Mobile First: How to Build a Portal to Better Customer Relationships With Mobile Apps

Consumers have come to expect a wide range of experiences from their mobile devices.

You’ve seen the statistics: Mobile devices are quickly becoming the gateway to everything media. This new mobile reality has permeated our lives and our culture. I saw a study recently that encapsulates this particular change in culture. Common Sense Media surveyed parents of children 0-8 in the U.S. and found that 38 percent of 2-year-old children and younger have used a mobile device for playing games, watching videos or other media-related purposes. These are toddlers—babies, really—who haven’t learned how to put a sentence together, yet they have no trouble accessing games or cueing up videos.

With smartphone adoption rates as high as 56 percent in the U.S., it’s clear that mobile devices—and the apps they power—will only continue to grow. It’s also clear that businesses need to adjust their customer communications strategies and budgets for this new mobile reality.

A handful of companies have done an excellent job creating mobile apps that have been heartily embraced by customers. They’ve been rewarded with good press and greater customer loyalty. While companies like Ikea, Starbucks and even CVS are held up as examples, there are thousands of others that flat-out fail. Some fail because of bad execution or lack of awareness, but most of the time it’s a question of value.

Moving Beyond Made-You-Look
When it comes to apps, marketers need to think about how they can use their apps to add value to their customer relationships, long-term. To get customers engaged initially, it’s important to have a hook; whether that’s coupons, special offers or a unique augmented reality (AR) experience. If you want them to keep coming back, you need to provide continued value, not an endless commercial. Your long-term success depends on it.

Especially in the B-to-B space, sales and marketing apps can end up being repositories for existing presentations, videos and sales collateral. Worse yet, mobile apps are often approached with a project mindset, rather than as a long-term strategy. The real challenge for marketers is delivering content that adds value to the mobile experience and to the customer relationship. In fact, once you get customers to opt in, you had better provide value—and keep providing it.

M.J. Anderson is CMO at multichannel marketing firm, Trekk, Inc.
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