What are great personalized apps

Personalization of Apps: How to Increase Retention and Engagement

It is undisputedly one of the best ways to bind users to an app: Personalization. This means suitable content and offers that are individually tailored and displayed for each app user. If app makers succeed in doing this, the retention rate of the app increases significantly - and shopping apps in particular achieve significantly higher sales through skillful personalization. We show you how to successfully personalize your app.

Social media apps thrive on personalization

Everyone knows it, e.g. from Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: When a hundred different users open the app, each of them sees completely different content in the app. These apps personalize themselves fully automatically based on which other people and companies you follow or with whom you become friends online. A sophisticated algorithm decides which posts are probably most interesting for the respective user and plays them out in a weighted order in the "feed" on the app's start page. In addition, such social media apps also offer push messages that individually indicate particularly important interactions. In this way, they cleverly ensure that users return to the respective app very often and see what's new there from your network.

Collect and analyze data

Personalization has long been used not only for social media apps, but for apps from almost every category. In order to successfully individualize an app, it is necessary for app creators to collect as much data as possible about the individual users and their usage behavior. Depending on the purpose of the app, this can also be done anonymously. The data obtained must be analyzed. From this, conclusions can then be drawn as to how the app can best be personalized. This process must be automated by the app operator and run in the background. First of all, such a mechanism must be designed. In order to achieve this, app makers have to think about which personalization measures in the respective app make the most sense and provide the user with the greatest added value.

Data can be collected both in the background using analytics tools and directly through a corresponding query to the user, for example when onboarding into an app. Why not just ask aggressively, e.g. for the first name, in order to be able to address the user personally? Or ask him about his preferences? Depending on the topic, you could, for example, ask about your favorite club for a soccer app or for gender and fashion preferences for a fashion app. “The unconcealed query via registration forms or other opt-ins ensures that users do not begin to wonder how they got all this information in the first place. This is the best way to contribute to a good image to the outside world and build a trusting basis for a positive customer relationship, ”says Benjamin Günther from the Munich app marketing agency Growfirst.

The aim of personalizing an app is to create an individual user experience and to display suitable content and offers to users at the right time and in the right place. This makes using the app more convenient. But what examples of such app personalization are there beyond personal feeds in social media apps?

Netflix: 80 percent of users use personalized recommendations

Netflix, a streaming service for films and series, asks users about their preferences when they log in for the first time, e.g. which series they have liked recently. Afterwards, the Netflix algorithms continuously evaluate which programs the user is watching and compare this with the usage behavior of other subscribers. The app then quickly makes suggestions based on the motto “since you have seen Series X, you might also like Series Y”. According to Netflix manager Todd Yellin, around 80 percent of subscribers use the algorithm's recommendations: “We found that the typical Netflix member flips through an average of 40 or 50 titles before deciding what to watch, despite thousands of titles available, ”said Yellin in an interview with MobileSyrup. “That's why it's important that we present the right content to our users at the right time.” After all, a Netflix subscription can be canceled every month - and so the company is of course very interested in retaining users with personalized content. Netflix not only displays these individualized recommendations directly in the app, but also via push notifications and emails. Thus, personalization at Netflix is ​​a central component of customer relationship management (CRM).

“Netflix puts the 'me' at the center. All e-mails not only address me personally by name, but also contain information that is interesting for me. For example, these are new TV series that might interest me. Netflix is ​​the nice boy from the video store who knew exactly which film I wanted to see when I wasn't really in the store. But now in a digital way. Constantly on standby to help me and give me the right tips. And so there are already millions of satisfied 'me' all over the world with a Netflix subscription ”, analyzes Jaap van Baar in the Lightspeed blog.

Zalando invests millions in personalization

Zalando also relies heavily on personalization: according to a report by the Handelsblatt, the online retailer will invest a double-digit million amount in intelligent algorithms that create individual online shops for each customer and thus offer an optimized selection from the 300,000 items that Zalando has in its range every season . Zalando's Germany boss Linus Glaser said in an interview with Internetworld: “Our task is to prepare this large range for our customers even more so that what the customer sees is really relevant for him. To create this relevance, we rely on personalization. On the one hand, we use explicitly expressed preferences, for example the customer's favorite brand. On the other hand, we use information such as buying and surfing behavior, so we rely on algorithms or machine learning. We want to use all of this information to play out products and content in such a way that it increases for the customer. "

At Zalando, both the use of the app itself and the push notifications are personalized. For example, the company sends a push notification when products from the customer's wish list are available again. There are also, for example, push notifications for promotions by the respective customers' favorite fashion labels.

Special service providers such as Accengage from France, which was recently taken over by Urban Airship from the USA, offer platforms for the personalization of push messages. Zalando also uses Accengage's solutions. Accengage's customers can connect the platform directly to their CRM system and thus address their existing customers who have, for example, filled a shopping cart in the online shop, directly and persuade them to make a purchase. However, some Accengage customers only use insights from their mobile app and develop their push campaigns from them. Many actions that the user has made in the app are then used to segment the push campaigns.

Especially with notifications (see also our separate article “Push messages - Best Practice vs. No-Gos”), however, the following applies: You shouldn't annoy users. It is therefore advisable to develop a detailed understanding of the respective app user. The motto for push messages is: "Right time, right place, right content". App creators should therefore find out when and where the user reacts best to which content. Push notifications can then also be used, for example, for drive-to-store campaigns based on the motto: “Would you like a coffee? Come by now and get a 20 percent discount. "

Contact us

At Appmatics, we are happy to help you and your company test your app in terms of personalization in order to increase the use of your app and achieve higher conversions. With our user experience testing, we can provide you with a valuable external view of what the user experience of your app really is. Just talk to us!