How to Achieve High Museum App Downloads

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Does your app only see 1% download rate?

Most museums struggle to get their mobile guides into the hands of visitors. So how do so many of our partners get take-up rates as high as 50 percent? What’s their secret to a high rate of use? It all starts with the visitor services staff. It’s easy to put the blame on the visitor: “Visitors won’t download an app!” Instead it’s more useful to look at your museum’s front-line operations, and how your mobile guide integrates with your visitor experience as a whole. 

Taking a few tips from other sectors of the hospitality and retail industries can be extremely helpful when approaching a new strategy for encouraging mobile guide take-up. The barrier of pushing a mobile guide is often rooted in the institution’s mission-based approach, and not wanting to seem as if they are “selling” something to a visitor. However, when that “something” is useful, helps further the institution’s mission, and improves the experience onsite, it is actually helping the visitor.

Who is the first person a visitor sees when they enter your institution? What does that person’s welcome script look like? Does it include an excited and encouraging message to use or download your mobile guide experience?

Three tips to increase downloads

  1. Signage, signage, signage! Visitors need a visual. They want to know what they are getting if they download your app. It’s rare that someone will buy something or take-up an experience sight unseen. This means your signage must also be visual and demonstrative of the mobile guide.
  2. A solid Visitor Service’s script. The team members selling admission are often the first people your visitors see. They are a hugely valuable piece of the visitor experience puzzle! A solid welcome script should bolster the best things about the experience–one of which being your mobile guide. Your VS team will be most effective in this if they have used your mobile guide, understand the features, and have even picked out personal favorite things about it to share with guests.
  3. Practical and useful functions (not just bells and whistles). Encouraging visitors to use your guide is a much easier task when it is positioned as a “must have” rather than a “nice to have” for a complete experience. This means ensuring your mobile guide has features that accommodate any kind of pain point visitors may have onsite. Useful tools in your mobile guide are key, including things like wayfinding, translations, or even a coupon to the gift shop.

All in all, a mobile guide is not a “build it and they will come” sort of endeavor. It takes the buy-in of each department to share in both the promotion and success of your mobile guide. Just like a new exhibition or event takes time and energy to build awareness and encourage participation, so does your mobile guide. After all, it is a useful tool for storytelling, wayfinding, donating, discovering, and connecting with your visitors through every step on their experiential journey.

What are your best practices for achieving high downloads? Let us know!

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