Nearly three-fourths (74.8%) of association executives believe their members use smartphones — including 73% of those in professional societies and 78.5% in trade associations — but interestingly, only 28.1% of respondents report having a mobile strategy.
Also interesting is the fact that while trade association executives were more likely to indicate that their members use smartphones, professional societies are much more likely to be working on a mobile strategy for their associations. Over one-third (36.3%) of professional society executives said their association has a mobile strategy, while a mere 19% of trade associations said the same.
This is particularly interesting, as 73.2% of professional society executives and 61.6% of trade association executives have identified “offering new value-added products and services” as a top strategy for developing new revenue, and it can be argued that offering on-the-go access to the association’s content and products, in an age when 87.1% of executives themselves (87.5% in professional societies and 86.8% in trade associations) say they have a smartphone for business and/or personal use, is definitely a value-added service. The second-most selected strategy to develop new revenue streams among association executives is “developing strategic partnerships with external partners and vendors.”
Of the few associations that have mobile strategies, a majority are formatting website content to be mobile accessible (39.0%). About a quarter (25.1%) are developing original mobile apps or other custom mobile-specific solutions, and 20.3% are using QR codes to direct mobile traffic to association content. Very few (11.2%) are using existing mobile apps (including location-based apps like Four Square) to enhance the member experience.
These findings from the Association TRENDS Fall 2011 PULSE report suggest a few things: First, association executives are largely underestimating the power of mobile in their associations. Many mobile features can be cost-effective ways to interact with members, particularly leveraging existing apps to enhance the mobile experience, which would cost the association very little, if anything. Second, it suggests that many association executives are simply unaware of the possibilities around mobile. It may also speak to the limited resources in associations — both monetary and human, but it undeniably suggests that there is a world of potential for executives to tap into as it relates to meeting members where they are.