It’s Time to Message Up Your App

Posted by
Yoav Barel
Head of Mobile
Monday, September 28, 2015 - 10:07

My two-year-old son, Adam, was born into an app-saturated world. And he loves apps. While Adam only uses his (yes, his) iPad 10 minutes a day tops, whenever he’s swiping, tapping, watching, playing, or otherwise engaging with the device, he’s completely immersed in the experience of a truly great app.

Even for many of us grown-ups, who first got online via noisy dial-up systems, it’s hard to remember a time before the smartphone, the iPad, and apps. Today, mobile devices serve as our alarm clocks and music players. We use them to catch up with friends and family by texting or checking Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. Apps let us manage our banking accounts and read reviews of that hot new restaurant. They’re our lifelines and safety nets — truly integrated into our day-to-day.

Mobile recently surpassed desktop media, and it continues to grow. For years brands eagerly jumped on the bandwagon, creating a million smartphone apps for consumers to choose from. As mobile maintains its dominance over the web, the importance of branded apps is also on the rise, Google and Nielsen report.

But most apps out there are flawed in the way they engage with us and, therefore, fail to retain us as active users over time. Poorly thought-out and executed apps can reflect negatively on a brand and be even more damaging than not having an app at all. And 5% (or less!) of those who’ve downloaded an app will ever use it if they aren’t hooked within the first 90 days.

So, as more and more apps flood the market, it’s vital that they demonstrate not only value to the consumer but also a thoughtful communication strategy to (first) stand out and then retain users. Your app must be engaging but not intrusive, intimate but not creepy, proactive but not spammy, intelligent on the back end but intuitive and easy to use. It should engage us in a way that creates or associates a habit we have with using it — and it’s a fine art not all can master.

I call this “the art of app engagement.”

Like most arts, the art of app engagement hinges on balance, and there are several factors to consider: the frequency of communication, the context of your outreach, and the personalization of all content.

One way to create an engaging experience in your app is to add integrated messaging. As I’ve discussed with VentureBeat, the top-ranked mobile apps have one thing in common: the ability to facilitate a human-to-human connection. There’s an element of the human touch. This lets consumers know they’re connecting to a real, live person who values their business and takes their concerns to heart. Why is this important? On top of creating an overall better experience for your customers, establishing a one-on-one, personal relationship has the significant benefit of helping to secure and foster customer loyalty. Brands must offer the in-app option to connect with a live person on the other end.

I recently experienced this firsthand when I was in the market for a jacket and checking the JackThreads site on my iPhone. (Full disclosure: JackThreads is a LivePerson client.) The one I had my eye on was already sold out, so I quickly shot off a note to a customer care professional asking if they had anything similar available. Within minutes she’d found me a comparable item. I liked it, and I left a happier customer. If I hadn’t been given the option of immediate assistance, it would have been the end of my journey. Plus, I would have gone elsewhere. But you can bet I’ll be shopping at JackThreads again! I also know I’m not the only one: Through real-time, mobile messaging, the company has seen a significant increase in its in-app sales conversion rate.

Finding the right balance in communications and adding the human touch via messaging: Combined, they unleash the full power of app engagement. Fail to master this art and risk losing your audience: real, paying customers — and maybe a couple digitally savvy toddlers, too.

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