How to disrupt your marketing with an app

Marketing strategies can become stagnant and boring. Apps have the potential to contain all marketing and materials for customers in one place, plus more.

Beyond emails and social, there’s a power to push notifications. Chris O’Hare explains how businesses can disrupt their existing marketing strategy by introducing use of an app.

People view apps as a utility tool, when in fact they’re a powerful marketing tool. When using an app for marketing, the mentality of the customer is reversed: you’re providing value rather than selling to them. They become intrigued about what’s in store when they download the app. Requiring a sign-up to access the app increases the likelihood of the customers passing over their correct details, while being on the app stores increases your credibility and helps them to trust that you will use their details for legitimate purposes. 


Even if your only goal is to improve the quality of your email addresses, an app is one of the most effective ways to do so. The average chance of getting a customer to sign up to a newsletter is only 1.95%, compared with the average download rate of an app of 30.3%. This makes an app eleven times more effective of the two. 

As a way of collecting all your marketing content, the app can be incredibly helpful for your customer. By providing them with eBooks, cheat sheets, podcasts, tutorials or anything else you think they might benefit from, the app allows your customer to get all the information they could want from you in one place. 

Once you know more about the customer from their behaviour on the app, the pages they’re interested in and the information they’ve provided, the app can go one step further by personalising the content shown to them. 

The power of push notifications 

The often-overlooked power of an app is its ability to send push notifications. Push notifications are the alerts that appear on your smartphone when you receive a message from an app. They look similar to the notifications you receive with an SMS message and have the same visibility, but they have one key difference: the user doesn’t have to provide a phone number to receive this notification but is still notified with as much importance as if they had. If you’ve ever received an unsolicited text message, it feels like a violation of your privacy; somehow, a push notification doesn’t. 

The push notification taps into your customers’ neuro- chemical reward centres, which have already been built by other smartphone behaviours: your customers will feel an urge to read your notification. The open rate goes from 4.5% for emails to 45% for push notifications; nearly half of your audience will view that notification and, unlike SMS notifications, push notifications are free.

The power of the push notification cannot be overstated: it gives you the authority to mobilise your audience all at once. One way this has been used effectively is to overcome the barrier of social media algorithms by alerting your audience when you post new content, creating a need to see what you’ve posted. Your audience is also likely to support you by liking and commenting, boosting the social media post with organic growth to other parts of the network and increasing its visibility. 

Because the smartphone is a personal device, push notifications create a personal interaction with the customer that you’re communicating with, especially if the notification is personalised using their name and the content they’re interested in. With regular notifications, you’re able to reinforce your brand and stay in the forefront of the customer’s mind. The ‘effective frequency’ of how often your customers have to see your brand before making a purchase is twenty times. 

Like most marketing techniques, this all comes with the caveat that you need to ensure your audience values what you’re sending them. That’s why some apps create seven- day learning programmes that reinforce your customers’ habitual behaviours, turning your marketing funnel into a learning experience. Customers don’t want to be sold to, they want to be taught, and the app is the perfect place to do this. 

Change your customer’s perspective 

As common as apps have become, customers still hold the view that having your own app is a big deal and increases your credibility as a business owner. One study found that customers who interacted with a business with a perceived high level of technology were more likely to become engaged and as a result spend 300% more than customers who did not. 

Hypnotherapist Dipti Tait summed this up: ‘New clients treat me differently now; they’re always awed that I have an app and I definitely have an advantage compared to other hypnotherapists. One customer said, “It’s very reassuring to have Dipti in my pocket.”’ 

To be in your customer’s pocket when they need you is a powerful psychological prompt; it’s reassuring, and you’ve moved them from logical decision-making using the head, to their intuitive sense of ‘it feels right’. Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman says 95% of all purchasing decisions are controlled by the buyer’s gut feeling.

There are several ways to get your customer to ‘trust their gut’. One of these is to de-risk purchasing from you. The easiest way to do that is to provide a lower-priced product so they can try you and your services. Often an app can be the low-risk first purchase. Over time, as that trust is established, they will buy more from you at an increased price. 

Another way is to use impulse purchases by providing an offer via a push notification to upgrade, book or purchase before the offer runs out. In one study, 53.3% of consumers agreed that most purchases made using smartphones were impulse buys. Impulse purchases are not as impulsive as you’d believe; the customer has built trust and familiarity with the brand over time and if they make a purchase it’s because they trust their gut and just need an offer to push them over the line. The app enables its users to react to the offer and purchase with ease, especially when they’re outside their typical work environment and are not looking at their emails. 

When integrated into an ecosystem of technology, the app is an incredible cog in the flywheel to engage your audience with push notifications before converting them into customers with a purchase. Disrupt your marketing with an app. 

Chris O’Hare is founder of Hare Digital, a digital strategy and app development agency and contributing author to bestselling book, Success Secrets of Disruptors.