Today’s consumers are addicted to smartphones and tablets. They also love shopping: UK retail sales topped £311bn in 2012. So imagine if your app could capture the in-store experience and deliver it in a way that really connects with how consumers use their mobile devices.
The fact that 91 of the top 100 brands in the Interbrand ranking had their own mobile app in 2011 confirms a level of maturity and understanding about consumer visibility and the role of an app as a sales and engagement tool. But many brands rushed into developing an app as a box-ticking exercise that simply replicates their website, rather than looking to meet a real consumer need or deliver long-term engagement.
This is hardly a mobile strategy – more a reaction to the market and fear of being left behind. This is evidenced by the fact that 40 per cent of luxury brands have made only limited incremental updates to their apps, with 27 per cent never updating them, according to thinktank L2.
Your brand in their hand
Would these brands neglect their retail stores in the same way? Taking into account the size of the market a mobile app can reach versus a bricks-and-mortar shop, one might argue that the focus of these brands is the wrong way round.
While more progressive brands have invested in creating richer, more immersive brand experiences within their mobile apps, many have underperformed due to a failure to understand the distinct differences between mobile and non-mobile behaviours. These are far too important to ignore; we believe they comprise a ‘missing link’.
We’re going to look specifically at the effect that improved in-app engagement can have on the performance of mobile apps for retail brands, but the principles are relevant to almost every sector. In-store, the customer experience is very carefully managed to project the desired image and influence customers’ thoughts and behaviour.
It’s the personification of your brand. Everything from the store’s design and layout to how the goods are packaged to take home is carefully thought through. Shopping has a significant social element that includes help and advice from the shop assistant and immediate feedback and recommendations from friends and family.
We believe your mobile app should be a pocket-sized version of this experience, where consumers can receive the same treatment, look and feel that will ultimately drive downloads, reach and sales.
To today’s consumers, smartphones are far more than convenient communication devices – they are an integral part of their lives. We rely on them to help us socialise, organise, research, purchase and navigate, plus a whole lot else. As a result, we’ve seen a new set of behaviours emerge that as marketers we need to acknowledge and respond to. Many of these will be highly familiar: we see them in ourselves, our friends, our family and other members of the public. These behaviours include:
- Social communication
Largely as a result of the mass take-up of social networks, there’s a fear of missing out and an addiction to the ego boost we receive when we share something that has value to others and receives recognition. This reflects a need to constantly communicate – to always be ‘on’.
We’ve developed an insatiable appetite for content. We require constant hits of content that entertains and/or informs, delivered in nice, easily digestible chunks. The fresher the better.
- Immediate access
We expect everything to be at our fingertips – information, entertainment, products and services.
- A love of the wow-factor
We want to be constantly wowed – we’re always in search of the most beautifully designed and technologically advanced apps and content.
These are our mobile behavioural expectations and they are unique to the mobile experience.
The missing link
As the market matures and consumer expectations rise, brands must re-evaluate their mobile strategy and realign consumer behaviour with their brand objectives. This requires a fusion of mobile and brand to provide the missing link that will contain consumer engagement within the boundaries of the app rather than running the risk of the user exiting the app to gain the behavioural ‘hit’.
We are seeing progress. With the correct use of navigational design within the app, the user can be compelled to take a journey through it just
as if they were walking through the store. Not only does this offer the user immediate access at any time, but it also prompts the familiar three-stage buying process: research, watch, buy.
Unfortunately this is where most apps hit a wall. From a brand objectives perspective, where is the ability to provide the same levels of communication and help that the shop assistant gives? Where is the ability to deliver the compelling sales engagement? How can a user call on their friends or family? How do we increase app proliferation – the app world’s version of footfall?
And from a mobile behaviour perspective, where is the opportunity for social engagement within the app? How can users share their experience? Where can they go to ‘snack’ in the app? What speaks to the addict in them? Where is the satisfaction?
Wrapping it up
We believe there is a key technological component missing from many apps. Providing this ‘missing link’ will allow brands to focus on the content and marketing of that content, while the technology deals with the mobile behaviour aspects, all delivered within the confines of the app.
Currently the only true app-only communication channel is push. Though push notifications are constrained by their content limitations and ability to broadcast only one way, they can provide an excellent wake-up call to users, get good response rates and have some clever locational capabilities.
But this isn’t enough. To bridge that ‘missing link’ we have developed Donky, a significant evolution in mobile app engagement. Donky provides
a rich messaging and content delivery network out of the box, with full featured SDKs to bring the missing link of mobile behaviour to brands. From simple push and rich in-app pages delivered into an app inbox, through to providing an in-app OTT network – just like a WhatsApp within your app! And all with a set of campaign management tools.
With such horizon-expanding technology available, it’s an exciting time. Mobile in-app engagement provides the ‘missing link’ and opens
up a new world of possibilities for brands.
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