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Mobile Web and Mobile Apps: Creating the Right Balance to Gain Customers and Build Loyalty

by: Sharon Nei (@IBMforMarketing)
24 August 2016

Few brands today achieve the intricate balance between mobile web and mobile app needed to attract and retain their customers long-term. In fact, while mobile is typically a top contributor to digital traffic, it’s often not the key driver of sales.

Industry experts often argue about whether mobile websites or mobile apps generate better results. The answer will vary based on your industry and customer base, but both can typically play an important role in driving engagement, sales and loyalty. To gain the most out of these mobile channels, brands must understand how and why their customers are using the mobile web or a mobile app along their customer journeys.

Beginning the Journey through the Mobile Web

In today’s on-the-go society where we’re always connected and often multitasking, the mobile web is a readily available and convenient platform. Whether browsing or buying, consumers have access to a plethora of sites, all a quick finger tap away. Consequently, mobile web is one of the biggest sources of new customers, with consumers perusing mobile web storefronts and making purchases where they can find relevant deals.

Because the mobile web is often the first point of engagement for new customers, first impressions and experiences determine whether customers will convert or do business with the brand in the future. The key here is to convert new customers by delivering a better, more seamless mobile experiences. New customers are more likely to return in the future if their mobile experience is memorable and enjoyable.

However, even brands who deliver a strong mobile experience often face the challenge of retaining customers who make one-time transactions over mobile web. These contacts tend to visit multiple websites to get the best discounts and aren’t always loyal to a particular brand. Rock-bottom deals pull these people in, but they’re not enough for customers to become advocates. In many cases, mobile apps can help drive loyalty and repeat business, so consider using transactional and post-purchase emails to mobile purchasers to invite them to download your app.

Fostering Loyalty Through Mobile Apps

Brands should utilize mobile apps to target and nurture loyal customers. The tricky part for brands is how to drive customers to download and use their mobile apps. The truth is there isn’t a cookie-cutter answer or any magic potion that will incentivize customers to use a mobile app.

Some brands have increased app engagement by increasing experiential capabilities that provide customers with cool new features that enhance their mobile experience. For example, brands have started leveraging capabilities only available to mobile apps to allow customers to take a photo for check deposits, unlock their hotel room with a tap, and get notifications or promotions based on their location.

The enhanced experience available via mobile apps leads to increased interaction and spend over time, with customers less likely to switch to a competitor. This is a win-win scenario, but cultivating these loyal customers through the mobile web is a step that cannot be ignored. Acquiring loyal customers is a process that requires brands to earn the trust of consumers from the first mobile interaction.

Mobile Web and App Implementation Across Industries

Mobile web and apps aren’t just relevant to retailers. These mobile channels are crucial for multiple industries, including financial services, insurance, telecommunications, travel and utilities.

Similar to retailers, travel and hospitality industries gain loyal customers through integrated experiences that allow customers to easily manage their entire trip on the go. During the initial phases, customers will often book hotels, flights and vacation packages through the mobile site. Over time, these customers will often switch over to the mobile app so they can easily check in or upgrade their flights, choose their hotel rooms and use their digital keys to unlock their rooms.

For financial services, insurance, telecommunications and utility industries, companies must have a safe and reliable mobile app in which existing customers can make easy bill payments, money transfers and look up personal information. However, these companies also need to have a mobile web presence so prospective customers can quickly research their products and services without having to download their mobile app.

Ultimately, brands must create a mobile strategy by designing their mobile web and mobile app experiences based on their customers’ behaviors and desires. By understanding the underlying reasons why customers visit a mobile website or a mobile app, brands are in a better position to create a seamless mobile experience that takes customers on a journey from first impression to lasting loyalty.

Improve mobile experiences on your mobile web and applications with these five tips from IBM Mobile Behavior Analysis.




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