5 Reasons Why Every Community Needs An App
Asking whether your community needs an app is a bit like asking whether you need a coffee in the morning - you don’t need it, but it will definitely give you a much-appreciated boost!
With a pronounced shift towards mobile in the past decade, it is becoming essential to utilize the humble community app to drive community engagement.
Enabling both mobile and desktop access allows community managers to oversee their community with ease, while members can enjoy the benefits of being part of a community at their fingertips.
We’ve learned that a better user experience leads to happier members, which results in higher retention rates, community growth, and longevity.
Let’s take a closer look
1. Reduce user acquisition costs by improving retention rates
It is between four and ten times more costly to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones. With this in mind, it makes sense from a Community Manager’s point of view that retention is critical when it comes to successfully running a community and monetizing it.
Retaining customers starts with loyalty, keeping customers interested, and adding value to your community, which is something that we’ll explore later on in this article.
By offering a community app to your members, you make it easier for them to stay connected with the community through notifications, offline accessibility, and instant messaging.
2. Increase value for members and improve your LTV
Online community apps naturally add value for your members. An app makes the community accessible at all times, easing natural conversations between members and allowing them to engage with posts anytime and anywhere.
Your app's home screen icon can also help with service recall, acting as a constant reminder to members that they are part of your community.
By having a stand-alone app, your app becomes the user’s sole focus and no longer competes with the other tabs.
When someone opens up your app, it’s because they want to be there. These value-added features have a positive impact on your customer’s lifetime value also known as LTV.
In other words, the length of time someone remains an active member in your community and increases your revenue because of this.
The best bit is that you don’t have to do any of the hard work - there are plenty of community-building tools out there, like Panion, that are set up and ready to make your community accessible on all platforms, mobile and desktop alike.
3. Facilitate strategic and supportive communication channels
You might be thinking, ‘isn’t this what communities are for anyway?’
Of course, a community’s main prerogative is to facilitate both B2C and B2B communication as well as member interaction.
So how does an app make this any easier than a desktop-based community?
The quick answer: pop-up notifications and banners. Apps facilitate instantaneous communication between three integral channels that keep your community growing and evolving at all times of the day:
- Member to member
- Member to developer
- Member to community manager
It’s hard, if not impossible, to ignore a notification in this digital age. In communities, real-time notifications facilitate quicker message responses between members, which naturally leads to a higher level of engagement.
This immediate level of response across all three communication channels also allows the Community Manager, to resolve any problems before they impact the community and helps developers to get quick feedback if something isn’t working as it should.
4. Optimise user experience and utilize app gamification
Compared to a mobile-optimized version of your community, apps offer better functionality, performance, and improved user experience.
While some communities may be able to get away with a mobile-optimized version of their platform, these are rarely as sleek or functional as a dedicated mobile community app.
This flexibility that we can enjoy with apps also allows developers to go beyond your average interface and create interactive, gamified features that contribute to user retention.
For example, interactive polls and surveys are effective strategies for improving engagement levels and strengthening the community network.
In-app gamification can also include things such as awarding points for how often members interact or giving out badges and virtual medals for the most active community members.
5. Build brand recognition, awareness, and credibility
If you’re using Facebook, Whatsapp, or another social platform to host your community, you’re missing out on an essential marketing tool - your brand.
You may be able to change your community’s icon, but are these channels really true to your brand?
Using a customizable app allows you to build your brand into your community, with your name, logo, and associated colors.
When a customer downloads your app, it is there reminding them every day that they are part of your community and gives them a gentle reminder to open it up and see what’s been happening.
A delicate balance: desktop vs. mobile community app
Apps are vital, but that doesn’t mean communities should completely eliminate the traditional desktop browser.
While most people are undoubtedly adapting to our mobile-forward world, there will always be a small percentage of people uncomfortable or unwilling to download a unique piece of software.
Despite how far technology has come and how much we, as a society, have adapted to it, many people still feel more comfortable making payments or signing up for memberships using a desktop.
If we take a look at the latest statistics, we can see that while more than 55% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices, 40% of traffic still comes from desktop, suggesting that there is still room for it in some capacity.
Your community app should be an extra tool to power and engage users, to fit in with their busy modern lives, not the only way to access your community.
Our final thoughts
Society’s expectations are changing with an overriding desire for convenience; we want instant results, seamless user experiences, and modern interfaces.
Communities need to follow this trend and adopt new approaches to fulfill members’ expectations, old and new.
The community app is unbeatable in terms of the experience it delivers and the returns you can expect.
In this mobile age of connectivity, the best community apps manage to drive impressively high levels of engagement, loyalty, and member retention.
Panion is a community-building app. We offer both a desktop and mobile app experience for members of your community, so they can enjoy the best of both worlds, and explore and engage with your community in a way that is convenient and easy for them.