Mobile Marketing

The Kick-Start Guide to Mobile App Personalization

Shannon Cook

As effortless as branded messaging may seem to consumers, marketers know all too well the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a successful campaign.

That’s why while marketers understand the growing popularity of mobile—with customers spending an average of nearly 5 hours a day on mobile apps—they may shy away from the channel. It’s a bandwidth problem when marketers already have their hands full with their current digital strategy.  

The good news is that marketers don’t need to build a new strategy from the ground up to hop on the mobile train. With this guide, you can repurpose your existing digital strategy for the mobile frontier and make the most of your existing content.

  1. Introduction
  2. Your Mini Mobile Brief
  3. Your 5-Step Mobile Marketing Playbook
  4. Mobilizing Your Digital Strategy: Rich Media Push Notifications
  5. Mobilizing Your Digital Strategy: In-App Messages
  6. Mobilizing Your Digital Strategy: SMS
  7. Conclusion

Your Mini Mobile Brief

To include mobile into your already existing digital strategy, you need a quick lay of the land. Learn what mobile app messaging personalization entails, why it’s a necessity, and how your brand can maximize it to its fullest potential.

What Is Mobile Messaging Personalization?

Mobile messaging personalization gives customers a tailored, 1:1 experience within your brand’s mobile marketing hub. An app should be a customer’s one-stop-shop with your brand, complete with AI powered personalization communications that elevate their marketing experience.

While segmentation and customization are important elements to mobile messaging personalization, it’s key to differentiate personalization and focus on its execution.

  • Segmentation is a first step to personalization by dividing customers into buckets based on key demographics such as age or gender. While a great place to start, marketers must go further and tailor communications to the individual — not broad categories.
  • Customization goes hand-in-hand with mobile messaging personalization. Here, customers can express their preferences to receive a marketing experience that is tailored to their needs.

For a digital strategy that engages users seamlessly from screen to screen, marketers must rely on all of these elements for the best possible customer experience.

Why Is Mobile App Messaging Personalization Crucial?

Every element of mobile app messaging personalization is crucial to a customers’ brand experience. Discover how in the full breakdown:


The growing number of hours customers spend on mobile devices is just the tip of the iceberg. In an omni-channel world where customers expect a sophisticated experience at every touchpoint, a mobile presence is a pressing necessity for every marketer. With the power of an additional channel, the opportunity for repeat purchases is boosted by 4.3x.

Increasing the number of touchpoints is just the first step. To maximize the mobile opportunity, marketers should use the channel as another landmark in a seamless customer journey. From mobile to email and beyond, every touchpoint must support one another to tell a compelling, cohesive brand story.

App Messaging

A mobile site is an optimized version of your website, but an app helps customers engage more deeply with your brand by creating a closer experience through tools like push notifications and in-app messages within the platform, along with SMS to boost traffic to the channel.

These are powerful differentiators to the mobile experience. With CTR higher than any other channel, SMS acts as the perfect driver to the app. Push notifications that are bolstered with rich images boost response rates by nearly 60%, and buying likelihood after viewing an in-app message increases by an impressive 1.3x.


AI powered personalization has been top of mind for most marketers, and for good reason. From brand to customer, personalization boosts revenue, loyalty, and engagement:

  • More than half of customers need relevant experiences to build trust with a brand.
  • Over 70% of customers will disengage with any messaging that isn’t personalized.
  • 80% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from personalized experiences.
  • 68% of customers are more likely to be loyal when brands build personal relationships.
  • Nearly 90% of marketers see a lift in ROI once they use personalization in their campaigns.

And that’s just the beginning. In a consumer-first era, marketers must deliver the 1:1 experiences customers are asking for.

The value of mobile app personalization is undeniable. On top of that, the customers on this platform have already shown a level of commitment by downloading the app, increasing the potential for retention and loyalty. And this opportunity is extremely valuable; the probability of selling to an existing customer goes up to 70%, while the chances of selling to a new customer range between only 5-20%.

Your 5-Step Mobile Marketing Playbook

Mobile app personalization is necessary and possible. But how do marketers execute it? Here are 5 best-practices to repurpose your digital strategy for mobile:

Gather and Activate Zero- and First-Party Data

No matter the channel, building your marketing efforts from a foundation of quality data is crucial. For personalization that truly resonates, it needs accurate data sourced directly from customers. The best place to start is with zero- and first-party data.

Zero-party data is the information customers give to brands in exchange for a higher-quality marketing experience. It's the conscious decision to enter into a value exchange with the brand; in return for their data, they get a more personalized experience.

One way to collect zero-party data across your mobile app is to launch an in-app message post-purchase and ask for reviews on the product they recently snagged. In the future, you can leverage this data for more tailored recommendations, sending similar products if they loved the purchase or introducing them to a new category.

First-party data is information brands glean from direct interactions with their customers. Whenever a customer organically interacts with the brand’s platform—think of casually browsing their mobile app or website —the company can collect this data for retargeting purposes. You can leverage first-party data collected from a CDP, a mobile service provider, or SDK partners to showcase recommendations, aiming to drive stronger app sessions that result in conversions.

With these data sources, marketers get first-hand information directly from the customer. And across mobile messaging, not only can you collect this data, you can activate it in nuanced ways unique to the mobile platform, such as with recent-time campaigns.

Adopt Contextual Campaigns

Virtually every marketer had to pivot with the rise of privacy and stricter data protocols. But a unique opportunity lies in mobile messaging. Mobile apps fill the need for urgent, quick, and immediate communication and transaction—providing contextual, to-the-minute information fits well with the urgency of the channel. Unlike email, marketers can easily leverage the contextual campaigns that delight customers:

  • Weather personalization based on the customer’s location adds another layer of relevance to marketing campaigns. Weather influences customers’ purchasing moods, from the clothing they wear to the food they feel like eating.
  • Time-targeting draws attention and urgency to limited offers and deals. It’s easy for customers to bookmark a product and forget to re-engage. But if they know they have a narrow window of opportunity, they’re far more likely to engage immediately.
  • Location aware campaigns are a known determining factor when it comes to customer engagement. In fact, influenced opens are reportedly almost 300% higher when they use location tactics.

Make it Visual

Visualizing data transforms marketing from plain-Jane communications into an engaging experience. And as customers become increasingly image-based, the need for visual content grows.

Has a customer racked up the points in their loyalty status? Create a progress bar. Does your brand have a perfect product recommendation?  Use web cropping—the practice of pulling in live data from your brand’s website—to show them an engaging image of the product.

Whatever you have to say to your customer can be shown to them instead. Transform your data-driven ideas into visual experiences.

Automate Processes

Turning marketing communications into striking experiences is easier said than done—if you’re executing them manually. From manual coding, to creative generation, the process is far too daunting to be sustainable as a regular company practice.

But with automation, brands not only pull in data with ease, they can organize and activate it quickly before the data ages out and loses its relevance.

The same goes for the creative generation. By templatizing your designs and setting the proper targeting rules, brands can turn unique data-driven experiences into a set-it-and-forget-it approach that serves each customer’s' needs.

Tell a Cohesive Story

Mobile isn’t just about adding another channel. While that greatly contributes to the success of marketing efforts, only seeing mobile as an additional touchpoint is robbing the platform of its full power.

Creating a cohesive story where every touchpoint supports one another is key. Merely duplicating your campaigns across channels makes them grow stale quickly. And when strategies aren’t optimized for mobile, the entire experience is undermined.

On the other hand, brands must avoid unsynchronized branding that doesn’t flow in a seamless way for customers. If your marketing story is fragmented, it’s difficult for customers to understand your unique brand value.

It’s an omni-channel world, and marketers are living in it. Mobile must be used as a crucial pillar in an overall omni-channel strategy to unleash its full potential.

Mobilizing Your Digital Strategy: Rich Media Push Notifications

Push notifications can be a powerful influence or an obstacle that interrupts customers’ mobile activity. The differentiator is relevance. Some messages are particularly well-suited to push notifications, and marketers should lean into these communications.

Triggered and Transactional Messaging

Transactional messages are increasingly crucial to customers. Everyone wants to know where their package is, when it’s arriving, and other pertinent information. The immediacy of push notifications makes it the perfect medium for customers who want to keep a close eye on their order status. No more logging into their email multiple times; with timely and accurate push notifications, they’ll be updated without any additional effort.

Mock up of push notification displaying an abandon cart notification.

But you don’t need to wait for an order to make the most of push notifications. Here, Inkredible Retail sends a triggered abandoned-cart reminder to re-engage the customer. To sweeten the deal, an extra discount and free shipping are added to entice action.

Batch and Promotional Product Recommendations

There’s no worse feeling for a customer than missing a discount or a restock on a coveted item. On the other hand, when a customer snags a product right before it sells out, they are left feeling satisfied with the brand.

Drive urgency and quick action with personalized triggers, such as new sales or inventory reminders, that keep your brand top of mind.

Hello Fresh mobile push notification displaying a suggested recipe.

While this personalized trigger offers new dishes based on each customers’ unique taste every week, this engaging campaign is evergreen thanks to automation. By pulling website data directly into the push notification, the message dynamically populates and stays as fresh as the website.

Reward Tier Progress

Loyalty programs are an undeniable win for both brand and customer. The problem is, customers belong to an average of nearly 15 loyalty programs, yet are active in less than half of them. The best way for brands to stand out in the loyalty pack is to use their mobile app. Don’t wait for customers to check their account; bring the enticing information to them through a push notification.

With the right data and rich media, push notifications have the power to become a happy surprise rather than another ignored banner.

Mock up of a push notification from Inkredible Retail, displaying a makeup set

Here, Inkredible Retail keeps customers engaged by rewarding their loyalty. Displayed in a rich push notification with dynamic imagery, Inkredible Retail alerts Alison to the free lipstick samples she can snag using her rewards points.

Instead of leaving points unused and letting customers miss the full potential of the program, Inkredible Retail’s personalized offers ensure that customers enjoy the best possible experience with their loyalty program. With an optimal experience comes lifetime loyalty.

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Mobilizing Your Digital Strategy: In-App Messages

Think of in-app messages as customers’ personal guide within your app. Use them to give customers immediate access to relevant information. With the right messages, customers will be continuously engaged within the app.

Loyalty Statements

Drive app loyalty with engaging loyalty statements. By leveraging data visualization to send a summary of the consumer’s journey with your brand, you can drive home the true value derived from the customer-brand relationship.

Mock up of an in-app message from Inkredible Financial displaying loyalty status in a bar graph.

Here, Justin receives a visual summary that tells him everything he needs to know at a glance. Underneath his personal greeting, his current rewards balance and next statement earnings are listed. For context, where he spent that month is displayed in a bar graph. A CTA to open a savings account and earn bonus points finishes off the in-app message.

Time-Targeted Content

Turn your mobile app into an experience by using time-targeted content. From personalized product recommendations, to brand-wide deals that everyone needs to know, time-targeting drives conversions through urgency.

Use case from HSN with in-app message featuring a countdown clock for the latest deal.

Here, this major retailer's latest promotion is displayed in a rich in-app message. Using web cropping, the brand can pipe in any data living on their website, such as product images, current discounts, and live pricing. A countdown is displayed at the top with an easy CTA for customers to purchase.

Inkredible Retail mockup displaying loyalty status with data visualization.

Loyalty statements and time-targeting are both major engagement drivers. Together, they’re an unbeatable team. Here, the customer receives a year-end summary of their financial contributions for the year, along with a clear deadline for maximizing their contributions.

By using tools like web cropping and data visualization, brands not only produce high-performing marketing communications; they save vast amounts of production time, easing bandwidth and making room for their team’s best creative ventures.

Mobilizing Your Digital Strategy: SMS

SMS is here to stay. A staggering 75% of customers want to receive SMS offers, and its current open rate sits at almost 100%. Digital strategies must move mobile, and SMS is a core part of that initiative.

While push notifications and in-app messaging drives loyalty and engagement with existing app VIPs, SMS is a key way to drive traffic to your app and boost downloads. Here are some of the most enticing messages for SMS:

Timely Offers

Everyone loves snagging a good deal. And when there’s a deadline to beat, customers are motivated to bump themselves to the front of the line and download the app.

If your brand is putting out a discount or limited-time offer, think beyond today’s revenue. Sweeten the deal for your brand and use the attention you’re already getting to drive traffic to your app. You can use your app as a gate to the sale or offer a points boost for any customers that downloads the app, giving them a leg up on their loyalty journey.

Mock up of an SMS notification from Inkredible Travel alerting a price drop.

Inkredible Travel nails timely offers with a price-drop notification. By pairing this steal-of-a-deal with inspiring imagery of the destination, customers are sure to head to the app.

Personalized Updates and Releases

If you know your customer has a favorite product or category to shop, use SMS to let them be the first to know the latest updates.

Whether it’s a restock, a discount, or even a new edition of a much-loved product, SMS is the channel that grabs customer attention. Use it wisely with the messaging you know they want.

Inkredible Retail mock up of a rich SMS for a product release

Inkredible Retail expertly uses SMS to send a personalized product release to the customer. With a quick-to-view image of the product along with social proofing—displaying how many people have eyed the product—this SMS experience is sure to both satisfy customers and drive traffic to your brand’s app.


Your digital strategy is incredibly valuable. Repurpose and revamp it for the channels that customers are gravitating to. With this guide, you’re well on your way to maximizing your existing strategies and making the most of mobile.