How Shutterfly Uses Personalized Push to Drive Mobile Conversions [Podcast]



Raquel Basso, the Director of Mobile Marketing at Shutterfly, recently broke down Shutterfly’s approach to creating an engaging in-app experience through personalization. She also talked about A/B testing and longitudinal testing for push notifcations, harmonizing email and push, and sending "hyper-personalized" push notifications to potential customers to help them convert.

If you're a B2C company with an app or want to understand how to use personalized push messages to drive new business, this episode is for you.

Types of push notifcations sent by Shutterfly

Shutterfly works on products that leverage artifacts of a person’s life: photos. It’s a very personal company, hence their big push for personalization for their customers.

There are several ways Shutterfly emphasizes personalization. These include the frequency in which they talk to customers, the channel, the personalization around the product, and the offers they give to customers.

Shutterfly also makes heavy use of notifications. In order to do this well, Raquel described a three-way approach for push notifications:

  1. Promotional pushes that follow a promotional calendar. If there’s a sale or a deal going on that will benefit most customers, they use push notifications to alert their app install base.
  1. Trigger-based pushes. These are in response to an action that a customer took (i.e. liking a photo or uploading their own). It varies from anything transactional to anything engagement led.
  1. Lifecycle pushes. These are triggered by where the customer is in the customer journey. If a customer is new to the app, a series of welcome pushes might be triggered. If a customer hasn’t engaged with the app in a while, Shutterfly may send messages at a lower frequency with a slightly different shade of message.

How Shutterfly runs push experiments

Shutterfly supports a strong culture of testing and data and has worked hard to establish a framework for testing all pushes. At the end of the day, any push, change, or decision has to drive incremental revenue. Without testing, there wouldn’t be a way to prove if something is working.

There are two levels of testing:

  1. One-off tests: For example, A/B testing.
  1. Longitudinal tests: These tests apply a treatment over a longer period of time to determine whether there was an impact. This includes how often the company should be messaging their customers over a month or a quarter.

At the beginning of each quarter, Shutterfly segments their user base and applies longitudinal treatments to buckets of users. Then there is a “gen-pop” bucket of users they pull from for one-off tests. This way they’re not polluting longitudinal tests with one-off tests and biasing the results. Then they take the different segments and run a pretest to make sure they’re truly randomized.

How Shutterfly thinks about email and push messaging

Raquel shared that it’s hard to connect mobile strategy to the rest of your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to email. For promotional, and even trigger-based pushes, there is overlap with email.

Shutterfly has discussed hypotheses concerning whether a user is opting into both email and push. If that’s the case, should that push and email be the same message on the same day, should it be differing messages, or should one play off of the other?

They’ve done some testing to work through this challenge of connecting emails and pushes, but it’s still a challenge. The trick is to have a platform where email and pushes can speak to each other and the segmentation and triggering works together.

"In the future we won't be thinking about this very differentiated experience between app and mobile web. It will blur and we will have to think about the mobile experience as a whole." - Raquel Basso

What hyper-personalization means for Shutterfly

Shutterfly is in the testing phase of creating personalized pushes for users who have favorited a photo or uploaded a photo but haven’t transacted yet. During the testing, a user will receive a push that says something like: “Hey we saw you favorited these photos, and we’ve made a few products for you using these photos.”

Not only is Shutterfly creating products for users with their personal photos; they're also delivering a push that has the user's name and precreated products with their images. This lets the user click through and land where all of the personalized products with their photos are waiting for them to browse.

This post is based on a podcast interview with Raquel Basso from Shutterfly. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Appy Hour on iTunes. If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.