There were 200 billion app downloads in 2019 and the average adult American spent 2 hours, 55 minutes on their smartphone per day. Mobile apps have become a significant part of our everyday lives, so it’s no wonder companies want to leverage this usage to strengthen brand loyalty and recognition. Brands are finding new and exciting ways to engage their target audience with mobile apps. This presents an opportunity to grow your audience, strengthen your customer’s loyalty and increase sales. This guide covers everything you need to know about building a brand app and how to get started.
Using apps to promote business: What are branded apps?
This type of app is developed with the goal of promoting a brand and enhancing the customer experience. It’s important for this type of app to replicate the design, logo, slogans and overall identity associated with that brand. However, this should not be intrusive to the user experience.
When developing a branded app, you need to consider what drives your customers to convert, what value a branded app can bring to their user experience and what will incentivize them to return to your app. There are three different ways brands can utilize mobile apps.
1. Offering a way to access a brand’s services via mobile.
Brands such as news and entertainment publications can use mobile apps to offer their content in a way that suits user preferences. Every major publication has its own app, enabling readers to access content on their smartphone or tablet without relying on mobile web. This also gives the publication greater control of the user experience. For example, The New York Times app uses features such as Top Stories to present their most popular content while also including a personalized tab, For You, to enhance the user experience.
2. Offering an audience-specific service for brand recognition
Branded apps can also be more focused on brand loyalty and positioning with a market than monetization. Fender released a free tuner app which guitar, bass & ukulele players can use to tune instruments.
3. Enhancing your customer experience with a mobile app
There are companies that use branded apps to offer a superior service to customers. For example, owners of Under Armour smart shoes can sync up their sneakers to the company’s mobile app for better performance analytics. Another example of this is any restaurant app that enables users to place orders via the brand’s mobile app.
Marketing through mobile applications: why are branded apps useful?
Customers now expect an instantly accessible, easy-to-use mobile app to facilitate their needs. By ignoring these expectations you risk losing business to a competitor. In addition to staying competitive on mobile, here are some of the most significant benefits your company gains by developing a branded app:
Brand loyalty and awareness
Utilizing the benefits of having a mobile app devoted to your brand enables you to create long-term brand awareness. A guitarist may not own a Fender instrument, but they still use the company’s tuner app – and see their logo – every day. You can also use your app to give promotional offers to your most loyal customers. For example, McDonalds’ mobile app offers discounts on their menu such as $1 drinks and $1 sandwiches. This resulted in an increase in daily app usage of 20-40 percent.
Mobile apps make it easier for users to communicate with your company and build trust with your brand. This can be great for your performance metrics. According to eCommerce marketing platform Yotpo, 59.5 percent of consumers are likely to sign up for a loyalty program if they love the brand, while 36.5 percent of shoppers spend more on products as a result of brand loyalty.
You can use a branded mobile app to make purchasing easier for your users. This enables you to streamline your user funnel and offer a more intuitive experience. Moreover, the ease-of-use mobile apps can offer customers has a significant impact on sales. According to a Think with Google study, 26 percent of consumers looked for a product or service on a branded app before using a search engine. This means your brand is getting many users’ attention before the top-ranked company on Google.
Build your audience
Developing a branded mobile app also provides more opportunities to build up your audience. For example, you can practice ASO (App Store Optimization) to rank higher in the App Store, bringing organic users to your app. You can also introduce new users to your target audience with paid advertising, whereby users will be directed to install your app. Deep links also make it possible for you to direct users to specific pages within your app once they have installed. To learn more, read Adjust’s guide to deep linking.
Gather data to optimize the user experience
Having a branded mobile app enables you to gather critical data that gives insight into user behavior and how to optimize your user experience. This also allows you to target lookalike audiences and build your audience with high-value users.
Gathering data is also a great way to personalize your customer’s experience. This is an important step as 66 percent of users have a frustrating experience when their shopping cart isn’t connected across multiple channels. Personalization can also help build brand loyalty, increase engagement, boost LTV (Lifetime Value) and ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend).
In addition to monitoring user behavior, you should also consider prompting your customers with feedback forms and questionnaires. This can be a win-win scenario if users are rewarded with promotional offers as a reward for completing these forms.
There are several monetization models that can be implemented in your brand’s mobile app. Popular models include placing ads at opportune moments throughout the user journey, offering in-app purchases and subscription services. This will depend on the nature of your app and to what extent you need to monetize your branded app. To learn more about monetization models and how they work, read our guide.
Common challenges when developing a branded app
Quality control is critical for branded apps because this product will act as an extension of your brand image. There are several challenges to consider during the process of developing a branded app and sharing it with your customers. Here are the two essential steps you need to consider.
How you promote your app will depend on the nature of your brand, but it’s important to know how you plan to reach your target audience before launch. For example, it is critical that you make your branded app easy to find online and in the App Store. This requires you to promote your app across your other media channels such as your official website. Offering users a discount or similar promotional offer for installing your app can be a great way to convert your most loyal customers.
You need to ensure that your app adds value to the user experience and doesn’t cause your customers frustration. A disappointing customer journey will be detrimental to your brand image and will result in a high churn rate.
Four examples of successful brand apps
Learning from the most successful brand apps is a smart way to develop ideas for your product. Here are some of the best-known apps that raise brand awareness and enhance the customer experience in unique ways.
Nike has developed an app strategy centered around having multiple apps for different purposes.
- Nike is a personalized Nike store for mobile users. In addition to access to the Nike store, users can get invitations to exclusive experiences, fast checkout and free shipping.
- Nike SNKRS: Sneaker Release is the brand’s dedicated sneaker store. The app includes the stories behind popular products, announcements for upcoming releases and the ability to reserve Nike sneakers before release. This article by Fast Company details how Nike used location-based alerts and augmented reality to increase social media engagement from enthusiastic sneakerheads.
- Nike Training Club offers free at-home workout programs. This includes workouts tailored for small spaces, routines for families and nutrition and wellness guidance.
- Nike Run Club is designed to help the brand’s running community. The app has GPS tracking, audio guided runs and customizable distance challenges. Users can also get customized coaching plans for their specific goals.
- Nike Athlete Studio is an exclusive platform for athletes & influencers. The mobile app is used to capture and share stories with Nike and promote personal brands.
- Nike Adapt is for users with Adapt footwear. It can be used to finetune footwear, change the lights on a user’s shoes and switch between presets.
This has allowed the sports brand to separate its shopping app from mobile apps devoted to personal training. In total, 170 million users make use of Nike’s apps.
2. The Coca-Cola Company
This brand also has several branded apps for different purposes. This includes a music app, Coke Studio, and a business-focused app called myCoke. Users who install the brand’s flagship Coca-Cola® app can retrieve rewards and play games. The app has a scanning feature so users who have bought a Coca-Cola product can register their purchase and earn rewards. These include location-based promotions at theaters and nearby restaurants.
3. The Walt Disney Company
In addition to the company’s mobile streaming services, Disney offers apps for children’s mobile games and travel apps for Disneyland resorts. My Disney Experience makes it easier for users to plan their trip to Disneyland with features such as real-time wait times for rides, park opening hours, character greetings and parade showtimes. The app also has a GPS-enabled map to explore Walt Disney World Resort and share plans with family and friends. Another app, Play Disney Parks, can be used for interactive experiences inside the park.
IKEA Place uses augmented reality to show users how IKEA products will look inside their real-life environment. These items are 3D models designed to give users the best possible impression of what to expect if they purchase. IKEA Place became the second-most popular free app built on Apple’s ARKit based on downloads in 2018. The success of IKEA Place also incentivized more brands to invest in augmented reality experiences for their users.