Mobile apps provide marketers with a unique opportunity to creatively supplement the omnichannel shopping experience. The efforts of mobile engagement brings a new chapter to marketing strategies. Because mobile apps are structured differently than any other channel – even/especially when compared to browsing web via mobile – retailers who have apps can invite customers to interact with products and with branding in ways that can’t be done otherwise, bringing more mobile customer engagement. And according to eMarketer, shoppers are downloading more retail apps than ever before, with 25% of customers reporting that they had between six and ten retail apps on their smartphone.
One retailer we made an account with decided to go all out by building an app focused solely on driving customer engagement – rather than allowing customers to shop, the app offers mobile users rewards points every time they engage with the brand and its promotional content. (This includes things like watching promotional videos, linking a product to social media, and even simply visiting the retailer’s mobile website store.) Customers can then redeem the rewards points they’ve earned when they make a purchase on web or mobile devices.
The idea of an entire app focused on driving and rewarding engagement brings up an important and seemingly simple point: the more a customer interacts with your brand, the more marketers can learn about them, personalize their customer journey, and the more likely mobile customers are to purchase. Each click is a granular piece of information that pulls back the curtain on a customer’s unique preferences, their needs when shopping, and any points of friction standing in the way of a purchase. The opportunity for marketers here is twofold – they can iterate on the customer experience based on specific needs, and they can use what they’ve learned to make more personalized special offers for engagement.
So how can marketers use mobile technology to drive customer engagement in whatever way makes most sense for each individual shopper?
Incentivize mobile customer engagement with rewards on purchases
Take a leaf out of the aforementioned retailer’s book by having promotional offers or discounts when they engage with your brand – and that doesn’t just mean when they make a purchase. Customers want to know that they mean more than the dollars they spend, so consider rewarding actions that aren’t necessarily transactional but that still demonstrate an interest in your brand. (And rewarding actions besides purchases will likely drive purchases anyway – especially when your customer has loyalty points or coupons burning a hole in their pocket.)
Make personalized recommendations for future engagement
Based on your customers actions on your app, no matter how granular, you can use what you’ve learned to suggest whatever “next step” makes the most sense for them. For example, if a customer is browsing a shirt on a retailer’s mobile app, the retailer can recommend that they share what they’re looking at on social media, or recommend that they use any existing loyalty points to make a purchase, or recommend that the customer browse other similar products. And even if the customer moves off of your app to another channel (like web or social), you can knit together their actions on other channels with their actions on your app to present the most contextually-relevant shopping experience.
Send push notifications when appropriate to encourage real-time engagement
With mobile apps come mobile push, and if you can shoot your customers a well-timed message to alert them of any relevant and real-time opportunities they have to engage, you’ll be only further enriching their shopping experience. Consider alerting customers of flash sales in categories they’ve browsed, of expiration dates on any coupons they might have, of inventory changes on items they demonstrated interest in, and more.
Take away: Drive omnichannel engagement within your app
If mobile apps seem like their own entity when considered in the context of the overall shopping experience, that’s a red flag indicating you’re not using mobile engagement to inform your customer’s actions on other channels, and you’re potentially painting an incomplete picture of your customer. But when leveraged correctly, mobile apps allow marketers to reach customers on the channel they’re presently on, while gathering behavioral data on their needs and wants to better inform their marketing – because, at the end of the day, it honestly isn’t about the channel at all. It’s about the customer, and about what they need from the brand they’re engaging with to take whatever subsequent steps are right for them. The unique capabilities of mobile apps might be unique to that particular channel, but they aren’t a separate experience altogether – they’re one part of an omnichannel whole.