NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- How do you improve on a successful and widely downloaded mobile app that users are willing to shell out a buck for? If you're Kraft Foods, you release a new version containing enhancements suggested by your users and take the long-view of applications as a customer-engagement tool. You also might launch a free version, as Kraft has, to encourage sampling before getting people to commit to the paid one.
"Overall, everything we're doing reinforces our commitment to mobile as a strategic marketing channel, and a strategic lever within our overall customer relationship management program," said Ed Kaczmarek, director of innovation, consumer experiences at Kraft Foods. "We listened to our customers and their requests."
Kraft collects user feedback for the iFood Assistant from multiple sources, including the app itself, the app's dedicated website (iFoodAssistant.com) and in the iFood community forum at Kraft Foods' website.
Six months following the initial iFood download, 60% of users turn to the app regularly, Mr. Kaczmarek said. Those numbers are far higher than the industry average. According to apps analytics firm Pinch Media, only about 1% of apps download are used long-term. Prolonged engagement is particularly important for branded mobile applications because marketers are looking at apps as a way to foster customer relationships on an on-going basis and not as a quick sell.
So what are some of the new features users requested for iFood Assistant 2.0? The app now refreshes with recipes that vary according to season (in the summer, users will see barbecue recipes, and in the winter, soups and heartier fare). The dynamic refresh provides users with new and relevant content, saving them from having to download updates in the App Store each time new content is available. Users can also cross off items on their shopping lists with a quick tap rather than an unwieldy edit function, and the app is equipped with a better search engine.
Meanwhile, Kraft also added an option to receive push notifications for content like its daily recipe. Kraft ran an SMS test more than a year ago that showed people wanted to get dinner recipe reminders. The idle-screen notification mechanism delivers a better user experience than SMS because users can go to the app directly from the alert.
As it launches iFood 2.0, Kraft is also introducing a free "Lite" iFood Assistant for the iPhone; a Blackberry app is coming Dec. 15. The Lite iteration will have limitations (e.g., users can only save five recipes to their recipe box), but that's the idea -- to draw users who otherwise would not download the paid app and motivate them to make the full purchase by giving a taste of what the premium version offers. Blackberry's app store, however, requires publishers to charge at least $1.99 for an app, which could be a problem for Kraft, whose iPhone app costs 99 cents. Mr. Kaczmarek said Kraft would decide on the next steps after the launch when it can gauge the app's usage.