Understanding context, nailing personalization, and delighting your users — an introduction to Set’s new APIs

This is Part 2 of our new SDK release. Learn about sending notifications that don’t suck in Part 1.

If you care about increasing user engagement, what you really care about is increasing your app’s value in a user’s daily life.

When do your users value your app though? Is it when they are at home in the evening? In the morning before the family wakes up? Or at work on a lunch break? Companies we talk to don’t have one single answer. Each app is valuable to different people at completely different moments. This makes personalization really hard to do, but getting it right can be a deciding factor in which apps succeed.

If you aren’t convinced, read 5 apps that have completely nailed mobile personalization.

iOS APIs don’t make personalization easy. In our latest release, we’ve overhauled our on-device context intelligence APIs. Our new APIs combine many streams of information on-device, plus mixes in our own learned and predicted properties to describe the context of every moment or event.

There are three big ways our APIs put context intelligence into action.

  1. Subscribe to known contexts so your app can proactively modify behavior when users re-enter those contexts in the future.
  2. Learn which contexts lead to specific in-app events to better understand when each individual user finds your services valuable.
  3. Look for the perfect moments to use push notifications and to deliver new value without annoying your customers.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into each one of those.

1. Subscribe to known contexts

Context subscriptions allow your app to be notified when a known context is entered. This is helpful for apps that have different content or features that may be more interesting or useful to users based on their context. A nice simple example is a podcasting app that can present content that better fits the current behavior of their users.

SetSDK.on(.onTrip(from: .any, to: .home, type: .any), .weekday, .evening)

Or more specifically, only cases going from work to home,

SetSDK.on(.onTrip(from: .work, to: .home, type: .any), .weekday, .evening)

2. Learn the contexts of your own custom events

You can tap into Set’s on-device learning by looking at things like, what context is leading to users opening your app? Or, you can track your own custom events such as loading specific view controllers, clicking target buttons, or adding items to a shopping cart.

Take for example an app that allows users to chat with fitness coaches, where knowing when a users starts a new chat session can lead to important insights for the coach and the app in general.

SetSDK.track(event: "chat-started")

The Set SDK will then start learning what contexts lead to the user engaging with their coach and can later help the coach proactively reach the user in these moments.

3. Use learned contexts to trigger push notifications

Context intelligence is core to our push notification service. You can read more about it in our previous post, Stop sending notifications that don’t matter. In short, you can use raw contexts (e.g. commuting home from work), custom event formulas (e.g. applauded for 5 or more articles), learned variables (e.g. contexts where user is likely to applaud an article), or combinations of the three (e.g. optimized applause context, after user has applauded at least 5 articles, and user is commuting home from work) to trigger push notifications at high value moments.

This feature allows the fitness app above to proactively open a new chat with a user based on an anticipation that they will get value from that engagement in the right moment.

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