Bryan Brown: vice-president product of strategy at Silverpop
Bryan Brown: vice-president product of strategy at Silverpop
A view from Bryan Brown

App-propriate outreach

Although it's far from a new trend, the past 12 months have seen a dramatic increase in all things mobile. We are more reliant on our smartphones than ever and this is affecting our shopping habits.

According to a comScore report from June 2013, more than half (55 per cent) of all the time spent shopping online has originated from smartphones and tablets. Forty-five percent originated from desktops in comparison.

That’s a huge number of customers and prospects, existing and potential, who have the digital world at their fingertips--wherever, whenever. So the big question for marketers is how to engage these contacts effectively. The first step is to acknowledge where mobile engagement happens. A 2012 comScore study found that 80 percent of this actually occurs via mobile apps – and this holds true in the world of retail.

But what does this mean for marketers?

Gone are the days when mobile marketing simply meant having content that was easily viewable on a mobile phone. Instead, marketers now need to be taking advantage of what mobile stands for – mobility – and the fact that consumers are out and about, browsing apps while looking at their content online.

So, if marketers don’t have a readily available app to offer that can be accessed from any device from any location at any time, they will lose out to competitors that do. It also needs to be integrated with other marketing channels and campaigns to make the most of the mobile customer.

You’d think this would be a marketer’s dream come true – so much consumer interaction for them to be taking advantage of, but in reality they are only scratching the surface.

In fact, mobile apps and the related activity around them are still seemingly being kept in silos, rather than integrated with all other campaigns. This leads to a huge missed opportunity, as you are unable to get a full overview of each consumer or prospect and market to them accordingly.

Instead, marketers need to include any app interactions as a key piece of their overall digital campaign strategy, rather than an afterthought. Imagine being able to capture all app interactions and reflect those details in your emails, web content and other communications. And imagine creating a personalised experience in the app itself, serving up offers or displaying personal information you’ve collected on other channels and extending that experience into the mobile app.

There are almost endless possibilities, but here are some examples of what marketers should be striving to do with such information:

How to benefit from integrating mobile app activity – 1

Let’s say you invest in creating a super-cool rewards app. A customer opens your app, takes several actions that tell you a little more about them, and unlocks a couple of rewards.

So far, so good. But the next day, they visit your website and there’s nothing there to reflect the interactions they had in your mobile app. No mention of their new reward points, no related offers on display and no content tied to their behaviours in the app.

A few days later, you send them an email. Again, there are no invitations to redeem reward points and no cross-sell offers based on their app behaviours. Predictably, the customer’s engagement level decreases.

For apps to be a success you need to integrate new data sources into them and your wider marketing platform. In doing so, you can supplement the behaviours you’re capturing within your system and increase your sophistication.

For example, if someone watched a video through the app, did they watch it to its conclusion? If they listened to a Webinar, how long did they listen? These are behaviours that can be fed into your digital marketing platform to support near-real-time communication with customers.

By integrating mobile app interactions into your overall strategy, you can deliver a highly personalized and rewarding experience.

How to benefit from integrating mobile app activity – 2

A customer is shopping in your store, sees a flyer for your new app, and downloads it. But with all the devices, platforms, channels and, yes, mobile apps out there, the customer forgets about it, and two months go by without any interaction.

Again, by integrating app interactions, you can set up a program so this inaction triggers a reminder message – via email, SMS, the web or a combination of all three – that reminds the customer of the value your app offers. For example, you might say, "We haven’t seen you in the app in a while. Return today to take action "B" to unlock more cool rewards."

As consumers continue to demand outreach that is highly personal, marketers need to be doing all they can to ensure they have a singular view of the customer that incorporates all of their previous activity while providing a perfect customer experience.

As we continue to become more mobile, more consumers will be using apps on their devices to interact with brands. Marketers need to be taking advantage of this and combining all the information they have on consumers into one central marketing platform so they can tailor outreach to them accordingly in the future.

If your customers are loyal enough to have downloaded your app, then recognise this and acknowledge it when you communicate with them in order to continue to nurture the relationship.

Bryan Brown is vice-president product strategy at Silverpop