How to Use a Mobile App to Increase Customer Engagement

Crowds were still clamoring at the doors of brick-and-mortar retailers on Black Friday this year, but the crowds were a bit thinner than usual. Many shoppers decided to stay home — and shop from their sofas. On Friday, purchases made on mobile devices broke records, reaching 36.9% of all sales and 54.3% of all site visits.

It’s not just Black Friday sales that brands can leverage via mobile. Consumers report two top reasons that they download retail apps: to save money and to more easily make purchases from the retailer. But beyond ease of shopping, there are other ways you can increase customer engagement (and sales) through mobile apps. Here are five.

Valuable Push Notifications Attract Attention

Push notifications are like emails: we either love them or hate them. If a push notification doesn’t provide anything relevant to us, it’s annoying — and could get the app deleted. But if a notification alerts us to important information or an attractive offer that we want to take advantage of, we’re excited to receive it.

Brands can use push notifications to hook customers who are busy and may not otherwise think to check the app or website for what might interest them. Companies will increase their success by using the data they collect to personalize the offers, based on what customers have purchased in the past.

Make Their Lives Easier, and They Will Love You

Rewards programs work, but the ones that work best simultaneously make life easier for users. Creating an experience that saves users time will earn their loyalty quickly.

For example, Southwest’s app tracks your reward points, but does much more. The app also allows you to search and book flights. It lets you check in and receive alerts when your flight is boarding or if your flight is delayed. It even helps you find and book a car rental that you’ll need when you land.

Gamification Makes Purchasing Fun

Who doesn’t like playing games that also save you money? Brands can make earning rewards fun by creating incentives and games.

Starbucks is a great example. The company regularly sends in-app messages to users, notifying them of ways to earn extra reward points by making purchases. The app also regularly promotes games, like the Starbucks Summer Game and Starbucks Bingo. Customers can also use the app to pay in-store, reload their loyalty cards, and order ahead for in-store pickup.

Sharing In-App Content Spreads the Word

Making it simple for users to share in-app content (like usage stats, awards levels, etc.) provides consumers with social incentives to spread the word about a brand. Connecting to users’ natural drive to share content is a powerful way to increase engagement. People are motivated to share content to define who they are to others, to grow relationships, and for self-fulfillment.

For example, athletic apps like Strava and Runkeeper encourage users to post stats and awards on social platforms with a single click. Image-editing apps like VSCO and Mextures make it easy for users to post the images they create to Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and other sites.

Analytics Provide Insights to Further Increase Engagement

We already discussed how a company can use analytics to deliver relevant offers to customers, but analytics can do much more.

If you’re looking at how your customers are using your app, you can use that data to increase value. For example, you can offer live information based on a user’s activity or make suggestions that they may find interesting.

Also, when you see which features are driving engagement, you can then build on those features and offer related features to drive greater engagement.

As more and more people rely on smartphones and other mobile devices for daily tasks, mobile app usage continues to rise. This increased usage has created an opportunity that companies are benefiting from. Well-designed apps that add real value to the lives of users can convert casual customers to loyal ones.

Thinking about creating an app to increase your company’s customer engagement? Contact us to talk through ideas for your project.

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