How can mobile apps be used to improve customer engagement and ultimately increase revenue?

Jump to next section
Search Results

With an increase in smartphone purchase, mobile strategies are becoming more important for businesses. This article looks at mobile interactive apps and how they can be used to improve customer engagement, advocacy and purchase intentions.

As more and more consumers adopt smartphones, mobile strategies are becoming increasingly important for many businesses. The mobile channel gives companies and brands the potential to engage with customers in real-time, by location and with profile information. Traditional marketing campaigns where “one size fits all” has been replaced by personalised real-time engagement ‘social CRM’. There are dangers, if a brand engages badly mobile consumers can easily swap to an alternative brand. They may even share their bad brand experience with hundreds of others on social networks. If however mobile engagement is respectful, helpful and useful it can lead to enhanced brand loyalty.

To engage with customers effectively businesses need to collect data profiles on customers that allow easy opt-in and opt-out and also allow the consumer to choose what data about them is shared and also what information they receive. In a cross-channel world, the consumer may also want to specify the channels that can be used for engagement – call centre, email, text, mobile, web and direct mail. Businesses will need to be respectful of these choices and be able to adapt these options and dynamic behavioural profiles into a CRM strategy that allows a single view of the customer. This data can be used to connect customer behaviour with personalised engagement campaigns.

Branded mobile apps are becoming a particularly powerful form of engagement. A recent research study by Indiana University reported that interactive apps for mobile devices are becoming the most powerful forms of advertising yet. According to the research, businesses who develop apps overcome the challenges faced by the rapidly declining influence of mainstream media for brand advertisers. Using a branded app, consumers talk to the brand, not the other way around. The app can increase engagement, advocacy and purchase intentions. The study also suggested that the most successful type of app is the one that is the most intensive to produce, designing an informational app that consumers find useful is a lot more difficult than building an interactive game.

An example of a successful branded app is Kraft Cadbury’s iFood Assistant. The application offers over 2000 recipes, many of them using Kraft Cadbury products with shopping lists and interactive deals and coupon features to incentivise shoppers. The app also includes social sharing capabilities allowing consumers to share recipes with friends on social networks. Launched in 2008 about 60% of users that downloaded the app continue to use it and the app integrates into a CRM platform to enhance engagement opportunities. As well as generating significant additional revenues for promoting Kraft Cadbury products in recipes, Kraft also charges 99 cents per download.

As more brands adopt mobile apps as an engagement tool they will be able to enhance their relationship with their consumers. Feedback loops can encourage product co-creation and product ideas. Retailers for example could use location based services to enable special offers, vouchers, product descriptions and consumer reviews to be available at the point of sale.

As mobile device usage accelerates around the globe the ability to engage on a personal level with new customers in emerging markets using mobile apps will be much more cost effective than traditional “one size fits all” campaigns using TV, print, outdoor and radio.

In many respects mobile apps can be defined in two categories; enrich or engage. Engage strategies are not as transaction-centric as enrich strategies and are aimed at improving user interaction and brand affinity. Engage strategies provide product information, post-purchase support, and help to provide a brand with a fully online presence. Enrich and engage also take place at different parts of the customer buying cycle, with enrich taking place almost exclusively at the moment of purchase when a customer is in the mind set for purchase gratification, while engage seeks to bring the buyer to a purchase decision and keep the lines of communication open.