You have all the pieces in place in to go mobile – a responsive website, mobile-friendly design elements, even an online community app that lets users receive push notifications and access your community from any device. It's a great plan, especially since studies show that by using apps push notifications in your app, you could increase engagement by 2,770 percent.
There’s just one problem: people aren’t using your app. They’re not even downloading it.
You’re not alone. We’ve seen multiple organizations follow all the best practices for mobile engagement and still struggle with getting customers or members to download their app. Usually, the issue stems from awareness problems and your audience’s current internet habits – things that you can change with the right tactics.
Here are five steps you can take to make sure your community members know about, download, and use your online community app regularly.
Many members may not know you have an app, so the first step to increasing downloads is increasing awareness. Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that helps members get a better community experience by downloading your mobile app. A few elements you don’t want to overlook include:
Website – Create a page on your public website or in your online community explaining the mobile app and its value. Include helpful information on how to use the app and links to download it.
Blog – Just like content marketing for a whole organization, you can use a blog to drive traffic to your website and inform your audience about your app. Consider creating between three and five blog posts about your app at first, then periodically supplementing them with fresh content over time.
Social Posts – Write social media updates informing users that you have an app, including a download link. For a little variety, you can also highlight short testimonials or interesting information that community members can access via the app.
Video - Four times as many consumers prefer watch a video about a product than read about it, so create a video that walks users through your app’s features and benefits. Publish the video on your website and in social media posts to drive downloads.
Banners and Reminders – Place ads, banners, or text reminders on your online community homepage telling people about your app, its value, and how to download it.
Email Campaigns – Draft an email campaign that informs community members that you have an app available for download in the app store. To broaden your reach, update staff email signatures with a quick reminder about the app. Anyone who receives an email from your organization will not only learn about your app, but about your online community as well.
Make sure that you craft all your marketing content to be helpful to members. Include relevant information, such as download links and the cost to purchase the app (if there is one). The more helpful you are and the easier it is to download your app, the more effective your marketing materials will be.
Unfortunately, just knowing about your app isn’t enough to get people to download. Identify something unique to your community and its app that will motivate members to download.. Include those benefits in your marketing materials as well as your app store listing and you will appeal to your members immediately.
For example, your app’s benefits could include push notifications that provide real-time information and updates. Members that need information on conference information or discussion updates immediately will quickly see why they should download your app.
Once people have downloaded your app, they’ll probably only take a few minutes to figure it out. If it’s difficult to log in or find information, they’ll give up. That means the next step in getting people to use your app is to make it easy – something you should consider when first designing your app.
In fact, you can save a lot of time by choosing a pre-built app that takes usability into account, then fine-tune the experience by taking users to your most valuable content first and providing clear navigation. Popular navigation options for online community apps include areas such as email, contacts, calendar, and announcements. Volunteer opportunities, blogs, and file libraries are also widely used by many community members, and do well in navigation menus.
App marketers’ biggest challenge is user retention and engagement, so once you get people to download, focus on keeping people interested. The most popular apps do that by making sure there’s always something new to look at. Think about Facebook’s news feed – it’s constantly updated with fresh content to keep you coming back.
Do the same with your app, because if people find the same information over and over again, they’ll have no reason to keep using the app. And if they don’t use your app consistently, they’ll probably delete it to save space on their phones.
Usually, keeping your app updated is easy because active online communities are naturally updated by members with new discussion posts and blogs. We’ve seen this in our own Higher Logic User Group community. But if your community is still ramping up, be sure that your staff regularly posts helpful content in file libraries, announcements, blogs, or seed posts in discussions. Consistently provide new and valuable content to keep members coming back to your community and its app.
Even after you’ve built a solid user base for your app, there are still community members who haven’t downloaded it yet. Not everyone will have converted during your first marketing campaign, and over time you probably gained new customers or members as well, so consider marketing your app again.
You can market your online community app ever quarter, six months, or year to drive continuing engagement and increase use over time. To make these campaigns stand out, come up with new, timely and helpful content to encourage downloads—such as a contest or testimonial on how push notifications helped one of your app users.
Expert Tip: Don’t want to run multiple marketing campaigns for your app? Include information about your app in onboarding programs for your online community or organization as a whole. This is a great way to consistently ensure that newbies are aware of your app without increasing the workload on your team.
Getting people to download and use an app is an ongoing process. You need to regularly check in with your audience to make sure they know about the app and that the app itself is beneficial for members – that means updating it with fresh, valuable content.
Fortunately, that isn’t as hard as it sounds. Periodic marketing campaigns and an active online community will do most of your work for your, helping your app become a habit among members. You just need to get the ball rolling.