5 Ways Custom Mobile Apps Build Brand Advocates
Mobile technology is a powerful tool for generating brand advocacy in a multichannel marketing environment. Although brands typically use mobile ads, SMS campaigns, check-in rewards and other mobile initiatives to promote advocacy, some brands are turning to custom apps as a more subtle way to recruit new generations of advocates.
The customer loyalty space is hot, and even small businesses are getting in on the act. Companies with adequate resources to invest are turning to corporate-branded apps. But the best brand advocacy apps aren’t promotional; rather, they provide consumers with instructional content, tips and tricks, how-tos, do-it-yourselfsuggestions and other types of informational or educational content. For example, Robitussin’s Relief Finder app is designed to help cold and flu sufferers identify the appropriate over-the-counter product based on specific symptoms. Benjamin Moore offers an app that allows DIY painters to match the color of a photo on their mobile devices to the company’s 3,300 paint colors.
Although neither of these apps features heavy promotional messaging, they are both extremely effective at increasing consumers’ affinity for the brand and improving the frequency of shared brand content through social networks.
Generating Advocacy with Corporate-Branded Apps
Custom mobile apps serve each brand’s targeted goals and outcomes. But in general, there are several ways corporate-branded apps can be used to generate advocacy among consumers.
1. By LeveragingStrategic Timing
Custom mobile apps are designed to present brands to the right consumers at the right times, leveraging strategic moments to create affinity and advocacy. Take State Farm’s MoveTools app, which was specifically designed for consumers who are moving to a new home, a time period in which many are also shopping for insurance products. The app gives movers checklists, tips and more without overtly pushing its home or renter’s insurance products.
2. By Solving a Unique Consumer Problem
The process of creating a custom brand app can deteriorate into a minefield of distractions and lost opportunities, especially when team members advocate for the inclusion of features that have little to do with the app’s primary purpose – the creation of new brand advocates.So from beginning to end, the development process must focus on creating new brand advocates by solving a unique consumer problem rather than providing consumers with a confusing assortment of secondary features.
3. By Strengthening the Brand’s Core Qualities
Although the content contained in a corporate-branded app isn’t necessarilypromotional, custom apps must feature consistent brand messaging. Apps that introduce new messaging or unfamiliar branding elements fail because they try to accomplish too many things. Use a familiar color palette that your consumer base already identifies with.
From the consumer’s perspective, your brand should not get in the way of his or her interaction with the application. The minute it does is the minute it stops being useful.
The best apps make it easy for consumers to become advocates because they reinforce the concepts and characteristics consumers already associate with the brand.
4. By Differentiating the Brand in the Marketplace
Custom apps leverage informational content to communicate distinctive brand elements to cross-sections of consumers. In many cases, corporate-branded apps simplify complicated products or concepts, successfully differentiating the brand as a consumer-friendly alternative in a marketplace characterized by competitive (and often confusing) messaging.
Consider your app as not just a tool to bring new customers on board, but also as added value to provide to your current customer base. For years brands have launched campaigns on new websites, microsites or splash pages. Now mobile apps offer another option for engaging with the ever-increasing smartphone population.
5. By Delivering Actionable Insights and Real-Time Analytics
Branded apps create advocates by delivering value and information to consumers. But they can also deliver value to the brand through actionable analytics. Marketers can use embedded analytics to determine interest around new concepts or conduct A/B testing on visual elements, for example. By incorporating analytical tools into the design process, brands gain visibility into consumer behaviors, social media tracking and other insights that can be used to improve brand exposure and advocacy.
For custom apps to be effective, they need to be offered to consumers free of charge. Even though the brand has invested time and resources in app development, the idea is to get the app onto as many mobile devices as possible and to calculate return on investment by brand advocacy measurements rather than by the revenues earned through app sales.
The app development process also needs to be consumer-centric. The content contained in the app should be relevant and uptodate. Becausemobile users tend to rapidly abandon corporate-branded apps, the design process needs to address how the app will provide lasting value. But most importantly, custom apps should feature ample social sharing tools, enabling the organization to build advocacy by maximizingsocial networking opportunities.
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