Make a Consumer Connection via the App Experience

Modern consumers live in an app-based world. While smartphones remain our constant companions, apps also run our TVs, personal assistants, fitness trackers and even our coffee makers, door bells and vacuum cleaners. 

These apps also hold a massive amount of value for retail marketers in the data they generate. Right now, that opportunity to collect and understand cross-app consumer behavior is mostly untapped. What combination of apps are common for specific users, and what does this information tell retail marketers about their behavior, interests and lifestyle?

Retailers that want to make a personal connection with customers in 2019 need to ask these important questions to deliver relevant, timely and actionable messaging to their customers across all their preferred channels. Doing so is a clear signal that your company is invested in your customers’ likes and overall experience — an important differentiator in a time of nearly unlimited brand choice. 

Here’s a deeper dive into some of the most popular ways consumers are interacting with apps along with key takeaways for retailers looking to up their app game. 

Using apps while in-store

Traditional retail is far from dead —  90% of consumers have shopped in a physical store in the past month. But just because they are through the door doesn’t mean shoppers aren’t still relying on a retailer’s app. More than half (57%) of consumers use a retailer’s mobile app during an in-store visit, and nearly two-thirds (65%) of this group use a retailer’s app during those shopping trips to redeem coupons.  

This in-store interaction means your app must be intuitive, reliable and provide enough ongoing value to keep it on customers’ phones long after they initially download. For example, Home Depot’s app helps overcome a common pain point: navigating large stores where sales associates may be scarce. Users can access a bird’s eye view of the exact store they’re visiting, helping them find products more easily for a convenient, frictionless experience. 

Using apps to make a purchase

When given a choice, just one-third of all shoppers prefer to do their digital shopping on smartphone apps. But that number skyrockets to 58% among millennials, perhaps the most important group for marketers to target as millennials gain wealth, buy homes and start families. 

Retailers need to identify ways to seamlessly unify their mobile and desktop experiences — something few have mastered. Nearly half (49%) of consumers who prefer to shop on their computers say it’s faster to make purchases, while an equal number say it’s easier to comparison shop on desktop. To encourage more cross-device shopping, consumers’ profiles should “talk” to one another; Items placed in a mobile app cart should appear in a shopper’s desktop cart the next time they log in, and items browsed in-app should be highlighted on the web site. This way, the customer feels like they’re entering a personalized store every time they log in, and they remain engaged with your brand as a result. 

This seamless experience starts by ensuring customers can easily log in and save their address, payment information and other preferences. Profile-based checkout helps eliminate purchasing frustration, and is a solid stepping stone for your loyalty program. Your app and desktop experience should also be a consistent stylistic representation of your brand — though you’ll want to pare down the visuals for a smaller and faster smartphone experience.

Using apps for marketing communications

App-driven loyalty is forged when marketers prioritize actionable communications to a consumer who is ready to shop. A positive experience for consumers occurs when they can easily find the information and communicate with a company when needed, but only receive offers on their own terms.

Tread thoughtfully and precisely when planning and executing your app communication strategy. Add features that make engaging easy like mobile wallet coupons in an email or as an in-app pop-up to give customers more access and urgency. Employ data hygiene, rule based automation, and artificial intelligence to speed communication and remove human errors that can result in customers being addressed by the wrong name. 

Apps are one of the most relevant ways for retailers to forge a connection with their customers — and data is the key to that relevance. Don’t let your data go to waste; Tap into the information you’re already collecting, including purchase and browsing history or email opens and clicks. Tools that provide insight into your customers’ total app footprint — that is, all the apps that are downloaded to their phone — to help your marketing team better target offers and advertising based on overall interests.

Now is also the time to expand past demographics and lifestyles to behavioral and psychographic ways to connect with customers. Ultimately, understanding your unique customers’ app preferences and usage will tell you a lot about the kind of relevant, timely and actionable messaging that will meet their needs and build relationships.

About the Author

William Sears, SVP Solutions Architect at Yes Marketing. Unique combination of analytic thinking and technical understanding with strong people skills and a clear communication style. Successful client engagement leader, consultant, and technical product marketer with diverse experience across CPG, Retail, and Automotive. Over 20 years of client and industry knowledge with solid track-record of driving an evolution of information views, technology applications, and analytic interpretations resulting in business value for clients.