Here is your recap of the September 2020 Apple event so you can find out what new developments Apple have brought to the table for the rest of 2020. The main talking point from everyone post-event and the first question to answer for everyone was that there was no new iPhone model announced. What you will get is the iOS 14 update for your current iPhone and we did see considerable updates to service offerings as well as new models and operating systems for both the iPad and Apple Watch. Lets breakdown the event for you.
Released on September 16th along with WatchOS7 and TVOS 14. One of the biggest aesthetic changes Apple has introduced to iOS in a long time will see a restyling of the homepage that now includes widgets on the home screen. These can be added by the user to suit their preference. A feature called Smart Stack will automatically update these widgets for you based on your usage. Apps also will now be housed differently in this new set-up with the ability to remove pages of apps and have your apps in the new app library giving more options to how apps are displayed. In the app library apps will be grouped based on activity with the most used remaining at the top, where they will be smartly grouped based on content by iOS 14.
Another interesting development sees Apple work towards making the iPhone able to carry out 2 functions simultaneously, that previous systems have not been able to. Features such as a Siri answer or an incoming call will now display as a notification at the top of the screen opposed to stopping you from using your phone for other functions as previous. Video can now be collapsed to a smaller window and will still enable you to watch whilst you navigate through other apps.
Apple are now introducing App Clips which allows users to use a certain function of an app without actually having to download the full app. Now users can make a purchase in-app without downloading.
iPad, Apple Watch 6 & SE
The new iPad 8th gen has converted its port from the lightning cable to USB C in a move that sees it become more compatible with a universal, open hardware port. This will be using the new A14 Bionic chipset expected to power the new iPhone 12 when it arrives. The new eighth-generation iPad is joined by the new iPad Air, the powerful iPad Pro, and iPad mini. Prices start from $599.
New models of the watch see the introduction of many health features such as tracking sleep and monitoring blood oxygen levels, this feature can be used to help spot disease (I wonder what made them decide to introduce this) . The S6 chipset sees battery life and speed increase by 20%, while it can now use a brighter display. The SE model is capable of many of the 6’s new features but obviously comes at a reduced cost, starting from $279.
AppleOne & Fitness+
Why not take your Apple TV, Music and new Fitness+ subscriptions and consolidate them into one place? Well now there’s AppleOne which allows you to take these services as a bundle whilst saving you a little bit of money at the same time. Prices range from $15-30 per month.
Fitness+ is Apple’s new venture into the digital workouts industry where offerings will include yoga and cycling and can integrate with your Apple Watch. These will be expected before the end of the year and a monthly subscription starts from $10.
To Sum Up
So, we didn’t get the expected new iPhone but there have been some interesting developments from Apple and the now available iOS 14. We have an insight into what kind of chip we might see in the new iPhone. We can see Apple expanding further into fitness and creating a multi-media platform in AppleOne. Stay tuned for the (hopefully soon) announcement of the anticipated iPhone 12.
Haircuts, holidays, hugs. There are lots of things we’ve all had to live without for the past 4 months. And whilst we may be able to live with a mullet hairstyle indefinitely, the one thing we can’t do without – whatever the crisis or calamity that happens to be going on around us – is food.
From yearning for some kind of ‘reward’ just for getting through yet another week indoors, to essential workers needing fed on the way to and from their workplace, to simply sticking to some kind of old routine, quick-serve restaurants have been a life – and sanity – saver for many of us as we weather the COVID crisis. Yet with many QSRs having to innovate faster than you can say ‘with fries, please’, just to survive the crisis, maybe we should ask ourselves, hasn’t it always been the case? The ability of the quick-serve restaurant sector to rapidly respond to a continually changing customer landscape, the rapidly changing and technologically-disrupted world, and an increasingly crowded market isn’t new. And while we can’t – and shouldn’t – ignore or make light of the fact that many a food establishment will have closed their doors for good, the QSR sector long ago set itself steadily on its front foot to be able to leap this hurdle, and it’s mostly down to one thing; mobile.
So as QSRs around the world rush once again to innovate and meet their customers in the ‘next normal’, mobile technology is ready to take another bow in the spotlight, supporting global efforts to keep customers and employees safe, cultivating much-needed loyalty, and reshaping (yet again) the future of a sector that’s proving extraordinarily adaptable in the face of unprecedented change. Not convinced? Before you read on, let’s take a look at QSR behemoth, Starbucks, and how they’ve almost completely redefined their business in the face of COVID – at breakneck speed and in record time …
deploying loyalty offers and digital campaigns through mobile in May to re-engage customers and drive business, leading to “a significant increase” in average weekly downloads and app activations.
implementing new drive thrus, pickup stores, walk-up windows, and curbside-enabled locations – driven by mobile innovations, conversations and transactions.
Launching their curbside pickup initiative, allowing customers to pick up from the safety and comfort of their own vehicle, driven by, yup, mobile – providing customers with the option to pay in advance and to check-in at designated parking spots once they arrive.
The key takeaway – with a focus on mobile, it can be done!
QSRs right now – how are things looking?
Here are some pretty interesting stats pulled from a recent Bluedot survey:
80% of those asked said that they now experience fear or anxiety walking into a store or restaurant. That’s a lot of customers.
But – during the COVID crisis, Gen Z customers have downloaded three times more fast-food apps than groceries apps.
What’s more, 42 per cent of those asked said that they’re ordering food, groceries, and other items via mobile apps more often – or much more often.
And while many QSRs are seeing foot traffic decline, many are seeing record mobile orders. Reader, there are, it seems, reasons to be cheerful.
In our pre-COVID article about QSRs and loyalty, we discussed, amongst other things, the ways in which QSRs are continually innovating through mobile strategies and winning the digital transformation race through the ability to be ultra-flexible, data-driven and future-focused. The results have spoken for themselves – exponential growth for these early mobile adopters focused on delivering exceptional customer experiences and implementing the technology enabling them to do so:
Offering personalization that feels genuinely personal, relevant and unique to the customer.
Enabling customers to be kept ‘in the loop’ when new products or services are launched
Giving customers the ability to get detailed information on products and services
Delivering compelling location-based offers
In order to protect their most reliable revenue sources, QSRs the world over have convened around their virtual tables to revisit their digital transformations and mobile strategies, rapidly restructuring once solid plans to meet the disruptions the sector is currently facing.
In our previous article COVID-19 impact on Customer Engagement & Loyalty Programs, we talked about the need for all industries to plan for either resetting pre-COVID customer habits as things return to some semblance of normality – or, reinforcing new behaviors formed during the crisis. Behaviors that may well now be habits that business is going to have to adapt to if it’s to weather the current storms and emerge stronger.
For example, amongst the top QSR mobile apps – Chipotle, McDonald’s, Domino’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut – there’s been a whopping 36% year-on-year increase in the number of app store reviewers during COVID indicating it was their first time using such an app. If that usage turns into a habit – and it will for many – then we can expect long-term implications for the QSR mobile strategy.But what of right now – how is mobile already powering longevity for QSRs post-COVID?
A word about contactless …
Like it or not, one thing that we can be sure of is the growing demand for contactless – in whatever we do. When it comes to spending money, even without the calamity of COVID, lots of us enjoy and prefer contactless transactions. But in summer 2020, worried about food deliveries being made by strangers, exchanging physical money, and handing over the 20” calzone with extra cheese, QSR customers are making the contactless preference an increasingly pressing one. We want drive-thru, curbside or venue pick-up – and we want to do it with our own devices in our own hands.
Of course, we’re highly likely to be operating in contactless environments for some time – and though that’s about much more than simply ordering and collecting, the mobile component will remain a key driver of preparedness – QSRs that were already well underway with their digital transformations pre-COVID are going to find themselves much better placed to deal with the current situation and the rapidly changing future. OK – let’s take a look at what contactless is looking like from the mobile perspective right now:
Mobile menus – Digital menus have been growing in popularity long before COVID, but they’re about to become ubiquitous across the sector as we look to avoid handling anything that hundreds of strangers have had their ketchup-covered hands on before we got to it. Using their smartphones, mobile menus mean customers can browse menus on their phones in-venue and pay for their food at the same time … But more than that, there’s real opportunity here to both assuage customer anxieties, keep them safe and provide valuable information through the mobile menu experience that can cement loyalty – for example, where is their food being prepared? Where has it come from? How is it prepared in a way that keeps everyone safe and healthy? Expect the mobile menu to be BIG – and expect to see further innovations in the area as more of us return to the in-venue eating experience.
Ordering – projected to drive over 10% of QSR sales this year, mobile-based food ordering has fast been adopted as the safe way to get in the Friday night takeaway – it’s safe and convenient for customers, and is being rapidly adopted across the sector by these consumers and QSRs – powered by mobile technology. A great example of an enterprise crushing the mobile ordering is Allset, reacting quickly to reimagine its capabilities for contactless pickup – think information about designated ‘safe’ pickup areas, alongside its new “No contact” badge feature within the app which allows customers to identify the restaurants that are offering contactless experiences.
Pickup – In a re-imagined and optimized order pickup process powered by mobile, customers can be advised when to arrive at the collection point, can be notified when their order is ready, alerted that their delivery is on the way or, flipping it on its head, the vendor can be notified that the customer has arrived at the collection point (thanks to geofencing technology). No contact required during any of these scenarios.
Delivery – similar to the above, QSRs can notify customers when their food is in transit, along with an expected delivery time. Customers can also advise the restaurant their preferred ‘drop off point’ to avoid any face-to-face contact, and can ‘send’ a gratuity via their app. We call that a win-win!
As ever increasing numbers of QSRs begin to address contactless, they’ll quickly discover that embracing the myriad ‘contactless’ benefits that mobile delivers also provides them with the opportunities to engage in new ways with their customers, providing the safe, efficient services they require – and using the new two-way communication avenues available to power data-driven innovations in the new climate. Here are a few other key areas where mobile technologies have a place to play in the new world order and the benefits they’re bringing to an industry ready to embrace change …
Track and Trace
In some countries it has become mandatory for businesses to collect the contact information of customers so that they can be tracked if they may have been exposed to a confirmed case. It’s being implemented so far in the UK, France, Italy, Australia amongst others and is highly likely to be adopted by more countries and will start to become the staple of virus control.
Whilst businesses move towards the use of mobile apps to help manage the new normal, it makes for a seamless customer experience to offer this as a feature within the app. If consumers are aware that QSR’s are offering this service through their app it can not only encourage new downloads but prevent churn and present opportunities to connect with new downloads. A track and trace app feature is capable of using automation to message a user informing them if there was a link from the premises to a confirmed virus case. Customers will look to these companies as those that are being socially responsible and doing their utmost to offer peace of mind. Certainly a feature that might reduce that sky-high percentage of anxious customers.
The growth of conversational AI – or the chatbot – as an essential element of enterprise digital transformation in 2020 isn’t surprising:
37% of people use a customer service bot to get a quick answer in emergencies.
Nearly a quarter of the world’s population was using chatbots during 2019
Over 15% of service organizations will be using chatbots within the next 18 months – though this will likely increase ‘thanks’ to COVID
Chatbots can cut operational costs by up to 30%.
85% of customer interactions will be handled without human agents by 2021
These chatbots are a key element of any loyalty program worth its salt, however, this was all pre-COVID. How we interact with brands now – and how they respond – is changing rapidly … meaning we’re likely to see a very different set of figures come the close of 2020.
Apple Business Chat and Google Business Messaging already allow businesses to have conversations with their customers – thru native apps direct from search listings, Contact Us details, Google Maps, and more. In many ways, this has been a game-changer, particularly during COVID – new customers don’t have to download your app or pick up their phone to speak to someone on premise (or otherwise) who can help. What does that mean? For the customer, convenience; for the QSR, a perfect opportunity to capture new custom through a seamless, effortless, frictionless customer experience, nurturing them to loyal customers that will hang around post-COVID. Customers can simply message in their order, pay in the same way, and schedule their pickup time – without having to talk to anyone. Result!
But there are other ways in which the humble chatbot can support and cultivate loyalty. Throughout this crisis, chatbots offer the savvy QSR the ability to deliver critical information to their customers in ways that reassure, reaffirm and realign with new needs and expectations. So for example, customers can chat with a bot which can:
Provide information on COVID opening hours
Schedule orders for them at times most convenient to the customer
Take payments to uphold contactless transactions – the favorite way to pay for anything and everything right now
… and relay critical information regarding safety restrictions both in-store, at drive-thru points and curbside pick-ups (more on that in a bit … )
But perhaps the most beneficial element that Conversational AI brings to the dinner table is the unparalleled insights into customer sentiments and behaviors gleaned from the rich data collected from chatbot interactions, enabling businesses to continually refine and reimagine their digital strategy in line with rapidly evolving customer needs. The ability to be this agile means the ability to better future-proof – even when we can’t see what that future looks like right now.
QR codes, one could say, have never really caught on in a big way – but that could be about to change. The humble QR code has the ability to turn our smartphones into all manner of tools that can support our need for safe, healthy environments as we weather the COVID fallout. Interestingly, they’ve got a lot to offer the QSR sector. From providing the means to download and view that mobile menu we mentioned earlier, to seamless integration with ordering systems, QRs are about to enjoy their moment in the QSR spotlight – here are a few ways we’ll see them do it:
QR codes positioned at self-service counters mean customers can have visibility of a restaurant’s health and safety procedures before they order – think sanitization routines, how and where food is being prepared, where food is coming from, how to stay minimize health risks … and much more.
Mobile menus accessible via QR codes – KFC in China – and numerous others – are already taking advantage of the technology, and are likely to maintain it over the long-term.
QR codes are another way to keep your costumers informed during uncertain times – codes strategically places on ads, packaging, websites or apps can provide the opportunity to engage with customers, delivering relevant, valuable information and – you guessed it! – driving that loyalty you’re seeking to build.
Contactless payments – payments via QR codes help do all that contactless stuff we talked about above.
According to a recent study of over two billion app installs, users have been quicker to click on push notifications than they were before the current crisis kicked off. What’s more, direct open rates for mobile app push notifications reached their highest average rate in more than four years. The resulting increase in the number of push notifications being sent by businesses saw direct open rates increase by an average of 22% for apps and 119% for websites. Not to be scoffed at! So where might the QSR look to get the most out of Kumulos-favorite, the humble push notification as we head into that next normal?
Focusing on areas that experienced the biggest declines during the crisis – such as Sunday coffee, breakfast on the way to work, takeaway lunches etc. – should be a key focus in driving these ‘old habits’ we mentioned earlier.
Think about using push to entice customers to return to the on-premise dining experience (where appropriate) with relevant, personalized promotions and new menu offerings.
Consumers are already demanding new information about the food they’re ordering – where it’s prepared, where it’s come from, who’s prepared it and how it will reach us safely. Push notifications are the perfect way to provide that information, reassuring customers before they order, driving transparency, trust, and by default, that loyalty that’s so important for future growth.
With many countries now in the process of staggered re-opening, QSRs rethinking their near and long-term futures will be swinging their doors again, waiting with open arms, for the first time in a long time. Some are fully focused on take-out, deliveries and curbside provision. Others still will be running hybrid operations, aiming to cover all bases in an attempt to chart a course through these tough economic waters. What’s certain is that every QSR business is navigating unchartered waters with no clear view of the horizon ahead.
Bottom line? As the challenges that COVID has brought continue to redefine the QSR industry, restaurants must start thinking now about their long-term mobile-driven strategy to future-proof, whatever the outlook. And whilst none of us can be sure about how this crisis will change customer behaviour, one thing we can be sure of is that the faster brands can advance their digital strategy to meet uncertainty however it manifests, the more certain their future will be. Agility and flexibility are key -along with the willingness to continue exploring new business strategies – but the sector is very good at that, and the future feels full of opportunities.
Kumulos and innovating your QSR app for success
With the uncertainty of what the future looks like for dining at physical locations, we can be sure that mobile will play a clear part in the customer journey from now onward. Kumulos offer a mobile communications platform that improves the customer experience and help you retain your app users. Send rich, interactive push notifications and in-app messages to one specific customer, all app users or define any demographic in-between. Use geofencing and beacon technology to highly target your audience and reach the right users at the right place and time. Turn your mobile app from an accessory to a necessity and capitalize before your competitors.
As the use of mobile apps becomes a permanent fixture of QSR dining, why not stay ahead of the curve and try Kumulos today? Book your free demo or trial and see for yourself how Kumulos can innovate your app for success.
No “Easy like Sunday Morning” any more thanks to COVID-19. Let’s face it, customer behavior has changed and in many cases changed for good. Businesses need to be thinking about how this impacts on how they interact with customers and build strategies that reset the habit of using their products and services where trading has been heavily disrupted. Other businesses, that have been huge beneficiaries of the disruption the pandemic has brought, have another problem. How to reinforce this new behavior and keep customers when some sort of normality returns to people’s lives. This blog explores this and argues that there are two distinct strategies. Businesses need to be thinking about Re-setting habits or Reinforcing new behavior if they are to emerge strongly from this crisis and mobile technology will be central to this.
How life has changed
We all know the huge disruption to our lives that the Pandemic has caused. It’s here for the long term, so this isn’t something that’s just a short term disruption, but something that will mean fundamental changes to routines and habits.
Homeworking is now more accepted, and likely to stay permanently for many, at least for part of their working week,
Video calls for things like medical consultations, team meetings, sales interactions, and customer account meetings are now acceptable across the board,
How we buy our groceries and internet shopping for electronics and durable goods is now safer, but also maybe more importantly easier, largely because we are at home when the delivery arrives.
Science says that it takes about 2 months for new things to become habit-forming.66 days to be exact according to James Clear in his book Atomic Habits a New York Times Bestseller. Given the impact that the virus has had on many of our lives for way more than 66 days, it is clear that many will find significant permanent changes to their daily routines and habits.
Indeed we can see how dramatic the shift has been from our own data. As examples, habits have changed around how and when we exercise and even when we kick back and have a coffee. Gone, it seems, are the lazy Sunday morning coffee meetups with friends and family.
The diagram shows the time and day distribution of when users foreground their Coffee Retailer’s Loyalty app. The bigger the bubble the more users active at that time. Source: Kumulos Analytics
Also, the change in work/home routine means the early morning workout, lunchtime crunch, and after work sweat-out are replaced by exercise distributed more evenly across the day, as our data shows. OK, when gyms start to open again, the habit of home exercise may change. But don’t think that means that everything reverts to as it was before. For example, the location will more likely be close to home, rather than close to the office in the new normal.
The diagram shows the time and day distribution of when users foreground their Exercise Apps. The bigger the bubble the more users active at that time. Source: Kumulos Analytics
Also gone seems to be the Monday evening guilt sessions working off the excess from the weekend. Presumably, excess now isn’t isolated to just weekends. Morning sessions start later, with no morning commute to accommodate. And much less evening exercise, replaced by box-set binges on Netflix. (or is that just me?)
What’s the business impact
So what does this all mean for business? Well if your business has been operating differently during the COVID-19 Pandemic, on the simplest level it could mean that your customers just get out of the habit of using you. Their habits have changed and you don’t figure in their new routine. Re-engaging customers and encouraging them back to their Pre-COVID-19 habits will be important, will take effort, and will take time. So the sooner you start the better, even if you are not back to full operation.
Getting customers to pick up their coffee on the (less frequent) visits to the office and doing it in such a way that is convenient and they feel safe, is going to be essential. Also adapting to the new ways that customers want to interact will be important. Order ahead and pay on the app will be expected as will curbside pick-up. The lunchtime sandwich habit will also change. Food from home or prepacked food will be more prevalent over the build your own lunch that was the habit before.
Customers will expect menus on their phone and simple order ahead and office/home office delivery. If you don’t have it, they’ll go to someone who has. You see in this we have the biggest shift. Things that businesses considered as ancillary services, like order ahead/don’t wait in line, are now quite literally hygiene factors for any business. And making them accessible through a mobile app will be mandatory.
Customers won’t trust your technology anymore. Order at table or large form factor touch screens will be a put off for clients. They want to manage all of this on their own device. This is echoed by a recent blog post from our friends at Tacit Corporation on fast casual restaurant dining and the important changes restaurants will have to make to successfully bring customers back.
So, to summarize this, there are in essence two main challenges facing businesses in the new COVID-19 world.
1. Re-set the habit and re-established the Pre-COVID-19 routine you want them to have.
2. Reinforce the habit. Hold onto the surge in customers that some businesses have enjoyed – like home fitness apps, and reinforce this new home exercise habit.
And one other thought, if the chance to reset the routine is gone, then how do you keep the customer close and still give them your brand experience. One example, from one of our North American Coffee shop retailers, is they bring the physical store experience to the home. Home delivery may be an option, but more practical is to let them buy that special coffee bean blend themselves, so they can have that premium artisan coffee experience in their own home. They retain that brand attachment, so next time they are downtown, near a store, they’ll automatically come to that store, to get that experience for real.
What can you do
Well here are a few suggestions that hopefully will spark ideas that can apply to your own business.
Catch people when they are interested and ready to interact. Understand how habits have changed and then go with it, rather than fight against it. By that I mean, if Sunday isn’t a big thing for Coffee any more, then engage your customers when they are now ready to buy. Through your loyalty app trigger, messages that prompt coffee drinkers when they are near your store or better still your competitor’s stores will remind them you are still around and draw them back. Reassuring them that you have their safety and convenience in mind with the changes you have made, will give them the confidence to buy from you again.
Put loyalty programs on steroids, double the points, increase the giveaways. This may be hated by your Franchisees as it can cut into their margins, but investing is going to be critical to get habit-reset happening. Geofence triggered messaging, be that push notifications, in-app messages or SMS can be very effective here. With these, you can plot locations on a map, your stores, or your competitors, and when someone with your app is close-by, trigger contextual, personalized, and helpful information, direct to their phone, even if the app isn’t open.
For the businesses that have benefited from the COVID-19 disruption, customer retention and habit-reinforcement are key. Keeping them motivated to “stay with the program” as elements of their life drift back to “normal” is important. For this, it’s important to adjust your strategy so it stays relevant to how they now feel. You don’t want them to associate your brand with the negativity of crisis, but make them understand that you are the silver lining. The thing they wouldn’t have got if the Lockdown hadn’t happened. That way you’ll convert them into long term loyal customers.
With fitness in particular there’s a seasonal fad phenomenon. COVID-19 created a second January Guilt Spike for a lot of the home & self-fitness apps. Looking across our customers this spike has been 2 to 3 times as large in terms of new app user acquisition than an average new year resolution. And the hope for these businesses is that the 66-day rule holds true and the habit sticks. But my guess is that apps will have to work hard to keep customers engaged. The good news is that a small percentage increase in user retention can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line with repeat purchases and app license upgrades to premium services. And we have a great series of articles that offer real practical tips on how to keep customers coming back.
And if you are a Quick Serve Restaurant, Casual Diner or Fast Casual Eatery then we have an in-depth blog series that has never been more topical than it is today at tackling the challenges of re-establishing customer loyalty.
So to wrap up, COVID-19 is going to introduce some fundamental changes to our habits and routines. For many, these will remain, even when things start to turn to a form of normal. There will be winners, businesses that have had a real windfall of customers. Their challenge is how to reinforce the new habit and keep customers engaged. For others, it’s about kick-starting their business and either adjusting to their customer’s changes in habits (go with the new flow) or re-setting the new habit replacing it with a close version of what they did before.
And of course, we are here to help. We have a range of technologies that can help you with the challenges that have emerged from this pandemic. Give us a try, we just may make the brave, post-COVID-19, new world easier to navigate.
Whilst there’s little doubt of the importance of acquiring users, your mobile apps on a hiding to nowhere if you can’t keep a hold of them. Yet companies are still spending more on acquisition than retention, and an even larger percentage are sitting on the fence taking neither one stance nor the other. If you’re on that fence, or if you’re starting to realize that your finely tuned focus on acquisition isn’t working, it might be time to take a step back and revisit retention. But what does that look like, what are the advantages and how are you going to do it? Well, it’s funny you should ask …
We concur, acquisition matters – but …
In the US, the average CPI (Cost Per Install) range differs across verticals and platforms, but the average sits at around $2, rising to $3.34 at the top end. When app creators are willing to spend such a large chunk of their budget on acquisition – App Store Optimization (ASO), paid campaigns, ads – leaving something behind in the coffers for retention can sometimes be overlooked, and by many, often forgotten.
Some facts and figures to whet your retention appetite:
Acquiring a new customer is between five and twenty-five times more costly than retaining an existing customer.
Selling to a customer you already have has a success rate of between 60-70%, compared with a measly 5-20% success rate of selling to a new customer.
44% of businesses say their focus is on acquisition, with just 18% looking at retention.
Increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by between 25 and 95%.
… and yet, despite the evidence, most companies we talk to when it comes to metrics, measurement and money are hell-bent on committing a greater spend on acquiring new users than keeping the ones they already have. You could of course say, that in a way, they’d be right. After all, if no one downloads your app, there won’t be any customers to nurture and retain. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that no matter how impressive your acquisition numbers, failure to live up to – and exceed- user expectations means that users will continue to uninstall the apps that don’t measure up faster than you can say, “Baby, please don’t go”. Think your app’s too good to bin? Almost 1 in every 2 app downloads are uninstalled within 30 days, or to put it in business-speak, “Help, we’re hemorrhaging cash!”. I don’t know about you, but it feels like some kind of equilibrium needs to be found between acquisition and retention, one that neglects neither one nor the other, but instead brings ‘smart’ to the spread of marketing efforts and increasing the chances of a long-distance run in the App Store.
“Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need before they realize it themselves,” – Mr. Jobs.
App acquisition – where are we now?
Inhabiting an increasingly mobile world has seen the mobile app industry morph into one of the single most successful stories of the 21st digital century. In this app gold rush, however, we’ve also witnessed an unsustainable infatuation with seemingly lucrative short-term gains and endless growth hacks – most of which have ultimately turned out to be empty promises (much to the chagrin of your accountant). We’re just starting to realize that only a well-defined, well-researched app strategy- one that embodies everything we now know about the makings of long-term app success – paves the way to both profitability and sustainability.
According to Gartner, 80% of your business’s future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customer base. Which means that the big budget spend on acquisition you insisted on last quarter might have been more effective if you’d been willing to look at what you’ve already got. Retaining these users will make the difference between your app’s success – or its sad decline and the long, expensive walk of shame to the big uninstall bin in the sky. Time to stop the madness.
How to boost your Mobile App Retention Rates
80% of users churn within 3 days after downloading an app. The message is clear – have an engagement strategy in place long before your app even makes it through the door of the App Store. Why? Retaining users is really all about engagement. From a smooth onboarding experience to easy in-app purchases, to gentle, effective nudges to complete your critical events, retention is all about keeping your users interested throughout their app journey. What exactly is retention? Most of us in the industry would say that it means a user returning to your app at least once over a 30-day period – which doesn’t seem like such a big ask. It’s worth noting that we tend to measure retention over a 90 day – or one quarter – timeframe. With this in mind, it’s a good time to drop the average retention rate bomb so that we can start thinking about where we’d like to get to: around 20% after that 90-day period. It’s not high, but there’s room for improvement! It’s time to step up to the retention plate, making retention one of these ever-changing KPIs your marketing department loves to talk about at these Monday meetings. Here’s how to wow them with a dazzling grasp of retention tactics:
Perfect your app’s “low barrier” to entry. No one wants to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort downloading and using a mobile app – life asks enough of all of us (including these Monday meetings) without your app asking for even more. In other words, I expect your app to do all the hard work for me, which means ensuring the onboarding process is smooth, simple and as swift as possible. If I need to book time off work to run thru your movie-length video tutorials, to complete my registration or to figure out what exactly it is that you’re bringing to party, your churn rates will go through the roof. Key takeaway: kick off with a simple app that does what it says on the tin and takes the friction out of it at the same time, you’re halfway there already …
Personalization, personalization, personalization! Delivering a personal, valuable, human brand experience that our new digital customers demand is the holy grail of retention. And unless you’re not living in the 21st century (in which case, welcome time traveler!) then you can’t fail to have noticed that any 2020 brand worth its digital salt will have customer personalization at its beating heart, and for good reason. Companies getting smart around the Big P see between a 5 and 15 percent increase in revenues, and a 10-30% percent increase in marketing-spend efficiency.
72% of consumers will only engage with personalized marketing messages.
What does personalization look like? Take your pick: customized push notifications, personalized product recommendations; valuable, feels-like-all-mine rewards and offers; location-based marketing and much, much more. Check out these apps to get an idea of IRL personalization – your retention metrics will thank you for it:
Starbucks – we talked about Starbucks in our recent loyalty apps piece, and here they are again because, frankly, they’re good at what they do when it comes to their customers ad personalization. From relevant rewards to personalized discounts to products suggestions based on previous purchases, this is every app developers first stop when looking at the brands that are getting it right.
Airbnb – accommodation behemoth Airbnb have personalization down to a finely tuned art, tracking your trips, travel preferences and likes, pooling data and matching you with listings that they think you’ll like. But that’s not all … you’ll also get suggestions for restaurants, bars, tourist hotspots, shopping and just about any other holiday activity you can think of – just for you.
Spotify – Never a brand for standing still, Spotify continues to take personalization to ever more fun levels … from Discover to new releases, nearby concerts to Taste breakers, there’s no excuse for listening to that same damned playlist over and over. Spotify analyzes what you’re listening to, and over time builds up a profile of the kind of music you like – or might be open to liking – and serves it up as you like it.
Make it a habit. Not that we’re trying to start a new Apps Anonymous movement, but habit is a retention technique as old as the proverbial hills. The average mobile user checks her phone around 150 times per day. Boredom? Perhaps. Hunger? Possibly – I’ve got over half a dozen food ordering apps on mine. Habit? Now you’re talkin! If you thought you were looking at Instagram, Twitter or Facebook because you want to let off election steam, or to laugh at Terrible Art in Charity Shops, you’re wrong. The reason these apps are so successful is because they’ve invested time and money in ensuring that they’re quite literally habit-forming. Nir Eyal, the habit-formation guru, believes that one week is all you’ve got to create your app habit with a new user: “If your product doesn’t engage people within a week’s time or less, it’s going to be very, very difficult to build a habit around it.”
The Hook model – of course.
Many call this habit-formation strategy the ‘hook’ model; one that involves four key elements
The App Trigger – The trigger is what compels a user to complete an action within your app and can be either internal or external. For example, a notification from a bank app reminding a user to top up their balance to avoid going into overdraft would be an external trigger. The internal trigger is that (oh so familiar) feeling of boredom that compels someone to open the Instagram app.
The Action – Users take app actions for all manner of reasons, but psychologically, reward tends to be at the heart of many of our in-app actions, even though we’re not aware of it (most of the time). Taking the example above of topping up your balance in your banking app; sure, the reward of not being overdrawn is compelling enough, but seeing our balance onscreen in a juicy green with a big plus sign beside it is psychologically both reassuring and satisfying. Bring an on-screen message into the equation: “Hey, you just earned 10 rewards points for topping up your balance!!”, and you start to get an idea of how powerful the Action element of retention is. Note: make sure the actions you implement require as little effort as possible, and that the reward is immediate.
The Reward – Our virtual friend Nil describes the reward as an ‘itch being scratched’ – and we concur. The rewards are usually why your audience uses your app at all – creating desire and anticipation, then reliably satiating it with relevant and valuable rewards. There are all kinds of ways apps reward us – and often they’re nothing to do with how most of us traditionally understand them – on Instagram and Facebook, for example, the rewards are likes and comments, and lord knows isn’t that why we keep checking in? Rewards and crucial in the retention game. Neglect at your peril!
The Investment – When users invest in your app, the hook model’s work is done. By successfully combining the trigger, the action and the reward, you’ve got a user who’s well on their way to making your app part of their life … in other words your user and your app and officially an item, or ‘invested’ in each other. The investment element ensures that not only do your users want to check in, but they’ve got a vested interest in doing so.
Use push notifications. Almost without exception, push notifications are the single most-effective method of engaging – and retaining – your user-base – study after study has found that using push notifications as a key element of your app marketing strategy can boost retention by up to 20% – not to be scoffed at! However, push notifications can harm as well as help your app retention rates if you approach them gung-ho. The challenge lies in striking the right balance of timing, frequency and value – get it right, and you’ll be laughing all the way to these Monday meetings… get it wrong and you could end up with a whole lotta users who quite frankly don’t want to hear from you anymore, thanks very much. The bottom line? Planning is everything. To find out how to push properly, visit our musings on that very matter here.
Provide an exceptional customer service. To be honest, this is something that any brand worth its salt should be doing in 2020, and not only our mobile app overlords. We all expect it, which is why when a company falls short of providing it, we’re often incandescent with rage, inconsolable and taking to whatever social platform it is to vent our spleen. When it comes to retention, customer service matters – pre-purchase, post-purchase and everything in between. What does it look like within your mobile app?
Easy to find ‘contact’ buttons
‘Call back’ functionality
A Knowledge Base; help center; community area or FAQs center where users can access quick answers to general questions
A Chat facility to connect users to customer service reps
The provision of detailed product information
A location finder
…. are just a few ideas. Just remember to ensure that you cover all of your touchpoints. Lots of us still like to use email instead of chatting to an empty screen (take note: if you’re providing a service like chat, ensure there are humans at your side to respond, and in a timely manner!)
Before we go …
In all fairness, app retention is a science – you could add an almost infinite number of strategies to the above list, and you’d still discover something you’re not doing but that your competitor is nailing. The long and the short: if you’ve just launched your app and you’re seeing your retention numbers take a tumble, panic ye not! Retention is a long-haul activity that you’ll fine tune over time, filtering out what doesn’t work, and learning what does. But it doesn’t sit on its own … Smashing your customer retention strategy requires rethinking how you work with your budgets and investing in the technologies that will help you to measure, achieve – and exceed – your retention goals. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones (note: luck = hard work) and succeed at retaining half of your user-base … maybe, like the rest of us, you’ll be tipping the average, which, in the ever-growing world of mobile apps is pretty darn successful.
What to do next
Here at Kumulos our focus is on helping you to retain your hard-won audience through engagement. Push notifications have always been the most effective way to engage app users and Kumulos gives you all the tools to send rich, interactive messaging campaigns. The only platform that allows you to analyze campaign performance from both a commercial and technical standpoint. Book your free demo to see how Kumulos can turn your app users into loyal customers.
For the first time this decade, Apple has reviewed its guidelines to continue to provide the best possible service to app users. 77% of Apple devices less than four years old use iOS 13, so Apple believes all apps on the store should also be up to date with the iOS 13 SDK by April 30th. Keeping the store regulated and forcing apps to update is how they can ensure the best possible functionality for iOS users.
Developers need to make sure their apps fit within the new guidelines not to be removed from the store. If there are any issues with your app, the app store team will be in touch to inform you, from which point you have 30 days to get your app in order or it will be removed.
So, let’s have a look at some of the key points that you might want to be aware of before you wake up one day to your app having been removed.
App Store Review Prompting
Personalized prompts for reviews are no longer allowed. The Apple API for reviewing has been updated to be less intrusive and allows users to review an app without being forced to do so on the app store. With this they’ve also made it the only acceptable method of review prompting “we will disallow custom review prompts.”. You have been warned.
There’s also been a change to the way you’re allowed to reply to app reviews, “Keep your responses targeted to the user’s comments and do not include personal information”.It would be interesting to see some of the replies to bad reviews that meant they actually had to put this in the guidelines.
States are adopting new privacy laws quickly in 2020, CCPA began in January and more than 10 other states are in the process of reviewing their privacy laws. In accordance with the constantly tightening restraints on user data collection, there has been a new update that will affect a small number of apps. It’s vital that apps are in line with data protection laws as the penalties are severe. New additions to the review guidelines state, developers should not submit apps from highly regulated fields such as healthcare providers or financial services. These apps need to be submitted by the legal entities that provide the services or will be rejected.
They’ve updated the markets that are considered saturated, so if you have one of these apps in the pipeline… sorry guys:
“…the App Store has enough fart, burp, flashlight, fortune telling, dating, and Kama Sutra apps, etc. already. We will reject these apps unless they provide a unique, high-quality experience.”
If your ‘fart app’ keeps getting rejected, it could just be that it isn’t unique enough and not that it wasn’t a very good idea. On a serious note, there are probably quite a few dating apps in development right now that this will be a huge blow to… There’s always Android.
Once authorized by the app user, push notifications can be sent to their device for marketing purposes. Push notifications have always been and are still the best way to retain and engage users on your app. This now allows you to drive towards conversions with your messaging. Highly-target users based on their in-app behavior such as ‘funnel abandonment after add to cart’. This could be huge for app marketing, but it must be clearly stated that notifications will be used for such purposes in the app UI so users can opt-out. The only time these kinds of notifications will not be allowed is when the user has opted-out of receiving marketing push notifications, which all apps must now allow users to do from within the app.
Apps that offer a third-party sign-in verification alternative such as Facebook or Google now have to also offer an Apple sign-in option. You’ll need to implement this in your app unless you fall into one of these categories Apple has exempted:
Your app exclusively uses your company’s own account setup and sign-in systems.
Your app is an education, enterprise, or business app that requires the user to sign in with an existing education or enterprise account.
Your app uses a government or industry-backed citizen identification system or electronic ID to authenticate users.
Your app is a client for a specific third-party service and users are required to sign in to their mail, social media, or other third-party account directly to access their content.
Don’t create multiple bundle IDs for the same app. If your app has different versions for users depending on variables like location or favored sports team, then these will need to be available on the app store as one app. Once downloaded, the app can offer a specific version as an add-on. If you do upload the same app, say 32 times, adjusted so there’s one for each individual team in the NFL – this is considered spamming. They will all be removed/rejected along with risking your inclusion in the developer program.
Apps that are now blanket banned are any that involve any kind of attempt to evade the law, where this only previously applied to apps such as those that show where DUI points are. Other apps that were previously and are still banned are those that encourage the use of alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs etc.
Submission for Review and After
If you’re looking to submit your app for review be aware it can take a while, there’s a thorough process involved in making sure apps adhere to these standards. Obviously, these aren’t all the steps you need to take to get your app on the iOS app store and you can read the most recent version of the review guidelines here.
Once your app has managed to finally pass the test, it will be available for download in the app store. It’s a dog eat dog world there and you might not be seeing the results you had hoped for. There are some ways you can increase your visibility and boost your user acquisition. Kumulos offer App Store Optimization as a feature, the best way to make sure you outshine your competitors at the first point of contact.
It’s a huge success if your app is downloaded but a lot of brands focus way too much on the number of downloads. Apps need to retain and engage users in order to see real business results. Kumulos gives you all the tools you need to keep users engaged and boost your retention rate including – rich, interactive mobile push and in-app messaging. Create loyal customers from your new downloads and boost your MAU with Kumulos.
Successful website push notification campaigns are judged on how many users opt-in and then engage with your message (hence the title). These two go hand-in-hand, so you’re going to need to think of a way to boost both to reap the benefits of your web push campaigns.
Luckily, you’re reading this blog and we’ve done the thinking for you… you’re welcome. What’s so great about web push notifications you ask? Well, the click-through-rate is 11% for cases of less than 5,000 subscribers, which is pretty impressive if you realize that it’s almost unheard of for the CTR to hit even 5% for email marketing. Web push opt-in is a really easy process too – just a few clicks, no download or email address required, and you’re set to send.
There’s been some recent changes to how browsers handle web notifications with safari and Firefox requiring a user to interact with a page before a prompt can be shown. The chrome update detects if users are likely to reject notifications based on previous choices and decides whether to show the user the prompt or not. Optimizing your opt-in process is now even more critical to gaining subscriptions.
In this post we look at some of the ways in which you can maximize the success of your web push campaigns from the opt-in, to the message and everything surrounding the notification. Get all the tools you can use to engage your users and boost your CTR.
Before you can send the user any form of notification, permission must be granted through the acceptance of notifications via an on-screen prompt through desktop or mobile web. The hard prompt must be accepted by the user to allow you to send the notifications to their device. There’s no way around this unfortunately, the hard prompts are browser specific, un-customizable and… (when on their own) very forgettable. They look the same from website to website which isn’t what we want. We want our prompts to get noticed. There are ways to help you stand-out at this first point of contact and obtain the elusive opt-in…
Soft Prompt Before Hard Prompt
Create your own engaging prompt that represents your brand and message that pops-up before the mandatory browser prompt. This is the ‘soft prompt’. While this won’t count as a subscription to notifications, it does give you more power over the process. It’s like a Jedi mind trick, once you appeal to the user with your own brand message, the hard prompt isn’t so scary anymore. These are fully customizable which means you can change it at any time to represent your current campaign.
Example of a soft prompt Example of a hard prompt on Chrome
Another benefit is that if the user is to reject your soft prompt, then this can be used to postpone the trigger of the hard prompt. A second soft prompt can be used at a later stage and if accepted at this point, can automate the trigger of the hard prompt, maximizing the chances of acquiring a subscription.
This is an effective tool to emphasize the prompt. To use the website further the prompt must be actioned. An overlay gives weight to the process of answering the prompt, let your users know this isn’t just some random pop-up, you want them to opt-in.
A tip to get noticed – adjusting the opacity levels of the overlay makes the prompt stand out from the page and has statistically been shown to increase the opt-in rate.
Overlay used on Chrome
Overlay used on Edge
Time Your Prompts
As a first-time user to a website, most of the time you’re not entirely sure this is the right place for what you’re looking for. A quick browse around the website is a pretty good indication if you need to look elsewhere. If you enter a site and you’re going to check through a couple of things to see if the site is going to offer what you need… are you likely to accept to receive notifications from this website you know very little about? Before you’ve even had the chance to find out if this is what you’re looking for?
So, time your prompts and give the user some breathing space. If they’ve figured out who you are and what you do and they’re still hanging around… now send them a prompt! They’re more interested than the user that bounced straight back out of your website in 3 seconds. You don’t need to waste your resources like that.
So, with all those tips you should hopefully get a few more subscriptions, but there’s no point boosting your subscriptions if your engagement is still lacking. Be smart with your messaging to increase the open rate. Here are a few things you can be doing to appeal more to your audience.
There’s a considerable drop-off in engagement depending on how concise you can be with your messaging. A study on mobile push notifications by Localytics found that the optimum number of words for a push notification was 10 or fewer with a CTR of 8.8%, up to 20 words was then 4.9% and more than this at just 3.2%. This applies across the board for push messaging, no matter where you’re receiving it. Get your message across but don’t drag on about it, people want it short and sweet when it comes to notifications.
Target Your Message
Why broadcast a generic message to everyone who’s ever let you send notifications to them when you can make niche, targeted content and only send it to those that it applies to? Segmenting your audience is a far more effective way to get the results you want. Once a notification has been opened, 54% convert from a segmented push notification compared to only 15% from a broadcast message. Target users based on their onsite activity or who they are – allowing you to specifically target your chosen audience (e.g. only females, iOS users or those who have funnel drop off after cart abandonment.)
Limited Time Offers
You can get a quick response out of a user by putting a timescale on offers. People are more likely to react when they have the fear of missing out. Notifications need to be actionable and if you’re correctly segmenting and targeting, the message should be relevant to the user that receives it.
Frequency & Timing
Don’t overdo it. No one wants to receive notifications at all times of day and night. It lessens the value of the message and honestly… people find it irritating.
Don’t dilute your message by sending it more than once within a few hours unnecessarily and don’t have your user looking at their notifications to find 5-10 notifications from your website (they’re not going to read them). Find your optimum frequency to stay relevant to your users without becoming off putting.
You should also time your messages. Obviously different countries have different time zones; different working and sleeping hours. These are all ways you can time your messaging to be more in-tuned with the specifics of each individual user. If you’re a food delivery service – target around dinner time. If you’re a de-stress app for the end of the day – target later in the evening. Think about when your users will need you most and aim to be there at that time.
Where to Start
Now you have all the tools laid out in front of you, you can choose which of these tactics will work for your brand and find a formula to boost opt-ins and engagement for your users. If you’re doing it right, you’re going to retain these users and create loyal customers through your web push savvy.
At Kumulos we love website push notifications and recently added them to our award winning, omni-channel messaging platform. We offer you the opportunity to send rich push notifications and analyze results from both a technical and commercial standpoint. If you’re interested in web push notifications, then why not try a free Kumulos demo and see real business results for your website or app.
As of April 1st,Fabric will be no more… no it’s not a terrible, drawn-out April fool’s joke. Google has deprecated Fabric and moved Crashlytics services to its new home in Firebase. You’re probably already familiar with Firebase but if not, we’ll get to that. Google is taking the approach of streamlining its app development services and incorporating things together in one place. If you’re a Fabric loyalist, I’m sure you’ll adjust. To make the transition a bit easier for you, we’ve taken a look at crash reporting and how you can get up to speed and working better than ever in your new Firebase home.
Why Use Crash Reporting?
It’s easier to achieve desired conversions with an existing user than it is with a new acquisition, 85% more returning mobile users will ‘add to cart’ compared to new users. How do you expect to engage users and gain conversions on an app that isn’t functioning? If an app is only opened once in a 7 day period there’s a 60% chance the user will never open it again. If your app crashes, you lose engagement meaning you’re more likely to lose the user.
Crash reporting simplifies the process of fixing fatal and non-fatal errors in your app. It’s your safety parachute when things go wrong. Spend crucial time fixing problems instead of struggling to find them first. There doesn’t have to be a user interaction for crash reporting to spot something isn’t working. You can stay ahead of the curve and fix things before your users even notice something isn’t right, helping you maintain a seamless UX.
Crashlytics & Fabric – The beginnings
Fabric began life in 2011 as Crashlytics- a humble start-up. If you’ve been in the game that long, you’ll probably remember this savior coming along to make crashes infinitely less stressful. Remember way back when apple added iOS crash reporting? If you couldn’t source an error you had to send your reports off to Apple for them analyze and get back to you days, even weeks later. I don’t remember this, I was actually still finishing school at the time and not really concerning myself with app crashes (unless it was Temple Run).
So, along Jeff Seibert and Wayne Chang came with this new cloud-based crash reporting solution. “Let’s make crash reporting easier!” …one of them probably said at some point, because that’s exactly what they did. Instead of the arduous process involved with fixing crashes, Crashlytics made it simple. Pinpointing the exact line of code causing your app to crash – prioritizing the errors and faults so you only need to fix the ones that were fatal to your app. It’s still doing this today (until April) but goes by the name ‘Fabric’ after being purchased in 2013 by Twitter for the bargain amount of $100 million dollars.
The Google Years
Google then purchased Fabric from Twitter for an undisclosed amount in 2017 but the following year made the decision to incorporate crash reporting into its 2014 acquisition Firebase.
You’re probably a Firebase user or at the very least, familiar with what it is. In layman’s terms Firebase is a collection of SDKs and tools to “build, improve, and grow your app” (that one is an actual quote). It focuses on backend practice so that developers can worry about the front-end of the app, safe in the knowledge Firebase has got your back.
So, since 2017 we’ve had Firebase Crashlytics. Did you know that, or have you been too preoccupied with using Fabric? It’s no new invention so you don’t need to feel like a guinea pig or be afraid to migrate over. It replaced ‘Firebase Crash Reporting’ when it was deprecated (Google’s favorite pastime), with the aim of becoming the sole crash reporting tool offered by Google when it replaced fabric. They released a timeline of the migration in the transition plan from 2018, so if this is all news to you, well you only have yourself to blame.
Migrating Over to Firebase
To not be caught out by this move you’re going to need to migrate. Migration is a relatively simple process through the Fabric migration flow. You have to make sure you have no code from Fabric that is going to interfere with the Firebase Crashlytics SDK. A full explanation of this will probably be useful, which you can find here.
Once all traces have been wiped, you can download your shiny new Firebase SDK. Unzip the folder and initialize Crashlytics within it. Watch it get to work and collect all your crash reports for you. Now, I stress that I simplified that process considerably in the interest of not writing the world’s worst blog post. Although, actually doing it still isn’t that difficult, so before you try it based on my skimming over the process, you can use the handy Google official migration guide instead.
Finally, if you’re not a fan of Google… or I was too slow publishing this and they’ve had Firebase deprecated, then you have some other options. One such tool for crash reporting is Raygun. Raygun crash reporting comes with a lightweight SDK that is easily integrated into your app. Limited services start from $19 per month for the basic package and $79 for a more comprehensive experience of the program. This would be the recommended package to get if you’re in the market for a crash reporting tool as the $19 version does have its limitations due to the caps on the service provided.
Here at Kumulos, we also offer crash reporting & diagnostics as part of our mobile user engagement platform. While you work hard to acquire and engage your audience, you’ll always struggle to retain users if your app crashes, has bugs or is slow. Why wouldn’t you want to see what kind of experience your users are having and use this information to adjust your retention and engagement campaigns accordingly? Why should you have to use two different Firebase SDKs or login to two different vendors to get this information?
Kumulos includes unlimited crash reporting and diagnostics starting from only $75 per month. Get alerted via Slack or Microsoft Teams and push crash reports to Trello or Jira to track the development and testing of the fix. Gone are the days of wondering why DAU is falling and your beloved app is suddenly getting one-star reviews. Kumulos gives you a single-pane-of-glass through which you can see both the commercial and technical performance of your app. Allowing you to feed this into intelligent, targeted messaging campaigns to retain and engage your audience. Book your free demo and see how Kumulos can help you safeguard the user experience in your app.
Loyalty and rewards apps are about so much more than user acquisition; what’s the point in 50,000 downloads if no one’s using it? (Clue: none whatsoever). So, while it’s very tempting to focus on acquisition when it comes to your loyalty app, engagement and retention will be the drivers of success – they’re also why the behemoths of the QSR sector are doing so well. Don’t believe us? After downloading an app, just over 30% of users will return to it, and 25% will abandon it just after one use. So, who’s smashing it when it comes to loyalty apps – which brands have nailed engagement, focused on personalizing their customer’s experiences, and now reaping tangible rewards for themselves in the process?
Chipotle was always ahead of the game when it comes to digital, launching their brand app in 2009 thru which customers could place their order rather than having to turn up at one of their near 2,500 restaurants. If you think back to 2009 – 3G, no Facebook Messenger, and a one-year-old App Store – this was pretty radical, and certainly way ahead of many of its competitors. It’s now nearly 12 months since
The Chipotle Loyalty App
Chipotle rolled out its much-lauded loyalty program (March 2019), and already they’re pick of the pops in the rewards stakes (no pun intended). Why? QSR’s loyalty program and accompanying app have seen the enterprise almost double its digital sales since launch, no doubt driven by the 7 million loyalty program signups since it was implemented. Result. What’s so great about the app? Let us count the ways:
Personalization: the burrito you like, where you like it, based on purchase history
Fast – allows quick ordering /reordering
Easy to pay with Apple and Android Pay functionality
Super-easy to redeem rewards and offers
The company have also implemented “Chipotlanes,” where customers can pick up app-ordered food without having to get out of the car (perish the thought!).
Top US pizza progressives Domino’s launched their first app in 2011, and in the (almost) ten years since, we’ve seen their stock price jump nearly 1000%. All things considered (we won’t bore you with the balance sheet) that’s almost $7.8 billion in value creation since bringing their products to your smartphone. As if that wasn’t enough, last year the enterprise eatery had an ingenious loyalty idea, one that should have tanked, but instead propelled it to legendary status for its sheer boldness.
During the 2019 Super Bowl, the company turned its own loyalty program on its head by launching the now-infamous “For the Love of Pizza” campaign – and rewarding its customers for eating any pizza. That’s right. Your mama’s, Pizza Hut’s, Papa John’s, even my pathetic midnight attempts at a margarita (base, ketchup and a handful of grated cheese – hey, at least I try). These pizza purveyors then had to upload a photo of said delicacy, when they would collect points that could be redeemed against a (much nicer looking) Domino’s pizza. This off-center idea paid off – on Super Bowl Sunday, the app moved up a whopping 158 ranks on the previous week.
Domino’s loyalty app
Post Super Bowl, Domino’s app continues to drive downloads and customer engagement offering:
Order tracking with Pizza Tracker – tells users where their pizza is in the delivery process.
Customization – customers can create their own pizza, however they want it.
Rewards – One of the most generous rewards programs, free pizzas are pretty easy to come by – and not the one-freebie-a-year so prevalent across the industry.
Our favorite, Dom, the in-app equivalent of Alexa, means customers can order the way they would in an outlet – by talking.
Easy ordering based on purchase history.
It’s worth noting that Domino’s success has digital transformation written all over it – no technology is an island, and they’ve been busy not just with their loyalty scheme but with a whole host of digital initiatives that are paying dividends: voice-based tech and self-driving delivery vehicles being our favorites. Key takeaway? Meet your audience where they are and the rest will take care of itself.
Globally, consumers sourced food & drinks through apps 130% more often in 2018 than 2016
A piece on QSR loyalty apps wouldn’t be complete without Starbucks. Try as we might, we can’t get away from the fact that the coffee behemoth smashes it on every level when it comes to their rewards program – and the results speak for themselves: 48% of smartphone users who regularly use QSR rewards apps use Starbucks Rewards.
Starbucks Rewards App
Last year, Starbucks reported an increase of $2.65 billion in revenues, attributing most of that success to their rewards program. Not convinced? Over the last two years, Starbucks Rewards membership has grown more than 25%; 16 million loyal customers are in the Starbucks’ membership program which now accounts for around40% of sales at their US outlets. Someone, somewhere is doing something right … CEO Kevin Johnson is clear about the reasons for this monumental success: “… a more seamless customer onboarding experience, greater mobile order-and-pay adoption, and enhanced personalization features”. Let’s take a look at what makes this the holy grail of QSR rewards apps:
A personalized brand experience – The epitome of a personalized mobile experience, the Starbucks Rewards app has it all – from telling users what’s “Now Playing” in the Starbucks store they’re in, to where their nearest outlet is to recalling a favorite order, this is all about the customer, just as it should be …
Mobile Order-and-Pay – the ability to order your coffee ahead and skip the queue when you get there to collect is one of the most popular app functions; the app also provides quick access to the Starbucks Card, moving customers through the queue even faster and without them ever having to reach for their wallet. Seamless customer experience? Check!
Speaking of ordering, the mobile ordering platform doubles as a smart digital marketing tool, enabling customers to see new products before they’re launched.
The gamification of rewards – Customers win stars each time they pay with their app, as well as giving members “challenges” which can earn additional stars to use towards free food and drinks. App engagement? Check!
A geo-location feature means customers can find out where their nearest Starbucks locations are, the menu available at each location, and of course, the ability to order ahead so you can pick up when you get there. Helpful? Check!
Starbucks card management – customers can check their Starbucks card to find out their balance, transfer money between cards, top-up their balance, pay for food and drink at Starbucks outlets, see payments history, collect stars for rewards, and even leave tips (our favorite). A flawless brand experience? Check!
Of course, the big brands are the ones which make the biggest noise- but we’d be wrong if we think that big means better. Challenger brands too have been busy when it comes to loyalty. If anything, they perhaps understand more the importance of putting their customers first, grokking the necessity of relationship over retention and driving meaningful connection across an increasingly remote digital space. The result? Why, loyalty of course! And here’s our pick of the bunch …
The Second Cup Coffee Co. – now in the process of transitioning to new name “Aegis Brands” – is the largest specialty coffee retailer in Canada with over 240 outlets and a very loyal fanbase. Providing Canada’s coffee-loving contingent with over one million drinks every week, from over seven thousand pounds of fair-trade coffee every day, this challenger brand knows how to keep its fanbase happy. Launching their loyalty app in 2015, Second Cup customers today enjoy a loyalty app that offers points for beverages, tailored product offerings; order-ahead and mobile payments functionality and the nice gamification of rewards acquisition. You can read all about it right here.
Second Cup Loyalty app
Our next pick of the challengers is Menchies, fro-yo superstars that are no strangers to innovation when it comes to looking after customers. Today, their highly successful mySmileage loyalty program continues to smash expectations, boosting customer count, driving new revenue streams and rightly earning their place on the loyalty leader board of the challengers. The figures speak for themselves; over 13 million mySmileage members, a whopping 17% average ticket lift and a 50% increase in customer frequency, driven by the smart rewards features in the mySmileage app. ‘Smiles’ points collection, a $5.00 birthday credit; personalized offers and discounts; a Menchie’s payment account, store locator and e-Gift cards – you can learn more about Menchies mySmileage app here.
Menchies Smileage loyalty app
In 2013 Pizza Pizza launched their Club-11-11 loyalty program, the first ever app for ordering pizza in Canada – result! Since then, their loyalty program has gone from strength to strength, powering impressive results across transactions, digital sales and repeat visits over any other touchpoint.
The Pizza Pizza rewards app
Value-add features such as order ahead and order tracking, outlet location, payments functionality, weekly deals and gamification of the ordering process (users can opt to play a game on closure of an order and can win a free item with their next one) keep Pizza Pizza customers engaged and coming back for more.
Big brands or challengers, QSRs are leveraging mobile strategically to both reach and engage their customers through their smartphones – the devices that never leave the side of these customers. That’s one of the reasons that in 2018 we spent 140% more time in food and drink apps than in the two years prior. But access to, and growth of, mobile technology doesn’t a great rewards app make – this particular ecosystem is about simplicity, efficiency and the myriad on-the-move benefits that put ME at the center of the brand experience. A brand experience that must be relevant, personalized and bridge the (increasingly diminishing) gaps between the real and digital worlds.
87% of companies are primarily using Loyalty data to optimize member experience, 60% for measurement and forecasting, and 48% for marketing (LoyaltyOne)
The best loyalty programs and apps which manage to successfully create these bridges must provide customers with value – such as the super-convenient pay-and-collect facility, the gamification of relevant, niche rewards, or the personalization of the purchase experience. It’s that satisfying, seamless, engaging customer experience that meets all of the demands of a new digital audience – and the digital brands that are ready to embrace it. And it’s not all about the customer (I know, sacrilege!) For brands ready to take on the mobile marketplace, the rewards are there too. The big data gleaned from doing business in the loyalty app space means the ability to create personalized digital marketing campaigns that can both reduce spend and increase ROI. Sounds like a win-win to us …
What to do Next…
To offer users a better experience on your app, create loyalty and see results like these brands there needs to be a focus on retention and engagement after customer acquisition. Kumulos gives you the tools to understand user behavior and send relevant, highly targeted, personalized content. Connect with users, create loyalty and boost retention. Use built-in analytics to gain a deep understanding of your audience, better your campaigns and create amazing UX. Book a demo of our award winning messaging platform and see how Kumulos can create real business results for your app.
Part Two: Why mobile – and what makes a good rewards app
In last week’s opener, we talked about the history of loyalty, and how you pretty much have to nail it in today’s rapidly evolving QSR sector if you’re planning on being around for the long-haul. Today, it’s all about loyalty on your mobile – our favourite! – and what a great rewards app looks like. If you’re in the QSR sector and looking to loyalty to drive customer retention, today might just be your lucky day …
What’s so great about mobile anyway?
Here’s an interesting fact: according to the Pew Research Centre, a huge 20% of Americans primarily use their smartphones instead of having internet access at home – and we’re not just surfing. We’re spending around two hours every day using apps – to play, to share, to email, to message and to shop. What’s more, we use our phones during every stage of the shopping process – from discovering what’s out there to sourcing reviews, to performing price comparisons to making the actual purchase. We don’t just do it in our armchairs either, we’re doing it in the store, or walking to work, or on the train, or before we turn the lights off for the night… in fact, all the time … See where we’re going with this? Yep – rewards programs matter and are a super-charged, highly effective way to attract and retain brand evangelists, what’s more, mobile is the single best vehicle for doing so. Bottom line? Including a mobile-first strategy in your plan for rewards domination is a no-brainer – unless you plan on not being around in 5 years time.
Unlike the loyalty drivers of yesteryear, mobile isn’t going anywhere. You’ve only got to look around you to know that wherever we’re headed on this spinning cybernated sphere that our mobile devices will be coming with us:
Around 2 billion people made purchases from a mobile device in 2019,
With around 95% of consumers conducting research via their mobile device before completing an in-store or online checkout.
About $1 in every $4 generated in e-commerce comes via mobile, with annual spending figure surpassing $35 billion.
Searches for branded restaurant apps which enable reservations, tracking orders, and discounts have grown 120% YoY.
In 2018, we Americans spent 140% more time using food and drink apps than during the two years before. Why? Well for a start, there are simply more food and drink apps out there, but we’re also a demanding bunch. We want convenience (with bells and whistles, thanks) and the restaurants are listening.
Brands spend up to 11 times more on recruiting new customers than retaining existing ones (Brand Keys)
Being able to order ahead and being rewarded for our custom is a compelling proposition which we really really like. The apps that answer our convenience cries provide value, but they also provide a bridge between a brand’s physical presence and their digital one, which means that wherever we are, our favourite QSR brands can meet us right there. If you’re a QSR looking to drive repeat business and loyalty from your customers, it’s time to start steering the future of your brand in the winning direction: meaningful, momentous – and mobile.
What makes a QSR app a great QSR app?
For a loyalty program to find an enviable level of success, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. Customers are generally happier with a rewards app when there are few requirements as possible at their side to accrue and activate their rewards and when the whole app experience is as quick as possible. These are non-negotiable standard elements of any app worth its salt. No one wants to be spending more time than they need to glean what they need from your app – gaming being the only exception. QSRs need to aim for a level of personalization that feels niche, not mass.
Personalization that feels genuinely personal, relevant and which feels unique to the customer.
Personalization is one of the most persuasive tools in a successful reward app – both for you and for your customers. For you, the enormous potential of reams of customer data around their preferences and behaviors means you have the golden ticket that allows you to tailor your brand experience to each of your customers – you’re happy, your customers are happy, and you’ll also have the intel to hand that allows you to innovate with new products and services that you know your audience is looking for.
The ability for customers to accept or reject offers
Again, it’s an intel thing. Providing your customers with a selection of rewards which they can either accept or reject, you learn what type of offers your customers prefer and those which they’ll actually use. Over time, you can fine-tune your offers, and your customers get more of what they like. That means there’s a higher chance of them using their rewards, powering brand loyalty and ensuring that stickiness the clever rewards programs are known for.
Providing personal recommendations based on a customer’s purchase history
Not everything in life has to be free – sometimes a personalised recommendation goes a long way to building brand loyalty too. Got a new product that big data has told you will be a sure-fire hit with some customers? Pushing these recommendations via your rewards app will help drive sales – with money off the next purchase if your audience is willing to provide a review of said product (you’re welcome).
Being notified when new products or services are launched
Akin to the personal recommendations above, the ability to notify customers when you launch new products or services can be a great way to engage your audience base via your loyalty app. These notifications need to be relevant – as a vegetarian, I probably don’t want to be notified when you’ve put that new Big Bison Burger on the menu.
The ability to view detailed information on products
This one seems a bit ‘meh’ – but bear with me. In a world where suddenly everyone’s taking a vested interest in what goes into the food that they eat, its provenance, production, environmental and sustainability credentials, you bet I want to know what’s in that dairy-free cream bun, and if I’m helping or hindering the planet by eating it. Not critical, but hey, we’re talking loyalty here and my loyalties are to cleaner, greener, transparent businesses that are vocal about their social responsibility. It may not be big now, but who wants to be a follower when you lead by example?
Redeem rewards on relevant products and services – that is, personalized!
Your loyalty app should allow customers to redeem their rewards via the app – on products and services that are relevant to that customer. There’s little point at all in amassing a shed load of rewards on coffee that as a tea-drinker I’ll never purchase, or services that I’ll never use (like that discounted delivery service that feels rather pointless when I can walk to your outlet in less than 60 seconds).
The ability to order products and/or services via the app
… and the functionality to receive updates about order status. QSRs by their very nature are fast when it comes to service. But today’s consumer wants everything yesterday and waiting in a queue for more than 60 seconds can cause symptoms ranging from mild irritation to murderous rage (I speak from experience). As such, it makes sense for your loyalty app to provide the twitchy customer with the ability to order in advance and collect when turning up. You win for being an easy brand experience, and your customer wins for avoiding an uncomfortable restaurant rage incident.
Make it easy to settle the check
Ordering to collect, then having to wait ten minutes to pay while your staff struggle with the lunchtime rush makes absolutely no sense at all. Not only will the customer lose all sense of that warm, fuzzy jump-the- queue joy they experienced by being able to click-and-collect, you’ll also risk losing their custom to the outlet that bothered to make the whole purchase experience a seamless, irritation-free ride.
Make sure that rewards are relevant. Giving your customers a choice of how to engage with you, whether it’s via mobile, social or another platform, increases the likelihood of engagement.
The results are in … as more QSR brands embrace loyalty, the customer experience improves. And as the technologies that power our digital lives continue to advance, allowing brands to connect with customers in truly value-add, meaningful ways, mobile will undoubtedly be a core driver of this new customer-centric approach to growth. Already, the big QSR brands are making bigger waves across their customer base with their rewards apps – growing revenues, driving loyalty and laying the foundations of a truly mobile future. Who’s blowing the competition out of the water, doing rewards right, and strengthening their position in an increasingly crowded space? Check back next week to find out!
What to do next
Kumulos award winning omni-channel messaging gives you the platform to engage your audience and create loyal customers. Send rich, interactive push notifications that are personal and relevant to the user. Target the right users, in the right location, at the right time and optimize retention. Book your demo today and see how Kumulos can deliver real business results for your app.
Part One: The history – and importance – of customer loyalty
Megacity, small city, town or edge-of-town, few of us can step out of our own front door these days and walk but a short few steps before encountering an artisan coffee shop, pop-up pie stall or concept cake outlet. It seems everyone’s offering us a piece of their pie; but whilst many of these new cafe staples can bring tears to the eyes of traditionalists, competition for your loyalty to our new foodie overlords is fierce. It’s also just one reason why customer loyalty strategies sit at the very epicentre of their business models: if they fail to get your repeat business, wave bye-bye to that free turmeric latte next time you’re passing.
4 out of 5 people are more likely to engage with a brand that offers incentives (Loyalty360)
For cafés, fast food drive-thrus and other quick service restaurants, repeat business is critical for long-term success: it costs a business between five and twenty-five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one. What’s more, existing customers spend on average nearly 70% more than new customers. Key takeaway – customer loyalty matters — and well-planned, well-executed customer loyalty schemes will usually end up paying for themselves.
But hold your horses – it’s not as easy as printing a few stamp-cards and waiting for the stampede (no pun intended). It’s just that that loyalty is getting trickier and trickier to acquire the more crowded the sector becomes. Sure, a one-off donut purchase is great, but it’s hardly going to pave your drive-thru with gold, and nor is it going to have customers banging down your door for bags of the things for the next 20 years. No – it’s your devotees who sustain your business, and this fact of QSR life isn’t likely to be usurped any time in the future. Let’s tarry here for a second to emphasise:
Loyal customers convert and spend more often with brands that they like than the ones they’re indifferent about (or of course, actively dislike).
Loyal customers spend more than brand sluts (hey, don’t blame me – it’s a thing).
Loyal customers tell anyone and everyone about positive – and especially negative – brand experiences …
So what does reward look like for these loyal followers? Frequent purchase stamps, booking priorities, a free (extra large for me please) bag of fries or a custom-built 4-storey pizza of your choice – these kinds of loyalty programs are good at getting us back through the door for more, but how hard are they really working for the brands that run them, and could they be doing better? Hell, yes! A lot better! According to GartnerL2 research, 82% of US adults say they’re loyal to certain brands. That’s a lot of loyalty, but although many QSRs believe that their customers are salivating to buy into every loyalty program on the go, the fact is that only just over a quarter of us ever do – and another quarter of us don’t bother with loyalty programs at all. What’s more, only 27% of us think that the offers we get through these loyalty programs are actually relevant to us. In fact, these miserable figures are enough to make a brand think that loyalty probably isn’t that important anyway. Surely you’d be better off investing in other more profitable areas of your QSR business? Well maybe not …
A (very) brief history of loyalty …
Loyalty programs have come a long way since the Donny Osmond Fan Club’s purple lollipop giveaways to loyal fans circa 1974 (don’t ask me how I know). But if Donny doesn’t tick your boxes (what’s wrong with you?), what about Green Shield Stamps, Air Miles or the coupons on the top of cereal cartons and cookie boxes – all early(ish) examples of brands attempting to drive loyalty across their customer base, and all operating in an internet-less, mobile-void world. Today, the world around us is a different beast, driven by digital and a very new world order – though sadly minus Donny and his lollipops.
… and Loyalty in 2020
In my purse today, a Target, Walmart and Starbucks card selection, and a drawer full of others at home. I’ve also got over a dozen coupons to use at various malls, restaurants and leisure venues uptown, but I’m willing to bet I’ll never get round to using any of them. Traditional loyalty programs like these might sound good on paper ( does anyone use that these days?) but in reality, they’re just putting obstacles in our path. Forgot your card? Too bad – it’s full-price coffee for you today. Didn’t remember you have a $5 off coupon gathering cobwebs in your wallet? Sorry, love don’t live here anymore. Small wonder these programs do little for their creators. Sure, your customers might still be spending money with you, or maybe they got a better, more valuable deal elsewhere. But either way, how would you know what your customers are doing without the intel these programs are meant to gather?
91% of consumers suggest that omnichannel experiences are either important or critical, with 29% suggesting that companies should be where I want when I want, ready to share and communicate how I expect (CMO)
And yet, the well-planned, well-executed Loyalty programs work – for business, for customers and for the bottom line. The best of the bunch mix a robust understanding of customer behavior, a seamless brand experience across each touchpoint they’ll find you, and valuable, relevant rewards that give consumers a reason to stick with you. If you think loyalty’s for the marketing department with too much time on their hands, it might be time for a rethink:
You’ll find it easier – a lot easier – to retain and engage your customer base. Elements such as gamification through points and rewards will give your audience reasons to keep coming back to your app. It’s not all about the purchase – engaging your customers beyond a mere transaction is the name of the game.
You’ll save money, and likely a shed-load. As we’ve already pointed out, it costs a business far more to acquire new customers (five – twenty-five times more) than it does to sell to an existing one.
Over time, you’ll find you can stop competing on price – instead, this new playing field will see you enhancing the customer experience of your brand by connecting with them on far more meaningful, value-add terms.
You’ll enhance your CLV – or customer lifetime value. The data gleaned from your rewards program will mean that over time you’ll be able to calculate the CLV for each and every one of your customers and build out a business model which focuses on strategies to engage and retain them over the long-haul.
And you’ll inadvertently create brand advocates – OK, so maybe not inadvertently, but word-of-mouth is the key factor for between twenty and fifty percent of all purchasing decisions (Branderati), and 73% of millennials feel it’s their responsibility to help friends and family to make smarter purchasing decisions (the pressure!), you better be on that list of recommendations.
Convinced? You should be! Loyalty programs have moved on, now a crucial element of the successful QSR business model that’s delivering massive opportunities for growth and longevity in an increasingly crowded marketplace. The numbers speak for themselves – Starbucks rewards program has seen them add two million active users to the scheme in just twelve months; Chipotle’s loyalty program and accompanying app have seen the enterprise practically double its digital sales since launch, and Domino’s stratospheric leap up the app charts with it’s For the Love of Pizza loyalty campaign, has yet to be beaten. If you’re ready to bring the love to loyalty, check back next week to find out what mobile’s got to bring to the rewards party, and what your loyalty app needs to do to keep that love alive.
What to Do Next…
At Kumulos we understand what it takes to retain and engage users on loyalty apps. Our award winning omni-channel messaging platform gives you the tools to target the right users, in the right location at the right time. Book your demo today and see how Kumulos can deliver real business results for apps.