Personalize for Profit: Fail-Proof Your Mobile App With Testing

Are you getting the best return possible from your mobile app? Invariably, your company invested a lot of money into its design and might even have a good mobile-personalization strategy. So what's the point of testing? As we have learned, if you aren't testing, you're failing. The benefits of mobile-app testing extend throughout the entire app lifecycle — from downloading and onboarding to engagement. Testing helps ensure that your app is increasing its impact to your business today and in the future.

It is useful to be clear about the relationship between testing and optimization. Testing is the bedrock of optimization. Optimization refers to the actions you undertake based on what is learned from testing. In optimization, you harness the power of testing in iterative cycles and move to target and deliver personalized experiences at the right time based on clear goals and success metrics.

Discovery and Download

In most cases, the mobile-app journey begins from either a mobile search-engine query or direct navigation in the mobile browser where you may prompt the customer to install the app. Test alternative presentations of your search ad or smart banner to see which converts better. We've seen companies use this strategy and realize significant boosts in installs.

One problem we see is that some companies don't know why they made their apps to begin with. In cases such as these, testing and optimization is a means to figure out and define success metrics and then determine what the app strategy should be.


Once customers have downloaded the app, it is time to transform them to active users. Usually, this entails setting up profiles and a means of authentication. Optimization is a great way to deliver the experiences that will actually get them over those hurdles. How many fields do you ask new users to complete when they first launch the app? Can they log in with Facebook or Google as opposed to signing in? Should those options be presented? Even at this initial experience, there are audience segments that won't respond well to one design over another. For example, some customers may not want to grant access to all the information that is in Facebook and may prefer a direct sign-in instead. Testing allows you to offer sign-up options tailored to each customer, increasing the likelihood of conversion and continued engagement.


Engagement is where most marketers think of testing and optimization. You may think you need a lot of data to be effective, but you'll be surprised by how much can be done with limited and basic information. A good example is geolocation. Most devices have GPS activated, and brands should be using this to deliver localized images on the splash screens. This creates a feeling that "this brand knows me, and I haven't even started to transact with them." A retailer can tell customers where to find items in nearby store locations, or financial institutions can point out the nearest ATMs or branch offices.

An engaging experience has to be fast and efficient — it's simply expected. Just as in the browser world, testing screen, content, and offer design are essential to creating the most relevant user journey. Companies focusing their apps on ecommerce should test product search, navigation design, and product-detail page design to fast track the path to purchase. Media companies offering both free and premium content should test when and how to attempt to upsell subscriptions. Financial institutions can test how they present their services and use that information to move their customers beyond merely checking their balances. You can find many places to use testing and targeting to start building that truly personalized experience.

Launching a new app feature? Test the way you present it in the app for the first time. Tailor variations of your new-feature message to different audiences if it makes sense (you can test that too!). Optimization can help users discover and adopt that investment you just made — and ensure it pays off.

Extend your tests to the backend, turning cookies and plug-ins on and off to see how they impact overall load time and performance. This will fundamentally change and improve the total user experience.

If You're Not Testing, You're Failing

Testing is your gateway to optimization and personalization, driving increased loyalty and helping to facilitate brand advocacy. There is no amount of data that is too small to test. It is a continuous process in which you test, target, learn what's successful — or what's not — and repeat it so that you can make that app investment valuable. A system that integrates your analytics and targeting solutions will add value by making the process more agile. At the end of the day, testing and optimization are essential to ensuring your mobile app is fail proof for your company AND for your customers.


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