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An App Is Not Enough: Mobile Personalization Is Paramount | Sponsored Content

This post was contributed and sponsored by Sailthru.

Deloitte says the average person checks their phone 52 times each day, while global tech insurance company Asurion estimates a figure closer to 80. While that number may fluctuate depending on the source, one thing is for sure: we check our phones constantly.

Smartphones continue to play a bigger role in our lives, and they’re becoming the common thread tying the entire customer experience together. In fact, when we praise retailers for being omnichannel, what we increasingly mean by that is “mobile.”

Every year, personalized marketing automation technology provider Sailthru analyzes 250 retailers’ shopping experiences and ranks them based on personalization prowess. In its third Retail Personalization Index, mobile served as the litmus test. While 54% of brands surveyed have an app, most lack strong mobile personalization. The average brand earned just 5.5 of the available 20 points in the mobile category, while the top 10 ranked retailers scored an average of 17 points.

The Missed Opportunity with Mobile Messaging

Given how much time people spend on their phones, failing to engage them through mobile is a major missed opportunity. Mobile messages, such as push notifications and in-app notifications can be used similarly, and just as effectively, as behavior-based triggered email messages. Push notifications, in particular, require customers to opt in, which suits them perfectly to personalized messaging. And yet, very few retailers send push notifications and even fewer capitalize on them.

Of the 250 brands Sailthru evaluated, 33% send push notifications, while only 16% send them in response to customer behaviors. And just 12% take advantage of the on-screen real estate to share personalized product recommendations.

These tactics are far more prevalent with the Index’s highest-ranked retailers. Eighty percent of the brands that ranked in the top 25 send behavior-based push notifications, while 56% include product recommendations.

Mobile Devices and In-Store Personalization

The Retail Personalization Index has an accompanying survey of 1,500 consumers, where Sailthru found a strong correlation between customer satisfaction and brands that connect their digital and physical shopping experiences. The combination of mobile and geolocation enables retailers to personalize the customer experience in-store. Just 16% of retailers evaluated said they actually do this. For example, The Home Depot's app has an “in-store mode,” which allows users to access store maps and aisle locator features, as well as check inventory in the store where they’re shopping.

Meanwhile, 48% of brands in the top 25 use customer profiles and digital data to personalize the in-store experience, mostly through mobile beacons. However, that average is deceptively low, since eight online-only retailers made the top quartile. Among those with at least one brick-and-mortar location, 70% of the top 25 personalize the in-store experience with mobile devices.

Shared Carts and Consistent Customer Experiences

The Retail Personalization Index had 78 attributes, none of which were more indicative of personalization prowess than unified customer profiles. That translates to mobile personalization in a few ways, most obviously in the form shared login and profile information, and shopping carts.

Overall, 43% of brands maintain consistent profiles between mobile apps and websites, while 42% share their shopping carts across channels. Among the top quartile, 88% of retailers offer both. When a Nordstrom app user is in or near a brick-and-mortar location, for example, the Personalization Index runner-up sends mobile messages around the availability of previously-browsed items.

Who were the other top performers and what else set them apart? Click here to learn more about Sailthru’s Retail Personalization Index, including how you can improve your own mobile personalization.