It’s time to say goodbye to bad apps
Melissa Fruend, Partner, LoyaltyOne Consulting
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of a study from COLLOQUY, provider of loyalty-marketing publishing, education and research since 1990.
Many brands, such as Starbucks and Sephora, have lots of users and praise for their apps; others, including some big-name brands, have fallen short.
So, what can be done to amp up apps and make them a more effective tool in loyalty and marketing? Here are a few suggestions:
Keep it simple
Complications spell aggravation and disengagement, including any clunkiness involved in joining a rewards program. An app that dumps too much on a consumer too soon is also asking for trouble, said Jona Neo, group product director, digital and technology solutions for Simplified Access, a provider of concierge and loyalty programs.
“It’s about the consumer getting a sense of what you’re providing, and creating a habit with him,” said Ms. Neo. “Then once you have a base that’s loyal, you can start rolling out new features.”
Know your users and don’t waste their time
At GameStop, communicating about a specific game or gaming system with a member who is loyal to a different one is a big problem. Said Darin Smith, senior director of PowerUp Rewards, about GameStop’s loyalty program, “To send them the wrong thing totally disenfranchises them.”
It is critical for brands to constantly monitor and adjust how many and what kind of messages they are communicating. Typically, honing in on just one or two key functions drives success. Said Richard Feinberg, a professor of retail management at Purdue University, “The most used app is the Starbucks app, and it does something very specific: People pay with it, and they get free drinks.”
Experiment and experiment some more
The Gap app lets users mix and match garments and share results on social media. Sherwin-Williams’ app lets users color virtual walls in endless variations. Sephora has a digital try-on feature; users “try on” false eyelashes or lipstick shades.
Experticity, which works with Dyson, North Face and Quiksilver, just added an online community to its app that rewards “category influencers” with insider access to content and products. Some brands are adding virtual “bots” to their apps that use automated scripts based on keywords to improve interactions with customers.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice would you have for retailers looking to drive downloads and use of their apps? What common traits do the most successful retail apps share?