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Apps for the win: APAC brands share how apps future-proof business growth

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Apps are no longer just another digital touchpoint for brands to transact with customers. They’ve become an increasingly important channel for business success, especially in APAC, where almost 70% of people prefer to engage with brands via apps as compared with other channels such as websites, physical stores, or email. Brands that want to future-proof growth are therefore evolving their business strategy to meet user needs.

The challenge brands face, however, is in identifying what customers want from apps, and creating an app experience that is engaging, or risk being binned

To help brands transform their apps, from transactional tools to relational platforms, we spoke with top minds in the industry to find out how they successfully used their apps to build customer relationships and drive usage and growth. Their experience spans 21 industries, including beauty, banking, education, and retail, and they come from seven markets in the region, including India, Indonesia, and Japan.

From the insights they shared, we’ve distilled four strategies that brands can implement to up their app game and fuel sustainable business growth.

Elevate the user experience with compelling, app-only features

One way marketing leaders build brand loyalty and mobile app engagement is by providing unique, app-only experiences that excite people and inspire repeated use. This includes using mobile app features such as live chats and push notifications, with user consent, to encourage interaction. Brands have also linked their apps to social platforms to create a community-like experience for users, and to deepen engagement.

Click on the dropdown to learn from leaders of key brands about how they elevate the user experience on their apps:

Actively reach out to customers

Lim Huishan, General Manager for Singapore and Philippines at FastJobs, Singapore’s leading non-executive job portal, shares how app engagement is 2X higher than web due to app features like push notifications, messages, and relevant recommendations.Rezki Yanuar, VP Brand Marketing at Vidio, Indonesia’s rising video-on-demand platform, shares how app features that lets soccer viewers vote for the team they think will win and live chat provides an enjoyable experience beyond passive viewing.Arjun Mohan, CEO of upGrad, India’s largest online learning platform, shares the importance of being more than a passive learning or acquisition app and engaging users by enabling them to find mentors, converse with others, and be part of a community

To elevate your app’s experience: consider building interactivity into your app, nurturing a community of app users, and diversifying your app’s use cases and features over time. This will help your brand meet people’s changing needs and remain relevant to consumer trends.

Personalize interactions by giving users what they want, when they want it


Brands are also tapping into the ability of apps to create personalized interactions, and at scale, to meet individuals’ needs and drive business growth. For this, brands need to first find out what their users want, and they can do so in various ways. This includes using privacy-compliant first-party data, machine learning, and in-app surveys.

Click on the dropdown to learn from experts of leading brands about how they use apps to uncover what users want, and deliver personalized content in real time, at scale, to drive business growth:

Prabhakar Tiwari, Chief Growth Officer of Angel One, India’s leading stockbroking firm, shares how apps allow personalized advertising that help brands connect with customers based on their location and language preferences.Vikas Gupta, Senior Manager for Growth Marketing at Sephora, an international beauty retailer, shares that their app is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence to understand user preferences and deliver personalized experiences.Abhishek Dubey, Head of Digital Marketing at BYJU’S, India’s leading educational technology company, shares how students can learn at their pace and feel confident with in-app tests and quizzes that are personalized based on individual performance.

To personalize interactions with your app’s users: consider the types of experiences they need and want, the types of app infrastructure and first-party data you’ll need to create personalized experiences, and how you can stay ahead of changing consumer needs and trends to consistently improve your app.

Deepen connection through two-way communication and co-creation


Forward-looking brands are also driving growth via apps by deepening connection with users, taking in their feedback, and making them co-creators of the apps. For users, being involved in the process of launching new app features and having brands be responsive to their feedback are clear signs of commitment. This, in turn, drives sustainable business growth, say the marketing leaders we spoke with.

Another way brands can better connect with users is through mobile app marketing solutions. App campaigns for engagement, for example, enables brands to re-engage customers who don’t use their apps regularly or who haven’t completed an activity, and learn more about what they want through their responses.

Click on the dropdown to learn from leading brands about how they communicate with app users and involve them meaningfully in co-creation:

Abhishek Dubey, Head of Digital Marketing at BYJU’S, India’s leading educational technology company, shares that apps are the best for connecting with customers, as you can retain them through push notifications, emails, and re-engagement ads.Michael Hartawan, Digital Banking Brand and Marketing Lead at BTPN, Indonesia’s leading digital-first bank, shares how on Jenius was built as a forum for customers to be co-creators and share feedback and ideas for app development.Albert Wang, Co-founder of PatPat, an international direct-to-consumer children’s clothing brand, shares that they upgraded app features so users can send feedback on the app, building customer loyalty through personalization and communication.Andy Djiwandono, Head of Marketing at Bank Jago, Indonesia’s leading technology-based bank, shares that it’s easy to test campaign effectiveness with apps, and continuous experimentation, optimization and iteration based on user feedback is key.

To deepen connection with your app users: consider how you can build an intuitive user interface so people can easily interact with your business, and how you can involve users and get their feedback when launching and optimizing new app features.

Show users you care about their security to build trust


As brands tap into apps to unlock growth, gaining and retaining user trust is critical every step of the way, especially since the top reason people continue to use an app is because it’s proven to be safe and secure.3

Giving people control over their information, and being transparent about how it is collected and used, will go a long way in assuring them that their privacy on the app is a priority. Leading brands also strengthen their app security to grow trust and build brand loyalty by implementing multi-factor authentication and offering trial options.

Click on the dropdown to learn from leaders of key brands about how they build customer trust with their apps:

Prabhakar Tiwari, Chief Growth Officer of Angel One, India’s online trading and stock-broking platform, shares that their app is designed to have strong security features to earn customers’ trust and opportunities to introduce them to more products.Aaron Ting, Head of Performance Marketing at Zenyum, Singapore’s app-based dental solutions brand, shares that the app acts as a ‘transit point’ to give interested yet unsure consumers time to verify if the company is trustworthy.

Although most people in APAC prefer apps as a channel for engaging with brands, a build-it-and-they-will-come approach will not help a brand future-proof growth of its app. To stay top of mind among users, brands need to evolve their apps from being a merely transactional platform to a relational one. And leading brands have done this by elevating the user experience, providing personalized interactions, creating deep connections, and building customer trust. It’s the app thing to do.

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