3 Steps to Mobile App Personalization

Unless you’re just starting your career as a digital marketer for mobile apps, chances are that your professional journey began on other marketing channels. Maybe you started on email, using a marketing automation platform to send targeted, personalized emails to segmented audiences. Or perhaps you managed your website, optimizing the user experience with real-time web personalization.

But mobile is growing at a significant pace as more and more of your buyers use their mobile device to access information. With 89% of consumer media time spent in mobile apps, according to Nielsen, it’s imperative for your company to be onboard with a mobile app strategy. While you can certainly put some of your previous experience in targeting, testing, and personalization to use, apps behave differently than other mediums, so you need to shift your digital marketing strategy to tackle them. Here are three things to keep in mind on your journey towards app personalization:

1. Know Your Users and What They Want

As with other marketing channels, your goal is to achieve positive results. For mobile, this means more users, more time in app, higher ratings, higher conversion rates, etc. In order to nourish the growth of these trends, you need to provide your users with different features that will engage them and retain them, such as video tutorials, coupons, and notifications, just to name a few. But to do this efficiently, you have to treat your users as individuals, not as ‘trends,’ which means you have to get personal with them.

With the right mobile engagement solution and analytics in place, you can glean a lot of valuable information about your users. You can see everything from their physical location, the last time they opened your app, how much time they spent in your app, and where they went inside the app. Armed with this knowledge, you can provide personalized messaging that deep links to different places within the app, serving your users with content that is the most relevant and interesting for them, which can result in greater user loyalty and retention.

There are various mobile marketing solutions available that allow you to manage in-app and push notifications, but your focus should revolve more around how you have these conversations than how to create the in-app message. There are three levels of data you should take into account:

  1. General usage: When was the last time the user visited? How long was the session?
  2. Behavior: What did or didn’t the user do in your app? Which screens did they see and where did they tap?
  3. Back-end data: Integrate your channels so that you can sync back-end data, such as gender, age, and preferences.

2. Real-Time Responses: Conversations vs. Single Messages

Changing the message you present based on a user’s real-time activity is a known practice, but in the app world, it means presenting users with content that relates to where they’ve been in your app and whether they took (or didn’t take) actions that you were hoping they would.

In many cases, app communications are based on single flow actions when there is a message that the app owner wants to display. Even if these messages are personalized and presented to segmented groups, they have a clear, concise CTA as opposed to being an ongoing conversation with the user that may just be entertaining, informative, or educational. Often, we don’t see apps with in-app engagement flows that provide several steps in communication that listen and respond to a user’s feedback…yet.

Ideally, mobile marketers should respond differently to each user’s unique feedback. For example, if a user fills out a satisfaction survey positively, then you could follow that up with an invitation to rate your app in the app store. If the user fills out the survey negatively, then you could send a subsequent message asking for more information or with a special offer to increase the level of satisfaction. These types of in-app engagement flows are similar to email nurturing campaigns and work to move users up the loyalty ladder.

3. Test, Experiment, and Optimize

Constant testing and optimization is the heart and soul of marketing. You test subject lines, content, visuals, layouts, and more. You experiment with different flows, such as nurturing order, and you constantly optimize your content and scoring system.

But how can you apply this process to improve your mobile app? Not only should you test your app’s content, but you should experiment with messaging frequency and timing, the in-app location feature, and testing different engagement features against each other. For example, which type of guidance would be more effective to onboard new users: a video tutorial or feature carousel? It’s only through experimentation and optimization that you can realize your app’s full business potential.

However, most companies are not there yet. Development teams are mainly focused on an app’s core functionality and less on the engagement features that drive people to convert and return. This is an obstacle on your journey to app personalization that needs to be overcome. It’s critical for marketers to get behind the wheel to steer your mobile app in the right direction. Just like a website is managed by a CMS and marketing campaigns are managed by a marketing automation platform, app owners also need a solution (which may already be a part of their existing solutions) that enables them to communicate, convert, and maintain personalized relationships with their users without having to rely on their development teams. There are mobile platforms that allow you to do this without coding, but this thought goes much deeper than having the right solution. It’s only a matter of time before the industry will move towards parallel mobile app handling. On one hand, the development team will manage the core functionality and on the other hand, marketing and product teams will own the customer experience. Marketers will not be able to deliver the level of customer experience end-users expect to see in an app unless they have the level of independence and flexibility they have on other channels.

By understanding, engaging with, and satisfying your users, you are much closer to successfully completing the journey towards mobile app personalization. Have you already embarked on this journey? Share your tips in the comments below!

By: Polly Alluf