The number of mobile users has grown significantly over the past ten years. Today, over 50% of all internet traffic happens on mobile devices, making it more essential than ever to become mobile-friendly.
If you’re selling any membership products, you’ll already know how important it is to have an app to capitalize on this trend.
To help you understand how to launch a membership app, we’ve created a comprehensive guide with the best solutions for creators while keeping in consideration every possible need.
Continue reading to learn why you need to launch an app in 2023 and the best platforms that offer free and paid solutions.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Membership App?
A membership app is a delivery method for a membership service native to a mobile, tablet, or smart TV device.
It contains all membership content, including community, courses, services, and live streaming.
Membership websites often start with a web app, allowing users to access the content on a browser. Then, once they grow, the creators behind them usually try to expand their reach with an app.
However, native apps differ significantly from web apps and are much better for user experience on mobile devices and smart TVs.
For example, your users can download videos to watch on the go when using mobile apps, which is a feature that a regular website can’t offer.
One good example of a membership app is TINT Yoga. Apart from a website, they also have native apps for Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, and Fire TV.
TINT Yoga is a yoga streaming membership that allows you to follow live classes or a pre-recorded series.
Since yoga videos are likely to be consumed on TV devices as well, it makes sense for them to offer TV and mobile apps.
Another example of a membership site offering native apps is Hey College, a college counseling service for prospective students.
It offers expert advice, allows students to connect with other prospective students, and helps them discover the right college fit.
The platform offers a mobile app that can be downloaded on both the iOS App Store and Google Play.
Being an educational support company, having a native mobile app is essential to provide a clean and easy way for students to connect. Other app options, such as a smart TV app, aren’t required.
Why Launch a Membership App?
There are multiple reasons for launching a membership app. Let’s explore them.
Improve Member Engagement
There are three main reasons why member engagement and retention increase when using a membership app:
- Better User Experience: A native mobile app is significantly smoother and easier to use than a web-based app, and users will want to spend more time consuming the content.
- Push Notifications: Push notifications can be sent directly to a user’s phone, which alerts them to ongoing conversations and new updates and ultimately drives them back to the app.
- Offline Content: Membership apps can allow users to download content and view it on the go on their mobile phone or tablet, which is a very convenient way to engage with it.
Charge a Premium for Your Membership
An app is often seen as a premium offering; therefore, you can advertise it as such when marketing your memberships.
In many cases, by having an app, you’ll be able to charge a premium due to all of the additional benefits and convenience it offers.
Grow Your Membership Revenue
Apps can also increase customers’ lifetime value thanks to the available in-app purchases and marketing methods.
Here’s how you can achieve this:
- Push Notifications: If you have a special offer for a product or service, you can create a notification that gets sent to all app users. This direct-response marketing method will have a much higher reach, open rate, and conversion rate than other methods.
- Seamless Checkouts: When users checkout on your app, their Google or Apple account contains their chosen payment information, which means in-app purchases are seamless.
- Recurring Subscriptions: If you’re looking to run your membership service solely using an app on the Google Play and iOS App Store, you can set up recurring subscriptions.
Now, let’s check out some of the options you have for creating the actual app.
Option 1: Use a Membership Platform That Has Free Apps
There are dozens of membership platforms, but Kajabi and Mighty Networks are the popular ones, with a free mobile app for the end users.
Kajabi is a complete all-in-one solution that can be used for all types of membership sites. It supports multiple product types, including online courses, community, podcasts, and coaching.
Moreover, the platform offers a suite of marketing tools for blogging, lead generation, funnel building, and email marketing so that you can run your entire business on the platform.
On the other hand, Mighty Networks is, first and foremost, a community platform you can also use to run membership sites. Its strength is community building, making it ideal for community-based membership sites.
When you subscribe to Kajabi or Mighty Networks, your students can download their free iOS and Android mobile apps and access your content and community through the same.
An example of a membership app using this option is The Moon Maison Portal.
The membership is built on the Mighty Networks platform and is accessible through the web app and the Mighty Networks iOS and Android apps.
On the app, members have access to the community and the same features that would be available on the web app.
The biggest upside of this approach is that you can launch a membership app quickly and easily. You don’t need any technical knowledge, development know-how, or maintenance expertise.
You just need to share the download link for your platform’s mobile app, and your students can then access your membership through a mobile app.
This is also the most cost-effective option as there are no additional fees for using the mobile apps feature.
However, there is a downside as well. Your users will be using the Kajabi/Mighty Networks app and not your own branded app.
For example, students who want to access your Kajabi membership site will need to download the Kajabi app and then log in to view your content.
In addition to being unable to personalize your branding, you won’t get any design or functionality customization options.
Having said that, this option will work well for a majority of membership sites, especially the newly launched ones.
Option 2: Use a Platform That Offers Branded Apps
Certain membership platforms allow you to create your own branded apps.
To set it up, you’ll first need to create your membership site on the platform. Then, once completed, the platform will convert it into a membership app without any additional work on your part.
Although the membership website cost increases significantly, this approach has many advantages.
- Firstly, it’s your brand’s app, not your platform’s. Users will search for your company on the app store and download your unique app.
- Your platform will take care of converting your membership site into native apps and publish them on the app stores.
- The platform will also handle app updates and maintenance, so you won’t need to put additional effort into it.
- There is a tight integration between your membership website and your apps, so you’ll only have to make changes in one place, which will apply everywhere.
So, we recommend this option to anyone wanting to have white-label membership apps.
Now, a few popular membership platforms offer branded apps solution.
The first is Uscreen, a platform designed to create a video membership site. The platform lets you upload your videos, organize them into a Netflix-style catalog, and monetize your content the way you want.
Uscreen gives you many options for the apps you can create, as they support mobile and Smart TV applications. The devices you can publish on include iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, FireTV, and Android TV.
If you’d like to learn more about Uscreen and how the platform works, you should read our in-depth Uscreen review.
To create branded apps, you’ll need to purchase the Uscreen Plus plan. However, the price isn’t available on the website, and you’ll need to contact their team to get a quote.
Another platform that offers branded apps is Mighty Networks. It has a custom plan called Mighty Pro, which lets you launch white-label apps for your community membership.
As discussed previously, Mighty Networks is ideal for community-based membership. However, if you want to learn more about the platform, you should read our Mighty Networks review.
While the price of Mighty Pro isn’t available on the website, it’s in the range of $30,000 annually, making it an expensive option.
The third option you have to create your own branded app is BuddyBoss. It is a WordPress-based solution for offering community and courses.
One of its subscription offerings is a done-for-you mobile app service to launch your own membership apps in the iOS and Google app stores.
The cost of this service includes a $1,999 setup fee, a $348 onboarding fee, and a $219 per month subscription fee.
This solution has been specifically designed for WordPress membership sites, and unfortunately, it’s not compatible with the hosted membership website builders.
One example of a membership app built using this approach is RedWall Tutorials, an online dance tutorial company built using Uscreen.
Their catalog contains hundreds of classes that can be streamed or downloaded on demand.
To access the content, users can use the iPhone, Android, or Smart TV apps.
The only downside of this approach is that your app functionality will depend on the capabilities offered by your platform. You can’t change core features and functions beyond the existing framework.
Otherwise, it’s the easiest and quickest option to launch branded membership apps.
Option 3: Create an App Using VidApp Builder
The third option for creating an app is to use VidApp, a specialized app builder with a higher degree of customization than the previously explored options.
Building your app using the platform will require more work, and you’ll need to learn to use VidApp’s app builder.
The builder has three templates, as well as tools, features, and technical support, allowing you to set your app up and launch quickly.
Some features you can add to your app include in-app calendars, daily journals, push notifications, in-app purchases, and downloads.
VidApp integrates with popular membership platforms, such as Kajabi, MemberPress, Uscreen, Vimeo OTT, etc., so you can sync your app with the existing membership site.
Once you’re happy with your app and it’s complete, you can publish on several platforms, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire.
After publishing, you don’t need to worry about ongoing maintenance or updates, as the VidApp team will take care of that.
The pricing for the most basic subscription is $399 per month, which is definitely higher than some of our previous mentions. This is on top of the cost of your membership platform subscription.
We recommend this option only if you have existing membership management software.
For example, One Commune’s membership site was built on Kajabi, but they wanted a branded app without changing platforms.
As Kajabi currently doesn’t offer branded apps for their users, they choose VidApp to launch their membership apps.
Option 4: Get a Custom App Developed
If none of these options work for you, developing a custom app might be your solution.
However, we always recommend that those looking to build a custom mobile app have significant technical knowledge, expertise in managing a development team, and a large budget.
The biggest benefit of creating your own app is the flexibility you get when bringing to life your vision.
However, after you’ve envisioned it entirely, you’ll have to hire a team of developers to create it, and, in addition to the one-off costs, you’ll also need to pay for the ongoing maintenance work.
Obviously, the cost is incredibly high, with some sites reaching the tens of thousands of dollars range.
Very few membership site owners will need as comprehensive a solution as this. For the vast majority, the three options mentioned above will be more than enough.
So, due to the significant knowledge, costs, and time involved, custom mobile apps are our least recommended solution for membership site owners.
This guide discussed how to launch a membership app and the available solutions. The best solution will depend on your scenario, and here’s a summary of our recommendations.
Suppose you want to offer your members the possibility to access your membership through an iOS or Android app, and you’re not worried about branding. In that case, we recommend using Kajabi or Mighty Networks, as they both offer a free mobile app feature.
However, if you want to launch branded membership apps, we recommend going with Uscreen, Mighty Pro, or BuddyBoss, as these platforms support white-label apps.
If you have an existing membership site and don’t want to switch platforms, you should consider using VidApp, which integrates with popular membership platforms and lets you turn your membership into an app.
Finally, if none of the previously mentioned solutions works for you, unfortunately, you’ll need to develop your own custom app.
So, that was the complete round-up of the four main options for launching a membership app, and we hope it was helpful for you.
If you have any questions or are still unsure about the best option, drop a comment below. We’d love to help!