The world has changed drastically in the past few months. For app users worldwide, this sudden shift has meant reevaluating the apps they use. Whereas before the pandemic it was a valid choice for companies to define an app’s strategy in terms of differentiation, it is worth asking if this still holds up. Changes in users’ behavior might be unpredictable, but we are already starting to see some trends.
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Brands need to reflect this shift, and so do their apps. Companies have some tough choices to make. They either differentiate their brands and their respective apps from competitors, or they seek an experimental road that might make them relevant to customers.
Choosing between these two alternatives is very hard. Sometimes both can be achieved, but in the majority of cases, due to the circumstances, it is either one or the other. To make it easier for you, in this post we share our opinion on how apps can help maintain your customers engaged and the right strategy to do it.
Plan for Disruption
At this point, we are all probably tired of hearing how things have changed. Even worse, we’re probably fed up with not knowing what will happen in the short term, something that used to be characteristic of the long term.
From a wide-eyed perspective, events like the pandemic have shown us that black swan events are not only highly impactful and uncertain. They can also reshuffle the business landscape, favoring some while hurting others. This means that companies need to be resilient enough in order to overcome future disruptions. Being unable to do so is what will separate those that sink from those that stay afloat.
Traditionally, companies have opted to differentiate themselves from competitors in order to strengthen their brands. However, in these uncertain times, this alternative seems to be wearing out. To maintain a connection with customers, brands need to talk to them in a new way. No longer is it valid to just say something different than competitors. A true connection must be established, and in order to do that, it is necessary to listen.
This poses a major challenge for many companies and their brands. For users to prefer them, it is necessary to deliver that extra something that everyone, at some level, wants. The challenge is figuring out what that is and translating it to a successful app branding.
Understanding consumer mindsets is quite daunting. Figuring out what different people want is not only hard. It is also a gamble, as we will never be sure if the right choice was made. Nonetheless, there are quite a few things that we can take as a given right away.
For a start, it is necessary to embrace the fact that continuity does not last forever. Systemic disruptions can alter the world in ways we can’t even imagine, so consumers want something they can rely on whatever the outcome is. Secondly, we can rest assured that, during times of crisis, consumers want the things that best represent their interests, whichever they are. This does not mean prioritizing essential goods over others, but rather choosing what matters to us as individuals. Lastly, we can be certain that being consumer-centered during difficult times is very likely to produce positive results. After all, it isn’t about what a company wants, but rather how it can satisfy what its customers want.
These three questions will surely help you figure out what your customers want:
- Is this something valuable for them?
- Will they get meaning out of this?
- Can they trust my brand?
The goal you want to achieve through these questions is to understand how you can connect with your base. That can only be done through trust.
Build Trustworthy Apps
For many companies in very diverse industries, generating trust with customers right now has become very complicated. With more people going digital, apps have become the main touchpoint between brands and companies. In other words, everyone is a user now.
This means a radical change in the way companies think about app marketing strategy and how to relate to customers. For many, transforming their businesses to digital was not an option. Although some feel they might have achieved it, the truth is that there is much to be done in order to connect with customers on a significant level through digital channels.
Apps have the potential to connect with customers at a deep level through powerful User Experiences (UX) and Affective Computing. Doing so requires going beyond the average app. It demands a world-class app that guarantees users that their needs are met, that they are done in a way that will not put them or their loved ones in danger, and that their opinions are truly taken into account.
Delivering outstanding customer service through the right channels, having the right delivery methods, guaranteeing secure and easy payments, and making sure that your app is easy to use are just some of the things to keep in mind. To do so, it is important to understand your customers’ journey. You need to make sure that they feel you are trying to reach out to them, even if it is primarily through an app.
This is not something that you’ll achieve from day one. It will require patience, dedication, and making lots of mistakes. You will probably have to change many aspects of your app that you thought were great but your users don’t necessarily agree with. Only by finding out what works and what doesn’t will you be able to establish a genuine and honest connection with your app’s users.
App Strategy: Stay Relevant
So, is app differentiation the right way to do so? Although it might still be a relevant strategy, these chaotic times seem to get along better with staying relevant. App differentiation falls short on establishing deep connections because it tends to look at what other companies are doing instead of what users want. Meanwhile, app relevance forces companies to focus on users and customers. The goal with this is to create value for them, not for the company directly. By doing so, companies can create value for themselves, but first, they need to focus on their users.
There is no magical formula to do this. Companies need to embrace uncertainty and reorganize themselves to confront a fast-changing world. They need to become agile, flexible, and most importantly, customer-centric.
Not all companies are prepared to do so, and there is nothing wrong with this. The challenge, however, is to build a world-class app your users will love when you are not prepared to do so. Luckily, companies like Koombea exist.