Mobile analytics company Mixpanel is unveiling a feature today that co-founder Suhail Doshi said will give developers a new way to communicate with their users.
Mixpanel customers will now be able to deliver “in-app notifications” to their users — Doshi compared them to push notifications (an area where other startups offer support), except delivered when a user is actually looking at the app, not just browsing their homescreen.
For example, a game developer could use the notifications to promote new levels or offer hints, or an e-commerce app could promote specific deals or products. Basically, it’s the same kinds of things you might use push notifications for, but hopefully less annoying and in a context where a user is more likely to be amenable to your message.
Why can’t developers just build that kind of functionality into their apps? Doshi suggested that a well-funded company with a large mobile team can do it, but it’s tougher for a smaller organization or an independent developer. He also said that building it on top of Mixpanel’s analytics tools allows for very targeted messages, say if you wanted to reach users with a specific app version or based in a specific city. In fact, Doshi said developers can go “infinitely deep” with their targeting thanks to the profiles that Mixpanel has built of individual users — it has 160 million profiles so far and is adding 20 million more each month.
Mixpanel’s analytics will also allow developers to see whether their notifications are effective, and in the future, Doshi suggested they’ll also be able to A/B test different notifications and then switch out the variations that aren’t working.
I keep saying that this will be used by developers, but Doshi noted that this could be used by “non-technical” people, too. He gave a demo of the notification editor, which allows customers to adjust the visual design and wording of the notifications without any programming — indeed, the smaller changes that Doshi demonstrated took only a few clicks.
This isn’t the first time Mixpanel has launched a non-analytics products. Last fall, it launched mobile surveys. The broader goal, Doshi said, is to build on top of the company’s data and existing technology and to create a broader suite of developer tools like the ones offered by “Marketo and Eloqua and Salesforce” on the web: “These things don’t exist in the ecosystem in mobile.”