The Mobile Growth Secrets Behind 5 Leading Apps


#ICYMI, Leanplum recently held the insider Mobile Resolutions 2016 event. There, Lyft, Shopkick, Poshmark, Smule, and an ex-Walmart executive got together to get real about mobile apps. They detailed their biggest learnings from 2015, alongside their key strategies for the new year.

As the night wore on, one thing became increasingly clear. Today’s top mobile apps are all focusing on one thing: personalization.

In June, TechCrunch announced that there would be 6.1 billion smartphone owners around the world. Now, more than ever, it’s pertinent for brands to automate their mobile marketing to adjust to this level of scalability. Yet on the flipside, users are also craving meaningful relationships on their phones.

To put in perspective how helpful mobile marketing automation can be in engaging smartphone owners, Smule’s Director of Marketing Alessandra Sales spoke of her experience with Google Maps. Every morning when she wakes up, the app estimates her commute. 25 minutes with traffic one morning; 30 the next. It’s automation at its simplest to understand, yet the strategy is completely tailored to every user’s destination and schedule.

That’s the level of personalization Smule aspires for in 2016. Smule works by asking users to select a song they love during the first-time user experience. Their algorithm then predicts possible songs they might like, and the more the user interacts with the app, the smarter the algorithm gets. Throughout this year, via contests and partner programs, the app hopes to shine the spotlight on new music users would enjoy based on personal interests, then alert them to the discoveries through automated messages. Sales believes, “Personalization is the key for push notification success.”

Likewise, at Lyft, the business model is very local. The app offers different incentives for riders based on geography, times, behaviors (such as referrals), and so on. However, Lyft’s biggest challenge in 2015 was scaling. To track its constantly increasing user base, it can’t offer these incentives manually. Instead, it uses Leanplum’s mobile marketing automation solution to track all the moving pieces. It optimizes its A/B testing, analytics, and personalization to keep users engaged long after the first ride.

For Shopkick, experimenting with location sensing was a huge focus in 2015. It wanted to understand how users responded to localized actions, but find the right balance with the proper geofencing radius. It learned that while shoppers appreciate notifications alerting them to possible rewards at the mall, expanding the radius slightly farther — to a highway, for instance — dangerously distracted drivers. In the end, it’s about recognizing and respecting users’ individual behaviors to learn what keeps them coming back to your app.

And Poshmark launched a feature last year called the Namaste Project. For everybody who joined, the app asked for variables like shoe and dress size. It then used that data to create a user-friendly listing, tailored only to items users would fit and love. It solved the “empty store” problem within its app and instead generated a warm welcome every time shoppers signed in.

These smart examples of mobile personalization show it doesn’t take months of manpower to automate your mobile marketing. Rather, with a creative strategy and a complete platform, you can create meaningful relationships for every user — at scale.


CTA: Leanplum is the most complete mobile marketing platform, designed for intelligent action. Its integrated solution delivers meaningful engagement across messaging and the in-app experience. We work with top brands such as Expedia, Tesco, and Lyft. Discover more www.leanplum.com.