Gamechanging App Experiences: 4 Ways Marketers Are Cutting Through the Clutter

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With the number of apps quickly creeping toward two million, and mobile users getting much tougher to impress, what does it take to keep driving downloads—and the kind of buzz that warrants front and center placement in the app store?

The secret sauce: Creating a truly unique experience that makes a memorable, emotional impact on your customers, the kind that transforms ordinary individuals into loyal fans. Developing original features isn’t just about getting people to relinquish some of their precious smartphone real estate. It’s about sharing something truly useful with customers that gives them a strong positive connection with your brand.

You don’t need huge dollars to become a mobile gamechanger: You can set yourself apart by getting creative with features, and being willing to take calculated risks. Jump-start the whiteboarding for your app’s own breakout experiences by learning from others: These four marketers are putting new spins on mobile gamification, experimenting with predictive shopping, and establishing partnerships to bring something new, buzz-worthy and ultimately, essential to their mobile experiences.

Gamified Giving: Retailers who want to give back to loyal customers this holiday season have a best-in-show example with Target’s Bullseye’s Playground experience. Last winter, Target enabled shoppers to play six branded, interactive mobile games featuring bull terrier mascot Bullseye, a feature that enhanced the in-store experience for children while keeping the brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds while on-the-go. The cincher: Target donated $1 per each game played to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Not only did this lead to a barrage of app downloads, but it also painted a halo effect over the retailer – one that fueled a memorable and charitable interaction for customers.

Astrologically Aligned Shopping: One trendy jewelry marketer, Alex and Ani, is using predictive shopping via its brand new app. Customers are prompted to input personal information and birth dates, upon which the brand curates a list of related products with their zodiac signs, birthstones, initials, and tree symbol. They can later virtually stack suggested products on an image of a hand to view the full look before purchasing. For astrology enthusiasts, the app offers personalized horoscopes and zodiac profiles to ensure that its branding philosophy aligns with shoppers’ interests.

In-App Cross-Partnerships: Event marketer StubHub found its golden ticket when it integrated with Uber in its mobile app. When consumers purchase tickets via StubHub’s platform, they are given the chance to set an in-app reminder to later request an Uber ride to the venue. If tickets are bought two hours prior to an event starting, customers may immediately book their rides directly from StubHub’s app. Seamless? Definitely. Memorable, with real utility for future transactions? Even more so.

Beacon-Enabled Grocery Shopping: Clorox tapped shopping app CheckPoints to enable beacon technology and send individuals in grocery stores push notifications, enticing them to swipe for simple dinner solutions. After doing so, the shoppers were guided to the aisle location of the brand’s Hidden Valley products before receiving another ad unit with relevant recipe ideas. Customers undoubtedly appreciated the extra help from their smartphones, especially if they were lucky enough to receive a coupon – the ultimate call-to-action.

The take-home: integrating out-of-the-box experiences into your mobile app is an essential approach to fuel word-of-mouth brand awareness and future engagement. Let other apps get lost in a crowded marketplace. Cause just enough disruption to re-energize your loyal customers and captivate new ones.

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