There seems to be a commonly held perception that only large brands and enterprises can experience the commercial benefits of having an ‘own brand’ customer app. That may have been the case up until a couple of years ago but certainly isn’t today.
Accomplished App development companies with multi-national production capacity, such as Appify, can now construct m-commerce apps starting at £10,000.
Why do you need a Customer App?
So, the question is why would you allocate a portion of your Sales & Marketing budget or Customer Service budget towards a mobile app? Well there are lots of strong reasons but below is a summary that might assist with the ROI assessment.
Before we start to consider these benefits, let’s start with one self-evident thought…
You consider it’s important to have a website. But what if your customers spend more time on their mobile phones than their PCs? Would you not need an app?
1. Brand Building
Because of the perception that only big brands have apps, your own app will add real credibility to your brand.
Once a customer downloads your app, your brand icon serves as a constant piece of brand reinforcement on a highly valuable parcel of real estate – your customer’s mobile screen.
Your app can be enabled with social sharing elements so that those using your app can extend your brand presence by sharing their in-app experiences with their social network and thus act as brand ambassadors on your behalf!
2. Customer Experience Optimisation
Once your customer has your app, there is no need for them to type your URL or to Google your products / services. Your store is simply a click away.
Once inside the app, your customer will experience a quicker, easier to navigate and more intuitive experience than a website can deliver. This is critical in today’s cluttered media environment in minimising ‘bounce’ from your platform.
Inside your customer app, you can offer your client a myriad of valuable consumer centric experiences.
For example, some major retailers offer entertainment hubs to maximise the frequency of client visit and dwell duration within the application. (Contact us about our work on behalf of JD Sports.)
The longer that you can engage the prospect within your environment, the more likely you are to convert to a transaction.
Entertainment features can include music, video, social media feeds, news, gaming and live chat.
The app can be deployed as a wonderful customer service tool. Customers can order, pay and track delivery using an app.
In certain industries, the client experience journey can be largely managed through the application from start to finish.
Let’s take the case of a beautician’s business to illustrate the point. A potential client could view the range of treatments, make a selection, view available appointment times, make a booking, execute payment and receive notified appointment reminders all via the customer app!
Your mobile app is the perfect vehicle for a client loyalty programme. The application can be used for digital couponing and redemption, transaction management, points accumulation and rewards distribution.
This is all fantastic for the customer, but also highly worthwhile for the business. The client behaviour intelligence that can be accumulated from a rewards programme can be invaluable.
3. Sales & Promotions
Some of the sales benefits of having a customer app are apparent in the foregoing commentary. We have already seen how the app can manage all elements of a transaction.
However, and maybe most importantly, the app can turn your customer into a repeat client through intelligent promotion.
At a simple level, your customer can be sent promotional notification based upon profiling. These can be similar products to those searched previously, geographical profiling based upon location, seasonal profiling based upon previous purchases (birthdays, Mother’s Day, Christmas) etc.
Consequently, your customer can receive interesting, timely, and relevant offerings from you on a regular basis.
If you are a retailer, location based promotions can take direct targeting to a new level. With the use of simple, inexpensive beacons, your app can be triggered to push a notification whenever a customer passes your door.
Imagine what might happen if a client passing your door gets a ping from their phone saying “As one of our favourite customers, we have just sent you a voucher for a free bottle of wine if you spend £30 in store today!” Now imagine what might happen if ALL of your passing customers get similar messages. You’re going to need a bigger boat!
All of the foregoing may well make an app project sound daunting, but it need not be.
Given that most people do their product research on their phone while waiting for something, it is just important to start. Give your potential customers your shop window on their phone while they are waiting for the bus, or in the doctors’ foyer, or watching their kids on the climbing frame, or ignoring the ads on TV!
As mentioned at the outset, the starting point need not involve a major investment. First we launch version 1 of the customer app. Then, when it starts to generate results, you can justify additional spend on more sophisticated feature sets that will accelerate the benefits for both your customers and your business.
This is an incremental and iterative process. Just decide to start!