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Download that App! The art of the interstitial

The interstitial is a powerful tool when marketers tailor them to both their organization's value proposition and their individual customers' needs.


If you own a smartphone, you’ll probably have encountered a “Download our app!” pop-up message when browsing websites. Chances are you don’t download the app every time, and you’re not alone. This type of marketing, known as the “interstitial,” is used frequently by app developers but can have mixed results, sometimes hindering rather than helping customer relationships. However, if employed correctly, this form of marketing can deliver powerful results in app adoption, sales growth and conversion rates.
''Interstitials can help build better customer relationships and loyalty, enabling long-term, sustainable growth.''

What is an interstitial?

An interstitial is an overlay or "top-layer," which obscures the main content of a mobile site, and can either be tapped, to direct the user to whatever is being marketed, or skipped, to access the content underneath. Interstitials can be used to market anything, but are often used to promote a brand’s app.

They work by breaking a customer’s mobile web experience with an overlay, which offers them an alternative channel for continuing their journey. The customer can then decide whether to download the app and access services through it, or continue using the web architecture.

An interstitial’s level of enforcement can be defined by how difficult it makes completing a customer’s original intent. It’s composed of three main factors: frequency, difficulty of dismissal and intent disruption.

The art of interstitial

Interstitials vary in the degree to which they enforce behavior on a user. Some companies enforce interstitials to such an extent they turn users away from their brand, while others implement them in a form so light-touch as to be ineffective.

The optimum level of enforcement for an interstitial can be pinpointed in a two-step analysis:

Step 1: Tailor it to your organization’s value proposition

Determine the broad range of hard/soft levels of enforcement your company can afford to take with interstitials by assessing the customer value exchange.

Step 2: Tailor it to your customer’s individual preferences

Get a more granular understanding of how interstitials should be used with A/B testing. Use these insights to tailor enforcement levels to individual customer preferences and behavior.

The optimum level

Apps all have different optimum points on the enforcement spectrum. Where this point lies depends on the nature of the app and its value proposition to its users.

Determine your optimum level

Customers will only download and use an app if it provides them with long-term value. A marketer can therefore afford to push harder if their app is providing an essential value exchange for the customer. As a general rule, the more value criteria an app fulfills, the harder they can afford to push their interstitial.

Fine-tune your optimum level

Once you’ve assessed the value exchange that a customer derives from your app, and determined the broad level of enforcement you should be using, it’s essential to fine-tune your interstitial strategy. There are two key aspects to consider:

  1. Apply the value criteria above to different customer segments
  2. Recognize that different customers respond to interstitial marking in different ways

A sophisticated marketing strategy leverages the abundance of analytics and customer behavior data to provide a personalized and A/B tested approach for each customer.

A powerful tool

When interstitials are used in a way which harnesses the power of an organization’s value proposition and combines it with the power of personalization, the results can be invaluable. Not only do they unlock more data about customers, but they can also build better customer relationships and loyalty, enabling long-term, sustainable growth.