When we think of fashion startup success stories on mobile, few come to mind as frequently or with as much universal positivity as Gilt. The fashion, now travel and experience ecommerce startup, has grown to be one of the true success stories of New York’s Silicon Alley.

One thing that has been impressive to observe as they have grown is the company’s commitment to being “mobile-first.” Gilt’s mobile marketing automation strategy marries the goal of app conversions with providing a great customer experience that doesn’t alienate potential buyers. At this stage, more than 50% of Gilt Groupe’s revenue comes from mobile – a percentage that continues to grow every month.

We were fortunate to sit down with Gilt’s Mobile Tech Lead, Ruxandra Levy, to highlight the six mobile messaging tactics that have helped Gilt become a true leader in the e-commerce and mobile space.

Gilt app

1. Personalized Sale for Each User Once a Day

Most apps spam the same message to every user at exactly the same time. The power of personalization, timing and relevance cannot be understated. We constantly see triple digit increases in messaging results, when the content and delivery is personalized to an individual user.

Gilt takes an interesting approach to this. Rather than having all of their messages based on behavior — “has looked at Hugo Boss” triggering a Hugo Boss message, say — they create a profile for each user over time and then match the single best sale each day for that user.

“Gilt offers custom sales for every unique shopper based on carefully designed algorithms that take in brand favoriting, past purchase history and shopping behavior. The retailer also asks for consumer feedback to better design the personalized deals (as well as location),” wrote Mobile Commerce Daily.

Gilt app

2. Real-Time Reminders (Push Notifications With a Purpose)

Enticing push notifications drive users back into your app to increase user retention and conversion. But, push that’s too “pushy” or doesn’t offer actual value to the user, quickly becomes spam. Gilt relies on minimal push notifications to drive users into the app with useful information:

  • Sale is starting – 12PM Eastern daily, typically featuring the best sale for the user
  • An item you waitlisted becomes available
  • Your order is on it’s way
  • Gilt City offers are live – 10AM Eastern daily, only for frequent Gilt City shoppers who choose to subscribe, so as not to over message

Gilt app

3. In-App Notifications That Never Annoy

In-app notifications are a powerful channel to reach your most active users while they’re actually using your app. Most brands miss this opportunity, focusing only on push notifications to drive users back into the app when it’s closed.

As you browse a list of sales on the Gilt mobile app, an overlay in-app notification appears at the bottom of the screen with a relevant offer, such as free shipping. As you scroll down, the overlay disappears so it doesn’t block new sales, and re-appears as you scroll back up.

Gilt also goes to extra lengths to ensure in-app messaging isn’t overused. Levy’s team has strict policies in place to confirm the relevancy and type of each message to be displayed. Their “two-person rule” launch system rivals nuclear deployment, emphasizing how much they value their mobile customers.

“We set up the message on the business side and later deploy it from our mobile team, so that all parties involved are in agreement that the message is important enough to be displayed to our users.” – Gilt’s Ruxandra Levy

4. Consistent Message Timing

Gilt is one of the few apps that has established consistency with their message timing. Each day at noon EST, a new sale starts and Gilt triggers a reminder message. In the early days of push, being able to blast message all of your users (in Gilt’s case north of 10 million) with a message at the same time, and have them delivered near-instantly, was quite the challenge. Gilt developed their own system in-house to support this and it has since been key to their overall messaging strategy.

Gilt app

5. Customized Sound to Signify “Sale Starting”

Along with consistency of timing for the noon sale beginning, Gilt is synonymous with their custom soft “dong” sound. It’s not too loud or intrusive and reminds users even without looking at their phone or reading the message, that a new sale has begun.

Gilt app

6. Power in the Hands of the People

Messaging is most effective when you know what your users want to receive, rather than pushing unwanted sales. Gilt gives each user control over exactly what they would like to be messaged about, so you never miss sales that you like. Nothing is worse than seeing your favorite brand sell out before you had a chance to browse.

Apps looking to elevate their marketing strategy (especially eCommerce apps) should take a page out of Gilt’s mobile marketing playbook. Gilt puts a premium on each individual user’s experience and in doing so, is able to drive more than half of its revenue through mobile.