7 Ways The Weather Channel Is Using Personalization & Context to Nail Their Mobile Strategy

7 Ways The Weather Channel Is Using Personalization & Context to Nail Their Mobile Strategy

When I think of brands that really have their app strategy nailed, The Weather Channel is among the first that come to mind. They may have started on all-access TV nearly 35 years ago, but the company has evolved into The Weather Company, an IBM Business, with a digital and technology focus. The Weather Channel brand places mobile at the front line of their business. They now boast the #1 downloaded weather app in the App Store. In fact, our Mobile Marketing Scorecard ranks them in the top 3 percentile for visibility and reach.

So what’s their secret? We caught up with Allison Guidetti, Director of Product Marketing for The Weather Channel and asked her to share their learnings.

Weather channel rain alert
Allison Guidetti,

Amy
Allison, what are some of your main goals? Are they around acquisition, retention, something else?
Allison
Regarding acquisition and retention, I really can’t choose between the two. We look really closely at every part of the funnel, from top of the funnel acquisition metrics, to how we’re retaining our users. Both of those things are super important to our strategies. Ad revenue is also a KPI we watch.
Amy
How do you approach those goals from an organizational standpoint?
Allison
I work really closely with our product and research teams to have a three-point perspective on how to tackle different opportunities and challenges. It’s something that has worked really well because historically there has been some risk from having product marketing and research be more siloed. But having the same goals has really brought us together and made us all the stronger.
Amy
What’s your advice on where to begin when approaching acquisition and retention strategies?
Allison
I think the most important starting point for us was mapping the customer journey and understanding where people’s mindsets and needs are at each step along the way. Each of those touch points with the customer is an opportunity to have consistent messaging to get them into the funnel, improve conversion rates through A/B testing, and to deliver what the customer needs.
Amy
What’s your number one tip for driving retention?
Allison
I think one of the most interesting insights I’ve had is that retention tactics can start even before acquisition. For example when your messaging in the app store, or even the marketing that brings them into the app store, focuses on features that drive retention among your existing userbase, you’re more likely to bring in a user that has a higher likelihood of being retained.
Amy
I know push messaging is something The Weather Channel uses well. But push comes with the risk of users opting out. How do you maintain your opt-in rates?
Allison
Push messages are becoming increasingly prevalent, which means across the industry the costs to the customer are becoming higher because push becomes more and more annoying. The value of what you’re pushing to your customer must outweigh the cost. For example, we have real-time rain alerts, which tell you when rain is about to strike in your area and how long it’s going to last. And we know that our customers really appreciate that because we help keep them dry.
Weather Channel GoRun
Amy
Localized rain alerts require both personalization and contextualization. Can you talk more about how The Weather Channel uses context to personalize its messaging?
Allison
I think in weather, context plays a big role. There’s “how locally relevant is it to me?” And there’s even relevance based on the time of day and the decisions you’re making. For example when you’re waking up what do you want to wear? Do you need to leave for work early because it’s raining and the roads might be slick or there might be traffic? Thinking about relevance in terms of customer need states, and what decisions they’re making is really important.

We have another product that just launched called the GoRun forecast. It lets you actually personalize based on how you like to run and what conditions you like to run in. You know, 10K runners have different needs than 5K runners, so it uses data science to predict the best time of day for your workout.

Amy
Localization obviously plays a big role for weather apps, but are there big differences when playing to a global audience?
Allison
The way people experience weather is very personal and varies widely from person to person. 80°F may seem extremely hot to you, but perfectly comfortable to me. Imagine how different it is between the U.S. and India which has the wet season and the dry season. You have to really understand how weather impacts people’s lives. We are sending a bunch of our employees out to various countries in the coming months just to experience the local weather conditions and walk a mile in our customers’ shoes. That’s how important getting personalization right is to us.

I don’t just want to be the “world’s most downloaded weather app.” I want to be the app that people in the U.K. go to. I want to be the app that the U.S. goes to. I want to be the app that Germans go to. So I think by each market, what are those customer need states? What is the competitive landscape like? What’s the right product to focus on in each market? Maybe it’s not our app, but it could be our mobile website. So, when it comes to scaling globally, it’s really about starting at the beginning and understanding the competitive landscape in each marketplace, then understanding how your brand can fit in and solve problems for those customers.

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