Man_Using_Smartphone_Sky_Background_-_Mobile_StrategiesSiloed apps are so yesterday.

If 2014 was the year of appification, and 2015 was the year of mobile optimization, then 2016 and 2017 will be the years of personalization and cross-channel journeys.

That means our industry is moving beyond device boundaries toward rich, connected, digital experiences – experiences that customize on-the-fly and respond to users’ behaviors, lifestyles, and goals.

In 2016, brands can’t afford to roll out a disjointed marketing plan in which apps are merely an afterthought. Instead, brands need to integrate their app with their larger messages and campaigns to deliver the personalization, interactivity, and responsiveness that people crave – no matter where they are.

Here are three new and exciting strategies to help you do just that for the New Year.

1. Use App Data to Power Hyper-Personalized Emails

Yes, we know we promised you new app marketing strategies…so why on Earth did we put email (which has been around for decades), on this list? Because apps are leading an email renaissance.

Apps gather a mountain of profile and behavioral data that can (and should) be used to hyper-personalize emails. And by hyper-personalize, we mean moving far beyond just including your recipients’ names. We mean using app data to gain key insights about the user like their location, order history, preferences, in-app actions, and even something as fluid as weather, to create customized email campaigns that drive people back to your app.

No more loosely relevant emails; apps are ushering in an era of razor-sharp targeting.

For example, take a look at this email from GrubHub that was sent the Friday before a big weekend snowstorm. GrubHub funneled information from their app on users’ location coupled with the forecast (it even incorporates the local name of the storm!) to send latent users a friendly reminder to stay warm and order in.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use data from your app to better inform the timing and content of your email campaigns so they feel exceptionally (not vaguely) relevant
  • Usher users from your email to your app by deep linking to the most appropriate app screen given your email message

2. Give Your Content Marketing a Home Inside Your App

Content marketing should no longer be only for the web.

Why? Because the majority of our digital media consumption now takes place in mobile apps. As 2016 kicks off, it’s time to integrate elements of your content strategy into your app. Just as blogs drive traffic to your website, multimedia content inside your app can drive engagement and user retention.

The overarching goals are still to educate, inform, and build trust, but by bringing your content inside your app, you can tap into mobile’s unique capabilities and create interactive learning experiences. Unlike websites, content housed inside apps can react to touch, make use of smartphone cameras, and be tailored down to an individual level.

Content marketing is alive and well, but it’s shifting to the mobile space.

An example of a company that has done an excellent job in marrying content marketing with app marketing is Sephora. Sephora’s app not only provides a vast catalogue of makeup products to purchase, it also includes step-by-step tutorials on how to use this makeup to contour, highlight, and dress your face like a pro. The beauty (pun intended) of injecting this type of content into its app is that it elevates the brand from an ordinary cosmetics retailer to a mobile platform for makeup artistry.


Image via Sephora

Key Takeaways:

  • Create interactive content for your app to supplement products and compel users to spend more time engaging with it
  • Harness mobile’s unique capabilities to build rich educational resources and entertainment tools that strengthen your brand’s credibility

3. Turn Your App into a Full-Fledged In-Store Shopping Companion

For the past few years, smartphones have acted as personal shopping assistants – providing product information at people’s fingertips as they peruse aisles, stores, and malls.

Now, apps are pushing the envelope even further and transforming smartphones into full-fledged shopping companions that combine social media, loyalty programs, payments, and even geo-targeting into a single mobile hub.

The goal of integrating your app so extensively with your brick-and-mortar presence is twofold: it improves operational efficiency and creates a novel shopping experience. By allowing in-store visitors to pay for their merchandise in a frictionless way (without needing to dig out their wallets), brands can streamline foot traffic. By triggering local promotions and highlighting nearby sales, retail stores can attract the attention of passersby. And by folding in rewards programs and exclusive product details (like reviews, style guides, and inventory), brands can boost purchases.

More so than in-store personnel, mobile apps can help create a smart and seamless shopping experience.

For example, apparel retailer Express has redesigned its app to be a powerful shopping companion. Express’ app is well integrated with the chain’s member program, Express Next, so in-store shoppers can check out faster, redeem personalized deals, research products, and more, all while browsing clothing at one of the chain’s many locations. This trend of merging traditional and digital channels together deeply enriches the centuries old brick-and-mortar buyer-seller interactions.


Image via Mobile eCommerce Daily

Key Takeaways:

  • Build app features that enhance the in-store shopping experience
  • Streamline foot traffic to your physical locations by integrating operational functions into your app (such as mobile payments and aisle location)
  • Encourage in-store shoppers to download your app to access exclusive merchandise, information, and promotions

Apps & The Internet of Things

You may have heard of the rise of The Internet of Things (IoT), which is a network of devices, objects, and buildings (among other things) that collect and share data. Apps are a major part of this evolution.

As we head further into 2016, apps will play a key role in providing new levels of personalization and connecting once siloed channels. And through this connectivity, brands will discover that people are, more often than not, happy to trade data for value.

This is your big opportunity: think of how your app fits with your other marketing initiatives, where it can fill in gaps, and how it can augment other channels. Get inspiration from the above examples, but also think about your unique business needs and how you can best use app personalization and mobile integration to your advantage.