How Businesses Are Evolving Through Data-Driven, Experiential Mobile Apps

Something’s happening out there.

It’s no longer just about getting clicks, views, and likes anymore.

People are sick and tired of the click-bait, media over-saturation, and the cacophony of mixed messages trying to sell to them 24/7.

So, businesses are emerging with smarter and better ways of bringing more value to the consumer by establishing stronger emotional connections with their customers.

They know that advertising itself has changed; it’s no longer about creative storytelling; it’s about storymaking.

With creative storymaking, the consumer is a part of the story that companies are trying to tell.

They do this by crafting new consumer experiences through technology; creating entirely new worlds that people can experience on-demand and on-the-go.

The line between the digital world and reality will continue to blur for the consumer with the likes of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI).

This is Data-Driven, Experiential Storymaking with Mobile Apps

As these technologies evolve, it will help foster lasting emotional connection between people and businesses.

Of course, this concept of experiential marketing or ‘experience marketing’ (as it was known in its earlier iteration) is not a new concept.

In 2016 cosmetics company Maybelline sold almost 10,000 lipsticks in China during a two-hour live stream on the video-sharing app MeiPai. They flew famous Chinese model Angelababy as the new Maybelline brand ambassador to lead the NYC event, alongside other Chinese internet stars. Each recorded their experiences using a VR headset which they posted for their followers to experience second-hand.

Would-be consumers could not only see some of their favorite stars using the product, but they could experience the product and the event itself firsthand.

Maybelline created a product experience during that event, and profited in a big way.

MasterCard is another great example of a company leading the charge towards experiential storymaking through mobile apps.

Back in 2014, the plastic company went virtual, digital and bio-metric when they declared themselves a ‘tech company’ and began experimenting with facial recognition software, mobile payment systems and digital wallets.

At 2017’s New York Advertising Week, MasterCard and Swarovsky teamed up to provide a VR eCommerce experience using a headset. Viewers could place a Swarovsky crystal chandelier in different rooms, and purchase it using MasterCard’s MasterPass — all through the VR headset.

All of this adds up, as according to data company SSI, one in three CMOs in the United States is expected to allocate between 21 and 50 percent of their total marketing budget to brand experience marketing over the course of the next few years.

The question is, how will businesses further utilize technology to create that brand experience?

Using Mobile AR Apps to Blend The Digital Experience With Reality

With data-driven, experiential mobile apps, your marketing power is literally at the consumer’s fingers, any time they access the app.

Apps with the real-time ability to integrate digital information with a user’s environment — or augmented reality apps, are increasingly more popular among companies and marketers.

It’s pretty much a no-brainer way to create a product experience for your customers.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Pokemon Go here, as it brought augmented reality games to the masses back in 2016, shattering several Guinness World Records in the process.

But it wasn’t just about the popularity of the app itself. Pokemon collectibles sales also shot up 150% and Pokemon trading card sets made up six of the top-ten selling games in the weeks following the release of Pokemon Go.

GameStop reported they saw sales double the week after the United States release. 460 of their store locations doubled as PokeGyms where players can pick up supplies.

Coincidence? I think not.

The reality is, there is serious marketing potential and profit waiting to be harnessed by businesses with mobile AR apps. In fact, a study by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., predicts that mobile AR apps will generate $3.9 billion by 2020.

Data is the New Oil that Fuels Experiential Mobile Apps

It is more important than ever to know who your customer is. We’re not just talking broad demographics here, but real, hard data.

Popular hotelier Marriott is well-aware of this, and in recent years has focused on building up its data-driven customer loyalty program to keep travelers loyal to the brand and from switching over to the likes of Airbnb. Their award-winning digital strategy called ‘Win the Stay’ uses machine learning from the company’s thirty brands to drive messaging and content to their guests.

But that’s not all.

Marriot’s app features customized content for Marriot Rewards members, and also supports mobile check-in and check-out, room ready alerts, mobile requests and real-time messaging support with hotel staff.

Perhaps most impressive of all, it’s reported that Marriot is in the works to add data-driven, experiential features to their app using the incredible amount of data they’ve been harvesting.

For example, members who typically workout while they travel will receive push notifications about the location, hours and services of the hotel fitness center during their stay.

With a Personalized Mobile App, a Business’ Ability to Harvest Data Has Increased Exponentially

The more features and functionalities you include alongside those data points, the more seamless the whole experience feels for your customer.

Going one step further to truly create a product experience. By collecting, harvesting and recycling data through your app, you can fuel rewards programs and further incentivize your customer base.

I want to see more businesses of all shapes and sizes harnessing these technologies.

It’s not just for Fortune 500s to explore.

We are at the dawn of a global shift when it comes to the way businesses and companies operate and continue to market themselves.

It strikes me as very similar to how many businesses probably felt before websites became a must-have item. Back then, some businesses viewed having a website as an accessory. Coincidentally, many of those businesses aren’t around today.

MasterCard did it right by re-branding themselves as a tech company. Moving forward, more companies and industries will need to rethink their roles in our society and devise new, data-driven ways to reach the consumer.

We are all in the digital space now.

So, What Can You Do to Harness this Technology Now?

If you’re a brick and mortar retailer, start by offering virtual tours of any of your stores. Or give your customers three-dimensional product views using AR. Create interactive experiences for your customers whenever possible, whether it’s through technology, events, or live streaming.

Look at what Scotland has been doing to attract more tourism.

Through its own mobile app Portal AR, people can virtually interact with the country’s landscape and history, and see the ways in which Scots, live, work, invest and study.

Colorful local perspectives complement video footage of facilities in Glasgow, fashion classes at the Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design, and breathtaking strolls along the Scottish shores.

Businesses of all sizes can easily replicate this experience on their own, especially ones that are in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Whatever industry your business is in, develop your app to use push notifications in the right way, and curate the entire app experience based on a user’s past purchases, behaviors, geolocation, demographics, you name it.

At the end of the day, giving people real value through technology by making them part of the story.

It’s only the beginning — do you want to be in the driver’s seat of this new movement or a follower?