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Frank & Oak brings excitement to mobile with timed offers

While the Montreal-based company offers its full catalog of items on its main Web site, it seeks to generate excitement for its mobile app by offering certain products for a limited time that are only available through the app. As a result of that effort and others, Frank & Oak has begun to see an increasing volume of new customers download the mobile app because of word-of-mouth recommendations.

“Remember that mobile is a product,” said Ethan Song, CEO and co-founder of Frank & Oak. “When customers download an app, they are actually buying a product from you.

“If you are going to spend so much money on photography, and spend so much money on the design of you store, shouldn’t you also spend a lot on your mobile app?”

Mr. Song spoke Thursday at the Mobile Summit at eTail East 2014. His presentation was called “Mobile as an Extension of Your Brand: Why Mobile Resources, UX and Messaging Matter.”

Driving engagement
By offering limited-time offers exclusively on its mobile app, Frank & Oak is seeking to create the kind of excitement and repeat engagement that deal-based Web sites offer.

Driving repeat visits to the app by offering an engaging user experience can be more effective that sending notifications to app users using triggers like beacon technology, Mr. Song said.

“There has been a lot of testing with beacons for mobile, but pushing ads on mobile is nothing new,” he said. “I would instead focus on how to incentivize the customer to keep going back to the app. I think that would be much better in the long term.”

Ethan Song

In order to drive an immersive, engaging experience in the mobile app, Mr. Song said Frank & Oak believes content is very important. He suggested that retailers appoint a merchandising or marketing staffer dedicated to the mobile channel.

“It’s not about getting customers to download the app, it’s about getting customers to engage with the app,” he said. “We found that if you design for mobile first, you will have a user experience that is much better for your customers.”

Frank & Oak also embedded its loyalty program into the app, which Mr. Song described as another key to driving repeat use and engagement.

M-dot versus responsive
Frank & Oak maintains an m-dot Web site and a responsively designed site in addition to its native apps. Currently, Mr. Song said, the company’s focus is on enriching the app experience.

“We still see tons of traffic going on our mobile site,” Mr. Song said. “I would say our responsive site is not that great. A dedicated m-dot site will convert at a much higher rate than a responsive site.”

He said that with Frank & Oak’s strong focus on creating an immersive experience on the mobile app, it has become an acquisition tool.

While traditionally retailers have driven app downloads from their desktop sites, Mr. Song said the buzz around Frank & Oak’s app is leading an increasing number of customers to download it based on personal recommendations.

“Now mobile is becoming an actual acquisition funnel,” he said.

Final Take

Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York