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Create Subscription-Worthy Mobile App Experiences With 1:1 Personalization


Today’s customers are flocking to mobile in droves. According to Gartner, 62% of consumers are using mobile devices to research or purchase products. And Emarsys’ own research shows that 55% and 44% of US and UK consumers, respectively, do the majority of their shopping on their mobile phones.

The pandemic spurred customers to lean further into mobile, and most notably, mobile apps. App downloads increased 33% in 2020, with consumers spending $143 billion on apps. Plus, 30% of US consumers and 20% of UK consumers have subscribed to a new app during lockdown (Emarsys). 

Clearly, the buy-in is there — customers don’t see the use of mobile apps as some niche experience. So why is it that 70% of people who download an app only ever use it once? And why are some mobile apps still struggling to drive repeat revenue and loyalty from their user base?

It’s because many businesses are not yet truly personalizing the experience for mobile app users, which hinders their ability to convert them into paying subscribers. 

Let’s look at the role of personalization in creating mobile app experiences that customers will find subscription-worthy. 

Getting App-solutely Personal

Truly personalized mobile app experiences — the kind that lead to more paying subscribers — are cumulative, in that a lot of pieces must be in place to get it right. 

It starts by delivering the right message to the right user. It needs to be sent on the right channel (yes, even with mobile apps, other channels like email and SMS are in play). And it needs to reach the user at a time when they’re most receptive. 

Of course, the key to making personalization impactful is for all of these decisions — the who, what, when, where, and how — to be determined instantly, and in real-time, in order for it to culminate into a highly relevant 1:1 experience for the customer.   

Why does it matter? 

Personalization isn’t a marketing trick. It’s meaningful to the customer. And not every situation warrants a deeply personalized experience — for example, a simple offer for a 25% discount on a product or service could be an appealing message for all users. But as a rule, the more you can uniquely tailor a mobile app experience to the user, the more resonant and valuable the experience becomes. If a customer finds your app particularly valuable (especially when compared to competing apps), the more likely you are to earn their paid subscription. 

Forbes indicates that personalization is most meaningful to the key 18–34-year-old demographic, and can lead to more in-the-moment (impulsive) purchases, more customer loyalty, and more revenue. In other words, personalization drives customers to engage with your brand, and more often. 

Make It Count with Real-Time Interactions

Users open your app, explore your app, and exit your app. And that’s the only window of time to connect with them, right?

Nope — far from it. A mobile app user’s journey occurs over multiple channels, not just the app. Here’s where having an omnichannel customer engagement platform to help execute your mobile engagement strategy can make a huge difference. Choose technology that lets you use real-time interactions to engage users in the moment across any and all channels. 

Target users in real time with in-app messages or push notifications that correlate with actions they take while using your app. These live reactions can include a specific offer (free trial period), request for feedback, or instructions that will help them get more value from the app. But these messages should be contextual, based on what that specific user is doing, and relevant, based on that user’s individual data. This is what creates that personal feel, one that will actually captivate the user (cookie-cutter in-app messages come across as droll and will be ignored), leading to a more satisfying experience. 

Mobile Marketer’s Tip: For users at risk for churning, send reminders to take a certain action, when they aren’t in the app, via other channels like email or SMS. 

“This is what we’re working on: to have personalized recommendations at all times … I think this is what technology can do nowadays, and what people also expect technology to deliver. We want to personalize, at the end of the day, the whole product experience. Eventually, no two people who enter a bubble should have the exact same experience if they use the product differently.”

Nina Pollex, Director of CRM, Babbel

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Use Data to Drive Personalization

One of the biggest potential barriers to executing the kind of 1:1 personalization that leads to more paying subscribers is data. If you don’t have enough of it, or if it’s not unified and easily accessible from any channel, you can’t do true personalization. 

Secure Permission, Give Value

Changes to data privacy and regulation impact how you can acquire customer data, and what you can do with that data once you have it. Much of what you want to do as part of your mobile engagement strategy requires email, SMS, and possibly even direct mail. So it’s critical to not only get first-party data from the customer, but also, to secure their permission to engage on these channels

To do this, you need a clear value exchange. What are you giving a customer in exchange for their data? Make sure you clearly convey what they’ll be receiving when you request their data at the point of opt-in. After all, “90% of consumers are willing to share behavioral data if it benefits them and provides them with an easier shopping experience,” according to Fatima Yusuf, Director of Partnerships at ShopifyPlus.

Breaking Down the Silos

All the data you have should be integrated and de-siloed, so that there is consistency across channels. Again, even though your mobile app users are most interested in your app, you need to be able to engage them on other channels so that even when they aren’t inside the app, you still have a connection with them. 

Personalized messages based on a user’s data can be sent via email, SMS, social and CRM, and more. Updates and changes to the app, new features, limited-time offers, progress reports — all of these can be relevant messages communicated on the right channel, to the right user, and at the right time, in order to drive the user to further engage with the app. Do this correctly, and you’ll reduce a user’s likelihood of being part of the 70% that never return to the app after one visit.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to mobile apps, the demand is there. Mobile users are increasing steadily by the day, and they are looking for brands that can provide highly satisfying mobile app experiences. 

And although you don’t have to convince users of the value of an app in the general sense, they must be convinced about the value of your app. Options are plentiful, and patience for subpar experiences is limited. 

If the goal is to retain more mobile app users and convert them into paying subscribers, make sure relevant, real-time, 1:1 personalization is part of your mobile marketing strategy

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Special thanks to our friends at Emarsys for their insights on this topic.
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