The great promise of the mobile age

… would be this: If you give up your data, we’ll give you better experiences. That’s the inherent contract between an end user and a brand on mobile. One side gets data, the other side gets messages and content they especially want.

Obviously we’re talking here about personalization, which is a topic near and dear to our hearts, souls, and minds at Localytics. We’ve identified four stages of personalization, and most brands aren’t yet approaching the third and fourth. The good news is that many have moved beyond simple broadcast — essentially blasting the same thing to everyone, regardless of context for who the end user is — but there’s room to grow here. Per Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer, 57% of customers are willing to provide their data in exchange for a more personalized experience. The problem is that only 22% of customers are satisfied with the level of personalization that brands are delivering, per Segment’s 2017 State of Personalization Report.

This all begs a simple question: Who is doing personalization well?

Marie Curie

Marie Curie provides care and support for more than 40,000 terminally-ill people and their families in the United Kingdom annually. One of its biggest campaigns of recent years was The Great Daffodil Appeal, which invited participants to collect money (and receive a daffodil associated with them in the process) for the charity. The campaign commenced by getting a user’s geolocation data, matched in real-time with a database of collection sites. Now emails and push notifications going forward had a real-time personalized map of where people could donate. Marie Curie even used modeling from initial responses to drive a target population and create persona-driven messaging around collection history and previous interactions with the brand. Ultimately registrations and donations went up year-over-year, with most of them coming from mobile.


Starbucks is an OG of the personalization game, with its rewards program being a cornerstone of $2.56B in revenue. The program integrates with the ability to customize drinks within the app, order from the app (logically), and brings in purchase history, preferred store location, and more to completely personalize the experience for the user. I actually had a string of Saturdays where I got bacon and egg Sous Vide bites and a grande Pike Place coffee around 8:15am, and lo and behold if I didn’t start getting push notifications about the availability of that order around 7:50am on Weeks 4-7 of the process. Of course I was into it! That’s how personalization needs to work. I gave up my info around my penchant for Sous Vide bites and dark roast, and they gave me access to a chance to swipe and get those things. We all won.


Years ago, we asked mobile users what types of push notifications were most relevant to them, and most said offers based on previous history or present location. (Both key examples of personalization.) Gilt slays in this area. Their mobile push notifications are short and sweet, delivering timely information to improve customer experiences. The messaging speaks directly to users, inviting them with brand-name specifics to pursue their desired purchase. Let’s say you wait-listed something. You’ll get a push as soon as it’s available off the waitlist. Gilt uses information based on past purchases to inform notifications as well as send recommended updates. Another feature of the e-commerce experience is never having to input your size again, which is a super-tedious process for many e-commerce shoppers.

Sacramento Kings

You wouldn’t expect a pro sports team itself to be that good at personalization — although they should be, honestly — and you’d probably reckon a third-party app, like a SeatGeek or ticket exchange, would be doing that lifting for them. Not so with the Kings. They’re not a great team wins-wise of late, but their personalized experiences are MVP-caliber, sending messages about parking, game promotions, ordering food to your seat, and more. About 20% of attendees at a given game actively use the app features, and there’s a 41% indirect open rate. Both stats are growing.


The British grocery chain has received a lot of positive attention for its digital transformation and mobile initiatives, including some accolades for mobile personalization:

The same year, Sainsbury’s picked up the gong for Mobile and Messaging at the Marketing Week Masters Awards. The honor was for their ‘This time it’s ultra personalized!’ campaign, which used smartphone location data to deliver personalized offers to customers in and around the shop on their mobiles. It also helped the company gain insights about the way people navigated their stores, thereby influencing merchandising decisions.

The important aspect of what Sainsbury’s did — and what we’ve seen dozens of organizations do, notably Home Depot, Sephora, and some others — is that one of the easiest personalization approaches is simply to geofence your physical locations. You can start there, provided you have physical locations, and push to people within them. That’s inherently personalized because they’re receiving an offer based on their physical location, which is data they provided you. If you’ve never tried anything tied to personalization, geofenced offers are a great place to commence the process.

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