Over the last decade, people have come around to using their mobile devices and especially smartphones above all other devices to browse online and buy on websites. In response, organisations across all industries, including leisure and sports, have adopted mobile strategies to keep pace with fast evolving customer purchasing behaviour.
According to Emarsys’ research, in 2015 we were checking our smartphones 150+ times a day and averaged 2 hours and 8 minutes each day browsing and interacting with mobile phone apps, and Emarsys says: ‘that number will most likely just continue to grow’. A year ago, 37% of all website visits were being made with mobile devices. Using key events like Black Friday to measure behaviours, in 2016 the share of visits by mobile was 55% compared to desktop’s 45%…
As fascinating as all this stuff may be, the real point is this: golf clubs are consumer facing businesses that don’t get to choose how your members and visitors want to visit or buy from you or access the information you hold about them. They decide how, and you need to help them do this as easily and as quickly as possible by providing them with suitably designed online and mobile tools.
Going forward, mobile technology will only become more intuitive, more functional and more sophisticated. The world is becoming mobile-first and like it or not, golf clubs need to be mobile ready.
This reality is transforming every golf club’s target market into mobile-first consumers. This begs the question: are you going to accommodate this lifestyle transformation by becoming a mobile-ready golf club?
Apps for members, responsive websites for visitors
With all the effort involved in making sure your club has got a high impact website, ideally one that’s also responsive and therefore mobile-friendly, being told that you now need a native app as well doesn’t always sit well with hard pressed club managers and budget-pressured committees.
But that would also be to assume that these two online tools do much the same job, when in fact they do – or should be doing – completely different jobs for your golf club.
Essentially, club websites are for your visitors. They are the online, interactive and screen based equivalent of brochures, with screens filled with exciting and dramatic imagery of your course and clubhouse. Ideally they’re showing real people having a good time, but their aim should be all about getting those casual visitors to click on your online tee time booking tab in a matter of a few seconds.
Apps, ie. native apps, are specially built for your members. Members don’t need to look at the website and all that lovely imagery, they want to book tee times, know their bar and Pro Shop balances, latest handicap and have easy access to a certificate when they play elsewhere. To do this means all your administrative software that generates that information needs to be programmed to talk to that native club members’ app as well, because when clicked it needs to extract content that’s personal to your individual members.
Why? Besides their balances, results and handicaps, members want to check other members’ contact details when setting up a game for that next round of the knockout or for a team for the club match against a rival club. They even want to see their last receipt because they didn’t recall needing to top up their bar account…or needing to top up the Pro Shop one to enter next weekend’s competition.
And they want to do these things in one to two clicks, not to have to log in, land on the club’s responsive home page, scroll to find the right section or page for their account, etc., etc., etc.
Irritating as that apparently minor detail may be, it’s what largely drives the whole smartphone experience, and that’s why so many organisations are now building apps to make things easier, faster and better for the people they deal with. The easier, faster and better a company is to deal with, the greater its advantage is over other competitors.
In some ways, the same applies to casual visitors for whom native club apps can also be designed. But in golf club member terms, while it’s unlikely they’ll be switching favours to another club nearby because of your club’s smartphone experience, it’s still a major factor in their relationship with their choice of club, and influences their perception of the club, their membership satisfaction, your club’s ability to communicate with those members, and in turn of course the likelihood of their retention in the future.
Taking advantage of text and push notifications
Then add in the mobile phone’s ability to provide text and push notifications to remind members about eg. an upcoming event, or that the weather’s delaying a start, and the rationale behind the mobile ready golf club and the native app becomes unchallengeable, and more so if texting is ‘in-app’.
Consider this, again from Emarsys: as communication platforms go, people prefer texting over phone calls, voicemail, Facebook, and email. Compared to phone calls, 90% of leads prefer to be texted. Response rates from texts are 209% higher, and verification rates (positive or “yes” responses) are 295% higher.
Text messages are less intrusive than phone calls, because they can be replied to whenever is convenient, yet most people read text messages within the first 3 seconds of receiving them. What’s more, unlike email campaigns, text-based marketing messages have a staggering 98% open rate. While not every one of those opened texts results in a sale, 29% of targeted customers will respond to text messages, and 47% of those responders go on to make a purchase.
Mobile readiness is a default for members, not an aspiration
Of course, membership is less about making a sale and more about playing the course you’re offering, meeting mates in the bar and lapping up the ambience you’re providing in the clubhouse, eating the food they can order after a game, enjoying the social side and so on.
But to accommodate that in an online and increasingly mobile first world and stay in sync with your members’ lifestyles, your golf club will also need to be fully mobile ready as well. The pay off? Being mobile ready and effectively on hand will enable your club to attract more members more often to more events, all of which will build a thriving club with a healthier bottom line…
Published by the gcma