What Separates Successful Mobile Marketers From Creepy, Invasive Ones

It’s a Thursday night. You’re home, flipping through movie selections and considering watching one. Suddenly, you get a notification from your cable provider’s app letting you know that a new romantic comedy, similar to the one you watched last week, is available. The app suggests that since you’re at home tonight, you might as well check out the movie.

Do consumers think this highly personalized, location-based mobile targeting is adding value to their experience—or invading their privacy?

Mobile marketing trends have forced brands and retailers to walk the fine line of offering personalized content without being too invasive. After all, just having a mobile app is no longer acceptable for brands and retailers today. Apps must be sophisticated and provide additional value, or customers will never use them.

Many brands, however, have pushed the envelope of personalization to a point where it can begin to feel intrusive.

Personalized or Creepy?

The fine line between personalized and invasive content has been a challenge for marketers.

Consumers are complex.

They’re constantly connected to their smartphones, which retailers and brands often see as a green light for mobile engagement. But consumers become frustrated when their personal data is used for mass marketing efforts. Though two shoppers may fall within the same segment based on demographic data or purchase history, they still have their own unique preferences.

On the other hand, receiving personalized notifications every step of the way doesn’t foster trust or engagement with the brand either. It can be interpreted as creepy.

But for some marketers, their mobile marketing is working. Location-based notifications and custom deals can add a layer of convenience to the shopper journey. Digitally minded consumers often welcome this type of personalized content.

The following tips can help marketers use data to add value to a consumer’s shopping experience, instead of to contribute to the noise.

1. Asking for permission

Permission is a necessity in mobile marketing. If a user clicks through a personalized advertisement or notification, he or she gives the retailer the OK to continue pushing this messaging. The opposite also applies here. If a user has never clicked through an ad or has turned off push notifications, this customer communicates to the brand that he or she is not interested.

Testing different types of messaging among large groups of customers and then monitoring engagement rates is a useful way of gauging interest. If consumers are not engaging, brands should re-evaluate their messaging and find what offerings will motivate this customer.

The key is scaling back with the consumers who have not given you permission. If not, you risk losing them completely.

2. Progressively personalizing

Another way to avoid crossing the line is by starting out with new customers and generic messages, progressively personalizing the content as you learn more about the user. Initially, you’re sending everyone very similar content, which gradually becomes more targeted based on purchase history and engagement rates.

If consumers begin to disengage, you know to scale back before you go too far. For some, you’ll be able to push the limits with hyper-personalized messages while others may shut down sooner than expected.

3. Finding middle ground with notifications

Sometimes, app notifications make consumers feel irritated. In fact, a recent survey from Localytics found that 46% of people will opt-out of push notifications if sent two to five a week, and 32% will stop using the app if they get between six and 10 push notifications in a week.

Notifications are the norm, but using them effectively requires a delicate balance. Too many notifications means the customer will disengage by turning off push notifications for your app, which restricts the degree to which you’re able to reach this customer in the future. But abandoning notifications altogether has the same effect.

The key is to strike a happy balance by offering relevant and necessary notifications that provide value while proceeding with caution in regards to volume, frequency, and degree of personalization.

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Though you may be tempted to push constant personalized content to your customers in an attempt to maximize mobile engagement, you can overdo and produce the opposite effect. If consumers feel overwhelmed or that their personal space is being invaded, you risk that they may disengage completely.

The key is to segment the consumers that want high levels of personalization from those that prefer more privacy. Providing consumers with information that will add value to their lives is not only about content but also about personalizing the volume and frequency that’s comfortable.

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