I wrote another post about using an app to increase digital response rates (see “How an app increased conversion rates 500%”). But apps can have broader effects too, including increasing brand engagement, awareness via social sharing, and retention.
For use in a marketing campaign, it’s critical that the app have stand-alone utility that supplements the experience with your product. Simply launching an app that facilitates purchase is not enough. Similarly, an app with functionality that doesn’t support your product experience risks customer confusion and won’t work as hard to help you build your brand. When you get it right, there’s brand value every time a customer uses the app and associates your brand with the utility. Here are three additional steps you can take to make your app work harder:
1. Registration. Your app may or may not require registration to unlock its utility. If it doesn’t, you should plan to provide additional utility to users who do register. For example, registration can unlock alerts, reminders or rewards. The registration process gives you insight into the people using your app and how they’re using it, and provides a mechanism for them to opt into ongoing communications (the app itself can be one of your communication channels).
2. Communication. Use your app as a communication channel. It doesn’t need to be your only communication channel with these customers, but delivering valuable content, such as tips and offers, through the app provides two benefits. Customers who engage with your app have a more convenient way to receive your communications and may see more of them, and having valuable content in the app in addition to its designed utility may keep customers more engaged with the app.
3. Community. Your app should allow users to post to social networks or see their Facebook friends who also use the app. By doing so, you’ll extend the reach of your campaign and have potential to build product reviews and product validation.
Free apps that add value are a great marketing tool. However, if you’re going to incur the expense of creating an app, make sure it’s designed to maximize value to your brand.