How mobile app engagement has evolved across Southeast Asia

This post is sponsored by Airship.

The past year has changed the way consumers interact with brands across the world. With customers engaging on mobile and digital channels more than ever before, brands had to quickly adapt to new expectations and customer engagement strategies while accelerating their digital footprint.

Airship spoke with marketing, strategy and operations leaders within the telecom and technology industries in Southeast Asia to find out how they have handled the pandemic, and improved their digital footprint.

HKBN adapts to growing digital adoption

“There has been a fundamental shift in how we engage and interact with customers, particularly leaning towards our digital and mobile channels, as we saw three times more users leveraging our app over the last year,” said Samuel Hui, chief transformation officer at the HKBN Group, one of the largest and fastest growing telecom providers in Asia.

“Digital technology has been there for many years, but what hasn’t been there is the user adoption, neither from the consumer side or the employee side.”

The pandemic enabled HKBN employees to think differently and start leveraging the digital channels as a way to both deliver on customer service and drive sales.

Luckily for HKBN it had upgraded its app from a simple management application to a full customer engagement platform by leveraging Airship technology, integrated with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, just before the pandemic. 

So, it was just a matter of implementing a good strategy that would ensure users would come to their mobile app more often, and use it for purposes beyond accessing their account information.

One of its first initiatives involved working with several B2C retail partners to offer discounts and other promotions to HKBN customers.

Then, as it defined a goal to triple the number of mobile app users within the next two years, it started working towards it by driving communications that would encourage the main account holder to share information and offers to family members and friends. This way, HKBN was increasing its mobile app reach across the entire household and not just the main account holder. 

This strategy has already produced success – its monthly active app users grew from 200,000 to 400,000 within the past year.

GetPlus connects offline retailers to app users

In Indonesia, the market has been mobile-first for a while, but purchases across certain retail brands have taken a hit, as verified by Adrian Hoon, founder and COO of loyalty app GetPlus. 

GetPlus enables its members to benefit from discounts and offers from a variety of retailers when purchased within the app.

GetPlus had to adapt quickly and fast track its product development roadmap to allow members to upload receipts from purchases through offline merchants that weren’t yet integrated with the app, such as grocery shopping. 

As members scan their single grocery shopping receipt, the app automatically identifies the consumer brands purchased and assigns multiple points to the member’s account. This way, GetPlus is both supporting members with loyalty benefits, and consumer brands with more data insights about their customers such as demographic data or purchase habits.

This is particularly valuable to CPG brands because such information can help them drive more meaningful engagement with consumers.

GetPlus also focused on member engagement within the mobile app by leveraging real-time first-party data collection in order to understand consumer preferences and define the personas that form its membership base. 

With that, GetPlus has been able to deliver personalised communications across a variety of channels such as SMS, email, in-app messaging and push notifications to encourage members to use the app. 

With the support from Airship’s technology, GetPlus can deliver its messaging across these multiple channels at scale, and also test, fine-tune and continuously refine its approach to deliver value to its members and merchant partners.

Yes focuses on building relationships to beat the competition

For Derek Tan, senior head of sales, marketing and digital strategy for the Malaysia telecommunications company Yes, this pandemic has driven the need to stand out from competitors in two particular ways: to enhance app capabilities to allow for consumers to access more functions within the app, and to improve its level of personalisation. 

Being the youngest telecom provider in Malaysia, it really wanted to stand out from its competition by building meaningful engagement with its audience.

“The key theme this year has really been building a lot of intimate relationships with our target audience, breaking them down into sub segments, understanding motivations, and building personalised journeys and conversations. I think our mobile app presence and footprint helped us a lot to deliver on that goal,” Tan said.

When asked about how it builds on user retention, Tan said that Yes has been experimenting and testing different communication approaches throughout the year to help build its customer loyalty based on customer data preferences. 

By continuously working towards a culture of experimentation, it has been able to better visualise customer journeys across the entire life cycle, while ensuring its campaigns drive the best possible results.

Are you equipped for the new normal digital transformation?

As we approach the first full year of the pandemic, there have been many lessons learned, but our interviewees all agreed that digital transformation is here to stay even in a post-pandemic world.

As a result, the brands that will surface as the most successful are the ones that have the right technology in place to enable them to continuously learn about their customers; engage with them across multiple channels in a personalised way; and continuously aim towards optimisation. 

To learn how you can drive specific tactics and strategies that will help you also improve your app usage, download the 45 ways to boost App Engagement & Retention ebook for free.