Advertisers have a tremendous amount of data at their disposal — we all know that. This data can help them learn about their target segment, what makes them tick and what makes them purchase. But most advertisers use the data to serve ads, not to find out how they can serve their customers. 

With today’s attention span spread thin across multiple channels and with constant interruptions, using data to understand customers' paths and needs is the key to establishing a solid brand-consumer relationship.

Here’s the rub: mobile apps are a challenging channel to establish that relationship on, even though the opportunity for personalization and targeting is great. That’s why advertisers have to drill down deeper into the data and analytics to understand the truly meaningful moments. You can contextualize and target customer needs by figuring out when to enhance these moments.

Use these three steps to get a better picture of how people are experiencing and interacting with your brand:

Define the User Journey within the App

What does the consumer do and experience at every stage of their session in your app?

Mobile navigation and user flow is unique in apps — it has multiple goal-oriented paths. And unfortunately for those advertisers stuck in the Stone Age, this means generic banner ads and interstitials don’t mesh with user flow. They only serve to disrupt or detract from an experience. However, using bi-directional data, you can map your messaging to the user experience.

Where and when should a brand introduce itself? Using said data from bi-directional communication with the app, learn what the user is trying to accomplish at different stages of their journey, and identify key moments recognizable across app genres. In those key moments, you can understand users’ goals, hurdles and emotions. Ask yourself, “How can I serve them and enhance their experience in this moment?” 

Answer that and you can put a strategy in place to reach your consumer in a meaningful way. But contextualize the messaging to make it clear to your consumer why you’re connecting with them and what value you’re offering to them, whether it’s rewarding someone for their team winning, recognizing someone is in need of help and offering a boost, or giving them the filter they need to make the next stage of their app session more enjoyable.

Gauge How Users React to Your Advertising

Antiquated marketers still rely on only click-through-rates and viewability to measure the success of their campaigns, which struggle to achieve bare-minimum industry standards. The reality is industry measurement standards are inadequate to form an understanding of your connection (or lack of) with your consumer. Consumer-centric measurements should all focus on engagement. Brands don’t just want to know that consumers can view their ads, they want to know if they actually captured a user’s attention. To get a clearer picture of engagement, measure in-ad engagement, post-click interactions, social shares and dwell time.

To take your measurements to the next level, validate your consumer-first mobile strategy with third-party data on the effectiveness of your campaigns, based on such factors as increased purchase intent and brand favorability.

An emerging trend in measuring ad effectiveness is that marketers can get a pulse on the latest metrics available for brand campaigns — literally. With myriad data available, not only are there more ways than ever before to target your consumer at the right moment, there are constantly new ways in development to understand if you are reaching the user. We’ve graduated to neurological sentiment and biometric feedback data to truly understand how a user a feels about your message.

Interpret the Data, But Don't Forget Empathy

Even in a data-driven age, and even with the best metrics laid out for your campaign, you need the human element to make an emotional connection with your user. Understanding the users as people is the key here, both in campaign execution and in understanding its results. You can map the user journey in apps with data, but the last, human step is empathizing with the user in those key moments. This step from data to interpretation will help you nuance your brand presentation even further.

To contextualize your results, use your head. Consider factors like whether they’ve clicked on your ads simply because you’ve high-jacked the screen or if you got a view because a video auto-played prior to viewing content. Judging merely by outcome numbers means you aren’t looking at the full picture. Using a limited view could detract from user experience and hurt relationships, rather than building brand loyalty and impactful engagement.

Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Walk a mile in them. This branding advice will never expire, and data helps you find the right shoes at the right time.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  Jens Rost 

Title image by Jens Rost