Mobile phones have become more than communication tools. We use them to manage our schedules and finances, monitor our connected homes, order meals or groceries, shop for holiday gifts, navigate new places and conduct business, even at a global scale. It’s no wonder that Americans spend an average of 70+ hours a week on our phones. With more than 6 million mobile applications available for download from app stores, users can find one to facilitate almost any task imaginable.
However, this wave of mobile saturation has created an almost deafening level of industry noise, which makes engagement with users a huge challenge. Companies of all types and sizes are targeting mobile users with notifications and ads in an effort to capture their attention. The average mobile user has as many as 100 apps on a single device, and the message overload from these apps often causes users to turn off notifications and disable important features that open channels for engagement.
Beyond that, marketplace saturation gives users nearly unlimited options. If your app doesn’t meet or exceed expectations, it quickly gets deleted or ignored, so the onus is on the application to prove its value within a very short window. In just 30 days, apps typically lose 90 percent of daily active users. And Connecthings research shows that the majority of applications are missing the mark by not incorporating a critical element — user context.
Why Context Matters
Over the last decade, the mobile industry has refined the ability to use location for segmenting customers and creating targeted campaigns, but just acknowledging the location of users is no longer enough. Considering factors such as time of day, user behavior, weather and historical patterns then mapping this data to application usage gives companies an unprecedented edge in the mobile marketplace.
Here are three important ways context can positively impact mobile strategy and success:
1. Increased Relevance for Improved User Value
Connecthings research shows that mobile users want “smarter” applications that anticipate their needs and deliver information and notifications that are practical and relevant to them in the moment. It a bonus when applications can go one step further and anticipate user needs and wants based on their location and behavioral patterns, and then offer solutions. The only way to achieve this is by incorporating user context.
By delivering messages at the right time and place, mobile applications increase relevance to users, improving the likelihood of engagement. Consider a retail application that delivers an ad to a user within close proximity. If it is delivered at 10 am while the user is in business meetings, the notification will not translate to foot traffic and chances are high that they will ignore the notification completely. However, if this brand incorporated context into its mobile strategy, it would recognize based on behavior that this user is at work during the typical time frame but passes the store every evening during her morning commute. It could then adjust the campaign to instead deliver its message before the user leaves work, dramatically improving chances for engagement.
2. More Refined Market Segmentation
It’s no secret that market segmentation is key to delivering the right message, but context can further refine the strategy. Demographics provide limited visibility into the activities and interests of users. However, understanding user behavior in the context of location can provide deep insights into the mobile audience. A grocery store app can leverage analytics to identify users who often shop at night, then launch a campaign to target them for home delivery. A mobile gaming app may realize that many users are taking public transportation for their daily commutes. They could then create a campaign that offers in-app deals or short adventures to earn rewards and deliver messages about these opportunities when users in this segment start their morning commutes.
3. Smarter Re-engagement Strategies
Connecting data about application usage to location intelligence provides powerful insights to drive application development decisions. This insight can reveal patterns for inactive users, which can be translated into opportunities to reengage. It can be equally as powerful to understand where users are when they are using an app — not just in terms of a pin drop on a map, but in the context of the users’ surroundings and behavior. This can further help in targeting messages and creating opportunities for engagement. For instance, if a large percentage of users actively engage with an app when they are at home in the evening, marketers can apply this knowledge to launch targeted campaigns to reengage inactive users. The same strategy can target users at new times and for new purposes.
As user demand for smarter applications grows, it will be critical for mobile applications to incorporate context into their mobile strategies. Those who adopt this methodology early will see dramatic gains in engagement, popularity and even revenue. Those who don’t will see poor engagement as poorly time messages are lost in the “noise” of mobile over-saturation.