The people of the world are quickly becoming addicted to their cell phones and mobile apps. According to a report from Nielsen, users average more than 30 hours each month engaged with apps. Mary Meeker, a mobile analyst, stated in her "Internet Trends Report" for May 2013 that the average user checks his or her mobile phone 150 times per day.
Flurry, the mobile analytics company, defines a "mobile addict" as someone who uses a mobile device to launch apps at least 60 times each day. Based on the company's analytics, the number of mobile addicts increased from 79 million in March 2013 to 176 million in March 2014.
This "love affair" between users and their mobile devices gives companies an excellent opportunity to leverage the relationship. Marketers have long known that engaging customers and building a loyal base of repeat buyers are critical to a company's success. One crucial part of succeeding at these tasks is to "go where the customers are." Since they are on their mobile devices, it makes sense that that is where you need to be also. However, just "being there" is not enough by itself. Here are some tips on ways that you can engage your customers and build loyalty with a mobile app.
- Give "exclusives" to mobile app users. Offer a free item or discount just for mobile users, sponsor a contest that is only open to app users or allow them priority status for reserving an upcoming "hot" product.
- Build in the functionality to allow customers to customize their shopping experience. Let them choose text size, for example, or allow them to choose which menu items appear on the first page.
- Make the experience personal. Whenever possible, use the customer's name, even if it is just a "welcome back" tag. Use the data you have collected on the customer, such as browsing history or purchase history, to generate personalized special offers and product suggestions.
- Include a social forum to help you build a community around your products or business. Most people enjoy helping others, and discussion forums give them an opportunity to do just that in a safe, convenient manner. Other users who are looking for information can find trustworthy reviews from real-life purchasers. Furthermore, by monitoring what is being said about you in the forum, you can be immediately proactive in the event of a problem or gather valuable information on "tweaks" you need to make.
- Make it fun for visitors to use your app through gamification, videos or augmented reality. For example, a sporting goods company might create a tennis game or a hair salon might allow users to upload a picture to "test" new styles or hair colors.
- Provide customers with the option to create "wish lists" to track products they want but are not yet ready to buy. Give them the ability to create a shopping list that they can use for in-store visits. Make it easy for users to email the lists to others, such as sending a shopping list to their spouses.
- Do not overlook the obvious. Include a map of your store location and driving directions. If you have a large store, include a layout showing all departments or a list of products found on each aisle.
- Make sure that your app is easy to use as well as responsive. Try it yourself to see how user-friendly it is. How many taps does it take to search for a product? Are the navigation buttons placed in an accessible and visible -- but unobtrusive -- location? Does it work equally well on iPhones and Androids?
Mobile apps can be a valuable tool to engage your customers and help you earn their loyalty. Keep in mind, however, that you will never get a second chance to make a great first impression, so make sure your app does just that before you launch it. With a well-designed app for your customers, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by their response.