At this point, we can all agree that as a c-store retailer, you need a mobile app to remain competitive. Especially with the likes of Gopuff, DoorDash, and Instacart nipping at your heels.
That said, just having an app isn’t enough. You have to have the right content on your app — stuff that keeps customers engaged and coming back for more.
The problem is, most c-store apps are falling short in this regard. In fact, Sam Herro, moderator at the 2021 NACS Show, revealed that while apps are a driving force in the c-store channel, customer expectations are not being met.
“Apps aren’t keeping people engaged,” he explained. And as a result, the majority of c-store apps aren’t reaching 37% of customers.
So whether you’re just getting started or you already have an app, here are the main types of content to keep consumers engaged on your mobile app.
The content consumers want to see in your c-store app
Most of the content your consumers want to see are promotional offers; they’re the most engaging type of content in mobile apps. In fact, our clients have found that a whopping 80% of users view promotional offers while on the app. This type of content includes things like coupons, special offers, contests, rebates and games. Let’s take a look at each one.
1. Personalized digital coupons
Personalized digital coupons are effective in engaging customers on your app because they’re enticing and easy to use. What’s a personalized digital coupon, you ask? It’s one that’s relevant to the customer in terms of both the product and the timing.
For example, if a customer has a track record of buying energy drinks in the morning and they receive a coupon for a complimentary energy drink as they pull up to the gas pump, it’s likely to get their attention. And since it’s so easy to use (all they have to do is click a button on the app to redeem), chances are that they will.
Fortunately for c-stores, mobile coupons are easy to personalize in real-time based on past purchases, location, or time of day — even if you don’t have a trove of loyalty data at your fingertips.
For example, our data team explored how sales of Belvita biscuits and Oreo cookies fluctuate throughout the day. We found that while Oreo sales remain consistent, a huge portion of Belvita’s sales occur between the hours of 6 AM and 8 AM.
Based on this information, you could send mobile coupons in the morning for Belvita biscuits when consumers are most likely to purchase the product. You can also use geofencing and location-based marketing to deliver push notifications on your app when customers are close by.
This is especially effective because our data shows that the majority of customers (65%) redeem an offer within 5 minutes of seeing it.
Unfortunately, not all apps come with the capability to send coupons and other offers. If that’s the case, Koupon can help. Our mobile offer technology can be integrated into any mobile app. Get in touch if you want to learn more.
2. Scratch-off games
Including games on your app is an effective way to boost engagement because humans are hardwired to compete, even if it’s just against themselves.
As Brian Reinhart, VP of Engineering at Koupon, explains on our podcast, our brains release dopamine when we get a reward. And research shows the more you fail before reaching the reward, the more dopamine is released when you finally win.
So that’s why you often see things like smaller rewards combined with a grand prize. It gives us just enough of that taste of victory to make us want to keep playing.
Take Kwik Chek’s scratcher campaign, for example. The Texas-based c-store chain was looking for a fun and unique way to engage with their customers. So they partnered with Koupon to roll out a summer-long, 100-day promotion using our gamification toolset.
Kwik Chek chose an interactive, match 3 scratcher-style game that delivered high-value offers to customers. And they leveraged their brand partnerships and proprietary food service offerings to build out a well-balanced selection of prizes — ranging from free fountain beverages and CPG products to free gas for a year.
The Koupon data science team also built a custom dashboard for the Kwik Chek marketing team to have the most relevant and up-to-date metrics at their fingertips. And customers were encouraged to play every day throughout the course of the 100-day long campaign.
The results? The number of app users doubled during the campaign and there was a 230% increase in mobile pay users. Plus, the campaign drove over 50,000 in-store redemptions and an incredible 41% redemption rate.
3. Contests and sweepstakes
Images credit: CStore Decisions
Running a contest or sweepstakes promotion is always an effective way to engage customers. And it’s no different with your app. People just love a chance to win free stuff!
For instance, Casey’s General Stores does a great job of using contests and sweepstakes to drive engagement. During the summer of 2021, for example, they ran a sweepstakes contest where loyalty members could win a live concert with country music star Lee Brice in their hometown.
To enter the sweepstakes contest, customers simply had to redeem the “Summer of Freedom Sweepstakes” offer in Casey's mobile app. Plus, purchases of qualifying food, drinks, and fuel using Casey’s Rewards earned customers extra entries in the sweepstakes.
If this sounds like something you’d like to do, here are some pro tips for running a successful contest:
- The prize doesn’t have to be a huge expense (like a free concert with Lee Brice), it just needs to be valuable to the customer. For example, giving away an inexpensive product in your store (like coffee) “free for a year” is low in cost but high in perceived value.
- The biggest driver of participation in any kind of contest is the ease of entry. So, simplify the entry process by eliminating any unnecessary barriers. It should be as easy as clicking a button on your app to enter.
- CPG brands are often willing (and eager) to fund c-store promotions by providing the rewards. (Koupon can help you connect with these brands, too! Get in touch to learn more.)
4. Digital rebates for instant cashback
Digital rebates are another effective type of content to drive engagement on your mobile app. If you’re not too familiar with this, it’s when you offer a customer a rebate that can be redeemed immediately via your app.
As you can see in the image above featuring a Red Bull rebate, customers simply click a button on their phone, snap a picture of their receipt, and money is immediately sent to their PayPal or Venmo account.
Not only are digital rebates great for boosting engagement (who doesn’t want cashback?) but they’re also great for encouraging customers to try new products.
After all, it’s like giving out free samples. Customers are able to try the product for free or at a reduced cost, depending on the rebate — eliminating the cost barrier and driving trial.
5. Special offers like BOGO’s or combo deals
Image credit: Rutters
Special offers are an effective type of content to engage with customers on your app because no one wants to miss out on a deal. If you post special offers regularly, customers will check the app before shopping to see if there’s anything relevant.
Special offers include things like BOGO’s, stock and save sales, freebies and more. Examples of offers you could use are:
- Buy one Monster Energy Drink, get one free!
- Two breakfast sandwiches for $1 between 5 AM - 7AM all week!
- Free 20oz soda with any pizza purchase on Friday!
- Free coffee with a $10 fuel purchase!
To get the most out of this strategy, we recommend adding new offers each week at the same time. From our experience, customers will learn to expect the offer schedule and return frequently to see which offers are available. And to keep customers engaged, it’s best to add 2-3 new offers each week.
You also want to get the number of offers right. Too few and customers will disengage, too many and they’ll get confused or frustrated. With that in mind, we’ve found the magic number of active offers at a given time to be between 3 and 5 offers on a mobile device.
Running a c-store? See how Koupon helps c-stores drive more sales
Consumer behavior is evolving. And it’s challenging retailers to grow and adapt. At Koupon, we provide the technology you need to reach shoppers, attract them to your store, increase sales, create data-informed strategies, and drive digital impact.
No matter where you are in your digital transformation for your c-store, we have the solutions you need to grow. We can help you:
- Collaborate with CPG brands: Attract incremental promotion dollars, funded entirely by leading CPG brands. You can launch these promotions across your own channels and grow sales.
- Drive shopper engagement: Reach new shoppers beyond your current loyal base and gain a greater share of wallet from existing customers. Digital promotions help increase basket size and drive store trips.
- Simplify promotion execution: Don’t stress over the details. Our team takes care of it all, from offer set up to post-campaign analysis, and everything in between.
- Make data-driven decisions: Evaluate consumer patterns across products, stores, and channels. We’ll help you use these insights to benchmark, adjust and launch strategic data-driven campaigns.
Our solutions grow with you. So whether you’re just getting started or fully accelerating, we can help. Get in touch to learn more!