Bringing emotional experiences to mobile applications is the foundation of brand loyalty in the smartphone era. Given the average time spent on one’s phone in a day and the increasing number of connected devices any one consumer may possess, harnessing emotional data to create deeper connections between consumers and brands is more critical than ever.
In an ever-saturated landscape, this emotion helps to build trust, create value, and develop positive connotations of your brand in consumers’ day-to-day mobile activities. The payoff of doing this successfully can be huge, from accelerated sales growth to increases in market share.
Emotional Response as a Mobile Strategy
Research conducted by Deloitte found that 58% of consumers have a favorite brand for an emotional reason, overshadowing other factors like rational considerations and shared values. As long as this emotional connection is maintained, brands can continue to foster that relationship and cultivate that level of loyalty and, better still, advocacy. Rational considerations, such as price or quality, are still important. In fact, they are the leading cause for consumers to break with a brand, as opposed to a negative interaction between a consumer and a member of the company.
Building and maintaining emotional connections can help to prevent consumers from leaving a brand due to these rational considerations. In fact, customers with a positive emotional connection with a brand are over 7 times more likely to purchase from them multiple times, and 6.6 times more likely to forgive them if the company makes a mistake. And, since the average person spends 2.3 hours a day using mobile apps, companies need to recognize that there are a myriad of interactions that they need to carefully curate in order to ensure that they are leaving a positive impression.
A brand with no shortage of experience in the power of consumer emotion is Nike. Prioritizing brand loyalty has certainly benefited the brand during some pivotal moments, like when college basketball star Zion Williamson’s Nike sneakers split on live TV. Although stock prices briefly dropped after the incident, they recovered within three days, demonstrating the strong bond Nike has developed with their consumers. Nike has taken a lot of steps to understand their consumers’ emotional needs and how their mobile experience can eliminate friction, helping to improve their overall experience. From personalized training plans, moral support, and social connection to store-specific app features at retailers, Nike drives usage rate by leveraging brand loyalty.
Incorporating Human Experience Into Product Development
Brands like Nike connect with their consumers in an increasingly human way in a highly digitized world. People like to think of their favorite brands as their friends; 60% of consumers describe their favorite brand in the same way they describe friends, using emotional language such as happy, love, and even adore. This is an indication to companies that good customer experience (CX) is no longer enough to create brand loyalty. There must be some incorporation of human experience (HX) if a brand wants to build a solid support base for its product (namely, mobile apps).
Not only must they incorporate HX into their digital platforms, but brands need to start considering emotional data in their overarching KPIs when developing apps, and then measure these moments consistently based on what matters most for their business objectives. Consumers view a good brand relationship as an active, two-way street where both participants benefit. They want to know brands are listening and then taking these insights to make their apps work better, an ability that requires emotionally intelligent technological ecosystems on behalf of these brands. For example, the Lou Malnati’s app, which personalizes a menu using user feedback, is much more appealing than an app that insists a user start their interaction from scratch each time they use it.
I understand this may already have people crunching numbers, calculating ROI. Before investing in any tech ecosystem, the wise professional always asks if this will be worth it.
The short answer? Yes.
Over 75% of consumers who have friendly relationships with their favorite brands have been loyal to them for over four years, and these are the consumers who, on average, spend 23% more with your brand, which makes them very valuable.
Developing an Emotionally Aware Digital Strategy
Building and maintaining these relationships requires a strong sense of trust, especially when mobile relationships require so much personal consumer data. Consumers are aware that brands have a lot of information about them which becomes an issue when companies cross the line in how they collect and distribute that data. As companies like Apple have realized, consumers are getting progressively more uncomfortable with how their information is being used. 81% of users now say they would uninstall an app and switch to a competitor if they feel like their data isn’t secure. Privacy issues appear when companies dig for information that isn’t explicitly given to them by users, a practice that’s invasive and off-putting to users, and could easily prevent the curation of that positive brand experience. In order to avoid this misstep, brands should aim to be sensitive about how they use their knowledge and set clear, transparent guidelines for how data is collected. This doesn’t mean that companies and app developers should limit personalized features that require data. Instead, it means that they should focus on raising the bar for mobile experiences and making their users feel like they are in the driver’s seat because 61% of Americans are willing to provide more data so trusted brands can serve them better.
With a plethora of data at our fingertips, it’s easy to understand the importance of emotional connections with consumers via mobile. Putting them to work in your digital strategy, however, can seem a more difficult undertaking. As consumers place a high value on a singular voice throughout their whole experience, it’s the responsibility of every department, whether or not it appears consumer-facing, to deliver. Your entire team must recognize the overarching goal: to create empathetic mobile experiences for people in order to build a base of customers who are emotionally loyal. Tapping into the right emotions at the right moment is critical in curating this loyalty and making sure people come back to you for more of what your brand is offering.