American Marketer


3 steps to build long-term customer relationships with mobile

July 21, 2015

Pierre Barbeau is cofounder/CEO of Moblico Pierre Barbeau is cofounder/CEO of Moblico


By Pierre Barbeau

Customers now want more from an application than just information or entertainment. What they really want is to build a long-term relationship with your organization – and a mobile app is one tool to do that.

If you truly want to build long-term relationships with your customers through your mobile app, then you will want to plan out your long-term strategy. Think of loyalty, retention, engagement and repeat business.

But how can you achieve that type of comprehensive, solid relationship that keeps customers coming back again and again, year over year?

Here are three fundamental steps you need to take to build long-term relationships with your customers using your mobile app.

Step #1: Get to know your customer
If you truly want to build a long-term relationship with your customer, then it starts by getting to know them at a grassroots level. Ask the fundamental questions that drive any good customer relationship:

• Who are my customers?

• What do they want?

• What do they need?

• What excites them to buy?

By getting a sound understanding of your customers’ needs and behavior, you can start defining ways that your app can meet their needs, and not just for the next coupon or promotion, but for the long-term (think one to two years).

One way you can do this is by getting your customers to share their personal information with you.

According to our recently published study with mCordis, “Consumer Attitudes to Privacy, Permission, and Personalization,” we discovered that people are more likely to share their personal data than we previously thought, especially if they are being given royalty rewards, relevant discounts or coupons. And most especially if they trust the app provider.

But you can also use their basic purchasing behavior and simple demographic data to understand who buys what, where, and at what time of day. Take the time to understand where your market segments are, and build a unique profile of each prominent customer group that you serve.

Step #2: Measure your customers’ behavior with the right tools
Now that you have identified which customers you want to build long-term relationships with, it is time to measure their buying behavior in as much detail as possible. For example, you will want to ask yourself:

• What do they like to buy from me?

• When do they buy it?

• Why do they buy from me?

• Where are they when they make their purchase?

Ask these same questions for every customer profile you have created. This will form the basis of a solid communications and marketing strategy plan.

How do you get this information?

Use a solid, back-end data analysis and reporting tool on your mobile platform. Do a few aggregate searches to find out what each of your customer profile groups is buying, reading, or engaging with, and when and where they are doing it. The data may surprise you.

New advancements in GPS and beacon technology can even give you some real-time data about where your clients are using your app, which is especially important for bricks-and-mortar locations.

Step #3: Design a communications and marketing strategy to keep customers coming back again and again
Now that you know who is buying from you and what they are buying, the goal is to keep them coming back, over and over again. Remember, long-term customer loyalty is built slowly – one deal, one reward at a time.

Design a comprehensive, point-by-point marketing and communications plan for each of the customer profiles you created in step one. So if you are targeting five different client profiles, you should have five different communication plans.

Think about the behavior you want to reward for each type of client. What do you want them to do? Do you want them to visit your bricks-and-mortar location more frequently? Or do you want them to buy more? Try new products?

Consider also when they like to buy, and what they like to buy. Then marry the two together into a rewards and communication strategy.

Write a simple, one-page communications plan that covers the next 12 months for that customer profile. Describe at least 12 different communication points for that customer that will build a strong relationship, one per month, or more. Be sure to include:

• Push notifications

• Rewards

• Deals

• Coupons

• QR codes

By giving your customers value at regular intervals, you will build loyalty and customer appreciation, the foundation of a good long-term relationship with any customer.

Pierre Barbeau is cofounder/CEO of Moblico, Kansas City, MO. Reach her at