When customers can do more with your mobile app, it’s easier to set yourself apart.

Your app’s utility doesn’t need to rival Facebook or Uber Eats. However, it’s essential to make your mobile app more valuable than your competitors’. In the decade ahead, this tactic will become key to giving your brand an edge.

That’s because brand experiences have taken a magic leap. They’ve become a smartphone-enabled, data-rich box of possibilities. According to Growth Handbook powered by Branch, 51.7% of companies with apps have reported a 25.8% increase of in-app spending. App Annie reporting revenues totaling over $100b with the last quarter of 2020 accounting for $31.9b. A casual ~37% increase from the prior year’s final quarter and 25% YOY growth. But here’s the kicker: customer expectations of their apps have elevated too.

To elevate your app’s utility, you need to firstly ask: “How can customer’s satisfaction of my goods or services be amplified, and supported, via my mobile app?”

To answer this question, you must stop thinking of your mobile app as a brand offshoot. Think of it as your brand hub; the central point that connects all your customers interactions back to your brand. To ensure your app is being utilised as a brand hub you need to focus your attention on three key areas: your app’s ecosystem, experiences and data events.

Your Ecosystem

Ten years ago, a typical app’s ecosystem was barren. Apps were pretty much a single channel tool. But fast-forward to today, you can see how much that ecosystem has grown. So much so, apps can now function as a brand hub. To connect your app to your entire customer-facing ecosystem, here’s what you must do:

  1. Deep-link from your channels into your app. Whether it’s a sales query, a customer service request or a promotion, give your customers one place to check what they’re doing with your brand. Turn your app into a more useful customer-service hub.
  2. Connect your app into your wider technology ecosystem, with a two-way connection of data. Today, customers expect you to use their data smartly and responsibly. Show you understand your customers’ needs with reminders for regular order, cross-sell and upsell suggestions or a warm message from a contact inside your business.
  3. Your brand’s left and right hands need to know what each other is doing. So, connect experiences, both online to offline, to your app. Because your customers’ phones are always nearby, your app is the crucial hub to ensure orders, queries, quotes and changes are noted and updated.

Your Experiences

Savvy brands use technical innovation to drive competitive advantage. Your app is particularly crucial to show how you stand out. Focus on what your customers need and how to fix their problems plus relieve their fears. Rather than overwhelm your customers with too many app features that stick out, fold them into the overarching experience.

With this in mind, you must consider personalisation techniques. To drive customer retention and increase app usage, feed your customers brand-love. The more you show you understand and value your customers, the more trust and engagement you’ll receive. Focus on how you show info, why you’re showing it and when it’s best to be shown. Here are several experiences that can elevate your app’s utility:

  1. In-app adaptive content — tailor what your customers see to what they need.
  2. Push notifications — like direct marketing, these work best when they’re offer-driven.
  3. Rich push — for your most prominent and interactive marketing callouts.
  4. In-app messaging — perfect for reminders, education, saying thank you and retargeting.
  5. In-app two-way conversations — for frictionless customer service.
  6. In-app partial overlays — use for nudges, prompts, reminders and retargeting.

Your Data Events

Data is the power of your brand. You can use it to send, segment, personalise and report, building your bottom-line — this is equally true for your app’s data events.

While ensuring you’re within the various privacy guidelines from Apple and Android, a two-way authenticated data-feed must be enabled to drive a competitive advantage. There’s little point creating apps within a silo in your brand ecosystem. Event collection and activation are the keys to creating new app releases that increase your app’s quality and utility. Plus, to personalise customer experiences, your app needs to know what’s happening elsewhere in your brand ecosystem.

So, what’s the takeout? Focus your user and technical strategy on integrating your mobile app into your ecosystem with data events that transfer two-ways. This tactic will increase your ability to give your customers outstanding brand experiences.

The Author: Ben Fettes, Co-Founder & Head of Strategy at The Lumery.

Learn more about The Lumery here.

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