RD Mobile, www.rdmobile.com

Members are spending five hours a day on their mobile devices (Statista, 2021). 92% of the time is spent in mobile apps and only 8% of the time is spent in a browser (Kemp, 2021). Associations with a mobile presence increase member engagement, attract new and younger members and grow non-dues revenue. If associations do not have a mobile presence, they are not meeting members where they are accessing content.

Member Engagement

Members engage with an association through content delivery such as education, continuing professional development, advocacy, publications, industry news, etc. Typically, this is delivered via a CMS, LMS, CRM, or combination thereof. Associations find huge spikes in engagement with events. With each engagement and touchpoint, members find more value in their association benefits. Mobile apps provide ways to increase these touchpoints, meeting members where they are, on their mobile devices.

Content Delivery, Touch of an Icon

Associations are competing daily with other sources to deliver content. Two of the biggest competitors are Google and Siri. Unless the association’s SEO has its content in the top three of those requests, members are getting industry content from other sources. Sources that can then monetize these members and distance them from engaging with the association. 

A mobile app delivers content with the touch of an icon. An association has real estate on a member’s mobile device. Real estate that includes branding and direct access to association news, education, membership data, etc.

58 times a day, people are accessing their mobile devices. “70% of the sessions are less than two minutes. 25% of the sessions are two to 10 minutes” (Zalani, 2021, illustration two). 95% of a member’s time on mobile creates opportunities for microlearning or small snippets of content delivery. The next time you’re in a public place, look and see how many people are accessing their mobile devices. These 10 minute or fewer opportunities allow members to engage more frequently with the association, building greater member value. In turn, member retention rises.

Events or Year-Round Engagement

Associations for years have used mobile apps for their events. During the event, an association receives a huge spike in engagement. Unfortunately, after the event, most associations stop engaging via the app. Much of this is due to the limitations of an event-only app. Ironically, for about the same or a little more cost than event apps, an association can purchase a year-round engagement app.

A properly designed year-round engagement app can distribute all the organization’s content delivery as well as unlimited events. Including virtual, hybrid, in-person, and on-demand events. As a result, associations capture the huge spike of engagement during the event and extend it all year long with constant communication, push notifications, and content delivery.

Attract Members

New members are the lifeblood of an association. As the membership gets older, it is imperative to attract new and younger members. Many associations offer different membership types intending to attract members as they start, or at least are in their mid-career. According to Fonteva’s recent report, Member Engagement in a Changing World (2021), member distinctions “revolve around career stage, level of industry skill and expertise, and preferences for engagement” (Fonteva, 2021, p. 8). Those who are at entry to mid-level prefer “accessing [content] via social media and mobile apps” (Fonteva, 2021, p. 9). Year-round engagement apps that offer personalized content, allow an organization to segment content based on membership type, career stage, etc. Thus, associations can attract new and younger members by speaking directly to their needs.

Grow Non-Dues Revenue

Apps offer numerous opportunities for monetization. Sponsorships, ads, promoted push notifications are just a few ways an organization can grow its non-dues revenue. Many organizations have had success promoting their educational products in an app from courses to books. The events module offers additional opportunities for non-dues revenue. Associations are monetizing existing event and educational content via on-demand registration. Sponsored sessions, recordings, exhibitor or sponsor pages, the list goes on and on. The following are examples associations are offering for both year-round engagement and events monetization.

What’s Next?

For associations, mobile apps engage and attract members while increasing non-dues revenue. A great next step for an association is to check their Google analytics. This will let the organization know the percentage of people who access their website from a mobile device. If it’s more than 50%, then the association should consider implementing a mobile app.

Associations wanting to explore a mobile app should seek out a technology provider that specializes in apps for associations. The technology provider’s app experience can ensure the stability of the app. Their experience with associations offers insights into the functionality needed. The ideal provider offers licensed customizable apps solely for associations. This affords the association economies of scale, best practices, and an upgrade path that meets the association’s needs. Your members are mobile… Are you?

J. Mark Wallach, MBA, is the CEO Emeritus of Engagement Mobile Strategies, a consulting agency committed to associations increasing member engagement, member retention, and non-dues revenue through mobile technology selection, strategy, and implementation.

Visit engagementmobile.com for more information about member engagement and mobile technology.


Fonteva, Inc. (2021). Member Engagement in a Changing World.

Kemp, K. (2021). Digital 2021 Global Overview Report, Hootsuite, p. 207.

Statista Research Department (Oct 19, 2021). Average time spent daily on a smartphone in the United States 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1224510/time-spent-per-day-on-smartphone-us/

Zalani, R. (2021). Screen Time Statistics 2021: Your Smartphone Is Hurting You, Elite Content Marketer. https://elitecontentmarketer.com/screen-time-statistics/