Enhancing App Relevance with Media and Personalized Experiences

By Jess Zhu

The average U.S. consumer has approximately 55 apps installed on their smartphone, according to T-Mobile Advertising Solutions. But how many of those apps are they actively engaging with? For too long, mobile marketers have focused solely on raw app install counts as their primary measure of success. But it's time the industry at large started paying closer attention to what happens after the install.

For the vast majority of mobile apps, around 90 percent of consumers stop engaging with them within seven days of installation, according to T-Mobile Advertising Solutions. That's one critical reason why brands need to look beyond the install to re-engage consumers and keep them coming back with relevant content, offers and experiences. After all, mobile is more than a great advertising channel. It's a relationship channel too.

To break through in the app space, brands also need to lean into creative personalization while respecting customer data and privacy. Let's take a look at how a few leading content and commerce apps are doing just that.

Blending In-Store and In-App Experiences

Let's dispense with the obvious: The pandemic fundamentally altered how people shop. But what was once seen as a simple shift to ecommerce has now become much more complicated. In short: Commerce today is on the customer's terms, whether that's online, in-store, curbside or some shifting blend of all of the above. This complexity has significant implications for how people engage with retail apps on their phones — and unlocks opportunities for retailers that can deliver truly seamless app experiences.

Take the Walmart app, which was designed to facilitate customer purchasing regardless of whether customers are in the store, at home, or somewhere in between. Walmart knows customers are already using their mobile devices while they shop in store, and the app embraces that — even going so far as to enable Walmart+ members to scan items as they shop and then pay from their device, skipping the checkout line altogether. And given how much a person's purchases conveys about their shopping preferences, the app is strongly positioned to make product recommendations and make the shopping experience even more convenient.

Maximizing Upsell and Cross-Sell Opportunities

Let's talk about the massive service economy whose growth has been fueled over the past two years by increased demand for delivery-based options. While many of these apps initially specialized in certain sectors — food or grocery delivery, for example — the broader shift in consumer behavior has unlocked opportunities for growth for those that can translate what they know about their customers into expansions of their in-app offerings.

Take Instacart. Initially focused on grocery delivery, the company is rapidly expanding the list of retail outlets it supports. And thanks to Instacart's deep understanding of its customer base — an understanding built on past purchases — the company is in a strong position to upsell and cross-sell its customers, immediately driving new demand for additional retail verticals it brings into its mix. And from a customer perspective, discovering that an already-trusted app can now deliver greater value isn't a sell at all. It's a new convenience.

Increasing Content Relevancy

With the ongoing degradation of the cookie and other identifiers, marketers are putting renewed focus on contextual opportunities, which are poised to unlock tremendous value for brands in the mobile space. In community forums, for example, people share their interests, motivators, and preferences. For community apps, it's about making the most of this context to up-level the user experience.

Consider Reddit, a network of communities that connect people based on their interests. Reddit users are not required to share personal details to participate in the experience, but the Reddit app experience can still customize the user's experience through prompts, suggested or promoted content and offers based on that person's demonstrated preferences and passion points. Over time, the app experience becomes more relevant to the user, and Reddit creates a loyal, returning user base.

Unlocking a New Understanding

As mobile usage continues to grow and expand its applications within consumers' daily lives, marketers must stay on top of the best ways to drive attention and engagement with their apps, beyond simple downloads. This starts by incorporating advertising and compelling outreach that drive re-engagement with newly installed users. And it continues with creative and personalized customer experiences and offers based on first-party data. If brands put more focus on these two areas, they'll unlock new opportunities to attract, convert, and retain more customers for the long haul.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Jess Zhu is the head of advertising products and development at T-Mobile Advertising Solutions.