Starbucks Taps its App Audience For Typhoon Haiyan Relief

With the rapid adoption of mobile devices and mobile payment capabilities, it should come as no surprise that many brands now see the majority of their traffic, customer interactions and transactions taking place on mobile devices. Mobile has reached a critical mass, or what we like to call the Mobile Majority; and the opportunity to immediately connect with the majority can go far beyond “good for business,” to be good for everyone.

Brands riding highest on mobile’s seismic wave have honed their apps to provide value in customers’ daily lives. They’ve shifted from the old marketing mindset of driving sales, to a service-first goal, where utility and personal relevancy reign supreme. Top brands in mobile have also integrated push messaging capabilities in their apps to create the ultimate owned media channel with an audience they can reach 24/7.

Few brands exemplify mobile’s addressable opportunity better than the perennially cited mobile excellence of Starbucks Corporation. Much of its communication with app users is delivered through an in-app message center, and this reaches its entire app audience, not just those opted in to push notifications.

Badge icons on the home screen and in the app alert users to new inbox content, such as Starbucks’ signature “Pick of the Week” program, which offers free app, music and book downloads. In-app messages also include valuable promotions such as its Cyber Monday deal (pictured below). Through this content, the coffee company is thoughtfully building an engaged mobile community that has come to expect great things waiting for them inside its app.

Following its $500,000 contribution to Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts through the Starbucks Foundation, the company sent an in-app message with the American Red Cross’ logo to its app users to rally additional support. Charities, nonprofits and corporate philanthropists take note, the process of donating could not have been easier.

With the touch of a button, users were able to make a monetary contribution of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or $200 through their iTunes account with 100% of their donation going to the American Red Cross.

While a business’ mobile initiatives are typically measured in terms of topline and bottom-line improvements (and rightly so), another measure that reveals the true value of mobile is the velocity of action, where a business can reach and engage its community at the optimal time and place.

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day-long, national effort to help charities raise money online during the holiday season, and the simplicity of mobile can help accelerate engagement and giving. Mobile donations, such as the Starbucks example, enable users to click-to-donate in just two screens without inputting credit card details, a process far easier than any other method.

Whether they intend to reach customers for commercial or philanthropic reasons (or both), businesses would be well served to evaluate their mobile messaging efforts and ask whether they are creating a compelling reason for users to return to their apps regularly. Through a service-first content approach, brands earn a connected, engaged audience and can drive major consumer action when and where it matters most.