To Master Customer Engagement, Think Outside the App

0aaaRoberto Marzo MessageBird

When the App Store opened more than a decade ago, smartphone users couldn’t have possibly imagined the vast array of tools they would hold in the palms of their hands today. Each of us is now individually armed with a digital swiss-army knife of apps, personally curated to cater to each and every one of our wants and needs. We have instant access to almost anything we want, whenever we want it. This level of convenience has become so prevalent that it is now the consumer expectation. In fact, in a study fielded by American Express U.S. consumers say they’re willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service. 

But, as it turns out, that level of convenience doesn’t come free.  

Not Another App!

Convenience today may be king, but the consumer obsession with it has also contributed to an overwhelming amount of digital clutter. Consider this — 77% of app usage time is spent in a consumer’s top three most used apps, leaving only 23% of time for “other” apps. And, if you consider that the leading activity in apps is digital audio, followed by social networking, the chance of any particular business app rising to the top diminishes considerably.


While apps are useful tools for the loyalists who already love your brand, making a potential customer download yet another app on an overly congested device may not be the solution. A recent report from App Annie shows that the average U.S. consumer has more than 100 apps on their phone, but only uses about 40 of those apps — which means there is a 60% chance that your app is or will sit idle on a consumer’s device. 

Breaking Through The Clutter

With these sobering statistics in mind, there is still every reason to go mobile. After all, consumers spent 18 billion hours on shopping apps in 2018. Even if a consumer prefers to shop in store, they may not find what they’re looking for. The mobile takeover is, in large part, responsible for the widespread closing of storefronts and shopping malls around the globe. Even the most affluent areas of the world are not immune, with about 20% of Manhattan storefronts sitting vacant. Perhaps that’s why those who have embraced digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their peers. 

There is no question that retailers need to have a mobile strategy, but what should that strategy be when breaking through the clutter is an imperative?  

An Antidote To App Fatigue

The ultimate goal for customer engagement is to fit seamlessly into an already digitally congested lifestyle. To achieve this goal, businesses are now thinking outside of their own apps to create maximum convenience and foster long-term relationships with their customers. How? By reaching customers on the messaging channels their customers prefer and are already using. 

Businesses today are realizing that they need not reinvent the wheel or build yet another app. To maintain strong communication with customers, businesses are meeting customers on the channels they are already using — SMS, WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger, you name it.  What’s more is that the conversations that businesses are having with their customers are not unlike the conversations between friends. When you think about it, each time you talk to a friend, you pick up the conversation right where you left off. There’s no going back and recounting each previous conversation. And, when you talk with your friends, the conversation can happen when it’s convenient for you — it may take place over the course of hours or even days, if you choose. This is the type of communication businesses are now enabling their customers to have and it’s not as difficult as you think.  

While adding new channels for customer communication can feel intimidating, the fact is that the more communications platforms have advanced, the more user-friendly they’ve become. For example, low- and no-code tools are making enhanced communications accessible to a wider array of businesses — even those without deep developer resources. Visual Builders enables anyone from a marketing manager to a line of business lead to create personalized experiences that customers value.

We’re all aware of the success of companies like Amazon and Nordstrom whose “customer first” approaches have created the kind of convenience that keeps customers coming back. The good news is that building these types of experiences and managing the maze of communications channels is no longer out of reach for even the smallest business. With today’s cloud communications platforms, the maze is becoming easier to navigate.


Roberto Marzo is MessageBird’s Head of Business Strategy and Demand Generation. Prior to MessageBird, Roberto served as Vice President of Sales Strategy for Salesforce, where he led EMEA sales strategy and operations. Roberto resides in Dublin. 

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