Skyhook_logoMobile apps must continually seek new ways to differentiate in a competitive market that is only getting fiercer by the second. Brought to you by Skyhook, this post is part of a series called “Apptitude” looking at how app owners can reduce friction, boost user engagement, monetize, and get to the user’s home screen. See all the posts here.

Both app owners and users have a whole lot to gain when location services are ‘On’. It really is a win-win proposition. For publishers, it’s essential to be transparent and pay off the use of the data with an awesome experience — and give users motivation to not only keep location on, but to let it run in the background.

But once users turn these services off, it’s incredibly hard to get them to turn location services back on. For example, iOS now makes it  mindlessly easy for the user to select “no” because the notification screen is generic and gives no real information.

But you can avoid this. You need to make sure you let your users know why you’d like them to keep location on and what they’ll get in return for keeping it on. Once you do, you’ll both start reaping huge benefits.

And if you don’t? Here are some ways you may be missing out without the function of location:

1. Appticipation

It’s not enough to present the information and functionality your users want when they want it — apps now need to better anticipate their users’ needs and satisfy them before they take action with proactive experiences. App personalization based on context removes the friction from your user’s journey.

Appticipation is the ability for a mobile application to think ahead and know what a user will want to do. It’s done to increase engagement with the application, increase session time, and make the experience more meaningful.

Location is the next big data point to inform user experience design. Designing specifically for what a user will do in place-specific use cases means product visionaries need powerful insights into where users go and why they go to those places. It’s become about making experiences super relevant in all aspects of the app experience.

2. App “Modes”

Location-based context can enhance app UX and create dynamic experiences with in-app modes to anticipate what users will need at a time and location. For example, a shopping app can enable “Shopping Mode” to recognize when a user enters a store and deliver content or coupons specific to the user’s environment and automatically preload that user’s shopping list from the app. Another example, a health and fitness app can enable “Gym Mode” to recognize when a user enters a gym and automatically pre-load the user’s workout routine, designated playlist, or trigger the beginning of a workout.

3. Tailor app experiences to users’ offline preferences

Knowing your users’ unique location footprint with Personas could help deliver relevant preferences to that user, and help to deliver taste preferences based on other users of the same Persona. Personas are user profiles that unlock mobile consumer behavior — their demographics, interests, and intents — based on location history. That being said, Personas can change. A user identified as a business traveler may want to take a vacation. Having the ability to flip between modes in a travel app would allow users to easily switch from requiring free Wi-Fi and nearby coffee shops for meetings, to finding top restaurants and spas recommended by locals. By having these other prompts, your app can add context to their user experience to anticipate the next move of users, and simultaneously help make their lives easier and their app more vital.

4. Deliver custom offers based on past location behavior

Your app knows the content each customer consumes and their online purchase history. With location history and Personas, providers like Skyhook can complete the customer view by knowing the customers’ demographics, offline shopping behavior, and lifestyle, helping you further identify buying trends and tailor offers accordingly.

For example, an Internet Retailer app knows a user has been to Nordstrom recently and suggests similar items on sale: “We noticed you like to shop at Nordstrom, we have some items on sale that might interest you.” Knowing location behavior would allow the app to personalize product recommendations. The app can even create a new feed of sales based on the stores that users frequent regularly and items they’ve previously purchased.


All of these examples showcase the value of reducing the time between opening the app and providing value to the user. Precise and accurate location data can provide richer insights into your users’ behavior and interests. Having this contextual data on where and when your users are accessing your app and its functionalities can help you to design your app to become vital to the daily life of your users, with the end goal of delivering personalized app experiences to each of them they won’t want to be without.

David Bairstow is the VP of Product at Skyhook.

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