25 Ways to Build Loyalty & Engage Customers with a Mobile Business App

I recently wrote a post about various reasons that businesses should have their own mobile apps, and I highlighted customer engagement as one of the benefits that a business can expect. I mentioned that having your own app creates an opportunity to establish and build relationships with your audience, and it helps you stand out and ensures you’re top of mind when they need your product or service.  For example, you’ll capture your audience’s attention if you’re always on their phone or if they enjoy a game that you created for your business’ app.

Sounds great, right – but how do you do it? It’s actually pretty easy. Just give them an app, and it will do half the work for you. And it will make your part of the work a whole lot easier.

There are endless possibilities for how you can build a mobile business app that will add value for your customers and make your business their favorite place to shop. Some of these are possible with a web app, too, but many can be accomplished only with a native app. You can incorporate any combination of these 25 ideas to increase customer engagement and loyalty with a mobile business app:

1. Turn your product into a game (for example, a golf supply company could add a mini golf game to their app, or Ikea could create a game where you build your own digital Ikea furniture)
2. Enable consumers to customize their mobile-shopping experience
3. Add a fun, company-branded photo filter (the Victoria’s Secret PINK Nation app did this in summer 2012)
4. Encourage or incentivize users to share products from the app via social media
5. Send notifications to mobile users for promotional campaigns or special reminders
6. Have a mobile-only contest
7. Use GPS to send coupons when a user is close to your store
8. Facilitate in-store payments with your mobile app
9. Include customer service, so users can go directly to you with questions or problems
10. Maps to show store layout (and, obviously, a map to find your store is nice too)
11. Integrate a shopping list feature
12. Allow creation of other customizable lists, such as “wants” and “must-haves”
13. Make your services easy to utilize through the mobile app (think mobile banking)
14. Turn shopping into an augmented reality experience (Forever 21 did this in November 2012)
15. Personalize product suggestions and special offers
16. Create a community around your business or products by including a social forum
17. Offer a mobile-only freebie
18. Empower customers to make an appointment or reservation through your app
19. List a schedule of upcoming events (and include a way to register, too!)
20. Ask your customers to help you serve them better through surveys or polls
21. Enable shoppers to design and order custom product requests
22. Offer mobile-exclusive products
23. Give early-access information, products, and specials to your mobile users
24. Gamify shopping at your business by giving badges or rewards for checking in with your app
25. Incorporate real-time video where applicable (daycare centers, for example)

Another important opportunity is to utilize the app’s ability to track the ways that consumers use it. For instance, you can analyze how long users view certain products, what they most often search for, what they rarely search for or click on, etc. You can then evaluate this information to determine what you can do to improve your product or service offering.

If you want evidence of how other companies have employed their own mobile business apps to grow their customer base and earn higher revenues, check out this article, or this one, or even this one, which notes that “for a local merchant, an app can be a slam-dunk to drive repeat business.” I’m not making this stuff up. I just work at an app development company, where I see it happen every day.

Sounds pretty good, right? It simply comes down to understanding where your customers are at (hint: they’re on their mobile devices – smartphones are used by more than 50.4% of US consumers, and 25% of US adults have a tablet), and also knowing what they want and how to accommodate their preferences in a way that works for your business (not convinced a mobile app is really what they want? 64% of affluent app users say they view brands with mobile apps more favorably). And how do you accomplish this? Give them a mobile app. Form a relationship with them, learn more about them, and then use that information to give them exactly what they’re asking for.

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