App Marketing
9 min

Capitalize on Mobile Personalization with 5 ROI-driven Strategies


Mobile personalization is a culmination of technology and individuality to create a personalized experience like no other.

While smartphone usage has skyrocketed, so has information overload. With abundant content available at the customer’s fingertips (think: targeted ads, social media posts, emails, etc.), browsing through mobile ads and alerts can be an overwhelming experience.

This is where mobile app personalization—the art of tailoring a customer’s experience to their individual preferences and needs—comes in.

From marketing journeys based on intent to targeted in-app or push notifications, mobile personalization is changing the way brands can delight mobile users. In this advanced guide, we’ll explore how brands are using it to revolutionize the way they connect and engage with customers. Let’s dive in.

How Mobile Marketing Personalization Works

Mobile personalization leverages customer data and behavior to create personalized experiences for individual customers. This includes gathering and analyzing information about purchase patterns, user preferences, personality traits, and interests; and using it to craft hyper-personalized messaging for each unique customer segment.

Here’s how this three-fold process works. 

1.) Data Collection

At first, the app users’ data is collected through various sources such as user profiles, app usage data, purchase history, social media activity, and location data. Such information will lay the foundation for a personalized app experience as marketers can re-engineer the customer journey to focus on the customer and their requirements rather than the campaign, product, or app. 

Since this stage of insights-led user engagement is data-heavy, a tool like MoEngage can be extremely useful to handle and process such high volumes of data.

2.) Segmentation

This data is then used to segment customers into different groups based on their shared characteristics and behaviors, as shown below.

An Inspiring Customer Profile Template for Mobile App Personalization

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3.) Targeting and Personalization

Once the customers are segmented, the final step revolves around tailoring personalized messages and journeys for individual customers to drive hyper-personalization

Such efforts must go beyond the use of customer names and should personalize the entirety of how customers use and experience a brand through their mobile devices. Leverage purchase history to suggest related or similar products, use browsing data as intent to create personalized offers, send relevant notifications based on the user’s interests – and more.

Here’s how Nike gets mobile app personalization right:

Nike's Rich In-App Personalization Engages Customers with Relevant Recommendations

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Why Personalized Mobile Apps are a Game-Changer

1.) They Increase Engagement and Retention

Mobile app personalization comes in various forms.

You can upsell or cross-sell items to boost spending. You can provide product recommendations or inform customers about new launches. You can also send location-based alerts to engage local customers. You can introduce a loyalty program to improve retention and cultivate brand loyalty. You can run retargeting campaigns to win back lost customers and reduce churn rate. The list is virtually endless.

Every one of these efforts will contribute to the larger goal of engaging users and rewarding them for their loyalty.


2.) They Smoothen and Enrich Customer Experiences

Personalization Positively Impacts the Buying Behavior of Customers

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It is no secret that rich, meaningful, and value-loaded customer experiences are key to winning over customers and keeping them around. Personalization is that “it” factor that grants customer experiences a whole new dimension. 

After all, consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize (and acknowledge) their interests, remember their preferences, needs, and feedback, offer relevant product or content recommendations, and personalize the customer journey to minimize friction. With 71% of consumers expecting personalization as a given, it is no longer a “nice-to-have” feature but a “must-have.”

3.) They Boost Brand Loyalty

67% of Customers Want Relevant Product Recommendations

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A study by SmarterHQ found that 72% of consumers will only engage with personalized messaging, and 56% of consumers are more likely to return to a site that recommends products. This demonstrates how mobile app personalization humanizes a brand and allows it to connect with users on a personal level and influence their decisions by directly catering to their immediate needs. Such an outcome-focused relationship will drive engagement, create loyal customers, and increase customer success. 

Further Reading: Learn more about the benefits of mobile marketing.

Types of Mobile Personalization

Whether you engage in B2C personalization or B2B, there are several types of mobile personalization that can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience and tailor it to the individual’s preferences, such as:

  • Content personalization, which involves customizing the content that a customer sees based on their preferences, location, search history, or other data points. For example, a news app might show articles that are relevant to the customer’s interests, while a music app might recommend songs based on the customer’s listening history.
  • UI personalization, which involves customizing the look and feel of the app interface to meet the customer’s needs and preferences. This might include adjusting the font size, color scheme, or layout of the app.
  • Push notifications personalization, which involves customizing the push notifications that a customer receives based on their interests or behavior. For example, a shopping app might send personalized push notifications to a customer when a product they’ve been looking at goes on sale.
  • Location-based personalization, which involves customizing the app experience based on the customer’s location. For example, a weather app might show the weather forecast for the customer’s current location, while a travel app might suggest nearby attractions or restaurants.
  • Behavioral personalization, which involves customizing the app experience, based on the customer’s behavior within the app. For example, a fitness app might adjust workout recommendations based on the customer’s progress and goals.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Get Mobile Personalization Right

Mobile marketing is gaining momentum (and a sizeable share) within the overall marketing spend, with U.S. marketers currently allocating 13.7% of their marketing budget to mobile marketing.

With intense competition and increased focus, it is critical marketers stand out from the crowd with these 5 mobile personalization strategies:

Strategy #1: Use Cross Channel Behavioral and Transactional Data to Personalize Your In-app Experience

To personalize your in-app experience, start by understanding your customers’ patterns and preferences across all channels that they use to interact with your brand. Leverage these tips:

  • Collect data from multiple channels and different touchpoints such as web, social media, email, and in-store interactions.
  • Analyze the wealth of data collected (both online and offline) to create customer segments based on behavior, preferences, and demographics.
  • Personalize the in-app experience by providing relevant content, offers, and product recommendations to each customer.

Use-case: Amazon uses cross channel data to personalize its mobile app experience. Here’s how it extracts data from its website and other touchpoints to provide personalized recommendations to customers based on their browsing and purchase history:

Amazon Uses Amazon SageMaker, Amazon Personalize, and Twilio Segment to Personalize the Customer Experience

Strategy #2: Increase In-app Purchases with Relevant Product Recommendations

Personalized product recommendations can boost in-app purchases by providing customers with relevant and personalized suggestions. Try these tips:

  • Use customer data to personalize product recommendations that are relevant to the customer’s interests, preferences, and purchase history.
  • Make sure your product recommendations are visible and easy to find within the app.
  • Continuously test and optimize your recommendations to suit your customers’ desires and increase engagement, which can help your brand increase customer retention. Here’s how MoEngage does it. 

Use-case: Netflix uses personalized product recommendations to increase customer engagement and retention:

Netflix's In-app Personalization is High-Quality and Consistent Throughout the App

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Netflix personalizes each experience across multiple dimensions, such as:

  • the suggested videos and their ranking
  • the arrangement of videos in rows and pages
  • the artwork displayed

To engage in deep personalization, Netflix:

  • Combines varying algorithmic approaches to address each unique member’s needs
  • Personalizes not just the homepage but the entire product and beyond, such as:
    • Deciding what messages to send to members to keep them informed and engaged
    • Understanding how members can watch an old favorite, rewatch a program, or take a new pick
    • Offering a sophisticated search capability to surface the right videos for the members
    • Continuously iterating and A/B testing to improve the customer experience

Strategy #3: Personalize and Optimize Mobile App Experiences Across iOS and Android

To provide seamless mobile personalization, you need to optimize your app for both iOS and Android. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Conduct testing: Test your app on both iOS and Android to ensure it works seamlessly on both platforms. Ask yourself the following UI questions:
    • Where is the customer?
    • Where else can they go?
    • What else will they find when they get there?
  • Optimize for different screen sizes: Make sure your app looks good on different screen sizes and resolutions. For example, factor in small details such as the fonts, icons, header, color palette, back button, etc.
  • Personalize the experience for each platform: Take advantage of platform-specific features and design guidelines to create a personalized experience for each platform.

Use-case: Airbnb has optimized its mobile app for both iOS and Android, providing a seamless experience across both platforms. The brand has also taken advantage of platform-specific features, such as using Apple Pay on iOS and Google Maps on Android.

Strategy #4: Collect Information from Your Audience, Responsibly

A McKinsey report states that 87% of customers will not do business with a company if they have concerns about its security practices. Plus, 71% of them would stop doing business with a company if it gave away sensitive data without permission.

To be able to extract information with accountability, marketers must demonstrate a thoughtful approach to data management by:

  • Gaining customer trust and openly communicating about how they plan on gathering and using customer data
  • Allowing customers to opt out of data collection and providing them with clear options for data deletion
  • Understanding the current customer sentiments and thinking relating to privacy concerns for varying types of digital data

McKinsey Report on Privacy Concerns by Customers for Different Types of Digital Data

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  • Obtaining consent and permission from customers before collecting their data
  • Ensuring that the data handling practices are transparent
  • Undertaking the requisite measures to protect the customer data, such as using encryption and securely storing data
  • Collecting data in compliance with data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA

Use-case: Spotify is transparent about the data they collect and how they use it. The brand has a dedicated section on its website outlining the same.

Spotify's Data Collection Process is Outlined Clearly on the Website

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As a thumb rule, the brand also obtains consent from customers before collecting their data and uses encryption to protect customer data.

Strategy #5: Conduct Data-driven Personalization

For your mobile personalization efforts to be successful, it needs to be data-focused and hyper-personalized in approach. Follow these tips:

  • Set clear goals: Define clear goals for your personalization strategy. Do you want to boost customer engagement or revenue? Are you looking at improving the customer experience, or do you want to devise better upsell strategies? 
  • Use data to make decisions: Don’t just collect data, but gather rich insights from pieces of information. With the data collected in the previous step, inform your app and web personalization strategy and make better data-driven decisions.
  • Continuously test and optimize: Continuously test and optimize your personalization strategy through A/B testing to identify what resonates with your target audience. Such data-driven insights can improve the effectiveness of your personalization efforts.

Use-case: Starbucks uses data to drive a robust personalization strategy–right from the time the customer onboards the app. It asks customers for their permission for location access, notification alerts, etc., and starts gathering information from the get-go.

Mobile Personalization Starts from the Moment the Customer Sets Foot into Your App


The brand uses data to personalize offers and promotions for each customer based on their behavior and preferences. 

Mobile App Personalization: Key Challenges

Mobile personalization is a powerful tool for increasing engagement, loyalty, and revenue, only if done right.

There are several key challenges that developers and marketers face when implementing personalization in mobile apps.


Key Mobile Personalization Challenges What These Challenges Mean
1. Data collection and privacy concerns
  • Concerns around data privacy and security need to be addressed proactively, as customers may be reluctant to share personal information with mobile apps.
2. Data quality issues
  • Marketers may struggle with the following:
    • Accuracy and completeness of customer data
    • Constantly updating and refining the data
3. Poor technology infrastructure
  • Lack of access to a robust technology infrastructure and marketing automation such as data analytics tools, machine learning algorithms, and real-time decision engines.
  • Implementing and maintaining a mobile-first infrastructure can be challenging and resource-intensive.
4. Low-quality customer experience
  • Marketers may be unable to balance the benefits of personalization with the potential risks of overwhelming customers with too many options or irrelevant recommendations.
5. Lack of organizational buy-in
  • Inability to drive cross-functional collaboration and alignment across the organization and get stakeholder buy-in.

In Conclusion

Mobile Personalization is not just a buzzword; it’s a vital component of a successful marketing strategy in today’s mobile-first world.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mobile personalization–each mobile personalization strategy is as unique as the customer base it targets and you need a combination of features like content cards, in-app notifications, and omnichannel marketing to build campaigns that help you boost customer engagement and retention rates. 

Such personalization efforts should not be limited to mobile devices alone and should spill over to web personalization, marketing message personalization, and personalized customer journeys from different touchpoints. “Personalize everything” should be the motto of brands with a growth mindset.

Take inspiration from the valuable insights into the power of personalization mentioned above and take your marketing game to the next level.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by personalization?

Personalization is the process of tailoring content to meet the individual needs and preferences of your customer. The end goal is to create a unique and customized experience that is tailored to the individual’s specific interests, habits, customer behavior, and preferences.

What is media personalization?

Media personalization is the practice of delivering customized media content to customers based on their interests, preferences, and behaviors.

You can send them customized recommendations, personalized playlists, or even targeted advertisements, depending on your immediate media goals.

Why is app personalization important?

App personalization is important because it allows mobile app developers to:

  • Create a more engaging and satisfying experience for their customers
  • Tailor the app’s content, features, and functionality to the specific needs and preferences of each customer
  • Provide valuable and meaningful content that will likely keep customers coming back for more
  • Build stronger connections with the target audience and drive more meaningful interactions

How do you build personalization in an app?

There are several ways to build personalization in an app. Some common strategies include:

  • Using data analysis and machine learning algorithms to understand customer behavior, context, and preferences
  • Providing personalized recommendations or suggestions based on previous customer interactions
  • Offering personalized promotions, rewards, or content based on customer behavior
  • Allowing customers to customize their own experience through features like personalized profiles, custom themes, and tailored notifications
  • Using social media integrations or other tools to create a more personalized and social experience