Personalization was a problem for Malltip.
The app, which aggregates publicly available information on coupons, sales, maps and directories from more than 1,800 malls and national retailers across the US, quickly realized that “a lot of our users were dropping off because the content we were delivering just wasn’t particularly relevant to them,” said Wai Yong Low, Malltip’s CTO and co-founder.
Malltip, which also has a direct partnership with Mall of America, started working with app automation company Appboy fairly early on after its iOS launch about six months ago to collect data on the in-app actions of its roughly 50,000 users. Low and his team also used Appboy to take better advantage of the data it collected on its own, including which malls its users visit, what sales they checked out and the specific retailers they were interested in, as well as basic demographics.
The result was less generic push notifications – ”Hey [first name], your favorite brand is having a sale!” vs.“Hey! There are some sales happening today” – but Malltip was looking to do more to retain and re-engage
To that end, Malltip started tapping into Appboy’s Connected Content tool, released to general availability on Tuesday. It works like this: Appboy plugs into APIs on its back end, thereby allowing its clients to automatically insert real-time content and customized product recommendations into their app messages and email communications without having to fiddle around with updating their SDK.
For the moment, most of the APIs on Appboy’s menu are the publicly available ones – weather, movie times, maps, sports scores, news feeds and the like.
In Malltip’s case, Low can use Connected Content to combine user data at the profile level – demographics and brand preference – with external environmental factors. Taking weather as an example, Malltip can add a little nuance to its messages: “Hey [first name], it’s raining out there. Great time to head to the mall. Your fave brand has a special deal.”
Malltip will also be ingesting information from Mall of America’s event API – MoA hosts more than 400 retail and entertainment events a year – to help personalize its event-related messaging. “It means we won’t have to pull that information in ourselves, which lifts a big burden off our engineering team.”
It also helps Malltip on the lifetime value front. Targeted push done well can be “extremely beneficial in terms of re-engagement,” Low said. But push done wrong – either irrelevant messaging or notifications sent with too much frequency – will lead to nothing but opt-outs and maybe even antipathy, said Bill Magnuson, Appboy’s CTO and co-founder.
“The stakes are higher because consumers have higher expectations,” Magnuson said. “If people get messages that aren’t valuable to them, they’ll just unsubscribe.”
Appboy’s client list also includes Urban Outfitters, Gannett, Microsoft and Samsung. Founded in 2011, the company has received $22.5 million in funding to date.