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Growing customer loyalty and revenue with better mobile app experiences

Mobile Marketing - Member Content

Tom Butta, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Airship, explains how the company's MAX platform helps brands deliver better experiences through their apps.

Consumer app behaviors are changing. Mobile apps are quickly becoming customers’ preferred destination for transparent and functional value exchange with brands. Great mobile app experiences are now central to successful customer experience. Brands must adapt.

Building brand loyalty and generating revenue in a mobile world requires more than great products and excellent service. It also requires excellent mobile app experiences – MAX, for short.

Yet some brands treat their mobile apps as just another promotional channel. Yes, they are driving customers to their app, but they’re not holding onto them. The truth is, holding onto customers is difficult. It calls for native app experiences tailored to the individual. That’s the essence of MAX. Watch my recent interview with Mobile Marketing Magazine  for a quick introduction to MAX and its benefits to brands.

Why MAX?
It wasn’t so long ago that MAX didn’t even exist. Sure, many companies have long had mobile versions of websites and there have been many iterations of mobile apps. But among all of these, only a few have been focused on seamless customer experiences.

Today the world is different. It’s mobile. And anyone involved in any way with customer performance now understands that mobile apps are the key to unlocking the digital customer experience. 

Why? Because loyal app customers produce 3.5 times more revenue than other shoppers, and are 3 times more likely to make a repeat purchase. 

Other facts are equally compelling, but the real value of MAX shines most of all on the frontlines of business. Just take a look at these recent earnings statements from some of the customers we work with:

  • “Incredibly, our full year digital sales of $3.4 billion is nearly 3.5x what we did pre-COVID in 2019. Digital has proven to be sticky as it's a frictionless and convenient experience that has been aided by continuous investments.”
    Brian Niccol, Chairman and CEO, Chipotle

  • “It's been incredibly exciting to see our mobile app grow into such a strong shopping portal for our customers ... App-based customers are the most engaged digital shoppers, spending 2.5 times more annually than our web customers and transacting with us 3 times more throughout the year. They are also more likely to be multichannel and multi-brand shoppers.”

Michael Rempell, Executive VP and COO, AEO Inc.

  • “Our focus and commitment to our mobile apps and user experience continues to support changes in consumer ways of spending. Very.co.uk mobile sales continued to be a significant channel, remaining at 82 per cent of the brand’s sales.”

Ben Fletcher, Group Chief Financial Officer, The Very Group

The possibility of driving these kinds of business outcomes brings with it the burden of responsibility. And when it’s your job to build customer loyalty and revenue, the question isn’t whether to invest more in your mobile app, the question is how.

For many companies, there’s no single person responsible for answering this question. Responsibility is often shared by diverse teams from brand marketing, mobile product and CX, eCommerce and digital marketing, IT and development.

Who is actually responsible also varies by industry. In some cases, it’s the Chief Marketing Officer. In others, it’s the Chief Experience Officer, Chief Digital Officer or Chief Revenue Officer.

And in some cases, the burden of responsibility goes directly to the top, with the Chief Executive Officer squarely on point for driving the company’s mobile agenda.

MAX Facts

  • data.ai, formerly App Annie, found that consumers spent a third of their waking hours on mobile in 2021, up 30 per cent from 2019. They also spent 30 per cent more on in-app subscriptions year-over-year.

  • Airship’s platform data across thousands of brands and tens of thousands of apps shows active mobile users increasing by 31 per cent in 2020, nearly double the growth in 2019.

  • According to a recent Airship survey, two-thirds of consumers will use retailers’ apps in-stores to meld digital and physical experiences. In most countries and across most generations, the likelihood of using a retailer’s app while shopping in-store is only a few percentage points behind visiting the retailer’s website, despite the need to first download the app.

  • 81 per cent of millennials have used retail apps more or about the same since the pandemic began, followed by 77 per cent of Gen X, 74 per cent of Gen Z and 66 per cent of baby boomers.

When good enough isn’t good enough
According to leading tech analyst Benedict Evans, “there’s digital and there’s good digital.” Said another way, a poor app experience is equivalent to a poor in-store experience – which can spell trouble for brands that neglect MAX.

Today’s consumers know what best-in-class experiences look like. That’s why brands need to beat benchmarks set by their industry competitors, as well as by mobile-first leaders like Amazon and The Home Depot. 

“Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index) data shows companies that deliver superior CX grow revenues five times faster on average than their competitors with inferior CX. … companies with superior CX have customers who are willing to pay a higher price for products and services.” (Source: Forrester Research, Inc., Transform Customer Processes and Systems to Improve Experiences, February 22, 2021).

Retention and monetization aren’t just about getting consumers to open an app. They’re about what people do afterwards. That’s the secret to mastering mobile app experiences. Good enough isn’t good enough.

MAX and the ever-changing mobile consumer
Brands find themselves in a rapidly changing landscape that prioritizes customer privacy, choice and experience. 

Along with the growing preference for all things mobile, both consumers and brands rely more than ever on apps. Customers want more control over their interactions with brands: they’re already gaining on that front through sheer competition for the best app experiences and an increasing focus on digital well-being and user privacy controls. More generally, customers want the value, convenience and speed that apps uniquely deliver, while brands need to receive reciprocal value in the form of customer information.

What will we see in 2022? 

  • Will consumers continue to prioritize the mobile app over other channels?

  • Will brands evolve customer experiences to meet new demands?

  • What will be the long-term impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and app design?

  • How will consumers and brands negotiate exchanges that create greater value for everyone involved?

  • How will brands respond to fundamental platform changes?

These are big questions, which we address in our new eBook, 9 Experience Trends in 2022 for the Mobile Consumer.

MAX innovation
There’s a complementary relationship between driving customers into an app and ongoing in-app engagement. The personalized experiences must reflect what you're trying to accomplish and what the customers have told you about themselves.  

With ongoing pressure from customers who are remembering their last best experience, a MAX platform requires a commitment to continuous innovation. Such innovation has been difficult or impossible for brands, given their ongoing reliance on development resources and app update cycles.

This kind of specialization deserves its own seat in the C-suite, not just something tacked onto some other role, function or platform. A big seat at the big table acknowledges the extraordinary revenue associated with the mobile app experience.

Our new Airship App Experience Platform (AXP) revolutionizes how brands master mobile app experiences – and is the only enterprise SaaS platform 100 per cent dedicated to doing so. The key to AXP’s success? Giving non-technical users a full toolset to control their brand’s app experiences – which includes continuously analyzing and improving those experiences based on customer behavior. 

Some of the world’s most successful companies – including the largest coffee house chain, the largest footwear company, and one of the largest airlines – have built their app businesses around Airship AXP. You can too.

Download our ebook MAX (Mobile App Experience)

See how Airship App Experience Platform (AXP) can help you