When mobile marketing first began, it was largely about making sure a site was mobile optimized (i.e. easy to use on a smartphone). While this remains an important goal and benchmark for a company’s efforts to woo smartphone users, mobile marketing has taken on more dimensions. Apps are becoming more important as a means for customers to buy items directly from their mobile device or to research items as they shop in store. A recent study from Contact Solutions suggests that business owners can increase customer loyalty and sales by improving in-app customer service.
According to Contact Solutions’ Mobile Spend in 2015, mobile apps are more than just a gimmick to reach more customers but a factor that affects brand perception. The researchers noted that in-app customer service can influence how mobile shoppers feel about brands.
Providing in-app customer service is essential for completing sales online. Even if help is available via phone or on a mobile website, anything that takes the customer out of the sales funnel makes them unlikely to return. According to the study, one in four shoppers who had to leave a mobile app to get help from a site were ‘unlikely’ to make a transaction with that brand at all. When asked what they wanted from an app, 25 percent of the respondents wanted a better way to get help while in-app.
“Our latest research found that the next generation of mobile apps will need convenient in-app customer care not only to stave off cart abandonment, but to build brand loyalty as well,” said John Hibel, Director of Marketing at Contact Solutions in a press release. “Even though retailers have started investing in mobile apps, shoppers are often left wanting more. When they are forced to switch channels to get the assistance they need, this fractures the brand experience and makes consumers far more likely to abandon shopping carts–and what’s more, they’ll often abandon the brand entirely. Losing shoppers due to a poor mobile experience is a real risk for retailers in 2015.”
The research also showed that apps are very important for in-store sales. According to the study, 27 percent of shoppers use mobile devices while in the store they are shopping. An app can help a business even when the customer is somewhere else. The researchers found that 26 percent of consumers use mobile devices to shop while in competitors’ stores. Having the best price and up-to-date inventory lists available on mobile devices could keep customers from buying an item at the competitor.
Another takeaway from the study is that apps should include recommendations. As was noted earlier, people are looking at the app while shopping in-store, so recommendations they read on the app could be the deciding factor in what they choose to buy. This is what was reported by some of the respondents of the survey. The researchers found that in-app recommendations drove 23 percent of purchases. Recommendations also keep people on the app. One in three (33%) said they ‘spend more time’ in apps that make recommendations.
The study also provided insight into what people want the most from the apps they use. People want the app to be functional, obviously, but there are other things that business owners should include in their app to increase customer satisfaction. As many marketers could have guessed, customers reported wanting specials and coupons from the apps they use from a brand. The study found that more than half (54%) of consumers are influenced by coupons and deals. Still, marketers can please about a third (34%) of consumers by providing a simpler product comparison options on their apps.
As mobile devices become bigger and more powerful, consumers will become more accustomed to using them to enhance their shopping experience, online and off. Mobile apps will grow in importance, as will the loyalty to brands that have good apps that are helpful and easy-to-use. Providing in-app customer service is one way to make an app better for the customers that rely on it.
For more information on the value of mobile marketing for retailers, read this article with nine statistics on the value of apps and more.