Marketers are doubling down on channels they can count on to drive ROI, and apps are at the forefront. More businesses now turn to advanced app strategies, because they drive better business outcomes, like improving customer loyalty and lifetime value. As consumer expectations increase for omnichannel experiences and more apps become available, how can you ensure that your brand cuts through?
At Google we’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of advertisers to accelerate their business growth with apps. Through years of experience, we’ve learned what works. Here are three areas to prioritize as you formulate (or reformulate) your app strategy to delight consumers and drive profitable growth.
1. Grow ROI with seamless omnichannel experiences
Consumers now use apps to do things that used to require a laptop, a phone call, or even a trip across town. Remember waiting in line at the bank? Today many financial institutions have created apps that put the bank branch in the customer’s pocket. Several newer banks have foregone branches altogether, choosing instead to make their app the center of the customer experience.
Increasingly, customers also turn to apps as a valuable in-store shopping companion. In fact, 78% of customers who own a smartphone have used a retailer’s app while shopping in-store over the past 12 months.1
What’s driving this behavior? Apps can provide customers with unique value to make their in-store experiences better, like offering inventory and price checks, enabling quick coupon searches, or even automatically sequencing items on a shopping list to help people navigate store aisles efficiently. So as consumer expectations rise and online and offline experiences blur, marketers should adapt by breaking down internal organizational silos.
Our Web to App Connect results have been phenomenal; ROI has improved by 75%.
Marketers are also leaning on new technological solutions to create better experiences across brand touchpoints. Web to App Connect, for example, helps ensure that customers who already have your app installed will land on the most relevant in-app content after clicking your ads. This improves both customer experience and campaign performance. On average, Web to App Connect delivers a 2X higher conversion rate for clicks that land in-app versus a mobile website.2
Online fashion retailer BooHoo.com is a powerful example of how Web to App Connect can improve the bottom line. Like many companies, BooHoo’s mobile app users have higher conversion rates than other customers, but the brand’s usual digital ad campaign practice of driving all users to its website resulted in a suboptimal experience for app users.
To remedy this, the team used Web to App Connect to instead direct customers to compelling content right inside the mobile app, providing a seamless experience that increased conversions. As Nicola Black, BooHoo’s senior manager of paid media shared, “The results have been phenomenal; ROI has improved by 75%.”
2. Grow loyalty — and profits — through existing and new customers
When a user downloads a brand’s app and places it on their home screen, the brand has a rare opportunity to build a direct, one-to-one relationship. Retailers do this well by providing app users with added convenience through features like in-store wayfinding, faster checkouts, and exclusive discounts.
It appears to be working. Retail brands that design app journeys to drive customer loyalty have a Net Promoter Score that’s 32% better than retailers that do not. The vast majority of retailers also derive incremental business value from app users. As many as 87% agree that their app users are more loyal and have higher lifetime value than nonusers. Moreover, 83% of U.S. retailers agree that app customers tend to make more purchases compared to non-app customers.3
Now that there’s seemingly an app for everything, it’s critical to ensure that customers know your app is available. A great way to do that is through a promotional push using App campaigns in Google Ads. Powered by Google AI, App campaigns allow you to provide your creative assets and goals to promote your app across Google’s largest properties, all from a single paid campaign.
These campaigns are effective at reaching new customers quickly and at scale, and can even help drive better organic performance. According to Data.ai, 45% of Amazon’s app activity comes from paid installs.4 So it stands to reason that Amazon’s app strategy helped drive the company’s 17-percentage-point increase in e-commerce share between 2016 and 2021.
But here’s a reality check: Getting users to download your app doesn’t guarantee they’ll use it. Since only 37% of consumers enable push notifications when they download apps across different categories,5 it can be difficult to notify the vast majority of app users about discounts, features, and other news.
Fortunately, overcoming this hurdle is possible. One way to do it is through a reengagement strategy, which is also available through App campaigns. Using this approach, you can reengage specific customers — such as users who made a purchase right after they downloaded your app but then churned — by serving them an ad with a new offer available inside the app.
3. Grow first-party data for long-term success
As access to cookies, ad IDs, and other personal identifiers deteriorates, the future of marketing requires a strong foundation of consented first-party data. It will be essential to effectively measure conversions and reach consumers with relevant ads.
Apps are a valuable tool that can set you up for success by creating a compelling value exchange with customers.
Apps are a valuable tool that can set you up for success by allowing you to create a compelling value exchange with customers. One powerful example of this is an app that offers users a seamless and efficient shopping experience.
Audiences, especially younger consumers, have grown to expect less friction when making a purchase. In a recent global study, we found that Gen Z (45%) and millennials (48%) are significantly more likely than Gen X (36%) and boomers (28%) to say a retailer having their account and payment information on file is important in their decision to shop with them regularly.6 And with Gen Z comprising nearly 30% of the global population, they’re quickly becoming the new shopping powerhouse. Brands must appeal to their specific habits and preferences to keep up.
Collecting this information, however, requires a strategy. In a survey of app developers on how to effectively build first-party data, we found it’s important to follow three common best practices.7
First, be transparent with users about how their information will be used in your app. Second, show users how you will deliver a better experience for them when they share information with you through your app. And finally, in exchange for the value provided to your users, encourage them to create an account in-app and sign in.
As consumers spend more time on apps, successful marketers will unlock new opportunities to build direct relationships between their brand and their customers. Ultimately, those who prioritize superior app journeys and app solutions will be positioned to delight consumers and drive ROI for their business over years to come.