Businesses everywhere are developing branded mobile apps as part of their mobile marketing campaigns.

And statistics show that the result is almost always favorable: surveys show that overall sentiment and purchase intent both increase when consumers use a brand’s mobile app.

Add to that the fact that 91% of American adults own a mobile phone, and more than half use them to access the internet.

It’s clear—in order to build your brand and grow your business to the next level, you need a mobile app.

You’ve probably seen big brands like Best Buy, Nike, Starbucks, and 7 Eleven utilize branded mobile apps—but mobile apps are useful for small businesses as well.

Forbes Magazine writes, “Every business should be thinking about building apps today. It’s not a fad or a passing trend. It’s customer service.”

But there’s a challenge for branded mobile apps: not only do they need to be compelling enough to earn a spot on the home screen; they also have to create a meaningful impact—whether it’s communicating a certain message, persuading customers to try, or continue using, the brand.

They need to be engaging.

So, how can you make your mobile app stand out, engage users, and help build your brand? Let’s look at some methods, and examples from the big businesses that use them:

Rewards Programs

Over 10 million consumers in the US have downloaded the Starbucks app—and for good reason. The app is perfect for the typical Starbucks connoisseur.

It allows you to locate the nearest Starbucks, check and redeem My Starbucks Rewards points, reload your Starbucks card, send gift cards, and even pay for your drink.

With each drink your purchase, you get closer to the next level—and closer to a free drink. There’s plenty of incentive for Starbucks drinkers to continue using the app regularly.

Offer Exclusive Deals

America runs on Dunkin Donuts…and this is even more true with the success of their mobile app.

Like Starbucks, it has also been downloaded by over 10 million US consumers. And this is due in large part to the in-app exclusive offers.

For example, for the past two years in its Philadelphia locations, Dunkin offered a free medium hot or iced coffee following each Philidelphia Eagles win.

Customers must redeem the free coupon through the mobile app—which has led to over 600,000 free coffees.

Special Features

Ikea, the iconic furniture giant, has a flat out COOL special feature in their app. The app doesn’t just allow users to browse through available products—it also allows customers to place selected furniture from the catalog in their own rooms with the help of 3D augmented reality!

This allows users to decide whether or not a piece of furniture fits in their home before they purchase it.

Mobile Food Ordering

Dominos Pizza has been in the mobile game for a while now. They offer mobile food ordering through their app, so, with a few quick clicks, customers can have a pizza at their door in thirty minutes or less.

In fact, they don’t even need to “click” anymore. A new function on their app allows users to place orders by speaking into their phone. It’s like Siri, but for pizza.

It’s no surprise that mobile and online ordering accounts for 40% of Domino’s US sales.

GPS Tracking

Feeling adventurous? North Face’s Trailhead app helps users find the next outdoor adventure destination.

There are over 300,000 trails, hikes, and bike routes to choose from. Once you pick a destination, you can track your progress with a real-time interactive map via GPS.

And if you want to find a store, too, there’s also a store locator in the app. Plenty of reasons for users to keep this app on their home screen.

These are just a few ways you can increase engagement for your mobile app. Whether your business is big or small, you can utilize these.

Consider your users and target market, and ask yourself which features would work best. What kind of special deals can you offer? How about rewards programs? The possibilities are endless.

Now, let’s look at some other ways you can increase mobile app engagement:

Build Trust from the Outset

New mobile users need to understand the value of your app right away—why is it a must-have? Start off by making a great first impression with an informative splash page (an extra screen that pops up when users first open your app).

In this splash page, introduce users to your app’s top features, and demonstrate the value of opting in to the app’s push notifications.

Remember this: each screen or element should be designed with the first-time user in mind.

Always Add Value

Don’t use your mobile app simply as a place to regurgitate the information that’s already posted on your website.

To build your brand, you need to give users a reason to keep coming back to your app.

How can you do this—and how do you add value? Send marketing messages with relevant, valuable content.

Avoid sending generic push notifications—these are akin to the junk mail of the mobile world.

Instead, segment users based on things like their most recent purchase, their last brand viewed, and/or their overall demographics.

Encourage Brand Loyalty

Your customers are your greatest asset. Encourage them to share on social media—this way, you can transform your customers into your brand advocates and generate organic user growth.

So, what’s the best way to do this? Create a VIP campaign or special promotional message to your top mobile customers, and encourage them to spread the word to their friends.

Here’s a great example: “Ecstatic about your <last item purchased>? Let you friends know on Facebook and get 10% off your next purchase!

In Closing: A Quality App Is The Key

Mobile apps are a powerful way to build your brand and grow your business. But a sub-par mobile app won’t do you any good.

You don’t need to rely on guesswork—you can study the success of big business with mobile apps, and mirror some of the methods they used to increase app engagement and further build their brand.

Are you interested in building a mobile app for your business, or improve an existing one? Click the link below and schedule a free call with me to discuss your project!

Schedule a free call >>

 

Dustin DeVries

Dustin DeVries

Living and breathing software strategy and architecture, Dustin has been building software for over 20 years. He really enjoys working with clients to determine the right technology, whether it’s a web application framework like Django or NodeJS, or a simple CMS solution like WordPress. He received his BS in Computer Engineering from Texas A&M University. During his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, playing guitar, running, and hanging out with his family.