If your brand can't retain a customer, to replace that customer's business you'll need to spend 6-7 times more than you would have to retain it, according to Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company. So how do you keep your customers coming back for more?

Customers who engage with a brand through multiple channels exhibit deeper loyalty than single-channel customers do. Those loyal customers are the ones who will be advocates for your brand.

Smartphone penetration is at more than 50% in the US market, and the people who use them expect their favorite brands to have mobile-optimized websites. From my experience, a quick look at Google Analytics shows it's not uncommon to see 10-20% of visitors accessing the brand website via mobile.

Brands can't afford to ignore mobile users; instead, they should wow this significant portion of their audience by serving up a great customer experience, especially considering that they may be among a company's most loyal customers.

Prioritize your mobile marketing efforts by focusing on the following three areas within a mobile app that, if done well, can promote customer loyalty and help brands retain their most valuable customers.

1. Make mobile payments easy

If your payment process is simple and intuitive, the likelihood is greater that your customers will complete their purchase—and then come back to do it again and again.

Dunkin' Donuts, for example, makes it easy for customers to pay at the register with its mobile app. The attendant simply scans the QR bar code from your phone, which instantly updates to reflect the purchase.

Here are some questions to ask when trying to improve the mobile-payment experience:

  1. Do customers feel they can load and reload funds securely within the app using their credit card, and is it a simple process?
  2. Is it both quick and easy for customers to pay at the point of purchase?
  3. Can customers view the remaining balance without much digging?

2. Offer location-based alerts and offers

A customer who is shopping at a mall where your store is located is much more likely to take advantage of a coupon or gift card than someone who isn't as close by.

Apple's Passbook app makes short work of storing and redeeming loyalty cards, coupons, event tickets, and more.

But Apple takes it one step further: Users can set up location-based alerts to notify them when they're near offers.

Timely coupons and offers can take into account a user's...

  • Interests
  • Location
  • Buying history

3. Increase overall customer satisfaction

Flying isn't always a pleasant experience, especially when you're constantly checking your flight status or waiting for long periods of time to board.

United Airlines has made an effort to make air travel less of a burden with the help of its mobile app. Travelers can receive alerts regarding any changes, and the app even includes a Sudoku game you can play while waiting in the airport.

Determine how happy your customers are—both with your mobile experience and otherwise—by doing the following:

  • Allow users to rate their experience.
  • Make it simple for customers to write and share reviews.
  • Offer a live text chat feature for customers to use if they have questions or concerns.
  • Conduct customer surveys.

Wait, there's more...

Of course, simplifying mobile payments, sending alerts and offers, and making sure your customers are enjoying their experience with your brand are just the beginning. Here are a few other ways your mobile app can promote loyalty and advocacy.

1. Ensure it's easy for customers to make and track orders:

  • Allow customers to view their order history or return status.
  • Include a "tap-to-reorder" feature.
  • Offer the ability to opt in to real-time push alerts for order tracking and delivery.

2. Host creative contests that allow customers to share their stories:

You'll be able to use those anecdotes later to create testimonials and case studies.

3. Offer a wide variety of reference materials, such as...

  • Maps and store locators
  • Product reference guides
  • Calculators and other decision tools

No matter what features you choose to include within your mobile app, your main focus should be about creating a remarkable customer experience. Go beyond customer loyalty to build advocacy—where customers put their name behind your brand as they enthusiastically recommend it to others.

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Three Ways Mobile Marketing Can Help Retain Customers

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image of Tim Cascio

Tim Cascio is a senior digital strategist at Bader Rutter, an integrated marketing services agency headquartered in Milwaukee.

Twitter: @TimCascio