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How to Launch Video Membership Apps – 2020 Guide

How to Launch Video Membership Apps

Quick, where’s your phone?

I’m guessing not more than 3 feet away.

It’s your lifeline; your connection to friends, work, and the world.


And, as an online business owner it’s how you connect with your community.   

You want to reach people where they are: on their phones, tablets, and Smart TVs.

That’s where video membership apps come in. They make it easy and convenient for viewers to watch your content from anywhere.

So I’m here to explain how to launch your very own membership app. 

We’ll cover: 

  1. What a membership app is
  2. Why membership apps work 
  3. How apps helped one business succeed
  4. A step-by-step guide on how to create your membership app
  5. Why now is the time to launch your membership app

Feel free to skip to the section you need or just read on:

Ready? Let’s dive in!

No time to read this article now? Download a free PDF version of this blog post (all tips and links included). Download PDF

What is a Membership App? 

A membership app delivers video content to any smartphone, tablet, or smart TV. It uses an internet connection instead of conventional distribution methods like cable or satellite. It’s also known as an over-the-top or OTT app. 

Members pay a recurring subscription fee to gain access to the content, which is protected behind a paywall. 

Membership apps allow your community to instantly stream your videos no matter where they are.  It gives them ultimate flexibility over when, where, and how they interact with your content.

OTT membership apps

Our Uscreen customers have created membership apps that allow their users to:

  • Practice yoga with their smart TV in the living room.
  • Listen to audio affirmations on their phone while walking the dog.
  • Learn about scrapbooking from their tablet in the backyard.

That’s the kind of flexibility that keeps members happy and gives your business the potential to reach a larger audience.

Here’s why….

The Power of Membership Apps

Membership apps are a proven way to grow your online video business.

There’s lots of data to show that they can help you earn more money, convert more customers, and keep your users for longer.

Whether you’ve already got a membership website or need inspiration, apps are a huge growth opportunity.

Let’s take a closer look…

1. Membership Apps Help You Keep More Customers 

It’s easier to keep a customer than convert a new one. And, it can be 25x cheaper to focus on retaining customers than acquiring new ones.

Membership apps are proven to help you to retain more customers and increase their lifetime value. Why? 

The answer’s simple: engagement.

When your content becomes available on your customer’s favorite device, they’ll become more engaged with it and feel that your service is better tailored to their needs.

In fact:

When we looked at our internal data, we found that membership apps increased content views by 30%. Increased access goes hand-in-hand with increased engagement.

And, the more engaged your customers are, the more likely they are to keep their monthly subscription

By offering your subscribers membership apps, you’re enabling them to watch your content on-the-go via their mobile devices:

  • while commuting to and from work.
  • while waiting at the doctor’s office.
  • during a stroll in the park.

When you make your content easy to access, you’ll keep your subscribers for longer and reduce your churn rates.

2. Membership Apps Attract New Customers

When you add membership apps to your toolkit, you also open yourself up to new members.

People know membership apps mean convenience and freedom.

You’ll attract the growing number of cord-cutters, who are leaving cable services in droves for accessible video content. This is a huge potential audience:

Cord-cutters now represent 25% of U.S. TV households and are predicted to grow to 40% by 2021.

Data also shows that viewers expect to be able to stream their favorite content on big screen TVs and tablets. In fact, our internal data found:

VOD businesses that offer OTT apps see an average of 30% higher conversions than those that don’t offer apps.

That’s because apps are accessible and convenient. Your members don’t even have to leave their couch!

And that convenience is exactly what your customers are looking for. In 2019 around 44% of users gave it as their number one reason for using a paid subscription service! 

There are a ton of people out there who want to watch your content. When you make it easy for them, people are more willing to give it a go. 

Adding membership apps can completely change the game. 

How?

Let’s take a look at a real-life example.

Here’s how one client revamped their business with membership apps.

Get Your Head in the (App) Game, like Top Form

Mark Bowden is a mental performance expert for top football players. He helps athletes get into the right mindset to perform at their best.

His service, Top Form, gives players techniques and exercises to condition their mindset for before, during and after games. 

Top Form meditation goals

Bowden knew that Top Form members needed flexible access to his video content. That’s why he launched his online membership as an app-first business.

Bowden designed his app to be used by athletes wherever they feel their most comfortable:

  1. On the way to their big game.
  2. In the locker room post-game.
  3. Recovering from their performance at home.

Turns out, Bowden knew his audience well: 

A whopping 99% of Top Form traffic comes from mobile devices. 

That’s a ton of view time that wouldn’t be possible without a membership app!

The Top Form membership app succeeds by putting the convenience of their community first.

Okay, now you’ve seen how membership apps can transform your business, let’s take a look at how you can create a membership app yourself.

How to Create a Membership App

Now comes the fun part: building your app.

When it comes to creating your membership app, you have 2 options:

  1. Hire an app developer 
  2. Lease an app from a provider (recommended)

Which should you choose? We’ve broken it down for you.

Option 1: Hire an App Developer

If you’re working with a healthy budget, you can enlist the help of a developer to build a customized app from scratch. 

They’ll design and create a completely personalized app based on your specifications: colors, logo, and any other requirements you might have.

Because they’re creating an app from the bottom up, it takes about 3 to 6 months from hiring to development. 

Hiring a developer costs about $10,000 to $20,000 on average. That doesn’t include monthly expenses of running the app, maintenance, support, and hosting. 

For example, Mark Bowden originally launched a self-developed app for Top Form. Over the 18 months he had the app, he spent over $33,000 before moving to a new platform. That’s:

  • $10,000 to $12,000 to develop
  • $1,200 a month to maintain and make improvements

But even that kind of budget doesn’t guarantee success. Mark’s app was buggy and needed constant maintenance so he ultimately migrated to an OTT platform.

Mark’s lesson is this:

Consider how much you’re willing to spend before hiring a developer. And don’t forget maintenance and updates!

Once you’ve decided, the next step is finding your developer.

How do you find a developer?

It depends on your needs and your budget.

For a simple membership app, you can find cheaper quotes on sites like Upwork or Freelancer.

Upwork homepage

If you want a comprehensive membership app with all the bells and whistles, you’d be better off finding a high-end developer or agency. It’s definitely an investment, but it will pay off in the long term. You can advertise the job on a site like Stack Overflow.

Remember: you don’t want to cut corners when building a membership app. It’s worth spending the extra money to get a quality end product! 

However…

If you’re working on a more reasonable budget, but still want a best-in-class membership app, there is another route you can take! 

Option 2 (Recommended): Lease An App From an OTT Platform Provider

Leasing is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to launch a membership app.

Simply put:

You rent your membership app from a company, like Uscreen, who handles all the tricky stuff like creating the app, adding it to the app store, and updating it.

Better still…

The app is white-labled and completely customizable. You can add your own style, branding, and message so nobody will ever know you’re renting it from a third-party.

You pay for the app when you need it, and if it turns out to not be the right choice for your business, you can easily pivot and move your content elsewhere.

It’s cheap, time-efficient, and mitigates any risk! 

If you were to launch your app with Uscreen, here’s how it would work:

  1. Open a Uscreen account and place an order for your app
  2. Get your video website ready by adding content 
  3. Set up your app developer account (don’t worry! We’ll help you with that too)
  4. Send us your app requirements – the assets to build your app 
  5. We create your app and have it ready for you to test in 4 weeks
  6. We submit your app for approval in the App Store
  7. Once it’s published, you can officially launch it to your customers and celebrate!?

All of our membership apps are white-labeled so they can be 100% customized to fit your branding. This means that:

  • there are absolutely no third-party logos
  • no one will ever know it’s being leased from a service provider

As long as you lease with us, you’ll have the full support of our team, and we’ll regularly update your app to make sure it’s running optimally.

Prices vary depending which Uscreen plan you choose. Check Uscreen’s pricing plans for more info.

Why Now Is The Time to Launch Your Membership App

Now is the best possible time to launch a membership app. Why?

A year ago, membership apps were a competitive edge. Today, they’re an expected function.

We’re now in the “Gold Rush” period between “early adopters” and the “mainstream boom.” 

But we only see the gold rush lasting for the next 12 to 18 months

After that, it will be harder to establish yourself in this space. You know, like it is on Instagram and YouTube! 

So, the time to act is now. 

Membership apps changed the game for Uscreen clients like Sarah Beth Yoga. Here she is to tell you about it herself:

Give Uscreen a try.

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