Today’s digital consumers do not want to spend time thinking about how they interact with their technology.  They expect it to work seamlessly and intuitively, within a digital experience that is compelling, and yet simple.  When confronted by an annoying obstacle most people are likely to put their device down rather than spending extra time trying to overcome the issue.

These same digital consumers want their digital experience to be on their own terms, where they understand & control what value they provide in their digital relationship with brands.

Faced with these twin challenges, App based loyalty schemes, and their permission based approach for the receipt of rewards in exchange for information, seem well suited to become the driver for better customer experiences.  Using customer insight, created by mobile interactions, as the means by which to generate on-going engagement, improved customer journeys and build better App based solutions.

Without detailed information on how your audience are engaging with you digitally, the potential exists for an incomplete picture of what customers’ interests really are.   For example; if a customer browses jeans on your app, but makes the final purchase at a later date, you need to be collecting this customer data and have profiles in place that can act on this information.

Here is four of the greatest challenges App marketers face when creating customer engagement:

Obtaining customer permissions

Mobile users are particularly savvy, and unwilling to give away access to their data, opt in to receive notifications, or share their location without a clear understanding of what is needed and why.

According to Research by Appboy, 90% of people say that the information they share should be clearly explained in permissions and 60% of users have abandoned app downloads once they saw they that they had to share information.

It is therefore critical for mobile marketers to explain to customers by asking for their data a personalized experience will be delivered in return.  Only by being open and honest about how data will be used can customer unwillingness be overcome.

Permissions should only be requested when it is absolutely needed to complete a desired action.  Many apps prompt users for information or push permissions as soon as users open the app, but this can be off putting.  It’s more effective to ask when users take certain actions that make opting in or giving information an essential or preferable part of moving forward.

For example; when users attempt to download new episodes of their favourite podcast, let them know that they can receive updates when new episodes become available if they enable push notifications.  Or when they go to make their first purchase, encourage them to save their payment details to make their purchases quicker and easier in the future.  These types of triggered prompts make opt-in requests contextual, and increase the likelihood that they will be accepted.

In this mobile savvy environment, it is important that the opt in request is delivered by a customised App prompt, rather than using the existing IOS default, thereby allowing you to better describe the value proposition and better prepare customers for the opt-in.

A clearly defined on-boarding process is required including a hierarchy of ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’ permissions and including their associated explanations.  Unless it is critical for the function of the app, push or location opt-in request should not be presented to new customers in their first app session without carefully explaining the reasoning.

 Capturing audience attention

One of the biggest challenges faced by app marketers is that their audiences’ attention will soon run out after a few taps or swipes.  To drive engagement within any app there are just a few ‘moments of truth’ in which to capture audience attention and serve them the content as promised.

Rigorous focus therefore needs to be on the elimination of any barriers that stand between content and customer.  Bring them closer to their own goals by eliminating any superfluous steps in the process.

For example; rather than sending audiences to your app’s home screen, focus push notifications on deep linking to specific parts of the App, such as the menu if it is a restaurant app.  The key is to avoid sending customers through irrelevant app experiences and give them the exact information that they need to make a decision in the moment.

On-going communications

According to the Digital Marketing Association, 78% of customers will opt out of push notifications or uninstall an app if they don’t like the messages they receive.  Perhaps unsurprisingly the key factors in poor communications are:

  • Poor timing
  • Nonspecific content
  • Too frequent messages
  • Lack of compelling visuals
  • Impersonal content
  • Too much text

Given there is so much to consider when sending push notifications, and any subtleties can make or break a user experience,  it is important to review opt-out and engagement stats to determine what’s right for your audience base.  Paying close attention to what happens after users engage with your push notifications and employing A/B testing to fine-tune messaging constantly developing your communication strategy.

  1. Location based targeting

This is when a brand adjusts their communications based on the physical location of individual recipients.  This can mean showing advertisements only at a specific location, or sending a push notification only when the app user arrives at a specific place.

Brands like Uber have already tapped into location services early on in the technology’s evolution.  Users of those and similar apps willingly give consent by downloading and engaging with the app.

Retail app users, on the other hand, download an app because they want to shop, be rewarded, or stay in touch with a company for a variety of reasons.  They don’t necessarily want a company knowing their every movement inside a shop, or most importantly, where they might go after they leave.

Even if they opt in while shopping, as a Department Store customer might do for example, it means they most likely wish to receive information while they’re shopping, and have that particular mobile experience end when they walk out of the store.  A consumer has a right to question whether the geo-targeting app might be able to follow them into their daily lives.

Research shows that whilst some customers find location based communications intrusive others respond well to this type of personalisation.   Location targeted marketing has the potential to double the impact of ads, and some studies suggest that 70% of consumers would happily share their data if it means they can take advantage of a discount.  The key is to find value-driven, personalised ways to make use of location-based marketing that doesn’t make users want to fear that Big Brother is watching over them.

Some final thoughts

Those customers who engage consistently with an app over the first month after download have a 90% retention rate.  If your brand has the right strategy and the right tools to produce that kind of engagement among customers, mobile will be a major asset, making it easier to build the sort of durable, long term customer / brand relationships that result in sustainable business success.  Without these strategies and tools in place, however, it will prove difficult to obtain a level of interest that justifies the original investment case in mobile