Editor's Note: The following is a guest post from Prabhjot Singh, co-founder and president of Pyze, an app marketing and intelligence platform.
People download a lot of apps and visit a lot of sites but actually use very few of them regularly. So how do you make an app stand out from the rest?
In 2017, the key to differentiation and driving-long term engagement is personalization, which has become a loaded word these days. Every company wants to personalize interactions with its users, but what and how to personalize is a big challenge that requires a great deal of data collection and analysis. Sure, it’s easy to start an email, postcard or push notification with "Hi John” or “Hi Mary,” but that is a simplistic use case and something everyone should already be doing. Who likes getting a message addressing no one in particular: “Hey there…?"
Personalization crosses three different facets: engagement, content and experience. Each of these are important and progressively harder to implement. Brands that personalize all three vectors will be most successful at developing meaningful relationships with each user.
Engagement personalization focuses on how and when to engage with a user. Regarding the “how” part, we generally want to reach out to a user based on some action or behavior of theirs. For example, if someone purchases an item in an e-commerce app, the retailer might send them a thank you email that includes a relevant call to action. If a user adds an item to their cart and then abandons it, the retailer could send the user a coupon for that item to potentially drive a sale.
As for the “when” of engaging a user, the best strategy is to send those messages at a time when each user is most likely to be using the app, rather than blasting all users at once. For instance, an event ticketing app that lets users search, browse and purchase tickets for local activities should keep track of when, where and what each user searches. If the user stops using the app for a specified period of dormancy, the ticketer could send each user a push message with relevant content (we’ll get to that in a minute) to re-engage them. Similarly, if a user often browses events but doesn’t purchase or stops midway, the ticketer could share a coupon via an in-app message to encourage conversion.
Think about content personalization as a recommendation engine for content types. User data like browsing history, purchases and search queries can all be used to tailor content whether it’s an advertisement, article we want them to read or recommendation for a travel destination. This data can also be used to determine what not to send to users (if they just bought an SLR camera, they are probably not interested in seeing offers for a video camera).
Continuing with the event ticketing app example, we can certainly use the “what” and “where” of users’ search queries for content personalization, but we can also use attributes extracted from behavior. For instance, if one user is a discount ticket buyer and another is a premium ticket buyer, we can use this context to deliver content specifically designed to appeal to each of their price points.
This is more difficult than engagement personalization because in order to make it run smoothly, the different types of content to personalize should be determined during the design phase of creating your app so that the triggers for each can be built into the program from the start. Then, user behavior across defined indicators must be tracked to trigger content personalization events. However, content personalization is the best way to make sure that the various types of content you create get in front of the right viewers.
Experience personalization is perhaps the hardest of the three, as it entails morphing the entire app based on each user’s behavior. The app would provide a different experience for a power user than it does for a dormant user, as there are different business objectives for each. The dormant user may see a simplistic interface and receive an offer for a tour to re-learn the key features, whereas the power user might open the app and see only the features used most often. Tailoring the app to each user will make it sticky and keep users coming back again and again.
Back to the event ticketing app again — the user experience can be tailored based on tags like power/dormant user, discount/premium ticket buyer or others. Each individual tag or combination of tags could be used to customize different layouts, app flow and number of offers displayed. Personalizing experience requires a fair amount of experimentation, but once you get it right, it's an immensely powerful retention mechanism.
Although all of this can seem daunting, the first step to any kind of personalization is collecting key behavioral metrics, processing that data and turning it into meaningful insights. Do this right, and you’ll win loyal users that can't help but come back.