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Personalisation: the key to getting it right

With the remarkable potential for enhancing a user experience through personalisation, a recent Mubaloo Think Tank team explored some top tips for effective personalisation, particularly around engagement in mobile apps.

Mobile, is instant, personal and contextual. It is not only the ideal medium to help brands connect with consumers in a more relevant and targeted manner, but it is literally transforming what is possible in providing personal, contextual experiences.

Providing a personalised experience, particularly one that is predictive, rather than analytical, is key for brands in achieving cut-through. Personalisation can yield high returns for brands. Product preferences, channel affinity, location and other personal data points help brands understand their consumers better. This helps to drive better segmentation and delivery of more targeted offerings, with very impressive results.

With the remarkable potential for enhancing a user experience through personalisation, a recent Mubaloo Think Tank team explored some top tips for effective personalisation, particularly around engagement in mobile apps.

Top 10 Tips for Effective Personalisation

1. Be relevant without being invasive

Personalising an engagement with a user needs to be approached with care. Brands need to avoid being overly familiar or exposing how much they know about a consumer’s behaviour or preferences. This usually involves showing knowledge of personal details that the user has not explicitly shared with a brand, for example. Although brands may have clever ways of gathering information about a consumer to help add nice personal touches to an engagement, there is a fine line between being effective and scaring the user off.

2. Start small

Initially, only personalise an engagement based on a few simple options, such as the user’s gender, age range or where they live. These factors can provide enough data to start personalising content for the user. As more is learnt about the user through interactions, the experience can then be expanded upon. More context can be garnered either by learning the type of content or offering the user is interested in; or by the user providing further information that can then be used to tailor their experience to a greater extent.

3. Don’t raise expectation of seamless personalised experience and then not deliver

If a user has gone through an initial set-up process, such as creating a profile or setting favourite topics, categories etc., they will be expecting the delivery of a personalised experience – whether this is in-app or at any digital touch point. If for example, the user receives a general news feed in-app, instead of the categories they had specifically selected, it can be offputting for the user. This can lead to confusion, frustration and the user becoming disengaged with the brand.

4. Ask the user if they want a personalised experience

Depending on the scenario and target user group, some users are hesitant about providing data to a brand in-app or when setting up an account, especially if they are unsure about what it will be used for. By simply asking the user if they want to personalise their experience, by providing additional details, will give the user the control and help them feel comfortable about the information they are sharing. If a lot of data input is required when a user has downloaded an app or opened an account, it is also good practice to allow the user to opt out at this stage and provide this information at another time.

5. Personalisation needs to be contextual

For personalisation to be truly effective and provide a benefit to the user, it has to be relevant to the user at that time and, therefore, needs to take context into account. For apps understanding why the app is being used, or what specific function is being performed at any one time is crucial.

It is also important to think about the real world context and how the personalisation applies to the real world. Taking into account where the user is and what they are doing can be useful. For example, are they at home, at work, or in the car and how will you adapt the app experience accordingly. An example that provides this kind of personalisation is Google Now. Google Now learns user habits and suggests things when relevant, such as an alternative route home when it knows there is traffic ahead along the user’s normal route. This enables apps to be relevant in a wider sense and outside the context of the phone.

By Daniel Baker
Mobile Strategy Analyst

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