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Keep It Simple
Don’t try to do too much with your membership app. Stick to the basics and make sure it’s easy to use. The easier it is to operate the app, both as the owner and as a user, the better.
Your membership app should focus on delivering content to your users in the most convenient way possible. Everything else is secondary.
Make Sure It’s Well-Designed
A good design is essential for any type of app — and that goes double for a membership app, where people will be spending (hopefully) a lot of time inside the app.
Your membership app should be designed with your users in mind. Make sure it’s easy on the eyes, and that the user interface is intuitive.
Integrate It Seamlessly with Your Website
As we’ve mentioned before, a membership app needs to integrate seamlessly with your website (and any other software you’re using.)
This is important for two reasons: first, because it will make your life a lot easier, and second because it will provide a better experience for your users.
Plan Your Content in Advance
When you’re running a membership app, content is king. You need to have a clear strategy on how your content will be planned, created, and split into chunks suitable for a mobile membership app.
This will help you deliver the largest amount of value with every push notification.
Start with a Mobile-Friendly Website
If you’re starting from scratch, the best way to begin is with a mobile-friendly website. This will make it easier to convert your site into an app later on.
It will also give you a chance to test the waters and see if there’s enough interest in your content to warrant turning it into an app in the first place.
Think About In-App Purchases
If you plan on using in-app purchases, make sure they’re relevant to your content and that they offer actual value to users. Furthermore, do make sure your payment system is 100% secure and trustworthy.
Part of what makes a membership app great is that you can use it as an extension of your membership site, to build and strengthen your community. Encourage people to chat, express their opinions, and ask questions — it’s truly the key to building a digital space your members will actually want to come back to again and again.
Don’t Forget about the Technicalities
Decide on whether you want to build a membership app for Android, Apple, or both. And then, make sure your app and your submission meet all the requirements on each platform. There are a lot of details to take into consideration here, so take your time to understand them to get your app approved on your first shot.
It’s never been easier to build a membership app or a membership site. And with an e-learning market on the rise, as well as with the Creator Economy shaping up on the horizon, now is a better time than ever to make the jump and start sharing your knowledge, expertise, and/or stories with community members.
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