It’s not unusual for a business to consider an app surplus to marketing requirements. After all, why employ the services of an additional specialist software development company when you’ve got a perfectly good mobile-friendly website?
The truth is, the money spent on an app is likely to return itself a number of times over – but that return isn’t always going to come in the way you might first consider.
Sure, you might pick up conversions from an app – but the bulk of the return you’ll see from an app is likely to come in less obvious ways; allow us to expand:
Greater trust in your brand
What would you do if you logged into your favourite app store, searched for your bank’s online banking app and, when you received your results, were presented with app from another, until-now unknown bank?
Chances are, it’s more likely to pique your interest rather than arouse suspicions. A new challenger outfit? An innovative startup?
The thing is, as consumers, we tend to consider the app store is something of a mark of quality for businesses. Two-bit businesses, untrustworthy companies, and small companies masquerading as larger organisations don’t tend to establish themselves quite as readily on app stores – whereas you can generally get a professional looking website online for less than £15/$20 a month.
So, an app equals trust – and trust is often a key stumbling point for small businesses. Almost certainly, if you can increase the trust that customers have in your brand then you’re going to see greater numbers of conversions. A presence in the app store will do this for you – and when downloaded, an app increases trust even more so. Psychologically, having your brand on someone’s device brings down another barrier – they’ve considered you trustworthy and interesting once, so opening your app and working towards a conversion is far more likely to occur going forward.
Does having an app magically create converting customers? Probably not. Does it inspire greater levels of trust with audiences, potential, and existing customers? Almost certainly.
Direct communication with potential customers
It’s hard to stand out in a world where every company is trying to engage customers. Virtually every avenue has become like background noise for customers.
When did you last open and read all your advertising emails? Or sit down to take a good look at the brochures that came through your door? It’s really simple – we don’t – but we do love to look at app notifications.
Generally, we pick up our phones 40+ times each day – and if you’re a young person, that figure’s likely to be close to double. So, if you can create notifications on your customers’ phones, you’re tapping into a level of interest that most other mediums just don’t inspire.
How’s it done?
Well, apps generally require the device owner to allow push notifications in the first instance. Sure, they might get turned off further down the line, but as long as you don’t overdo the notifications, it’s unlikely.
Push notifications allow you to ping a notification up on your customer’s phone, alerting them to engage with you app. They can be triggered by time, the customer’s app activity, or even geographical location. Got customers approaching your physical location? You can let them know. Want to let customers know you’ve got a sale starting at midnight on your e-commerce store? You can send them an alert.
The great thing is, your app will launch from this notification too – so you don’t have to rely on your customer going away, entering your domain name, logging-in, or any other activities with hurdles that might distract them and make them less-likely to convert.
Engaging your customers’ loyalty
Is the only way you’re going to drink coffee today because you picked up your final loyalty stamp yesterday – making your next latte free?
In actual fact, the sense of achievement and the feel-good response that’s triggered in the brain when we cash-in a loyalty card is likely to be more powerful than the caffeine hit you’ll get from your drink or the sense of being pleased that you’ve just saved a small amount of money.
As consumers, we respond well when interactions are ‘gamified’ – that’s to say, when we’re set some kind of challenge by the company we’re interacting with. Some companies do this overtly – Wish for instance. When you use the Wish app, you’re challenged to log back in every day, unlocking a discount when you do. Other companies do this more subtly; Starbucks will give you a free coffee when you’ve paid for a certain number.
The principle is the same though; we get something for nothing other than our loyalty – and an app is a great way of sneaking a ‘loyalty card’ into our customers’ minds.
By gamifying your customers’ interactions with your business, you set them a challenge. As most consumer psychology professionals will tell you, most people respond well when they’re told how to interact with a company – so working towards an incentive keeps everyone happy.
Why not use this sense of direction to plug holes in your sales process? Or patch up other parts of the conversion process that otherwise see you losing customers? It’s also a great opportunity to get customers to visit your physical locations too – after all, the traditional idea of a loyalty card is still good, so why not use an app to digitise that card?
Again, a loyalty scheme on your app is necessarily going to drive more sales immediately, but it will help to establish your brand as one that people enjoy interacting with. As a knock-on effect of this, you’re going to see greater traffic hitting your services – and you’ll benefit from the increased trust that goes hand in hand as a result.
Ultimately, if you can get and keep people engaged with your app, you stand a good chance of seeing business marketing performance pick up across the board. Will it be as a direct result of app sales or app conversions? Probably not – but there’s much more to having a business app that just the immediate performance increases.