One of the biggest opportunities (and yes, also challenges) for mobile marketers is integrating/juggling/dealing with/using/harnessing various mobile channels like text, voice, email, iMessage and social. Today, wanted to dive in to what’s fast gaining a lot of attention around the mobile world: push notifications.

What they are: 

As you can see in the example from American Airlines, a push notification is a message sent from an app directly to users’ phones. These messages usually contain some sort of outbound update-type content.

What they do: 

From a user perspective, a push notification delivers time sensitive, (hopefully) important information. From a brand perspective, a push notification allows a brand to continue a conversation with a user that has downloaded an app.

Why is this cool? 

As we’ve seen before, one of the major challenges for apps is ongoing engagement. It’s hard to justify spending so much to build an app and drive downloads if you’re only paying for a person to open the app once. Push notifications attempt to solve this problem by re-engaging a user directly from an app with a timely, compelling message.

Functionality pros and cons: 

Very simply, push notifications are awesome because they are a direct message to a person that has downloaded an app (and therefore probably interested in the brand). There’s enough character space that brands have flexibility to create fairly compelling text content. For cons, push notifications are uni-directional, meaning that people cannot reply. Plus they are not saved anywhere on a phone, making them not useful for messages that people want to refer back to at some point.

Opt-in (aka my biggest gripe):

The opt-in for a push notifications has been the same every single time I have seen one. You open an app for the first time and get the following prompt:

“<InsertBrandHere> would like to send you push notifications. Notifications may include alerts, sounds and icon badges. These can be configured in Settings.”

For one, my high school English teacher would be pissed (not a fan of passive voice : ). In all seriousness though, I understand alerts, but why would I want “sounds” or “icon badges” from every single brand? What are these anyway? What do they do?

What would be way cooler in my opinion is if brands customized this message and made it clear exactly what type of content they planned on delivering via push. For me relevancy and clarity are key for achieving success with mobile messaging, and the same holds true for push notifications. In fact, I think you could argue that many people might be turned off by sounds, as they don’t want noise disruption, or icon badges, as they seem spammy, when in fact these people really would want the benefit of receiving timely informational messages.

Data request: 

I have yet to see a ton of publicly available data on push notifications. So here’s my request to sites like Mashable, eMarketer, Nielsen, comScore and Pew Internet: I absolutely love all the data you share regarding SMS, mobile web, mobile apps, voice messaging, social media – pretty much every digital messaging channel available today. That said, I would really appreciate some data around push, whether it’s number sent per day, per OS, % of users that allow push on an app, etc.

Where push is going in the future:

In my opinion, push notifications will be combined with subscriber information to generate more targeted content (rather than blasting a push notification to every person that has opted in to push notifications on an app). From there, you’ll also see data from other digital channels like text and social used to deliver relevant and compelling push notifications.

How push fits in with marketing in general: 

As I have stated before about various messaging channels, push will become part of a cross-channel marketing strategy (not multichannel mind you). With the proliferation of apps in the market today, it seems like it’s going to be a crucial messaging medium.

That said, you never really know in the tech world, so we’ll see.

What are your thoughts on push notifications? Please post your ideas to the comments.

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2 Responses to About Push Notifications

  1. Ggibson says:

    I came up with the S.T.R.U.T. method

    The messages you send over push need to be:

    Solicited – Easy/clear opt-in
    Targeted – Don’t mass push
    Relevant – Why does your customer want to hear from you?
    Universal – Does it tie in with your overall strategy?
    Tested – Have you analyzed data and made adjustments to improve results?

    Great place to start!

  2. Terry Schell says:

    Like the way you think!  Great content.

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