10 App Personalization Ideas for Better Communication with Customers

Alex Danchenko

Co-founder, Reteno

November 10, 2022

There are millions of apps on app stores and dozens of apps on each person’s phone. Imagine how tired people are of generic interactions with their apps. But there is a way to make users feel as though your brand knows and truly understands them — personalized messaging.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to personalize your app, we have ten effective tips that will steer you in the right direction. 

Why Does Mobile App Personalization Matter in 2023?

If you still think that personalization is not worth the trouble, you’re missing out. Personalization leads to a better customer experience and greater customer affinity, as evident from this McKinsey survey:

Likelohood to purchase, recommend, and repurchase depending on personalisation

App personalization is arguably even more important than personalization for other products because there is no device more personal than the smartphone. 

Some brands even go a step further and introduce hyper-personalization through the use of data, analytics, AI, and automation. For example, Amazon is using predictive analytics to recommend products in a “Frequently Bought Together” section. 

Or Deutsche Bahn, a German Railway operator, identified which destinations people were considering as travel destinations and delivered a personalized text message suggesting a similar destination within the country instead. The No Need to Fly campaign resulted in a 24% increase in sales revenue. 

To reap these and other benefits, follow the best practices below. 

Tip #1: Remember That It’s More Than a Name

Personalization should go deeper than a name at the beginning of a message. The name is the easiest data to gather and implement, and that's why everyone does it. But if that is the extent of your personalization strategy, you’re about to be outplayed by other brands. 

Obviously, the simple tactic of calling a user by their name is a good start to a relationship. But users are increasing their personalization demands, and they want their past purchases and past interactions with the brand taken into account, too. 

For personalized messages to be considered as such, have at least a few templates for each customer segment. On top of that, go the extra mile and include a detail that is only relevant to that particular customer — e.g., “Did you enjoy your stay in [city]? Would you like to explore other destinations that just came up on our radar?”

Tip #2: Listen, Listen, Listen

Listen to what your customers are telling you directly (when you ask them for data) and indirectly (when you track their behavior). First and foremost, you need to learn who they are, what they want, when and how they want it, and other preferences relevant to your product/service. 

Next, it’s important to put the customer data you collected to the best possible use. We’ve already introduced the concept of segmentation, but you can bring it to the next level. The better your user data analysis, the more detailed your user personas will be, and the more effective your personalization tactics will become. 

Consider smart segmentation to identify predicted non-purchasers and predicted purchasers with machine learning and adjust your interactions to the two groups. For this, you’ll also need data. 

Tip #3: Optimize Onboarding

You don’t know a lot about the user during their onboarding, so you’ll have to take advantage of what you do know. Most signups ask for basic user information, so integrate this into a friendly welcome message and a quick training tutorial. 

Autofill may not be the obvious personalization tactic, but it shows that you remember the information already given to you, and you don’t want to waste the user’s time. 

Also, it allows users to control their experiences — for example, to opt-out of the onboarding process and push notifications. After all, personalized apps shouldn’t be tweaked by the business alone.

Tip #4: Use Dynamic Content

By definition, dynamic content adapts to a user’s behavior, preferences, and other data. The difference between dynamic content and conventional personalized content is that the former is adjusted automatically based on database-driven signals. You set the rule-based triggers, and the content changes on its own. 

But if you decide to implement dynamic content, that would place a heavier burden on you. If different people tapped on your dynamic creative promotion and ended up with the same generic app, it wouldn’t drive any results. You’ll need different visuals, different copy, and sometimes even different layouts.

Tip #5: Exceed Expectations in Your Triggered Messages

Triggered (automated) messages are sent after a specific action. In a way, they create a dialogue between the brand and the customer: a customer books a room, and in response, they receive a message. 

Be sure to apply different techniques depending on where they are in the sales funnel. Some need a CTA; some need information. 

Also, just because notifications are automated doesn’t mean you can’t explore personalized message ideas. Try to come up with unique ways to react to a user’s action. For example: 

  • If they’ve just signed up, welcome them to the app by name and with a “good morning/evening,” depending on their local time.
  • If it’s their birthday, send them an email with a free delivery code and their favorite items to encourage a celebratory purchase. 
  • If they’ve bought something, confirm the order and comment on their great choice of, let’s say, running shoes. Including all order details and a link to track shipping is also pretty useful. 

Tip #6: Incorporate Behavioral Content

Let your in-app content reflect the user’s behavior. The easiest way to do it is through pop-ups. At the first stage of their customer journey, show them pop-ups with welcome, FAQs, onboarding, and getting started messages. Just make sure they don’t copy the content of your emails word-by-word. 

And then, you can leverage in-app content to educate, capture attention gently, remind, and get feedback. From the user’s perspective, it’ll feel like they always have guidance and your company through different app interactions. 

Tip #7: Identify Missed Opportunities and Create FOMO

The key to a personalized offer is knowing what each specific customer could be missing out. A customer who was looking up camping equipment wouldn’t necessarily appreciate beauty product recommendations, just like most foodies wouldn’t want boxed meals advertised to them. 

Remember: you have plenty of data on each user. You know which products they looked at, what pages have the highest screen time, when they usually open the app, and other patterns and behaviors. 

Convert users to purchase with personalized discounts for items they almost bought, or send them personalized gifts from the latest collection (which incidentally slips through their fingers and is no longer available). For added FOMO, inform the user that the product they were looking up has a low stock level — and guess what? They can buy it for less with a special coupon.

Tip #8: Give User Data Back to People

It’s no secret that apps collect data. But most of that data is used behind the scenes, so users don’t really know if they’re receiving anything in exchange for it. Solution: personalized data visualizations.

One of the classic examples of data shared back is Spotify Wrapped. Every December, Spotify users can see a roundup of their most listened-to songs and artists. Also, users receive badges, like a Tastemaker badge for creating playlists with a number of new followers or a Pioneer badge for listening to songs before they became hits.

This way, the ability to see some of this data (preferably in a fun format) makes a good impression and incentivizes users to continue sharing.

Tip #9: Localize as Much as Possible

The first step in location-based marketing is serving your content in multiple languages. But there are many subsequent steps in adapting the app to different audiences. You’ll also need to tailor the information because the same message may not be relevant or clear to different audiences. 

If you have multiple geographical markets, you can also experiment with different communication techniques and visual prompts. Integrate your app into a particular culture with regional traditions and habits, like slang, patterns, folklore characters (or any other character with local significance). During a local celebration, send a customized message with your best wishes. 

Pro tip: research acceptable colors and emojis.

Tip #10: Gamify Experiences

Why not communicate your message creatively? For example, customize your brand’s tone of voice — it can be friendly and playful like Duolingo or more professional and authoritative like LinkedIn.

The gaming aspect makes each user’s interaction with the app unique — slightly different in the way they complete their daily tasks, claim their rewards, and perhaps they have earned a badge for a particular activity. 

Every user will play through the “game” however they prefer it. And if you do it right, it will double as a powerful engagement and retention technique. 

Awesome App Personalization Examples

These companies are responsible for some of the best-in-class examples of mobile personalization:

  • Duolingo personalizes the adaptive learning test, content for the learning app, and all its other interactions with users. For example, it sends well-timed, personalized, triggered messages to re-engage users. 
  • Airbnb adjusts search results based on each guest’s unique profile. It uses AI to match guests with the right hosts, neighborhoods, and even experiences that meet their needs. 
  • Pinterest observes what its users truly like. Every time a user opens the app or taps the P icon, the engine instantly presents a new set of pins that matches their taste. 
  • Headspace personalizes everything from the homepage greeting to the length of meditations. It also makes smart recommendations based on the user’s previous listening behaviors. 
  • TurboTax remembers a user through various inputs and recommends the appropriate tax solution for their specific case. 

Remember that personalization is an ongoing strategy, inextricably linked with experimentation. Follow the latest personalization trends, ask for feedback from your audience, and always measure your results.

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