Brand loyalty was once measured by the frequency of your store visits or the reward cards you carried. Today, mobile applications have become the new battleground for brand loyalty. When done correctly, delivering an app really can add value to your product or service.

In the last couple of years, apps have become an important part of brand strategies for companies of all sizes. You literally can get up close and personal to your customer as we carry and interact with our devices almost incessantly.

So apps can be an important foundation for building brand loyalty. But making a mistake in how they deliver the right customer experience at the right time can be terminal. This is why digital marketers need to take a far more strategic view of how apps are developed and their performance monitored and managed.

The promise of mobility

Apps are no longer window dressing with shiny look but basic functionality. Increasingly, as consumers have embraced mobility in their everyday lifestyle, apps have needed to become much more interactive, transactional and therefore essential.

It’s the user’s experience on the app that counts, and how valuable that experience is. The companies that are doing it right are ones that are providing the highest quality apps with the most benefits to users. And that’s why brand experience and loyalty is increasingly tied to mobility.

Companies now can succeed, even reinvent themselves, on the quality of their mobile applications. A great example is how banking has transformed its business model around mobile apps. In the context of increasing numbers of branch closures and changing customer demographics, banking apps have created a new way for banks to interact with their customers through mobile payments and customer support.

Apps store reviews

Brands may think they’ve got it made when they’ve enticed a customer to download and install their mobile app. They have, after all, achieved a coveted spot on that mobile device in the customer’s pocket and hand. However, if the app doesn’t live up to expectations, then that quickly becomes a problem for the brand especially when they are publicised.

App store reviews can really damage a brand. Negative reviews can quickly become the voice of the customer online. The only response to combat negative reviews is to ensure that an app works effectively immediately. No marketer should fail to act on a negative app store review.

The other strategy is to make sure apps are built and managed to 5-star review standards at all times. It sounds time consuming but not outside of the capability of an organisation that takes mobile app testing and performance monitoring strategically.

Quality control

Businesses should apply the same rigor and planning to app development and deployment as they would to determine the best location for a retail store or an ad. App quality is key because if your app doesn’t work, then your brand strategy is in tatters.

Marketing and IT people often look at the issue of quality differently. For example, the tech guys might be happy that the app is 95% bug free. However, for sales and marketing professionals it is the remaining 5% that counts. That 5% could be what decides whether or not a customer sticks with the brand, and be that glaring snafu that unleashes a wave of negative app store reviews.

Such minor errors are unacceptable at all other times. Indeed would a marketer authorise a multi-city billboard campaign that’s seemingly perfect except for a single typo?

So marketers need to take control. They must be central not peripheral to app development processes.

What’s next?

Apps can only get more central to our lifestyles and therefore marketing and customer experience management strategies. The best apps will be those that are not stand alone experiences, but integrated experiences tied into real life contexts of what consumers are or want to do wherever and whenever they are.

The other development is how wearables are going to be part of a digital marketer’s toolkit. By definition, wearables are about how a brand can get even closer and more integrated with a consumer. So the stakes of getting customer experience right are going to get even higher.

When your Apple Watch taps your customer’s wrist you’ll want to make sure the context for the interaction is absolutely correct. So waking up half of the UK at 1.00am in the morning to pitch a service because its day time in California is going to cause you some sleepless nights too.

 

By Christopher P. Willis, Chief marketing officer at Perfecto Mobile. 


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