Top 3 Mobile Engagement Tactics to Pursue in 2017

15th Feb 2017

Each year more and more shoppers decide to avoid chaotic in-store shopping experiences around Christmas, the January sales, and Black Friday – hardly surprising given the scenes broadcast across news channels of fighting customers and car park pandemonium. To ensure that they are still reaching these customers online and on mobile, retailers are adjusting their communication strategies. On a highly personal channel like mobile, it is even more crucial to get the strategy right from the beginning. For brands with mobile apps, a careful balance must be struck, otherwise they risk alienating users who might opt-out of notifications — or even go as far as to delete the app altogether.

With this ever-changing consumer shopping behaviour, how did retailers cut-through in 2016 whilst driving additional m-commerce, and, more importantly, what did we learn from these tactics to provide value and shape mobile strategies in 2017?

One of the key shopping periods which gives us the most opportunity to analyse retail strategies is the weekend consisting of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While the term “Cyber Monday” was originally coined to mark one day of prominent online spending, it’s now evident that the digital world is on pace to take over the entire Black Friday weekend — if not the entire Christmas shopping season.

The numbers from 2016’s holiday season make it clear that the game has changed:

  • In the U.K., shoppers spent an estimated £1.23B online on Black Friday, 12% higher than in 2015 according to SimilarWeb and IMRG.
  • Affiliate Window tracked £57M of online sales and found that 42% of them were made on mobile devices.
  • ChannelAdvisor reported that between Thanksgiving and Cyber Sunday in the U.K., 73% of shopping searches took place on mobile, up 15% from 2015.

As retailers responded to the growing competition for attention on mobile, we noticed an expansion of mobile tactics and touch points that were less common in years prior. Since many retailers have already begun preparations for the big shopping periods in 2017 we’ve highlighted three fundamental tactics to keep in mind to round out retail mobile strategies:

1. In-App Notifications

According to our benchmark studies, in-app notifications see can see read rates that are up to 8x higher than push notification direct open rates. Therefore, they are a crucial tactic in any well rounded mobile engagement strategy. In-app notifications don’t require an opt-in, so they allow apps to reach users who don’t receive push notifications. On top of this, there is no better time to prompt a user to take immediate action than when they are already engaged with your app. With one click or button tap, shoppers are able to check-out sale listings, save a coupon code, or learn about a new offer such as free shipping. does this well, for example in November they sent messages offering an exclusive “early access” to Black Friday deals and low shipping costs – keeping customers highly engaged within the app.

2. Mobile Wallet

Mobile wallets are pre-installed on newer iOS and Android devices, offering a ready-made opportunity for brands to easily provide native mobile experiences. There’s never been an easier way for businesses to gain a persistent, personalised and proactive mobile connection to customers. And even better, consumers are telling brands that they’d like to use them more! Our research shows that mobile wallet is one of the top four ways consumers want to hear about sales/special offers.

Additionally, mobile wallets can solve common pitfalls of traditional loyalty programs with physical cards. Only one-third of consumers say they always use their loyalty card. The top reasons for not using them? 43% say they forget to bring the card and 40% forget they are part of the loyalty program. In addition, 73% of consumers are more likely to join loyalty programs if points and rewards are automatically updated and visible on mobile wallet loyalty cards. And the numbers are just as positive for mobile coupons, which are often forgotten at home or left to expire.

Even better, marketers can do all this in very little time and without creating a standalone app.

3. App Promotions

The holidays are a great time for app user acquisition. This past November, daily app installs averaged more than 696,000 per day across 200 retailers, up 24% from the average daily rate in October.

Retail app installs spiked above 900k on Thanksgiving and the following Saturday, with Black Friday peaking at more than 1.2M app installs. It’s clear many retailers boosted downloads by offering app-only deals and promoting them to in-store shoppers.

We also noticed retailers taking advantage of each and every opportunity to remind users about the value of their app and get the word out about new features. Retailers sent 56% more holiday notifications in 2016 than in 2015. This is especially noteworthy as 2015’s notification volumes were a 63% increase over 2014. Average consumer engagement rates responded well to this increase, climbing for the third straight year to 19%.

As part of this effort, specific app updates were made by brands during peak shopping periods. The app store update notes were put to use as another opportunity to reinforce special offers and also call out the new features. Some apps pulled out all the stops, even updating their icon to include a seasonally themed image.

Record-breaking 2016 continued to demonstrate the importance the small screen has on driving sales during the busiest shopping periods of the year. Retailers embraced the power of targeting and a range of messaging strategies in order to get the most out of this channel, and we expect the competition for consumer attention on mobile to increase significantly before the next peak shopping season in 2017.




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