7 Ways To Develop Your Mobile App To Get Sales
Originally posted on Quora.com as an answer to “Can the Starbucks mobile app be improved in a way that has significant financial impact on the company?”
The principles used to answer this question applies to many applications outside of the Starbucks app and relies on human psychology and behavior patterns that many retail stores, free-to-play games, casinos, and popular mobile companies have used for a while now.
#1. Urgency: Add time sensitive deals (and alert users through notifications). By creating artificial scarcity via urgency, you tap into users’ fear of missing out. Retail stores do this routinely because it works.
#2. Scarcity: Add a sense of scarcity to your app by notifying users on the limited quantities for popular products.
Amazon and Amazon resellers alike use this tactic to entice users.
“Gee, there’s only 1 of these dinner sets left. I guess I better hurry up and get it before somebody else snatches this up.”
If certain users like stylish office mugs, letting them know there’s “only 2 left” might incentivize those people to buy before it runs out. After all, few things are as disappointing as arriving at your favorite place and finding out your favorite item has been sold out.
#3. Achievements: Achievements and gamification of user actions can also result in increased engagement and more opportunities for increased purchases.
Similar to Foursquare, retail applications can have different badges to unlock through actions like visiting multiple stores, frequent of visits, recurring purchases of a specific item. This will drive people to try to “collect” all the badges and give them a reason to try new items.
Foursquare gamified this dynamic even further by adding levels to their badges. For some power users it isn’t enough to earn a certain badge, they have a desire to attain multiple levels to demonstrate an elite user status in the app.
Farmville lets you have more frequent accomplishments by breaking up things to collect into small collections. Rather than having a huge list of seemingly unending things to collect, you can complete a collection and feel accomplished. Starbucks could apply this to their breakfast sandwich collection or frappuccino collection.
#4. Vanity: Social currency is such a critical part of the user experience that users are willing to spend REAL currency to get it. This is because when users share something on social media, they are sharing a part of themselves as well.
Once users unlock achievements on your app, have your app prompt them to share the accomplishments they worked to attain.
This is a natural behavior. People routinely screenshot and post their achievements online even when platforms don’t have an easy way to share. That is why it is up to developers and designers to make it easy so there isn’t room to question if a user will share their achievement.
#5. Variable rewards: One component of Nir Eyal’s Hook model is variable schedule of rewards. In the 1950s, BF Skinner observed that lab mice responded most voraciously to random rewards.
Mobile games routinely dole out surprise gifts or bonuses for users who come back. Usually you only get it if you come back daily and if you don’t, you lose out. If you do come back, then there is a chance for the game’s daily use to become a habit.
Other retail apps could implement a similar system eg. discounted items, free upgrades, buy one get one free deals, and even on a longer term basis by accumulating points to go towards earning a free item.
#6. Upsell: Make it easy to add extras or upgrades. Movie theaters regularly upsell viewers on unneeded popcorn and pop in the form of “Would you like upgrade to the EXTRA GINORMOUS popcorn for another 50 cents?” And of course people say yes.
See how easy Amazon makes users spend money on things that they didn’t even know they wanted.
In this example pictured above, a user is shopping for a simple phone, ready to buy. After seeing this, the user may think to themselves “Oh wait, I guess I need a case AND a screen protector.”
#7. Invade other beachheads: Think outside of your own app and add integrations to popular chat platforms like Messenger, WeChat, QQ, Ali Wang Wang, etc. Unlike most western apps which choose to remain simple and “pure”, many Chinese chat platforms incorporate multiple functions including e-commerce. Their goal is to keep users IN the app by providing everything they might want.
You can even buy a Huawei phone or smartwatch inside one of these chat apps. For these markets, e-commerce apps could incorporate card reloading, or even ordering, providing users with a seamless experience from the chat apps they already spend a lot of time in.
These are just a few of the things that companies can test in small batches to find out what works for them. If these do indeed drive positive results, then roll them out to the entire user base or present some of these features to the relevant cohorts of users that would respond to them.