The internet has conquered us all. By now, more than 80% of all internet users in the US are surfing the web using their smartphones, as reported by ComScore – most of the time they are using apps. Unfortunately, this is cutting deeply into the sales of traditional print media. According to PwC, newspaper sales in Germany sank by about 7 million between 2003 and 2014. Large corporations such as BMW, Audi or Lufthansa have recognized this trend and have added digital versions of their customer magazines to their marketing strategies in order to keep its reach. This enables both superior customer tracking and improved customer understanding. The digital format enables corporations to personalize their magazine content and tailor it to the specific needs of their customers leading to greater customer loyalty, higher user numbers and thus increased sales.
But what makes a good customer app, and what elements do you need to watch for? We have put together a list of features that are essential for building a successful app.
Part I: What customers want!
5 features every customer magazine app needs to have
In future, mobile content will be the deciding factor for customers when it comes to choosing what to read. Ever more people in Germany are consuming news, blogs and websites on mobile devices while on the move, whether they are on the bus, the train, or at a café. According to recent studies, more than 66% of all internet searches is done via mobile devices. As a result, it’s important to distribute content in a manner that is easy to access and adapted to user behavior. The best way to do this is with a responsive website or an app. However, apps are used about ten times more often than websites. As a result, we can conclude that in the future, customer magazines will no longer be distributed and read only in the classical analogue format, but predominantly digitally in the form of apps. In this new format, they will reach readers rapidly and will no longer need to be printed or sent by post, leading to cost and time advantages.
In the following section, we will highlight the 5 features that every successful customer magazine must have, and describe ways to make the magazine appealing to readers. Great design and easy navigation are a given in this case.
Snackable Content refers to a small amount of text with lots of information, packaged in an appealing and attention-grabbing way. Short, precise content tends to be shared more often by users, is easier to remember, and goes easy on readers’ data usage.
Nobody is going to read a novel on their smartphone, nor is anyone going to invest hours of time in reading magazines on their mobile devices – it just doesn’t make sense. We read content while we’re on the go in elevators, waiting rooms, and on the bus. That is why it is so important for publishers to be able compress valuable and complex information and shape it in a way that makes it easy to consume. According to Statistic Brain, the average human attention span is now 8 seconds – one second less than that of a goldfish. That means you have an incredibly small amount of time to convince someone to keep reading. Classic examples of snackable content include Vines, Instagram posts, Snapchat photos, or tweets. Many users search for short and rapidly consumable content especially when they’re on the move.
This content can be delivered in a variety of ways. Within corporate publishing, this will ideally happen via an interactive and engaging app. It goes without saying that this app needs to be optimized for smartphones. To sum it up, customers have only limited time to consume content and thus it needs to be “snackable”, i.e. digestible, but more often. So, “Attract your audience with little nuggets.”
Multimedia & Design
Nowadays it is difficult to keep an audience’s attention without videos or animations – the name of the game is multimedia. Users must be lured and persuaded to stick with content through audiovisual impressions. The integration of videos in on- and offline content is a step in the right direction. Event today, an increasing number of searches is done directly within YouTube.
It’s also very helpful to build image galleries into the app. Just a small tip: The use of images and videos increases user willingness to engage with the content by 80%. At the same time, priority should be given to the design of the app. Of course the content is important, but it’s the first impression that counts most! If the app doesn’t look appealing at first glance, then it doesn’t matter how many videos and images are integrated. This also includes the optimization of content for mobile devices. In the worst case scenario, the user is scared off to the point of deleting the app.
Without timely and relevant content, an app is not an app. That means that content always needs to be up to date. In the best case scenario, that means finding ways to integrate Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other newsfeeds into the app. An easy way is to combine the newsfeed of an existing website with the app.
The guiding principle here, just as with all social media, is: The more often content is shared, the more users will consume it. Apps are an especially good way to keep users informed and up to date with the latest news. Combining the app with push notifications creates a sense of urgency that makes readers pay attention.
Interaction & User Experience
It’s important to create ways to motivate users to interact with the app and the product. The integration of mini-games, such as the ones produced by Google, provides enormous potential for user retention. Integrating quizzes into the app is another good tactic. At the same time, it’s important to include the classic element of enabling users to review articles or products. Interaction binds the user to the content and increases readers’ identification with the customer magazine app. In addition, this allows the app publisher to learn about customer behavior and thus to continuously improve the content. All of this is tied to user experience – easy navigation makes for a satisfied customer.
That’s why the app interface must be self-explanatory. If the app does happen to have an elaborate design, it’s useful to provide an introductory tour for first-time users.
Banking apps without a “Find a branch” tool, fashion apps without a shopping function – seemingly unthinkable, and yet such mistakes crop up every day. Be smarter when it comes to your app and provide your customers with a service that makes them happy. Good service makes the difference between an app that gets used frequently and one that dies a quick death. When creating your app, think about the advantages of mobile usage and create truly engaging content. That will lead you to find ways to really make your customers happy and boost user numbers and thus sales.
In conclusion, building a great customer magazine app requires an intuitive and appealingly designed interface paired with topical and interesting content that can be consumed and shared quickly and easily.
Shortly we will publish the second part of this series:
Part II: “A guide for publishers – 5 features to watch for when choosing a publishing tool for your customer magazine app”.