Why are brands still falling short on mobile personalization efforts?

By Jeff Hasen

Personalization was supposed to be the tonic that brought brands closer to immersed mobile users, but as the midpoint of 2016 draws closer, vegetarians are still getting meatball sandwich offers. Customers have little reason to believe businesses understand them, not to mention have the interest or means to reach out to them on an individual basis. What gives?

The complex reality of mobile personalization

“We have to realize how complex [mobile personalization] is,” Sean Lyons, US president of advertising agency R/GA, explained in “The Art of Mobile Persuasion.”

“Think about how well you know your close friends and how preferences adapt and change over time,” he said. “Could you predict with great certainty what they may want at a certain moment? Maybe only your closest friends.”

Lyons went on to explain that the personalization consumers crave is a big ask.

“We have really high expectations for the capability to personalize communications, but it’s a very complicated thing,” he noted. “It’s a mix of both a trail of data but also the feeling that I have right now, my mood, that we’re not factoring in. There are going to be a lot more mistakes made and personalization with the wrong people targeted. That’s part of the evolution of it.”

Case study: Mobile personalization in the telecom industry

Though it may seem like more companies are failing than adapting, there are brands that have driven business results by creating mobile personalization through one-on-one interactions mobile users find valuable.

For example, one major wireless carrier understands the importance of personalized service and continuously works to decrease churn and increase customer satisfaction. One way it does this is through a personalized welcome video, powered by technology firm Vehicle. The video is the first point of communication with new customers. It thanks subscribers for their business, summarizes the account details and outlines what to expect when the first bill arrives.

As a result of these personalized mobile videos, the carrier has seen:

  • A significant reduction in customers leaving in the first 30 days of service, saving millions of dollars
  • A decrease in calls to customer support
  • A significant increase in average revenue per user and lifetime value

Other personalization wins — and losses

Elsewhere, Toyota targeted Facebook users with personal video advertisements for its new RAV, according to Mobile Marketer. The automaker worked with an agency to create more than 100 interchangeable clips and deliver personal experiences based on data around the viewer’s personal interests.

Although these personalization wins are significant, the failures are often more memorable. For example, imagine this situation: In an attempt to deliver on mobile personalization, an optometrist’s office starts sending appointment text reminders at 4 a.m. a full 13 days before the appointment to patients who haven’t opted in. Not only would this be a violation of regulations and potentially cost the sender thousands of dollars per text, it’s a memorably bad idea to intrude with a text at such a personal hour. Ideally, businesses will employ more common sense as mobile takes hold.

Loyal consumers will be patient

Some consumers want the best of personalization and want it now, but Lyons explained that engaged consumers are more apt to understand the issues in getting to one-on-one marketing.

“People are going to be way more accepting of those mistakes if you are getting a truly remarkable service from the brand,” he said. “Differentiating what your products and services are is still paramount. That will lead the way and gives brands a lot more leeway in how they tailor their communications.”

This may be true, but brands are still leaving money on the table. According to App Developer Magazine, 6 in 10 consumers do not feel their mobile experience expectations are being completely met. Brands need to work smart and invest wisely to make the most of their mobile development budgets and deliver the top-notch marketing experiences their customers crave.

Written By

Jeff Hasen

Chief Marketing Officer, Mobile Strategist & Author of The Art of Mobile Persuasion

One of the leading strategists, evangelists, teachers, and voices in mobile, Jeff Hasen has counseled businesses of all sizes, enabling them to define their mobile strategy, establish or further their mobile product roadmap, and identify additional business growth opportunities. Through…

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