When you read the word “pushy,” what comes to mind?
I immediately think of the stereotypical used car salesman. You know the type: You stopped by the car lot once. You test drove one car. And now, through a momentary lapse in your judgment, you gave him your phone number and email address, and now he has been contacting you every day since. Annoying, right?
No savvy marketer wants to be perceived as pushy.
To finish up our app marketing series, I want to address the power of push messaging in mobile marketing. According to Urban Airship’s “Mobile Maturity Benchmarks Report”: “Among companies with apps, 70%-80% use push messaging across all industries except finance.”
So, if you’re not yet using push, you’re in the minority, and this article is for you. If your organization already uses push, I hope this article will provide you with some new and creative ways to think about how to use the technique for your products and services.
What Is Push Messaging?
Push messaging is appealing to marketers because it allows an app to notify customers of “new messages or events without the need to actually open the application, similar to how a text message will make a sound and pop up on your screen. This is a great way for apps to interact with us in the background.”
In other words, push allows marketers to appear gentle, not “pushy,” which is great in the world of marketing. Operating in the background on mobile phones is appreciated by consumers. It gives them the option to ignore you or invite you onto their precious and limited screen space.
Here are three powerful ways that mobile marketers can use push messaging:
1. Promote Your Mobile Loyalty Program
According to Vibes, organizations can promote their mobile loyalty programs within their apps. Remember, a mobile loyalty club is typically a rewards-based program that offers customers the option for regular communications from your brand in return for alerts on sales, coupons, and other offers. Vibes reasons that the consumers “who have downloaded your app are part of your most loyal customer base and likely to opt-into your mobile database—if they have not already.”
How can you use push messaging to promote your mobile loyalty program? Vibes suggests a simple opt-in approach: “When a customer downloads your app, ask them if they would like to opt-in, and then do not bury the sign-up form to make it difficult for them to find. You can also use push notifications to make customers aware of the mobile club. Because they are receiving the messages on their phones, give them one click access to joining your mobile program.”
2. Create More ‘Mobile Moments’
Forrester recently started using the phrase “mobile moment” to describe the exact time when your customer’s needs/wants/desires converge with your brilliant communications, tools, and technology.
In “Predictions 2014: Mobile Trends For Marketers,” Forrester reminds marketers that mobile has the power to be transformative, but “only if you can engage your consumers in their exact moment of need ... with the right services, content, or information.”
Analysts Thomas Husson and Julie Ask go on to explain the importance of data and analytics tools to help you move toward creating more mobile moments for your consumers: “Understanding when and where people want to interact with your brand and the actions they want to take within your app can drastically help you deliver an optimized experience. Combining real-time analytics with push notifications or in-app messages can be even more powerful to deliver contextualized experiences.”
For example, RetailMeNot uses geofencing to deliver push notifications to consumers who are within a virtual perimeter of nearby malls. These alerts will include relevant offers and coupons from retailers located inside a mall. In another Forrester report, “Push Mobile Engagement To The Next Level,” Husson explains an interesting correlation between app use and the consumer’s desire to “be in control.” The research revealed that “consumers who receive push notifications are also the heaviest app users.”
In other words, these are your savviest consumers. They know their way around their mobile phones and apps. Forrester notes that these consumers obviously don’t want spam, so they set preferences on the timing and types of messages they want to receive. These perpetually connected consumers want control. With push, you must be sure to give it to them.
3. Deliver Relevance
Push messaging allows marketers to deliver timely, relevant, and helpful communications to their app users. But other than delivering breaking news or the inconveniences of rush-hour traffic, what are some other ways to use push to increase your customers’ loyalty?
First, think about relevancy. Just as bad weather and bad traffic are highly relevant to people in real time, how can you create similar interactions with your customers? Forrester reminds us, “When consumers opt in to receive push notifications, it means they trust you to the point of giving you permission to contact them on their most personal devices. If your messages are not relevant, you will lose your best customers.”
Forrester notes some helpful ways to use push to drive customer loyalty:
- Customer service alerts
- Social updates
- New content availability notices
- Relevant and requested offers
- Location-specific information
For example, Redbox uses push notifications to inform customers about exclusive deals, big new releases, and recommendations. This information helps to drive loyal customers back to a Redbox location in order to rent the next DVD or game.
Don’t Be A Used Car Salesman
Push messaging is a great way to connect with your customers in an indirect, less confrontational way. When you effectively use push messaging, you won’t be perceived as the annoying car salesman who evokes groans and negative thoughts. Instead, you’ll be perceived as a helpful, friendly brand that sends the right messages at the right time to show that you care.