Last update: November 2021

4 mins to read - 2021/11/26

Mobile Customer Experience vs. Engagement: Hitting the Right Balance

User engagement is a delicate balancing act. On one hand, brands want to have an active, robust relationship with their users. You want to keep them interested and communicate with them in real-time, particularly when there’s an opportunity to fulfill a need. On the other hand, if you go overboard this can be detrimental to customer experience (CX). Many users find brands sending them too much marketing to be invasive, and they can feel harassed. In fact, survey results have shown that 86% of brand customers will actually pay more for a better CX.

What’s the best route to take for striking the right balance? You don’t want your customer to feel hounded with marketing, but at the same time you don’t want to leave them alone to their own devices. You want to create a mobile experience that will keep them coming back to your app again and again, and customer engagement is a part of that. So, how to approach it?

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customer experience

Customer Experience Basics for Your Mobile App

Customer experience is how users perceive their interactions with your mobile app, and the emotions they associate with it. How has your app met their expectations? How has it solved problems or fulfilled needs they have? When your brand makes a promise, how does your app deliver? These are all things to consider when designing both your app and your mobile engagement strategy.

Factors such as content, design, interface, and even interactions with customer support all feed into customer experience. The 4 main categories of customer experience can be boiled down to:

  • Utility
  • Usability
  • Appeal
  • Engagement


Utility is effectively the question of does your app do what it’s meant to do? Is the experience fast and seamless? How does it provide value to your user/customer… and, crucially, how does it provide that value better than similar products?


Usability refers to how easy it is to navigate your app. Is the interface clear and intuitive to work? Is there a clear way back to the home page of your app on every screen? How easy is it for customers to make in-app purchases? Is your app free from bugs and glitches?

A good way to assess the usability of your app is to check user reviews on the App Store. Are you getting mostly 4 and 5-star reviews? Or are there frequent complaints of certain problems, such as your app crashing, or it being difficult to navigate back to the home page?


Engagement is any interaction your user has with your app. While we look at “mobile engagement” in terms of push notifications, push notifications are actually only one half of the relationship between app and user. Push notifications are the app reaching out to the user, with the end goal of inspiring some sort of engagement back from the user: whether that’s a click, a purchase, a video watched, a level of a game played, etc.

Push notifications are a way of boosting mobile engagement by nudging the user to make choices and complete actions on your app. Engagement can be measured by tracking metrics across various platforms, including social media channels and the backend of your push notification platform.

Mobile Engagement Can Improve Customer Experience

Don’t think of customer experience and mobile engagement as mutually exclusive. As we have explored in previous blog posts, too many push notifications can fatigue users and drive them away from your app. However the right amount can keep engagement levels high, and can inspire your users to take actions they might not have otherwise. For example, push notifications can suggest purchases or can get users into the app when they otherwise wouldn’t have. (This is particularly useful if your app is monetized by ads.)

A carefully timed push notification sent on a regular basis can help build habitual app usage, where your app is at the top of the user’s mind at the same time every day. Plenty of apps need push notifications for their utility, moreover. For example, messaging apps or any app that includes a live chat feature (such as games where you’re competing against other players in real-time). Travel apps that provide users with live updates of gate changes or itinerary updates also require push notifications to improve the app UX.

Customer experience and engagement often blend together. The use cases where push notifications are necessary and even indistinguishable from the utility of the app are countless. But ultimately both have the same goals: to keep the customer coming back to your app, completing goals, and enjoying their experience. And perhaps even spreading the word to their friends, so more people download your app.

To learn more about how push notifications can optimize your mobile engagement campaign and boost customer retention, get in touch with one of our experts.

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