As Holiday Shopping Begins, Retail Apps Must Engage Further To Keep Pace

This article was originally published in ClickZ

The holiday shopping season has finally and officially launched. On Black Friday, holiday shoppers swarmed physical and online stores to snag the best deals on clothes, tech, travel, you name it. The holiday shopping season, however, is much shorter this year with Thanksgiving coming so late in November. In fact it’s a whole week shorter than last year. 

But that certainly hasn’t slowed holiday spending. An estimated 1 trillion dollars will be spent this season by Americans spreading holiday cheer through gifts to family and friends. With more money at stake and less time to get noticed, your brand will need to compete even more this holiday season if you want to cash in. 

The problem, however, is retail brands are lagging when it comes to their digital marketing initiatives. 

Retail brands rely too much on profile data when it comes to leveraging user information in order to market to them. Profile data consists of any data that you’d input upon setting up a user profile, think your age, residence, gender, and the like. But for true personalization, brands must also focus on behavioral data—think data such as behaviors within an app, such as categories most frequented or shopping cart abandonment. 

Digitally native retail companies have been utilizing personalization of profile and behavioral data, together, for years. Think of companies such as Amazon. Not only do they utilize profile data like hometown, age, or gender, but they utilize which sections of their website each customer frequents. They know people’s interests, behaviors, just about everything to better the customer experience and maximize engagement. 

And while Amazon and other digitally native companies are leaders in the media industry, our data suggests that retail brands have not fully embraced the trend. 

We have aggregated all campaigns within our data library that originated from retail mobile apps during the second half of last year—more than 37,000 apps in total. We found that retail apps utilize targeted campaigns at higher frequency than other industries, but the majority of the target campaigns utilize only profile data, much higher than average than others. 

While 94% of brands across industries send targeted campaigns, 97% of campaigns coming from retail brands are targeted. At surface level, it indicates that retail brands are optimizing personalization efforts. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that 58% of campaigns coming from retail apps are only utilizing profile data. Across all industries, campaigns only using profile data is 45%.

This signifies that retail brands aren’t, at current levels, optimizing the full range of data at their fingertips. But what might be the consequences of this?

Our data also uncovered that app engagement averages within the retail industry are at significantly lower levels than brands averages across the board. One solid measure for determining app engagement levels is average app launches per individual each month. The retail sector averaged 8.76 launches per month, compared to overall average of 13 per month. 

The amount of time spent during an app session is less in the retail sector as well. In the retail sector, individuals average about 3 minutes and 23 second per session. Comparatively, apps in general average 4 minutes and 20 seconds per session. Retail apps lag user activity by almost an entire minute. Apps in general enjoy over 56 minutes of time spent in the app aggregated over the month per user whereas retail apps fall short of 30 minutes. A lot of time lost when it comes to engagement and potential revenue. 

When it comes to user engagement, many factors play into whether or not a user launches an app and for how long. But retail apps lag behind other industries and one potentially leading factor is the fact that they lag behind in personalization strategies when reaching out to users. 

So how can retail brands better their personalization strategies during the holiday season? 

Mobile marketing campaigns can be personalized based on a number of qualifiers:

  • Which campaigns prompt each user to launch an app session—is a user continuously launching app sessions for sales? Maybe a specific category such as basketball gear?
  • How often they click on notifications—if users are more with you app, they’ll likely be more engaged with a higher volume of messages than passive users
  • What time to send them a notification—are they shopping on their lunch break? After work? Right before going to bed?
  • Are some of these campaigns regional or are they global?

By just asking yourself these questions, retail brands will find higher engagement with their messages and less churn by individualizing the content being sent to relate to their interests and needs. 

By bypassing the irrelevant content and pushing just their interests and necessities, brands can see high engagement and less risk of silencing your messaging. You’ll be able to drive more revenue through your mobile channel this holiday season and cash in on the record amount of money being spent. 

Personalization efforts can be game changing for your retail brand not only this holiday season, but year round. By following industry leaders in personalization efforts, your brand can see improved ROI, reduced churn and notification opt-out, and higher engagement. 

How are your brand’s personalization efforts? Track which stage of personalization your brand is currently at through our Deliver Meaningful Digital Customer Experiences With An Intelligent Personalization Framework ebook.