Mobile Marketing Insights

The Customer Engagement Gap is Real - and it's Hurting Your Brand

The gap between high-reach, low-engagement email marketing and low-reach, high-engagement mobile app marketing is a huge hole that brand and digital marketers need to fill. It's time for new approaches and solutions.

Engagement Gap
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Marketing tactics don’t typically evolve rapidly enough to deliver on even faster-evolving consumer preferences. Email is a great example. If you’re a marketer looking to engage those consumers whose addresses you’ve gathered over the years, you’re probably sending regular email to thousands of them. They really don’t click on them, do they? Email open rates and click-through rates have been plummeting for years; the retail industry, for instance, has dipped to an average 17.1% email open rate and an anemic 0.7% click-through rate.

Email is therefore what we’d call a “high-reach, low-engagement" channel. On the flip side is your mobile app. This is a “low-reach, high-engagement" channel. These are often your most loyal and engaged consumers, the ones who are taking up precious real estate on their smartphones with your marketing-focused retail app – and that’s fantastic. There just aren’t enough of them. They are expensive to acquire, and only a select few highly motivated consumers are willing to download apps from the brands whose products and services they use. If these are the two limited channels your brand is solely relying on to drive repeat engagement, build loyalty and boost revenue, there’s a better-than-even chance that you’re not hitting the numbers in these areas you’d thought you’d be hitting by now.

What is the Engagement Gap?

At Vibes, we call the gap between high-reach, low-engagement email marketing and low-reach, high-engagement mobile app marketing the engagement gap. It’s a gap that cries out for new approaches and solutions, and many marketers in the retail and restaurant industries in particular have found such a solution in either SMS, Mobile Wallet or an elegant combination of both.

engagement gap

All phones have SMS and Mobile Wallet today. SMS is, of course, the native text messaging app that has come with every device. It is exploding in popularity with brand marketers, who’ve been looking for a way to move beyond email and apps. Omnisend research shows that in 2021, brands sent just north of 59 million campaigns. In 2022, that figure spiked to just north of 96 million.

Engaging Customers on the Device That’s Always There

Progressive Leasing is a consumer-focused retail lending company that had traditionally been very email-focused when interacting with their customers, sending on the order of 150 million emails per year. They wanted to reach more of these customers in real-time, and more effectively. They recognized, in the words of Senior Software Engineering Manager Adam Price, “There’s a level of engagement that is much more immediate with SMS than with email, and we really wanted to tap into that.”

They recognized – as many of us in our roles as consumers do – that people open and read their text messages in a way they’ve never done with email. Progressive Leasing saw over double the benchmark broadcast SMS engagement rate using the Vibes mobile engagement platform, showing just how many of their customers were not just viewing, but were interacting with their messaging. Just as important, they’ve retained well over 99% of the customers in their opted-in SMS base – showing that the messages they’re sending are timely, relevant and engaging.

Creating Seamless Offline and Online Experiences

Then there’s Mobile Wallet. Both Apple and Android devices come standard with a native digital wallet that allows consumers to store loyalty cards, tickets, boarding passes, gift cards, membership passes, coupons and more. Consumers like me are understanding just how valuable it can be to them; I remember when I – not that long ago! - figured out how much better it was to store all my tickets and loyalty cards here, rather than deep in my Gmail folders. Our recent Mobile Consumer Trends report found that 54% of consumer aged 25-54 say they’re either already using, or are interested in using, Mobile Wallet to store items such as digital offers and loyalty cards.

Combined with the SMS, the two channels work beautifully together to enhance each other and boost engagement and loyalty, without any need for an app download or signup process. And there’s no email involved, either.

Mobile Wallet truly bridges the engagement gap because it is a persistent, contactless engagement channel that helps to unite the physical and digital worlds for marketing, commerce, service, and loyalty – again, without the need for app downloads. Brands can easily update mobile wallet pass content and send timely, relevant wallet notifications to a user’s lock screen, giving them a robust channel for continuous engagement with their customers, and driving those customers into stores to redeem coupons, offers and points. Chipotle, in particular, has done a phenomenal job with this.

Vibes even helps our partners deliver segmented, personalized mobile wallet passes to ensure those customers have the relevant information that is unique to them, from their loyalty points to appointment reminders. Imagine a dynamically updating pass on the smartphone with new offers that are highly targeted by user segment, demographics, usage, location and more. 

This is how the engagement gap is bridged, and how increased mobile engagement creates higher ROI than email and paid media - and much more loyal customers. We’ve got the success stories to prove it.

Let's talk about how Vibes can help you and your brand bridge the engagement gap today.

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