Consumer behavior is changing. Not too long ago desktops and laptops were the only way to stay connected to the online world. For clubs that meant creating websites that were optimized for desktop consumption. Members had to be at home or work to log online and register for classes, update their account information or email their club.
But all this has changed...
Mobile Has Taken Over Desktop
With nearly two-thirds of American owning smartphones, consumers are shifting away from desktops and trending towards mobile phone usage. According to a 2014 report by internet analytics company comScore, time spent on mobile apps has risen over 50% while time spent on desktops has remained relatively flat. In fact, this rise signals that today's consumers are spending more time on mobile than they are on desktops.
Furthermore, when looking at which device sees the most internet usage on a per day basis, mobile has significantly overtaken desktop 51% to 42% in 2015.
With consumers spending more of their day on their mobile devices rather than on computers, it is forcing businesses to optimize their services for mobile. Many functions and activities that were previously considered to be more fitting for the desktop are now being shifted towards mobile.
For example, the Local Search Association reported that in 2015 mobile has overtaken desktop in searches for local information and 60% of adults now typically choose smartphones or tablets over PCs to find information before buying. Whether to make dinner reservations or purchase the latest best-selling novel, consumers are more regularly turning to their smartphone over their computer.
In the future, BIA/Kelsey, a media and advertising agency, is forecasting that mobile search will continue to increase exponentially while desktop search will actually decline. It's more clear than ever: the future is mobile.
What This Means For Clubs
It's easy to see that we are now entering a world where computers are less important to the everyday consumer than their mobile device. As this trend develops, mobile will continue to grow and gain a sizable market share of usage among your members. Thus it is more important than ever to create a mobile strategy, because your members are going to be demanding it. In fact, they probably already expecting it.
The mobile future (or present) doesn't have to be daunting; in fact, it presents savvy operators with a huge opportunity. No longer are they bound to only connect with their members when they are in the club or in front of a computer, but they can engage with their members 24/7 through the screen that their member's look at the most - the smartphone. This means more opportunities to connect, sell and build customer loyalty.
Here is the cold, hard reality: if you do not have a clear mobile strategy, your competitors will. It is no longer a question of “is this important?” or “why do I need this?”, but rather “how do I get started?” and “how do I stay in front of the pack?”
Creating A Mobile Strategy
It cannot be emphasized enough how critical it is in today’s market to have an effective mobile strategy. This is where your members spend most of their online time after all! As you begin to think about your mobile strategy in 2016, every club owner should start by asking these three questions:
1. What capabilities are important in my club’s app?
Many club operators are confused by what today's consumer expects in a mobile app experience. The days of simply having an app that is a mobile version your website are long gone (so 2014!). Trained by mobile app giants like Uber and Facebook, today's consumers are demanding a robust mobile experience that is a seamless extension of your in-club experience.
Features like mobile check-in and class scheduling, wearable integration and social sharing are all must-haves. Furthermore, behind-the-scenes integrations with your club's back-end systems, such as billing systems, CRMs and member management software, enable you to offer your members seamless mobile experiences from scheduling a PT session to ordering their favorite smoothie.
As you consider the different features that you may want to offer in your mobile app, make sure to do some research to determine what is best for your club. Make sure to check out The Official Guide to Club Mobile Apps to get more guidance.2. How can I make this a reality?
Suppose you have defined which mobile features will take your club's digital experience to the next level. Now, how are you going to make it happen? You really have two options. You could either build your own app (by hiring a developer or using some generic self-service platform) or let professional Club Mobile App developers do it for you. Important questions to ask are the cost of each, the time you have, and ultimately, the quality of the app you want.
For a step-by-step checklist of everything you need to do to launch an app, check out the Launching a Club Mobile App Checklist.
3. How can I keep up with the rapidly growing technology for mobile apps?
Today, technology develops unbelievably quickly. If you’re not constantly in the loop, you’re officially outdated. It’s also incredibly key to keep your club technology up-to-date because your members will increasingly expect their club experience to match what they're experiencing in their day-to-day lives. It's a lot of work to stay ahead of the curve; especially when you have a business to run!
This is where partnering with a mobile expert can be extremely beneficial. Mobile app providers like Netpulse provide a seamless app experience that is relevant to your industry and consistently updated. When you’re looking to launch a mobile app for your club, it’s vital to keep in mind the long-term consequences of who you choose to develop an app. You don't want to sink tens of thousands of dollars to get stuck with a bad app that no one uses. Do your research and select a partner that specializes in mobile apps for the fitness industry.
Take your club to the necessary next level. Start planning your club’s digital strategy and launch a club mobile app in 2016. Your competition sure is.