4 Reasons Why Now is the Time to Double Down on Your Mobile App

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Anagog is a Street Fight Thought Leader.

As companies realign after the impact of a global pandemic, marketers are being challenged to quickly adapt to a changed world, recapture their audience, and resume the myriad activities that businesses rely on in order to thrive. With pressure from the top to cut costs and ambiguous forecasts from analysts, some marketers may be tempted to be conservative and limit their spending to ‘safe,’ short-term budget items like advertising. 

Unfortunately for marketers (though perhaps fortunately for consumers), the ad tech ecosystem has also taken a hit, and uncertainty reigns. The pace of recent announcements, just by Google, can make your head spin — first phasing out support for third-party cookies, then proposing the much-maligned FLoCs, following Apple’s lead to block tracking IDs, and now prolonging support of third-party cookies for an extra two years.

Here are the four main reasons why, while the martech stack may seem daunting, the regulations may seem threatening, and the app store policy changes may seem confusing, now is the best time to double down on your mobile app strategy.

1. Mobile is on the rise; everything else is going south

Mobile channels are rising in importance even as other channels are in decline. Apple recently announced their Mail Privacy Protection feature that will completely disrupt email marketing. Third-party cookies, long the backbone of digital advertising, are being shut down while the proposed replacements have been received with a great deal of suspicion

Mobile usage, on the other hand, continues to grow, and adoption of mobile commerce (fueled by the pandemic) is almost universal. Moreover, the generations of consumers born with a phone in their hands now make up a sizable chunk of almost any target audience.  

Mobile engagement is no longer just a channel. It is the channel. Mobile internet usage now tops 70% of all traffic. Within mobile usage, mobile apps boast a 3x conversion rate compared to mobile web and have much higher retention rates. Between consumer privacy concerns and regulatory limitations, in-app communications enjoy a much higher level of credibility than direct messaging, such as text messages, since they are less intrusive and inherently relevant. When engaging via a mobile app, you are also boosting your activation metrics, which are key for customer retention, so you gain twice.

2. Believe it or not, the privacy issue is clearer than ever

Many marketers survey the landscape of privacy regulation and app store policies, and all they can see is a minefield. In fact, while the signposts may be confusing, the way forward has never been clearer. After a couple of topsy-turvy decades of technology-induced vertigo, we can finally see everything right-side up: Customers value the personalization, they appreciate the convenience, and they respond to the relevant engagement that their personal data buys them. All they really expect (and demand) to see in return is transparency and control. They want the ability to check what information is being used and how. They want to be reassured that they retain control over their personal data. They just need to know they are not being taken advantage of. That’s not disruption; that’s common sense.

Now that the rules of the game are out in the open and full disclosure is not just recommended but required, communication with consumers becomes much more natural and open. As these are consumers who appreciate your brand enough to be app users, your existing relationship with your customers is a great foundation to build upon.

3. Mobile means more personal and more private

There is no better gateway to a more trusting relationship with customers than through their mobile phones. Mobile phones are the most consistent fixture in many people’s lives. We spend more time with our phones than with our loved ones, we download apps to manage almost every aspect of our lives, and we entrust our phones with a range of information that is more intimate, more sensitive, and more personal than what we are willing to share with the best of our friends. Since few people share a mobile phone with others, our phone represents a very accurate reflection of our interests, our preferences and daily activities. They are undoubtedly the custodians of our most personal data. 

The introduction of technologies such as Edge AI has made these devices (and these apps) smarter and independent of any cloud computing, so personal data can remain private and on the phone. There is no need to anonymize, merge, analyze, and then compile the data to create personal profiles. Therefore, mobile phones are not only the most personal, they are also the most discreet, allowing for marketing and data privacy optimization.

4. The mobile experience is not just for mobile

The impact of mobile engagement extends way beyond the in-app experience. It starts with driving traffic to physical locations; well-timed contextual messaging can redirect customers to your stores and convert window shopping into impulse buys. Humans have become so attentive to the beeps and the buzzes of their phones, so there are few better ways to grab attention. 

In addition, it has been well established that a majority of retail app users, for example, use a retailer’s app when they are in the store, whether for additional product information, reviews, or inventory queries. Sure, you can invest in smart kiosks and connected displays, but there are considerable costs and logistics involved in order to get staff and customers past the learning curve so they will be comfortable using them. Mobile apps, on the other hand, are familiar, users are comfortable using them, and their reach is global. That is why mobile apps can provide the most widespread, cost-effective, and user-friendly in-store personalized shopping experience.

The ‘mobile-in-hand’ shopping behavior is a bridge between digital and physical shopping. Having instant access to information is addictive, which is what has made the experience of hunting down a human sales assistant intolerable. Not only that, but for younger generations who grew up on digital communication, in-person interactions can be uncomfortable. A trusted, useful mobile app becomes the intermediary between shoppers and staff, allowing each party to get the most out of the encounter. With the extra advantage of on-phone personalization through artificial intelligence, the app can provide individualized pricing and coupons that are targeted based on the customer’s purchase habits as well as their product preferences.

If the current upheaval in the market signals anything, it is that the relationship you have with your customers must be cherished, cultivated, and mutually beneficial in order to be monetized effectively. As the user acquisition game becomes more challenging, businesses must invest in personalization and engagement in order to improve retention, activation, and conversion metrics. This means doubling down on your mobile app strategy and centering it on transparency, on-device targeting, and trust.

Sefy Ariely is head of marketing at Anagog.

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