Mobile & CRM: Pulling consumer data into your app experiences

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Is it time to stop worrying about presence and downloads and start asking whether your apps are delivering ROI?

Brand and retail mobile apps have moved rapidly from being brochureware and advertising to customer engagement and real commerce experiences. As we discussed in the first post in this series, many of the tools used to optimize these experiences still live in mobile silos, which delivers great apps, but not always great business results. Mobile optimization tools which integrate CRM and other customer data systems into the app experience are starting to deliver value for those working with them.

As Samir Addamine, Founder of FollowAnalytics puts it, ‘our customers have quickly gone from “I need an app” to “I need downloads” to “I need business impact”.’ He continues, “whether it’s helping transit companies starting to sell more tickets on mobile [than on the PC], or mapping ecommerce shopping cart abandonment to real-world shop visits, we are linking mobile app usage to the real business of [the company].” It’s perhaps telling that many of the requirements are framed in terms of multichannel activity with the PC as a strong component today. It’s likely that more and more of these companies will move to a mobile-first interaction model with their customers. But even as we see 50, 60 or 70 percent of customers on mobile, more devices (whether watches and fitness trackers or smart home thermostats) will deliver more data back to companies, and repay customized responses. That is to say even as we move to a mobile world, we are not going to be a single device world. Businesses and customer will do best with experiences optimized across all those devices, and where data from all those device interactions feeds back to enhance the next cycle of the the relationship. Under Armour’s acquisitions in the fitness tracking space are just one example of a non-technology consumer brand that is going to be able to think about about additional data points as it communicates with its customers.

“A mobile app is most effective when tightly focused”
Nothing about adding customer data from CRM or other business systems to optimize a mobile app experience should take away from a core principle: a mobile app is most effective when tightly focused. The best mobile apps are still going to be narrow and deep. Understanding when to break functionality into multiple apps can be challenging, especially when companies have customers with different roles (which might be as simple as buying different products, or a completely end user different workflow). In this context it’s interesting to see how many brands do have multiple apps (more than 60% of the companies a recent FollowAnalytics survey had more than one app, and many had more than ten (!)). A fun make-up tester app should likely not part of the same app as a store map and inventory checker, but the best customer experience should come from understanding both are being used by the same person. Apps which can do everything will rarely be as effective, even when optimized, as very focused apps, and consumers will get confused if the same app appears to be doing too much.

Actually enabling this level of integration has been a challenge. Perhaps because mobile apps have become much better instrumented in the past few years responsibility has often shifted, appropriately, into marketing departments from IT. Those teams still feel the pain of development cost and integration. Work done by FollowAnalytics 53 percent of the surveyed marketers cited IT costs and other development issues as reasons why they were not yet integrating customer data into apps. followanalytics-survey-what-crm-challengesYet because many the user experience elements being optimized in the apps are common (you don’t optimize one component based on mobile flow, another based on user location, and a third based on previous customer activity) it makes sense to look for consistent tools and ideally a single responsible party on the app owner side. As marketers get used to being able to A/B test and optimize apps without IT help, they are going to want to pull in customer data too. Not all of the mobile marketing optimization tools have caught up.

In conclusion- if you haven’t thought about how to integrate customer data into your app experiences already you should be. Such tools are emerging and even as customers spend more time in your mobile apps you’ll find more data from even more consumer touch points to integrate.

Customers are on mobile (too), is CRM data informing the cross-platform experience? — Your app is optimized, and push notifications are getting delivered as users get close to your store: why do you still feel you are missing that real 1:1 customer engagement?
Your app is in your customer’s hand- how do you maximize that touch point? — Bridging the chasm between the app experiences you deliver and the customer data that is informing your sales and marketing.

This is the second of a short series of sponsored posts on integrating traditional CRM data into mobile app marketing strategies. It was brought to you by FollowAnalytics and opinions are my own.