Mobile Apps Transform Personalization

by Natalie Lacuesta Byrum

posted on 02-14-2017

Mobile apps have a unique advantage: they offer a quick way to serve users’ needs at any given moment. But, they also have high expectations to meet from the very moment users first install them. Most of my downloaded apps belong to businesses and brands that I am loyal to through other interactions, and my satisfaction level with these apps tends to hinge on the efficiency and relevance each provides while on the go.

For example, my news app is one I use regularly. When I receive a push notification alerting me of new content available within my categories of interest, I’m keen to click through and give my story-feed a glance because it’s easy to do and tailored to me. Unless that experience changes, I am happy to engage often. I recognize that, subconsciously, I’m evaluating it every day.

Your App Users Are Your Highest-Valued Customers.
Brands must recognize the customers who download their mobile apps as some of their most valuable customers. Those who download your app are either asking to have a relationship with your brand or to extend their existing relationship with your brand — meaning, it’s critical that you continually prove to them that your app is worth the space it’s occupying on their devices. To maintain user loyalty, customers expect no less than highly efficient, personalized app experiences every time they open your app. In fact, among millennials, 33 percent cite irrelevant push notifications and 22 percent cite non-personalized ads as common frustrations on mobile. These frustrations are what lead to app uninstalls; 90 percent of users stop using an app after one month. Because relevancy is the driving force behind maintaining user loyalty, it is also the driving force behind app ROI.

The good news is that the features within your app likely make it easier to offer a personalized experience to each user. Most users must properly authenticate when they log in to brand apps. This added benefit is huge, as it allows brands to identify specific user behaviors and preferences from validated user experience data. Armed with this knowledge, you can optimize the app experience through A/B testing and personalization tactics based on what each user responds well to and what causes each to disengage.

Ultimately, this means that personalization is becoming the default mode with apps, as more user data is readily collected and available to tailor a user’s experience at the moment of engagement. Unfortunately, not all brands are getting the most out of their mobile apps. Rather than taking the time to craft a mobile strategy — let alone a mobile app personalization strategy — many brands rushed to market. It’s almost as if brands felt, “Well, the biggest trend is apps, so we should build one too.” But, it is never too late to put some thought into and progress toward making an app valuable to both your users and your business.

Make Personalization Part of Your App Optimization Efforts.
Now that more businesses are seeing traffic and sales coming through their mobile apps, brands are starting to understand that optimization using A/B testing and personalization is a key component of mobile app success. Some of our clients see more than one-half of their traffic flow in from mobile — meaning, some users prefer engaging solely via mobile. Further, among retail mobile users, consumers who are ready to make purchases prefer mobile apps by 57 percent, with 43 percent preferring mobile web. They’re more than just mobile, on-the-go users — they prefer mobile apps. Optimizing for mobile and creating a strategy that includes personalization are no longer optional for brands.

It is important to have optimization — including personalization — in mind from the very first moments of your mobile app development process. If your app was designed quickly or is fairly utilitarian, you may consider revisiting what your mobile app strategy should be moving forward. When you’re working with your mobile product management team, it’s important to start with a foundation that includes questions like:

Optimize Your Brand’s Personalization Efforts.
Personalization is more than just saying, “Hello, User.” It’s about tailoring a user’s experience to his past behaviors, profile, and device context to provide him with an experience that really matters. Following are some great tips for getting personal.

If your user experience isn’t engaging from the get-go, it’s very unlikely that users will return. It’s not at all unusual for a user to download your app, have a bad experience, and not return for years — if ever. It took me two years to give my banking-services app another try — and that was only because multiple friends and colleagues convinced me that the app experience had improved. Fact: the average app loses 77 percent of users within three days of being downloaded. Creating a user experience that is high-quality, efficient, and relevant from the start is the first step to implementing a strong mobile app personalization strategy (or any part of your mobile app strategy).

For example, just making it simpler to get into your app can increase user engagement and loyalty. Many brands are using touch ID to help users open their apps without the added hassle of typing in passwords and user IDs on small keyboards. If touch ID isn’t right for your brand, consider offering automatic-hint and login-memory features to move customers past the login process quickly and effortlessly. Run A/B testing on login features and variations to determine which experience increases onboarding and repeat usage most. Through this, you may find that touch ID is the preferred login experience _for a specific segment of your user_s; offering that experience to just those users is a great way to personalize the first app interaction.

Home Screen
You should know who your loyal users are. Therefore, it should be easy to understand what their typical behaviors are and which functionalities are most useful for them to access from the home screen. For instance, if you have a travel app, making upcoming travel itineraries and boarding passes easily accessible from the homepage is a great personalization step. It tells your user that you not only know who she is and what her needs are at that moment, but also that you can meet those needs instantaneously.

In-App Messaging
In-app messaging can allow you to send personalized messages to customers when they perform certain actions, helping to boost both the customer experience and your ROI. For instance, if customers left items in their shopping carts or didn’t purchase needed accessories (think batteries), you can prompt them to do so. Or, you can target offers, promotions, or new content based on what users have engaged with in current or past sessions. This is a rather widely accepted personalization tactic that most brands continuously work to improve upon.

Walgreens wanted to offer its app users better experiences. So, they utilized in-app messaging to offer timely prompts that would help users complete tasks more easily. For example, when customers turned on their cameras to scan healthcare-insurance cards, users received tips on how to successfully use the feature: “For best results: rotate your phone to take the photo in landscape orientation.” This helped minimize the operational issues many customers were experiencing with their cards — thus, causing them to shy away from using the app — resulting in a boost in user engagement as app experiences improved.

Push Notifications
Push notifications can help regularly reengage users, but they must be extremely relevant for customers to act on them as you desire. Redbox wanted to improve the effectiveness of their app’s push notifications and turned to Adobe technology to surface insights to help them achieve their goal. They discovered that push notifications received the highest engagement and conversions at 9:00am with a 200-percent increase in rentals within one hour of the push notification being sent. They also discovered that, by offering a promotional push notification to new users, they could drive a 56-percent open rate. Since integrating analytics capabilities into its app personalization strategy in 2012, the company has seen a 100-percent growth in its user base, which equates to a 25-percent, year-over-year increase.

Ongoing Measuring and Monitoring
Once you’ve personalized your users’ experiences, you can’t just assume it’s a set-it and forget-it activity. You need to continually measure their activities, engagement, and conversions to determine the overall success of your app and identify opportunities for improvement in the app journey. Next, refine and tailor the app experience using an iterative A/B testing process, which will help you maximize the value of your users — as well as your mobile app — to your business. As your users progress through life’s various stages, your app’s functionality in their lives may change. The experience you offer them should adapt as well to remain personalized to their most current needs.

In Sum
Mobile app personalization can help prevent your users from feeling frustrated with your app and disengaging from your brand entirely. Customers expect a stellar experience and don’t want to have to work any harder than necessary to engage with your brand in a way that works for them. Make it simpler for them — and more valuable for you — by using behavioral data to maximize your mobile app personalization.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Personalization