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Mapping the Consumer App Journey: Hello Incentives, Goodbye Friction

As the debate between mobile apps versus mobile sites heats up, retailers interested in investing in the former have a serious decision to make. What call-to-action or welcome deal should they offer potential users to convince them to make room for the app on their already-crowded smartphone screens?

Brands with preexisting mobile apps may also be in the market for a partial or complete revamp, based on customer usage and feedback. Regardless of where a particular company is in the app-making cycle, it must still follow one of mobile’s golden rules: optimizing the consumer app journey. This means strategizing – and streamlining – the app experience from start to finish, with a major focus on welcome offers, interactive content, and frictionless purchases.

The draw-in: Despite its delayed entry into the U.S. mobile market, McDonald’s new app serves as a prime example of how best to draw in consumers. Each new user who downloads the McD app receives a welcome offer of a free sandwich. This means that all of its major fans now have a big incentive to download the app even if they are not the most mobile-friendly individuals.

Furthermore, they are incentivized to keep the app up and running at least until they visit their local McDonald’s to redeem the offer. If a retailer or fast-food chain enables consumers to take advantage of a promotional code or freebie the second they open a new app, they are at risk of losing these potential customers if they cash in and subsequently delete the app. However, providing a redeem-in-store option gives the app a minimum shelf life of several days, until consumers have time to visit a bricks-and-mortar location.

The hook: Once individuals have been wooed with an introductory offer, the next stage of the consumer app journey is to hook them by providing enough interactive and engaging content to prompt repeat visits. Gamification is currently one of mobile’s biggest trends, due to its ability to resonate positively with the desirable millennial demographic.

For example, Victoria’s Secret’s subsidiary Pink frequently leverages in-app games, such as scavenger hunts and instant win contests, to cater to its young fan base. Individuals can shop on Pink’s mobile or online site at any time, meaning that the app must offer content that is additive to the shopping experience. This can be accomplished by refreshing that interactive content on a weekly or biweekly basis, giving consumers the ability to become accustomed to a schedule of checking the app during those times for new experiences.

Additionally, the consumer app journey can be bolstered by the inclusion of major event or holiday tie-ins with a loyalty focus. Rewards program members should receive the opportunity to add more points to their account balances by way of interacting with a retail app, especially during peak shopping times. Sears recently excelled in this respect by introducing a St. Patrick’s Day-themed game that allowed Shop Your Way members to spin a wheel in the app and receive a chance to earn tangible prizes as well as more loyalty points. Many individuals were then inspired to peruse the app’s inventory for holiday-related items.

The cincher: The conclusive element of the consumer app journey is tied to frictionless experiences and a final send-off that will ideally keep users coming back for more. If an app offers purchasing capabilities, the checkout experience must be as streamlined as possible, which corresponds to the implementation of many mobile checkout platforms. While Apple Pay, Visa Checkout, Android Pay, and MasterPass are the usual suspects, brands should constantly be on the lookout for up-and-coming services with significant amounts of customers. Additionally, consumers must find it easy to insert their personal details during the payment process. Retailers should focus on offering swiping options, drop-down menus, and enlarged fields on the checkout page.

One optimal way of cementing repeat visits is to gift app users with a final thank you for their business.  This could take the form of a freebie, a discount code to use on a future purchase, or even a GIF that fans can share with their social media followers.

Retailers struggling with mapping consumers’ journeys through the mobile purchase funnel should ultimately take a hard look at their current app experiences and how they match up with customers’ needs. Strong calls-to-action – as well as encouragements for repeat visits – should be integrated within the beginning, middle, and end of each app journey. If marketers master this strategy, retaining customers becomes that much easier. 

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Editor, The Mobile Retail Blog

Editor-in-Chief of The Mobile Retail Blog with NewStore.

Topics: Consumer App

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