July 29 2020

As with all things marketing, personalization is key to a mobile app’s success. 

If intelligent segmentation were the first step towards achieving all of your marketing strategy goals, personalization would make you stand out and give a “tailor-made” look and feel to your app.

But how are you going to incorporate personalization in your app’s marketing strategies? And more importantly, how are you going to make sure you’re using personalization correctly and not in a way that will make it seem like just another trend that will fade over time?

Let’s find out!

Why Does Your Mobile App Need Personalization Anyway?

There is one reason that makes mobile app personalization imperative: your prospects want it. And they should have it. But not just for their sake.

Currently, there are almost 9 million mobile apps in the world, with China being the first when it comes to app production.

This fact alone is enough to showcase how apps have become a part of our day-to-day lives and how difficult it is for your app, in particular, to stand out and be a staple on the user’s phone.

If you think like a prospect, you’ll see what I mean: the most addictive apps take your activity into account. They can offer useful results when using them through personalized content and overall customized experience. And this makes it impossible for you to delete them:

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According to the numbers above, mobile app personalization can be very beneficial for an app’s creator and the brand to which this app belongs. Especially, considering that the better the personalization, the higher the engagement. 

Now, the higher the engagement, the higher the brand awareness and the better the retention, and so on.

You need a mobile app personalization plan to boost your overall conversion and help your brand become a sensation in virtually no time.

Mobile App Personalization: In-And-Out

The more your users interact with your app, the better for you. The more data you can gather. And in the end, more interaction means a lower customer churn rate as well.

You can split mobile app personalization into two broad categories:

  • In-app personalization
  • Out-of-the-app personalization

In-app personalization is what brands and developers try to achieve when creating pop-ups, dialogue boxes, and when they gamify the experience while giving recommendations.

Another example of in-app personalization is a special discount based on geolocational segmentation – discounts on sunscreen during the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, for instance, or offers on sweaters during the same months in the Southern Hemisphere.

Out-of-the-app personalization has to do with the user’s experience while not using the app. The primary tool to achieve engagement while the user doesn’t use the app is push notifications.

Push notifications are messages sent by the app to users not using the app at that specific moment. 

They can help with several things but are known to boost engagement and re-engagement rates, and the great thing about them is that the user can opt-out of receiving them at any point in time.

Both options will help those that have downloaded your app in terms of experience and use. Showing your audience how to use your app while they’re using it is the best way to entice, gather the data you need, and walk users through the whole experience:

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The image above is what I’ll see upon opening the Sephora app on my phone. There is the option to personalize my feed and selections, which will give me a more tailor-made experience. I can also skip that step, look up what I need, and purchase it.

This procedure made me want to give the brand some details about my likes and dislikes, as they didn’t become pushy or persistent. On the contrary, I had the choice of just going about my day and discarding the app altogether, if needed be.

I’ll circle back to push notifications now. It’s easy to bombard prospects with those, but it will only result in them uninstalling your app and finding something that’s less “obsessive”.

Be very creative when it comes to copy and very wise when it comes to using push notifications altogether. Here’s one of the best examples I’ve ever seen:

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The message is relatable, creative, and bound to engage users and make them log onto your app. It’s also heavily personalized, as this app asks for the users to specify what feels cold or warm to them. 

This action allows the app to give users specific weather recommendations and a personalized forecast, which sounds way less fantastic than it is in reality, in my opinion!


The Importance of User Onboarding

User onboarding is among the first things you need to plan out for your mobile app’s personalization and overall success.

It’s easy to lose the majority of your users on the first couple of days of using your app. And if they leave, they rarely come back. Let’s see how you’re going to tackle that problem:

  • Through user onboarding, you can help your prospects get familiar with your app’s design and provide some excellent user experience (UX). 
  • Guiding users through the various stages, CTA buttons, and actions they can take on your app will keep prospects engaged. Furthermore, it will keep them from getting confused as they look for this button or that CTA.

Therefore, make sure to create an app that will ease users into exploring the app and giving up some of their information. Make them feel like they’ve been using it for years. This technique will create loyal prospects bound to convert in the end and recommend your app to their loved ones.

Once the first downloads start, it will be time to take a good look at the data provided and start segmenting your market.

How close are these prospects to your buyer personas? What can they offer your brand? How did they come across your app, and how can it help them in their day-to-day lives?

Your data will give you all of the answers you need. It will be even better if you use some AI technology to sort everything out. AI can distinguish patterns in data that a human might not be able to see.

This fact can lead to one-on-one personalization, in the sense that every message that appears in-app or out of the app will look and feel tailor-made, especially for the reader.

Once you’ve got your data down, you’ll see what works and gamify the process – this practice will boost engagement and will better the user’s experience overall.

For example, as part of your onboarding session, you can have users take specific actions that will lead them to a desirable outcome. For example, it could be a reward in the form of a discount for unlocking an achievement by using a feature of your app correctly.

Use copy like “Your reward is not far away” or “A gift is waiting for you”. This type of copy will showcase the value of continuing without giving up the surprise.

A/B Testing and Optimization

You can personalize your mobile app all you want, but unless you’re using the correct data and making sure your content appeals to your audience, you will see your conversion plummet.

Make sure to create and personalize the app in a way that will feel intuitive to the user. Make suggestions that will feel natural.

For example, I had once downloaded a picture-based app and was browsing through picture recommendations, attempting to create a mood board. I accidentally tapped on a photo that I typically wouldn’t find attractive.

This app kept showing me pictures that didn’t interest me at all after that. All that because of one wrong tap. I uninstalled it and used the most popular choice – Pinterest – instead, never looking back.

This app neglected to ace their personalization game, and this led to one unhappy user. And while their content was great, I couldn’t bring myself to using it again. 

This example shows just how necessary A/B testing is. If the app creators had seen my data, they would’ve noticed that I tapped the image and tapped the “Back” button right away.

A/B testing will give you clarity on how the users act on your app. For example, you don’t need to include a “Log in using Facebook” button if most of your users prefer logging in through Google.

Show one version of your app to X amount of beta testers and another version to Y amount. Ask for feedback. Run surveys.

Once you’ve gathered all the data you need, you’ll know what works for your audience and what doesn’t, all because you decided to create two versions of your app and measure their performance.

Lastly, I would like to point out that, once you get into A/B testing features and versions of your mobile app, you will need to be patient and check one element at a time, for as long as you need to.

Testing multiple elements at a time is one of the most common app store optimization mistakes, as well as cutting an A/B testing effort short. Don’t fall into that trap.

Get Them Involved

You can’t have personalization without engagement, and that’s a fact. Gathering data like location, user behavior in-app, engagement with push notifications, and so on is brilliant.

It would be best if you had, however, a plan in place. This plan could keep users involved through your mobile app’s development stages and make them feel like they’re “ambassadors” of this app.

Take to social media and engage users through your pages, offering a little something in return.

Create a survey and ask users what they love and what they dislike about your app. Take their opinion into account and improve your app as you go along.

Study all the suggestions and figure out what would work best for your mobile app and feel personal and intuitive to your users.

Take their feedback into account and always give them updates on the changes you are about to make and what you hope to achieve.

An action like that will make the users feel comfortable, especially since you’re not catching them by surprise and easing them into the new environment.

Asking for some user feedback will inevitably create an open community that will help out others and point out mistakes in suggestions and so on.

An open community will allow users to exchange opinions and ideas, share their feedback with each other, and with the app’s developers and even answer some common questions or give some advice.

An in-app community can work in unison with your social media community. It will also definitely boost your engagement and give you even more data than what you had in the beginning, resulting in more personalization opportunities.

Share some hints, special offers, and “surprises” with them and give them a safe space to chat with other users.

In-app communities are a safe space where users can chat with other users and the brand itself about the app, giving valuable feedback to the brand’s developer as far as bugs and tools are concerned.

Not to mention that a community like that gives people something to remember and keeps them involved.

One Last Thought

Lastly, I would like to mention how vital email marketing for mobile apps is when it comes to announcing the new features of an app or a new app altogether. 

Using email marketing to do the actions mentioned above allows you to create an open dialogue between you and the prospects and invite them to modify and create an app that you’ll both enjoy.

Allowing the user to be a co-creator is top-notch personalization and engagement.

The Takeaway

Personalization is more than just a fad in our day and age. Personalization and, to take it a step further, hyper-personalization is the future of customization.

It’s a technique that one cannot possibly skip, and it can be applied everywhere, mobile apps included. By creating something that will instantly appeal to the user and give them the answers they’ve been looking for, personalized mobile apps turn out to be beneficial and satisfy user intent.

Keep users hooked by giving them a reason to interact with your app, starting with their user onboarding and leading up to recommendations to friends and family and exclusive discounts.

Don’t forget to always study your data before taking your next step and monitor your efforts. 

Doing this will help your mobile app personalization strategy be spot-on, and it will boost all the metrics that matter, from mobile downloads to customer experience and overall conversion.