Let’s start by making sure you’re in the right place. If you’re a small retailer just getting started that hasn’t setup an email list yet, then you do not need a mobile app. If you’re selling a big ticket product that will be purchased once and you’ll be forgotten afterwards, you do not need a mobile app (one might argue you also need to add some auxiliary products to your business as well, but that’s a different post). Ok, so everyone else who is still reading, let’s talk.
If you’re selling a product that does have repeat purchases, then there’s a good chance that you could use a mobile app. There’s an even better chance that you NEED a mobile app, because a mobile app isn’t about Apple Pay, or even about replacing responsive design; it’s about bringing your products, content and engagement strategy all into that little supercomputer everyone is walking around with, to do Harry is doing to those Dementors above.
Most medium-size retailers don’t know it, but they are on a quest to more effectively engage their customer base. Most have settled with the choices they have in front of them, like Twitter, Facebook, email marketing tools, and blogs. They see these things as the best approach and accept that they are all disparate mediums with various levels of noise reduction.
For instance, a good open rate for email is 15% for many industries. Merchants accept the fact that 85% of their potential brand loyal fans tune out, not because of the merchant, but because email sucks. They don’t realize that social media has reduction algorithms that take their big marketing message and suppress it like a silencer without the final punch of a bullet. While blog articles allow merchants with aspirational brands to deliver their full message, the most effective route to raise awareness about their articles is still [insert everything mentioned above].
Having lived and breathed eCommerce for over 8 years, I also believed this to be true, forgoing even the consideration of the merit of enabling my clients to own their branding and messaging in one place. I, too, considered low conversion as a standard to be broken away from by only the best in content, experiential marketing and mind-bending product development.
Then, my higher volume clients started asking me about mobile shopping apps. My first response was “why?” Apps are for gaming.
My mentality at the time stemmed from a technology background as one of the few people I know who have programmed at the Fortune 10 level, which doesn’t mean much now since most startup developers can program circles around blue chip developers. I mention it here to explain why I didn’t understand what my clients were saying to me. Every client that asked about mobile shopping apps was a marketer not a developer, and because they were relatively new, clients typically asked me about the solution and desired features, mostly skipping over the why.
However, I eventually learned the why. Afterall, I’m an entrepreneur and early demand is typically a sign, and I take my industrial signals seriously. I ventured into a consulting project that enabled me to have more in-depth conversations with my clients about their mobile shopping app desires. What quickly became apparent was that my smartest clients didn’t think of mobile apps as a way to drive sales; they saw it as an engagement and retention strategy.
I hadn’t thought of it this way. Since at the time most mobile apps were literally just an app form of websites, I hadn’t seen the future. Think about your brand. Are you using Youtube or some video distribution service to engage with your customers around audio/visual content? Are you posting your products on Instagram obsessively because, well frankly people love it, and it’s sexy? Do you write interesting and informative blogs not to push product in your customer’s face, but because you really understand your customer and can talk about the things they like? If you said yes to any of these things, then you should at least be considering a good mobile strategy for engagement (BTW if you said yes to all these things – F yeah!)
A good mobile app (not the crap you see most merchants using) will give you your own brand channel, a place that doesn’t suppress your message but expands on it. A place where your loyalty and rewards crowd hangs out with your blog and Instagram crowd and may or may not buy stuff. Yeah, it’s your world baby, get with it.
Feel free to give us a call if you want to chat about this. Trust us, we’ve seen this done the wrong way too often, and doing it right is not always expensive, but it certainly isn’t cheap. But the ROI is there in spades for those who focus on engagement.
BTW, if you didn’t get this at first, the Dementors in the Harry Potter animated gif above are your competitors. Don’t let this happen to your company, fight back.