Now that 89% of consumers’ time spent on mobile media is through apps, developing a marketing strategy to profit from this user preference is at the forefront of many a CMO’s 2015 customer engagement plans. When marketers think “mobile,” though, their first thought is usually of push notifications, and emphasis on developing an engaging, personalized in-app experience is frequently “pushed” aside. This push notification favoritism can result in decreased customer loyalty if it’s at the expense of a full personalized in-app experience.
Push notifications draw a customer into the app, but it’s their experience inside that’ll keep them a loyal customer. Not having the second part is like wandering into a store with a beautiful window display, only to discover inside that the customer service is deplorable.
The psychology of brand loyalty shows that it is almost entirely dependent on a customer receiving highly personalized content consistently. Customers are inundated with messages via radio, television, computers, and mobile every day. The human brain can’t codify and store all of these messages, and so it filters through media input to store only the most relevant content. In an article on brand loyalty, Bill Nissim explored this phenomenon, finding that “we continually screen out or ignore content that has little or no relevance to us. All messages are coded patterns and sensations – colors, sounds, odors, shapes, etc. Those messages deemed recognizable, or a basis for a relationship, are decoded and stored in our memory.”
This finding essentially means that loyalty is almost entirely dependent on a customer storing the brand in long term memory. To get there, the brand must present the customer with highly personalized, relevant content- both through push and through a dynamic in-app home screen that changes and grows with the customer.
There are two steps in this process:
The first, is getting the consumer’s attention. In the case of mobile, this means a push notification. As with everything in marketing, the more personalized the push notification through relevance and timeliness, the more likely it is to get someone into your app.
The second part, though, engraining your brand into the customer’s long-term memory, involves making the app experience as pointed and relevant as possible. Maintaining customer loyalty means keeping your brand relevant to the customer’s life so that their brain is likely to create a network of associations with it, thus making them a long-term loyal customer.
Nobody enjoys having their attention grabbed under false pretenses (“the boy who cried wolf” is a negative cliche for a reason). In the same way, people don’t enjoy being pulled into an app that can’t give them a relevant experience. For example, United Airlines did a fantastic job of using push notifications to offer a timely, important piece of information to a customer, as shown in this screenshot:
Now imagine that this customer swipes on the push notification. There are two possible outcomes:
- The airline offers partner restaurant discounts near the new gate, gives an updated account of the predicted takeoff time, and offers information on the customers’ destination such as weather, surgically targeted partner offers, and updated arrival time.
- The app asks the customer to sign in, doesn’t notify them of the new gate change, gives no offers specific to the customer’s travel plans, and doesn’t offer information about the conditions surrounding the customer’s place of destination. The customer is just dropped into a homepage that’s the same as it was an hour before.
In one scenario, the push notification grabs a customer’s attention and then keeps them excited about the brand through a terrific in-app experience. In the other scenario, the push notification is a short term loyalty solution. It grabs the customer’s attention, but has no followup.
The psychology of brand loyalty shows that consistently giving customers personalized content ingrains the brand into the customer’s brain. Marketers must not only have personalized push notifications, but also personalized apps with dynamic homepages in order to maintain customer loyalty. It’s not just about getting your customers into your brand; it’s about keeping them there.