In this day and age, engaging with their audience remains of the utmost importance for brands. Brands cannot simply rest on their laurels expecting to display their products online and consequently move it off the shelves. Times have changed dramatically and continue to do so.
Something else is needed in the digital arsenal to close the engagement gap. That is where apps come in. In today’s bustling competitive consumer marketplace, brands are spending enormous amounts of money to entice new users through mobiles.
Especially when consumers are spending up to $106.4 billion on apps and up to five hours a day browsing their phones, with actual time spent on the apps rising almost 70% year on year. So it is imperative for brands to create great apps to use.
A study carried out in 2011 found that mobile apps stimulate interest and purchase intent. If the app does its job correctly, engagement for a brand then moves upwards by about 10%.
Apps herald a new way for brands to advertise their products but in a much more nuanced manner; with special features and functions, brands can create a new language for consumers to interact with.
Apps are also a great way to personalise communication. Because consumers spend so long on their mobiles, they will want a way to engage directly with the brand. If a brand can offer that then the consumer will spend longer interacting with them and building on the pre-existing engagement.
Apps are an excellent way for brands to build recognition for their business. If a brand can execute the app correctly, then it serves as an additional piece of branding for the consumer and they will be able to take the brand wherever they go. Apps can be useful, informational and more than anything a direct marketing channels for users, providing a way for customers to enrich their lives.
One of the biggest success stories of the last few years is the shopping app ASOS; users spend up to 80 minutes a month on the app. The effectiveness and ease of browsing is what makes this app so successful; like Amazon, it has a one-touch pay feature and provides virtual catwalks. There are even rumours that ASOS will outsource the design in the future asking influencers and students to create the app for them.
There are plenty of brands integrating nifty features into their apps using it as a vehicle to engage with their community. Take for example the app from giant e-sports Pokerstars, which was rolled out last year, allowing players to compete and communicate in a sociable setting. Or a beauty company like Lancome which incorporated a function called Beauty Chat into their app which allows users to tell their make-up stories. Brands like Home Depot take it one step further having a function in their app which ties a shoppers region to localised design trends and products.
Brands need to understand that consumers want incentives, loyalty schemes and great customer service from their shopping experience otherwise the consumer will make the choice not to interact. Making the customer feel special is a key part of this process.
There are millions of apps on both the Apple store and Google store, therefore making it tough to stand out, especially with the latest figures showing that most users spend all their time on their top five downloaded apps like Facebook, Instagram etc. This leaves little room for other experiences to make an impact. But if you can somehow experiment with your marketing as a brand, employing strategic and intelligent ways to let people know the app is there, then you have won half the battle.
Apps are going to become a lot more dynamic, diverse in their offering and just generally more expansive. As mobiles up their game regarding hardware, viewing experience and storage capacity, apps will also become more involved in their offering. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will play a vital role in this; these are new technologies that brands can take advantage of especially when they can profile the products in a whole new interactive fashion.
Some brands are already doing that like the shopping giant IKEA who have an app allowing you to try out furniture on the go wherever you are. Ot Game of Thrones where you are thrown right into the action of the TV show. It’s only a matter of time before apps become the primary source of engagement rather than browsing online. Brands better take note if they want to keep their audience.