4 ways to get ahead of the marketing personalization curve

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say that we “must personalize the customer journey” I’d probably be on a beach somewhere drinking daiquiris. Instead, I try to help people understand what personalization actually means for in-app marketing.

In the past decade, marketers have made a lot of progress in personalizing shopping experiences in stores and online. But when it comes to apps, the personalization game is still lacking; sure, some apps are doing personalized push notifications, but what happens when your users are in the app?

Apps are increasingly a place where customers spend their time and money, and so we must take hard-learned personalization lessons from other channels and think of how to apply them in apps.

Knowledge is Power

You might already be using in-app marketing, in the form of in-app messages, surveys, videos or banners. But if your strategy is “spray and pray,” and all your users see the same thing at the same time, you’re missing out.

The fact is that mobile apps (and their owners) know more about their users than any other channel. They know about their history of actions, their demographics and what they’re doing RIGHT NOW in the app. Combine all that and you have the perfect opportunity to come up with personalized, contextual offers when the users are most engaged with you.


Suggest a user an upsell offer based on what they just did in your app

Provide Safe Landing

I mentioned push notifications and the fact that you may or may not use them in a personalized manner. Sending different messages to different segments is a of course a good idea, but CTR isn’t everything, you want to consider the where the user lands.

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Too often, apps get us excited with their push message, we click away and then land in… right, the app’s homepage.

Which leaves us wandering around, wondering why the app pushed such a promising deal/service/event/you-name-it and we have to figure out how to find it? A good push message will lead you to the most relevant place in the app. Moreover, if your in-app marketing system is well-established, you’ll be able to land the users on a piece of content that is dedicated to the push and enhances the info of the push message.

A push message should link the user to a meaningful page where they can learn more about your offer.

A push message should link the user to a meaningful page where they can learn more about your offer.

Lead the way

Did I just say YOU should lead the way? Isn’t it all about the user choosing her own path and you being attentive, listening to her digital body language and responding at the right mobile moment? All true, but sometimes it makes sense for you to lead your users to where you want them.

This doesn’t mean you have to be intrusive or even explicit when suggesting that your users visit a specific page in your app or see new content. You might know, for example, that in a ticketing app exposure to the review section means a user is more likely to make a purchase. In that case, a little nudge doesn’t hurt.

Directing users in ways that positively affect their journey in the app is doable, but use discretion.

Direct users with a mobile tooltip to enhance their experience and increase your conversion

Direct users with a mobile tooltip to enhance their experience and increase your conversion

Stay Ahead of the Curve

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There are a few reasons why apps still don’t go all the way with these in-app marketing strategies. The typical duration of mobile development cycles does not align with the speed and agility you see on other channels like your website or email marketing, and that’s a serious hurdle. The main reason, though, is the relatively immature attitude towards mobile app engagement.

But, mobile usage continues to surge and end users have high expectations for personalized, non-intrusive experiences in the app. This pretty much guarantees that it’s only a matter of time before these strategies will be widely adopted.

polly_a_headshot-1About the Author

Polly Alluf is the VP Marketing at Insert, the first automated in-app marketing platform and the author of the Beginners Playbook to In-App Campaigns.

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