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Loyalty & Retention

Building Customer Love and Loyalty in a Mobile World

Robi Ganguly  //  April 20, 2016  //  7 min read

I was thrilled to be invited to speak at MozCon Local 2016 back in February to discuss how mobile impacts local search marketing and customer loyalty. Mobile is quickly becoming the primary search method for most people, with over half of all Google searches now happening on mobile devices rather than desktop. However, the adoption of mobile has happened rapidly, and many marketers are still struggling with approaching search marketing from a mobile perspective, and further, how app tie into their business and marketing strategies.

In today’s post, we’ll recap some of the points I covered during my talk, along with sharing some new thoughts on building customer loyalty in a mobile world. If you’d rather jump right to the original presentation, you can view my full presentation on Slideshare below.

Let’s dive in.

Mobile is everywhere, but it’s still impersonal

Mobile is no longer eating the world; the world is officially mobile, and mobile is now becoming the great equalizer of the world. Today, there are more than 8.6 billion active mobile devices worldwide—that’s 1.2 billion more devices than there are people. In four years time, 70% of the global population will be using smartphones, according to Ericsson’s Mobility Report.

With all of this rapid growth comes incredible opportunities for businesses to connect with people in ways they never had the ability to explore before. Mobile devices are incredibly personal, and many people are rarely more than a few feet away from their device. However, marketers are still navigating the complex world of mobile communication, and messages that are meant to be personal come out looking like this:


Or worse, like this:


Impersonal communication is everywhere in mobile, which is a huge disservice to people on the other end of the screen. One of the worst methods a marketer can employ in-app is to send the wrong message to the wrong person, at the wrong place, and at the wrong time. There is endless data and best practices around how to message mobile customers in a delightful, helpful manner, but many times, in-app messages still turn out looking like the images above.

What’s more is that most marketers won’t hear about the negatives from a significant group of their customers, a group we like to call the “silent majority.” According to Apptentive’s research, 96% of unhappy customers never complain when they have an issue, and 91% of those customers will simply leave and never come back. Impersonal mobile communication drives disengagement, and severely hinders a company’s ability to build trust and loyalty with its mobile customers.

To build trust and loyalty, customer expectations are high

Customers have endless options when it comes to choosing new brands and services, which means their expectations are higher than ever before. There are two main points that drive today’s mobile customer expectations: immediacy and personalization.

The ease and speed of access to technology has helped create a culture of instant gratification we’re all too familiar with, and mobile has opened the door for access to information anywhere, at any time. Today’s consumers won’t wait long for content to load on their devices, and immediacy is key to success in mobile experiences.

When we think about “humanizing” or “personalizing” a software experience, we must think as the people we’re designing a mobile experience for. Personalization is a trend that’s top-of-mind for the best minds in mobile in 2016, and although definitions may vary, the concept of personalization is always the same: Design your experience to feel as one-on-one as possible.

But personalization doesn’t stop there. When you make mobile personal, you give your brand an opportunity to connect intimately with a customer. And in order for marketers to truly bridge the gap between generic and personal mobile experiences to make the most of this intimate connection, they must think about their customers as people, not users.

However, there is still a gap. The question now becomes: How do we bridge the gap between impersonal mobile engagement and high customer expectations?

There are four tactics mobile marketers can employ to meet their customers’ expectations, and to ultimately drive love and loyalty through their mobile experiences. Let’s start at the top.

1. Learn your customers’ mobile journey

People experience mobile content differently than they would on a desktop or a tablet. Obviously the screen sizes on mobile devices are smaller, but the way a person interacts with the brand’s experience will also be different on mobile due to changes in expectations around the information they’re looking for, how they search for it, and how it’s received.

Marketers must understand what’s different about their customers’ mobile journey, especially when mobile allows for new engagement opportunities. Mobile opens the door for:

  • In-app messages to better engage consumers
  • Mobile surveys to help customers share their experiences without leaving their intended in-app experience
  • Intelligent prompts to encourage mobile customers to check out new features, content, and more
  • Friendly, personalized notes to thank and engage customers, in-app

In addition, mobile marketers must understand why people uninstall their apps if they want to fully understand the mobile customer’s journey. A survey from Appiterate shows that annoying notifications are the leading driver of app uninstalls, with complex registration coming in as a close second.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.42.07 PM

2. Be proactive

Anticipating customer behavior is a skill for all marketing teams to master. Spend time learning what your customers want and need before they tell you in order to offer the best experience possible.

Mobile is ripe for opportunity in allowing brands to learn so much about what a customer has done and what they’re currently doing, but it’s up to the brand to use this data to build richer profiles and understanding of its customers. Any opportunity to demonstrate your brand actually knows its customers is an opportunity to impress them and delight them.

Two tips to leverage in being proactive with customers are:

  • Mobile surveys: Send a mobile-optimized survey to learn more about behavior, or to learn morewhat your most supportive customers think. By proactively reaching out, you’re sure to glean unique insight into what makes your customers tick.
  • Say “thank you:” It’s the simple rule of give before you get. Mobile offers you an opportunity to reach out to segmented groups of customers to say “thank you” for their business and/or time spent within your app before they even make a purchase. Proactively thanking someone for their time is a great way to make a positive impact, and to encourage them to come back to your app more regularly.

3. Leverage local search tactics

There are several local search tactics marketers can use to offer a better mobile experience. Google now indexes both deep links and apps (through app packs) on a mobile search results page, which is a perfect place to start.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.44.32 PM

According to Search Engine Land, ranking in an app pack relies heavily on the app title, description, star ratings and reviews, and will differ greatly from the internal app store rankings. Deep links are different as they link to a specific, deep page of content within an app. At the end of the day, both tactics are a good way to offer better search results within your app when consumers search on their mobile devices.

4. Humanize your mobile experience

At the end of the day, the people using your apps are humans. People, not users, is a philosophy we’ve built at Apptentive, but can (and should!) be applied across the software industry as a whole.

The problem with most modern software and most company adoption of software is that it’s distancing: The technology seeks to automate and extract the human elements out of interactions. Even the terminology we apply further distances us, mentally. We quickly shift from thinking about, “John, our customer with the adorable dog,” and start thinking about, “User 12167553, with an estimated Lifetime Value of… not enough money.” In doing so, we lose sight of the thing that really matters: our relationship with that customer and how we can help them be better at their jobs. As marketers, our real job is to help the people who are our customers, rather than just marketing a product and gauging success through metrics.

Take the following examples of not-so-human in-app experiences. Usability, timing, and content are all places to make sure your in-app messaging is human before you send it out.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.47.09 PM

As a counter example, look at the difference when messages are crafted in a human, easy-to-understand manner. The content is easier to digest, and helps the brand connect with the consumer on a deeper level than in the previous example.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.47.40 PM

Summing it up

The rapid adoption of mobile has changed consumers’ expectations around mobile experiences, but the desire humans have for personal communication hasn’t changed. Rather, today’s marketers must rise to the ever-shifting needs of consumers by offering personalized, human mobile experiences in order to build customer love and loyalty over time.

What other tactics have you seen work? I’d love to discuss your thoughts in the comments below.

About Robi Ganguly

Robi Ganguly is the Co-founder and CEO at Apptentive. He is passionate about giving customers a voice via mobile. Follow Robi on Twitter @rganguly.
View all posts by Robi Ganguly >

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