by Deirdre Reid, CAE, AENC Guest Blogger
I never thought I’d be on a shuttle bus full of association professionals excited to spend the afternoon talking about mobile strategy, but that’s exactly where I found myself during the ASAE Great Ideas conference. We were on our way to the Broadmoor Resort’s Cheyenne Lodge, a stunning mountainside setting, to spend a few hours learning about Everything Mobile with ASAE’s Vice President of Website Initiatives, Amy Hissrich.
Know how fast things are changing.
When you start to research mobile websites and apps, the immediate impression is “whoosh.” In just a few years, so much has changed, including how quickly people are making mobile devices – phones and tablets – part of their daily personal and professional lives.
According to technology research firm Gartner, in 2013 more users will connect to the web with mobile devices than with desktop PCs. eMarketer reports that 36% of those accessing the web by 2014 will do it on an iPad or other tablet device. For even more eye-popping statistics, check out Luke Wroblewski’s data on the growing mobile-only audience.
If your association hasn’t kept up with this new mobile reality, don’t feel bad: no one in our session had a mobile strategy yet, including ASAE, and they’ve been mobile for three years. But that fact doesn’t let you off the hook. Most likely your members are increasingly “going mobile.” You can’t ignore that reality. The time to develop a mobile strategy is now.
Developing a mobile strategy isn’t a job for just one department. It must be interwoven with your digital and communications strategies – each one supports the other – and all of them must align with the organizational goals set out in your strategic plan.
Know your audience.
Before developing a mobile strategy, you need data. Your website analytics reveals which devices your website visitors are using. Survey your members to dig deeper about their habits and needs. Keep in mind, some of them may no longer bother visiting your website on their mobile device because they once tried but the experience didn’t merit a return visit.
Besides device usage, your analytics will also tell you when people are accessing your site via mobile devices and what they’re doing or looking for when they arrive there. ASAE learned they were getting more iPad visits than phone visits – that’s why they focus on iPad apps for their conferences.
Know their needs.
Mobile requires thinking differently. Mobile content is dependent on the mobile context. Where is the member? What situation are they in? What do they need at that point? How can you help them? Their mobile needs may be different than their desktop needs.
Your goal is to provide a mobile experience that’s not merely a miniature version of your traditional website. Instead, provide an edited version that focuses on what members need when they’re in a mobile context.
Know their expectations
Do you have to zoom in or scroll to the right when visiting your association’s website on your phone? Do pages, images, and forms load properly and quickly?
When members, prospects, journalists, policy-makers, and others use mobile devices to visit your website, their expectations are set by the experiences they have with other organizations. It may not be fair, but Amazon, Yelp, and CNN have spoiled them. What kind of impression do they get from your site? How long will they tolerate a crappy mobile experience?
Visitors expect a site to adjust to their device and give them the appropriate experience. A responsive design website is a flexible website designed to recognize and adapt to fit any device displaying it. It’s mobile phone-friendly, tablet-friendly, and because it will adapt to any device, it’s future-friendly as well.
Know where to get help.
Explore the new mobile reality and tips for getting started in DelCor’s new white paper, Going Mobile.
Take a look at a presentation given by ASAE Chief Information Officer, Reggie Henry, at the ASAE Annual Meeting: Mobile Matters – A Deep Dive.
Luke Wroblewski’s presentation, Mobile First, a hit at last year’s ASAE Technology Conference, explains how mobile requires a different way of thinking about content.
Keep in close touch with your members by being the association they carry in their pocket or purse, or hang out with on their couch – a mobile-friendly association.