Apps, or “applications,” are most typically understood as specialized software programs designed to perform one or more discrete tasks. Some apps allow the user to play games — appearing like tiny digital versions of old-school video arcades. Other apps may help a user to balance their checkbook, keep their calendar dates at home or at work (or both) or even read novels or review notes while waiting in line at the grocery store. Increasingly, companies are leveraging the growing appeal of apps to create and maintain customer loyalty. Some apps are designed for use on the open market while others are considered “branded” or proprietary apps. While all apps are desirable in different ways, branded apps in particular offer your company a great opportunity to entice customers to return to your website again and again.
All About Apps
New apps are designed and released each day. Some apps work only with a certain operating system such as Android or iOS, while other apps are universal. Some apps are designed specifically for use with smart phones while others can be used on any smart device such as a notebook, tablet or desktop. Many apps are free to download while others may cost a dollar or a few. When a customer downloads your app to their smart device, your company gets instant benefits.
- Free advertising. Every time the customer powers up their device, your app is displayed to remind them to visit your website.
- Easy access — no memory required. If a customer wants to re-order your product or watch their favorite online tv shows on your website, your app gets them to the right place right away— no memory required.
- Relationship building over time. The more your customer uses your app, the more loyal they are likely to become.
5 Great Ways to Build Loyalty With Apps
Creating and maintaining customer loyalty has definitely gotten easier in this “age of apps.” However, with ever more apps to choose from, it is equally important to be sure your app appeals to your customer more than your competitors’ apps do. If you design an app that performs any of these five functions, you can feel confident about your new app’s appeal to your customers.
- Apps that allow a customizable online experience.Each one of your customers will have their own set of preferences. Some will order the same products again and again while others may prefer to browse around and try new things. Amazon does a great job of allowing customers to effortlessly customize their online shopping experience by saving preferences and automatically displaying similar products and a recent order history when the customer logs in next.
- Apps that offer freebies. Everyone loves free goodies. You can choose to set your app up to monitor log-ins and offer a free gift (such as a free download) after a certain number of log-ins, or perhaps you want to offer product samples for new visitors. For instance, the Kindle app prompts new users with information about books that are available for download free of charge, which promotes both customer loyalty and enthusiasm to use the app.
- Apps that create an online community for customers to meet each other. Customers today are used to interacting extensively in an online setting. The more opportunities your website gives customers to meet each other, the more likely they are to return. ProBoards is one of many great apps that will allow you to create a customer forum and then host it for you.
- Apps that promote contests. Apps that promote contests can be great ways to get customers excited and keep them returning to your website to find out the contest results. For instance, Offerpop’s contest app allows Facebook users to upload photos and to encourage their networks to vote on their favorites and select a winner.
- Apps that keep your customers coming back. Apps that reward customer loyalty and repeat business are especially hot with customers right now. One of the best known is Foursquare, a social media-driven app that rewards loyal customers with special deals.
Outfitted with one or all of these five powerful apps, you will be rewarded with more frequent shoppers and more loyal customers.
About the Author: Karina Sossaman is what the technology field calls an “early adopter.” Always eager to try the newest IT sensation, she works as a technology tester for smart phone apps.