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Have you ever been shopping on Amazon and bought something you saw in the “Inspired by Your Browsing History” section? That’s a prime example of personalization, recommendations that go beyond demographic constraints to deliver hyper-focused suggestions based on a company’s relationship with a customer. It’s a key marketing strategy that smart companies want to exploit because a positive shopping experience means greater customer loyalty.

Despite the increasing sophistication of smart phones, personalization has lagged in the mobile world. One reason, perhaps, has been the dizzying array of mobile operating systems that have been on the market over the past decade. The current domination of Apple and Android devices, coupled with mobile app development platforms, have made this less of an issue.

But technology has developed sufficiently to the point that a company’s mobile apps should have the same user experience (UX) expectations as their online presence.

Personalization, Not Customization

A highly successful mobile app delivers a personalized experience to the individual customer. Even though you and I may be the same age, perhaps you like to drive domestic pickup trucks because you haul your boat frequently, while I prefer import luxury cars. A generic car ad or marketing message isn’t likely to resonate with either of us unless it’s tailored to our individual preference.

But if you are offered, say, an exclusive weekend at a top marina near where you live, that will resonate much more. Think of personalization as Customization 2.0. Personalization is just that, a unique experience based on an individual’s past use, past purchases, location and preferences. Your offer should be different from mine.

Until recently, mobile devices couldn’t compete with websites in terms of user experience. Small screen sizes and balky interfaces made it difficult to deliver a personalized experience. But now that iPhones can gauge the pressure of a touch with Force Touch, for example, marketing departments have more to think about when planning an app.

Personalization Starts at the Back End

The most successful apps involve technologists from the very beginning. The greatest idea becomes just mediocre if not properly executed. Marketing department staffers are thinking of the most awesome features to include, without regard to how the information will get from back-office systems to the user. But a delay of a few seconds greatly increases user drop-off, and users abandon apps with great, well, abandon.

That’s why you must get IT involved during the planning stages. The first reason is to help work through any integration issues that will keep you from getting to the personalization you want is the speed you need. Second, your developers should have fresh ideas about how to turn your marketing dreams into reality. New app features are being developed all the time, and your developers are (or should be) best-suited to take advantage of new technologies.

Finally, you must take care to safeguard your app’s data to and from the back office. Regulated industries such as insurance, banking and healthcare are accustomed to safeguarding data, but companies in any industry should make security a primary consideration.

Don’t Ignore Push Notifications

Users often agree to push notifications when signing up for an app, but many companies fail to use this critical opt-in. Remember, they think enough of your products or your services to want to interact with your brand through an app. They are throwing the door open wide and inviting you to come in and sit a spell.

Push notifications are a terrific opportunity, as well as someplace to screw up royally. Overextend your welcome or put your feet on the furniture and your users will likely show you the door (i.e., not use or delete your app). So give them what they want, a personalized experience. How about a special deal on accessory items for something they just purchased? A timely reminder to register for a webinar related to their interests in your company?

The push could be based on personal preference, buying history, geography and many other factors. What works well for one company could fail miserably for another in the same industry. The key is to craft an app that appeals to customers and effectively leverages what you already know about them.

By Rajesh Thampi March 18, 2016
Tags: MobileUncategorized