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5 Features Your Mobile App Needs to Boost Engagement

5 Features Your Mobile App Needs to Boost Engagement

Rahul Varshneya

mobile app optimization

Revolutionize your digital customer experience by ensuring your mobile app is up to snuff

Today, with millions of apps available, making sure that yours stands out from the crowd is a tall order. What distinguishes your app from others is how well you can keep your customers engaged and optimize their overall experience.

Customer experience (CX) has gone down to become the next big thing in app development. A recent marketing study predicted that customer experience will be more important than the price of the product, as well as product itself in the near future.

This simply implies that your mobile application should have each and every element in the right proportion to keep up with the customer’s expectations and stay on the top of the game.

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In this piece, we will look at five features app developers need to incorporate within their mobile app in order to upswing customer experience and boost engagement.

Accessibility

Accessibility is the practice of making your app usable for as many people as possible. For most mobile app users today, nothing quite matches the frustration of accidentally tapping ‘Cancel’ when wanting to tap ‘Save’ or vice versa. Keep the buttons close to each other on your mobile app, and you’ve easily scored one huge mess!

When designing a mobile app, first ensure that you understand key accessibility components pertinent to your target audience. For instance, most people use their thumb to tap on a mobile screen. Those who opt for two-handed usage use one or another finger for tapping. Therefore, try to contemplate the accessibility zones that these two styles create, their overlaps and make sure the action options and call-to-action buttons are placed within these overlap areas. The overall accessibility of an app is judged by how it improves the ease of use for all people, regardless of ability level.

In 2018, iTaxi, a platform (similar to FreeNow, Lyft, Uber or Bolt) that connects users and licensed cab drivers, optimized its mobile app for the visually impaired and blind. The company aimed at making the app more accessible for these users.

“The most crucial element in designing for accessibility is an understanding of the end-user’s perspective. We had to learn how the blind or visually impaired use our mobile application, and we were quite surprised by how fast they managed it with assistive technologies,” said Katarzyna Małecka, UX designer and researcher, in a 2018 interview with Mind the Product. “We had assumed that the more descriptive the application was, the easier it would be to use by those less able to see. We thought that these people use the app studiously, carefully going from one element to another. How wrong we were! A blind person can hail a taxi almost instantaneously, provided that the app—meaning us, the designers, developers, managers— doesn’t stop them from doing so.”

Interactivity

Better interactions capture the user’s attention, engage them and give you a strong thread to develop while guiding the customer toward your business’s end goal. Mobile app developers are increasingly aligning with the idea of developing web interfaces on the basis of anticipated user behaviors and thought-out actions.

Businesses that comprehend interaction contexts, user profiles and buyer personas deliver memorable customer experiences.

Now is a great time to determine if you have the answers to these crucial questions:

  • Who are the target customers for whom the mobile interaction is being designed?
  • Are these customers experienced mobile users or just beginners?
  • What activates this mobile interaction for the customer?
  • What information is needed for them to complete their goal of using the mobile interaction mechanism?

Answers to these questions will help you design the customer journey for your mobile apps. This “journey” will then act as the input for the wireframe of the mobile application, after which comes the design.

Interactive elements in your mobile app can also play a vital role in keeping your customers engaged, especially when targeting younger generations. Exceptional customer experiences can be delivered on mobile apps by leveraging principles of good communication. For Instance, MailChimp’s mobile app uses images of hand gestures to signify completion of desirable actions on the user side.

screenshot of MailChimp's mobile app, displaying confirmation messages

Deep Linking

Deep links have become a vital part of the mobile marketer’s toolkit. Mobile users have high expectations. It isn’t enough for mobile apps to be reliable, fast and secure anymore—users demand a more personalized experience. That is precisely what deep links help you deliver.

Instead of merely launching an app and leaving users at the home screen, app deep linking takes users to a specific screen within your app. Think product profiles, pages, new content or shopping carts. Deep links can take users to in-app content directly from:

  • Web links
  • Ads
  • Push notifications
  • SMS texts
  • Emails
  • Social media posts
  • App to app
  • Search result listing (using app indexing)

Now, rendering seamless user experiences across a mobile ecosystem that has been cracked open can be very challenging, with marketers often not knowing where to pause.

A few years ago, the team at Adobe Spark faced a similar challenge as it sought to drive more downloads of its mobile app. Difficulty linking across channels and devices made it challenging for customers to find the specific information they were looking for within their mobile app.

“The new customer would download the app, only to be perplexed when they were dropped onto the app’s home screen and expected to find and pull in their own design manually,” says Thibault Imbert, former head of growth for Adobe Spark. “Obviously, this wasn’t just a bad experience, but terrible for conversion because the customer was lost. Many of us considered it a broken experience.” 

Using Branch, a mobile deep-linking platform, the Adobe Spark team was able to use the same links across channels, while simultaneously tracking insight for all its marketing activities—which was just what Imbert’s team needed.

Adobe Spark stats after using Branch to measure and improve cross-channel customer experience

Deep linking enables app developers and marketers to polish the way users interact with their app. With deep links, mobile marketers can design personalized campaigns. It’s the perfect tool for marketers to drive engagement and retain users within the mobile app by bringing them to specific conversion points within it, tailored by their stated interests and past behavior.

Segmented Targeting

Segmenting app users results in higher conversion rates, engagement and, eventually, revenue. Today, 55% of marketers are prioritizing more effective audience segmentation and targeting to deliver on their customer experience management goals.

Segmenting allows you to send targeted in-app messages, which increases:

  • Personalization of your messages
  • Likelihood your customers will buy from you
  • How well customers feel you understand them

Marne Litfin, product content strategist of Audience Builder (a digital segmentation tool), presented an excellent example of how segmentation can be leveraged within a mobile app to improve its customer experience and boost engagement.

In a recent interview with Adjust, Litfin said, “Let’s say that you have a flagship app where users can review local businesses and restaurants, and you want to push them into a food delivery service app. It’s a perfect fit—users can review and read about places they’d like to eat, then go directly into the new app and order from those same restaurants with a seamless user experience.

“By pairing up your flagship app to a segmentation tool, you can get a list of device IDs known to it. This will then create individualized segments, with which you could build a segment of known users who are very active in this case. Your segment could contain only users with long session times, or users who have recently triggered a search or left a review. You can have your network target those users with ads for your new app. You can even skip the network altogether and create a push notification campaign that sends pushes containing deep links, for example, 10 minutes after a user has searched for a restaurant, encouraging them to download the new app and place an order.”

Constant Innovation

An average U.S. adult spends approximately three hours and 15 minutes a day on mobile apps alone. The huge surge in adoption and popularity of mobile apps is not just owed to the unmatched convenience they offer, but also to their potential to unleash innovation that transforms the way people look at mobile phones.

The secret to the success of a mobile app isn’t just good user flow, that it might have solved a problem or made users’ lives easier. It’s about innovation! It’s that the creators are always thinking about how they can add to the customer’s experience and enhance their lives. And in the fast-moving world of mobile applications, it’s the customer that matters.

One excellent example of constant innovation to enhance customer experience in the mobile app realm is that of Coachella’s mobile app. 

Coachella’s audience is tech-savvy, young and hard to impress, which left the popular music festival’s organizers with a real challenge when looking to amplify the festival experience and boost engagement. Yet the Coachella mobile app has become central to maximizing the enjoyment of the event that most visitors instantly fall in love once they try it.

That’s because the app allows users to personalize everything. They can use it to navigate the sprawling venue and discover activities; find food and beverage vendors and amenities; look at a real-time virtual lost and found; and purchase merchandise online. And, they can do all of it while listening to their personally curated playlist.

This year’s mobile app also included an innovative new augmented reality (AR) feature. Users gained exclusive access to AR art installations across the venue. Want a picture of you cutting up the dance floor with a disco shark? The app makes that and much more possible as part of its commitment to creating a better experience for customers.

Get to Work!

As the marketing realm becomes hyper-competitive, more businesses are finding value in mobile apps to revolutionize customer experience and boost engagement. Apps enable marketer to forge a solid mobile presence, with custom-made interfaces designed specifically to tailor the best possible experience for customers. Apps automate many routine tasks, streamline the customer’s buying process and enable new possibilities to drive engagement.

With brands now progressing toward a high-stakes game, carefully designed mobile apps have become a precious tool to gain a competitive edge. Building a mobile application requires the right mix of technology, design, usability and foresight. Marketers who can correctly identify their customers’ path to purchasing and engagement, and optimize their mobile apps accordingly, stand to come out on top.

Illustration by Bill Murphy.

Rahul Varshneya is co-founder and president of CurveBreak. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader in numerous media channels such as Bloomberg TV, Forbes, Huffpost and Inc., among others.