The Smartphone Impulse


Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: impulse buying has sort of become a dirty term. It needn’t be. That is because impulse buying, a neutral term, is often associated with feelings of regret when an unplanned purchase tends to not live up to the value that was immediately associated with it upon purchase. We also tend to think of negative impulse purchases with far more clarity than positive ones. That time you bought an awesome bracelet on the fly and wore it for a full summer? Positive buy. The time you bought an animal shaped hat at a theme-park and relegated it to the back of your closet a week later? Not so much.

Interestingly, it seems that impulse purchases in physical retail stores are actually down in recent years. While it would be nice to think that we are just getting more careful as consumers overall, some have posited that in reality the reason for this decrease is due to a phenomena known as “mobile blinders.” This refers to those situations where consumers pay attention to their smartphones rather than the tasty treats and knick-knacks that surround them when they aren’t in an active buy mode.

However, while smartphones are decreasing the number of physical impulse purchases, they may actually be increasing impulse purchases overall. According to a study conducted by PayPal, smartphones lead to something that I’ll describe as an intelligent impulse purchase. Essentially, rather than simply buying an object on the fly, a smartphone enables a user to go through the desire > research > purchase cycle in minutes rather than hours or days. That way, a user is both more likely to buy a product that find interesting while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that they will be satisfied with the purchase overall.

So what does this mean for small business or ecommerce owners with a mobile app? With creative messaging and communication channels, you have the ability to directly target products to customers with a high likelihood that they will buy on the spot. It also means that cultivating both an engaged and happy customer base (they will likely try and see what others have said about your stuff, after all) will provide exponential returns.

If you own an app already, what is your strategy for triggering the impulse buy? If you don’t how would you use it to make that happen?

Three Ways to Increase Customer Use of Your Mobile App

Subway Station in Munich

Mobile apps are one of the most effective drivers for success in the modern business climate. Some have gone so far as to say that many companies would do better to have an app than a website. We are inclined to agree. Still, simply having a mobile app is not enough. The companies who experience the most success with their mobile app usage rates have implemented creative strategies that both hook users and keep them coming back for more.

Make Your App Immediately Useful

Business owners can include an incredible variety of functionality into their apps. For many businesses, this includes passive content such as a product showcase or menu. This type of content is engaging and informative, but it does not necessarily provide an immediate benefit for the app user. Coupling passive content with value-laden interactive elements will encourage people to download and use your app regularly. For instance, a pizza delivery place that lets users view a menu through their app can capitalize on the interest that generates by also giving them the ability to order directly from the app. In this scenario, your app has proven mutually and immediately beneficial to both the customer and your business: you have made it easier to quickly order your product, meaning the customer is more likely to do so.

Keep Them Coming Back

The ease with which people can download mobile apps to their device is a bit of a double edged sword. If an app does not regularly prove its worth, your customer can just as easily delete it. Therefore, you should provide tangible benefits to your app users on a regular basis. There are a number of ways to do this, but the most effective do not put the impetus on your customer to uncover the value of your app. One of the best ways to effect a continuous relationship with a customer is through the use of a smartphone’s push notification system. Whether you are sending daily deals to customers or simply reminding them of exciting new releases, fans of your business will appreciate the heads up. If your product and messaging are suitably engaging then you can increase sales through front-of-mind awareness fairly frequently. Similarly, rewarding customers with a loyalty program integrated into your app will encourage users to both keep the app on their phone and keep shopping at your business to rack up free goodies or discounts.

Design, Design, Design

It seems obvious, but app users love their sleek smartphones. If your app doesn’t look and “feel” awesome then customers won’t keep it on their phone for long. We make it incredibly easy to design a beautiful app in minutes, but that doesn’t mean you should rush through the creation process without thinking about quality design. Creating a great app icon, splash screen and color scheme will help a lot, but you also need to do a good job of showcasing your products or services. We have found that the creative use of attractive images in apps is one of the best ways to achieve this end. Descriptions are great, but if your catalog features a big block of text rather than showing off pictures of your awesome products then customers will frankly not be that interested.

And Beyond…

These are just a few ways to get customers interested in your app. Because businesses in all industries can derive value from apps, there are truly unlimited opportunities to maximize engagement. Still, these tips provide a solid foundation that you can build on to make a great app experience. Focus on design, functionality and value and you will excite your customers while generating an impressive ROI from your app investment.

Redefining Local Search


Here at Apptive we view the concept of local search a bit differently than most. If you are a local/small business why make your customers fire up their mobile web browser, find you on Google, then either zoom and pan or interact with a stripped down version of your website to get the info they need while on the go?

Instead we think local search should mean your customer swipes through a screen or two on their smartphone and finds the icon for your app. Then with one tap they are interacting with your business: clicking to call, making a reservation, viewing a deal or ordering food to go right through your app.

Obviously you have to get your app on customers’ iPhone and Android devices first for this scenario to work. The solution to that is simple. Simply promote your app in your business location, on your Facebook page, on your Website and give customers a reason to download it such as receiving a one-time special deal upon download or receiving on-going mobile-only deals.

Getting found by your loyal customers on a smartphone doesn’t have to be hard. There’s an app for that, and it’s yours!

Do You Sleep with Your Smartphone?


We tweeted a funny article from Business Insider the other day with the Headline: “90% Of 18-29 Year-Olds Sleep With Their Smartphones” (

As BI put it, smartphones have basically become a new bodily appendage.

Other interesting stats included in the article:

– 95% of people use the phone for something just before going to bed

– Half of people check their phones immediately if they wake up during the night

I find myself reading emails or news on my phone just before going to sleep and during the night if I wake up. And since I use my iPhone as my alarm clock it stays on my nightstand within easy reach.

The point is, smartphones are mostly turned on and with us 24/7. And as smartphones are reaching critical mass as a percentage of mobile devices in use, achieving an optimized, useful and interesting presence on these new devices becomes more critical every day. Mobile, smartphones and apps represent the most important opportunity since the World Wide Web came along to communicate, interact, transact and build loyalty with your customers. If you haven’t started thinking about your mobile presence yet, time to start thinking!

Where is My Phone? It’s in My Hand!


I remember when I use to naturally check my pockets often to make sure that I had my wallet. Just a quick check of my pocket to reassure myself that it was there and that I had not left it behind at the house, on the store counter, or at that restaurant. My wallet of course has very important things in it. My driver’s license. My credit cards/bank cards. My pictures of my kids, friends, and family. The business cards of some of my clients and from businesses that I frequent. If I did not feel my wallet in my pocket I would begin a quick search. I would check my local surroundings and then that bowl on my night stand that I would empty my pockets into at the end of the day. If I couldn’t find it there then I would really have to think and retrace my steps to find it.

It almost seems funny to me now. I have come home and when I got to my night stand to empty my pockets like normal I have found my wallet sitting in the bowl. I didn’t even notice that it was not in my pocket, I also didn’t remember how many days I had left it there. Now when I check my pockets I’m not looking for my wallet, I’m looking for my phone. Here is a statistic that I found that put this into perspective.

1) It takes 26 hours for the average person to report a lost wallet. It takes 68 minutes for them to report a lost phone. (Source: Unisys)

I currently use an iPhone 4s. I use my iPhone throughout the day and it is always on me or near my person. When I’m checking my pockets now, that is what I’m searching for. Most of the time when I’m looking for my phone all I need to do is look at my other hand! I can use my smart phone to do so many things now that I often only use a computer while at work. I use my iPhone to find what I’m looking for, how to get there with directions, then research more about the products or services when I get where I’m going. It Is an amazing piece of technology. At this point I can not see myself without my smart phone.

In many ways it has replaced the need for a wallet. I can use it to order and purchase services and goods. It stores thousands of pictures. My contact list for clients is stored right on the device and can easily be searched and retrieved. I can find the number for most anything else with a quick search of the web. Those businesses that I frequent and have an app, I have downloaded it and I can use it to place an order, book a room, purchase tickets, etc. I often find myself returning to those businesses that do have an app, because of the convenience that app has given me.

These smart phone apps have made it easier for me as a customer to stay connected to the companies and businesses I like to do business with and vice versa. I often get the question, “Why do I need an app, when I have a mobile web site?” That is an easy question to answer. You need both. A mobile web site is important to gather new clients that are searching for that new pair of shoes, those tires for their vehicle, or where they will eat lunch today. The mobile web site allows you to grow your business with potential new customers, but your mobile web site does not give you a direct connection back to that customer after they visited your site. A native mobile app puts your business back into that customers pocket or purse.

With Apptive and our EasyApp platform a very robust native app can be developed for your clients so that they can keep in contact with those loyal customers that want to do business with them. A small business now has a direct link to those customer’s pockets, purses, or for some people right into their hands. One of the benefits of EasyApp is the ability to use our “Deals module” to directly send specials or coupons to those customers that have downloaded their app. You do not have that ability with a mobile web site by itself.

One of the other things that I’m sure many people had in their wallets were the old loyalty cards. Go to your favorite sandwich shop and they would stamp your card when you made a purchase. When your card was filled you got your next sandwich free. EasyApp now allows you to put that loyalty card right in the app. We have developed a module that allows your clients to reward those return customers in much the same way those cards worked in the past. The next statistic can also put the last two points into percepective.

2) It costs a business about 5-10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one — and on average those current customers of yours spend 67% more than a new one. (Source: Inc.)

So, get started helping your clients reach those loyal customers. Help them get into that pocket or purse and on their smart phones. You now have the ability to answer the question of mobile web site or native app. You can tell them both, and you will have the tool to provide them with an app. At the end of the day we are all looking to get to the last thing we still need a wallet or purse for, MONEY. The technology is already there that we will not even need that. The only question I have for your client, “Are you going to lose clients to that competitor down the road that already has an app?”

Learn more about Apptive and the EasyApp platform at