Starbucks: A Case Study in Effective Mobile App Marketing

Apr 12, 2016
By: Mimi Torrington

How they did it:

1)     Special offers (free stuff) – The company found that they could best engage their customers by offering special bonuses and incentives like birthday gifts, discounts, and complimentary beverages. This strategy helps customers engage because they are constantly using the app to receive free stuff.

2)     Loyalty program – Starbucks also seamlessly incorporated a loyalty program into their app. They found that users are likely to continue buying beverages with the goal of earning a free one.

An important byproduct of the program is data, with the ability to continuously gather information about their customer base and buying habits. The incentive program works by collecting stars each time a purchase is made. When customers collect a certain number of stars, they can redeem them for more benefits or prizes.

3)     Messaging/ notifications – Another important element of the mobile campaign was the addition of in app messages. Audiences can fill out surveys sent through the phone and, with each survey filled out, more stars are given to the customer.

4)     Mobile Order & Pay – The latest feature to be added to their mobile Starbucks app is Mobile Order and Pay. This allows a customer to pay in advance before picking up the actual beverage.  Growing adoption of Starbucks’ Mobile Order & Pay program is a boon for the chain during the morning rush, when use increases and accounts for about 10 percent of transactions.

5)     Building personalization – Starbucks is hoping to create more engaged and brand-immersed customers, and recently updated its app to allow playlist viewability. Customers at a Starbucks location are now able to save songs they hear playing in the restaurant to a playlist within the app.

The mobile app uses GPS technology to determine which store the user is at, which will then share the music information for that particular location. Users can access their playlist through Spotify after leaving the store and continue listening to the saved music.

Plans to grow in 2016

Starbucks plans to expand its mobile marketing strategies to increase purchases in-app through personalized recommendations. According to Mobile strategy specialist Crone Consulting LLC that this could up individual purchases by up to 50%.

Implication for mobile marketers:  According to the research, 77% of marketers note positive ROI from mobile marketing, while another 20% have plans to use apps for marketing over the coming 12 months. Learn more on how we can help.

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By Mimi Torrington
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