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Making it personal - how push notifications are redefining relevance

9th Mar 2016
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‘Mobile Moments’

Mobile is the most immediate and intimate engagement channel around – and with the advent of in-app marketing, it’s about to get even more personal. These days we can’t live without our phones. The average person checks their phone a staggering 150 to 200 times a day. Many of us do so as soon as we wake up, and again before we go to sleep.

So what are we doing during these many ‘Mobile Moments’? Our desire for on the go access to info and entertainment means we’re generally consuming content via apps. According to ComScore, four out of every five minutes that we spend on our phones, we’re actually on one app or other.

In this always on world, engagement messages such as push notifications via mobile apps, offer brands a way to make instant connections with millions of consumers in real-time directly via their smartphones. This isn’t simply about having a big audience, it’s about reaching the right audience with the right message. Yet most brands are missing out on these ‘Mobile Moments’ and the opportunity to engage consumers. 

Engagement via apps

There are three main types of engagement message that can be delivered via apps: push notifications, received extra-app, so while the user is outside the app; in-app messages received while a person is using the app; and message centre notifications, which are accessible from the app menu, where users can retrieve important push notifications. 

Campaigns are simple to implement and incredibly quick to set up. The most straightforward mobile CRM tools for creating push campaigns are SaaS based and can operate either completely stand-alone or plug into existing CRM systems or customer databases.

Once the software is installed, a simple interface screen allows marketers to upload creatives and select their audience variables and campaign triggers to personalise, optimise and localise their push and send it to their app users’ smartphones in just a few minutes.

A rich new channel

Rich engagement formats include URL links, short audio and video clips, images or coupons. Interactive calls to action are also possible through the inclusion of buttons within the push notification. Using action buttons, such as yes or no, cancel or confirm, gives brands the opportunity to immediately interact with consumers. 

Different engagement campaigns can also be implemented. These  range from a single notification, to a series of messages based on a trigger, to programmed activities, such as Next Best Action where a sequence of messages are delivered based on an individual’s behaviour and previous actions. In this way, valuable mobile CRM programmes can be created.

Making it personal – enabling one to one communications

The real benefit and beauty of push is that it redefines how brands can communicate with customers, ensuring that that every message is of value to the user.

Messages can be highly personalised by using segmentation criteria. Marketers can create specific audiences for messages drawing on the data in an existing customer database, which might include gender, age and socio-economic variables, but also from the user’s phone and apps, including device brand and model, operating language or level of app engagement.

For instance, an entertainment app might send a VIP offer for London’s best restaurants only to those aged over 30, who are its premium users based in London using Android devices.  Or a make-up brand could send a particular offer to women aged between 25 and 30 and a different offer to women aged 30 to 40.

Context is all – redefining relevance

However, personalisation is only part of the story. Ensuring customers receive a message at the right time for them is essential. Messages can be given context and made more relevant by only launching when one or a combination of triggers are actioned. These triggers could be time, date or location or more sophisticated triggers based around in-app behaviour and specific actions within the app.

So a message from a travel app on what’s on in Paris might use a location trigger when a user arrives in the city. Or an offer for a 30% discount could be triggered via a beacon when someone enters a particular store.

Triggers ensure that as well as the message being personal, it’s delivered at a time that will enhance a user’s Mobile Moment.

Keep track of tolerance

One final element to consider is the tolerance of users to push notifications. Tracking how often individuals interact with your app relative to the number of push notifications they receive is vital for pinpointing how many messages a user wants to receive and when.

A levelling out of app activity can indicate a user has reached the point at which more communication can push them from interest to disengagement.

There’s no golden number for maximum engagement: each app must assess and monitor its users’ tolerances.  Acceptance of push notifications varies dramatically depending on the app and its industry. We’re all pretty tolerant of notifications from messaging, social media and news apps. For other brands tolerance will depend on individual engagement levels and personal preferences. Using test and learn to fine tune messaging for the best response is also invaluable in maintaining engagement levels.

Making budgets work harder and delivering ROI

The simplicity, speed and ease of campaign set up and execution make App + push notification an incredibly cost effective channel. They enable marketing budgets to work harder than ever and deliver greater ROI at time when marketing departments are shrinking and shifting as they focus on digital.

Performance is easy to measure, based on metrics such as click through rates, app launch via push notification, time on application after the push and conversion or in-app events, such as completion of registration.

Push in action

Media outlets and sports brands have been at the forefront of those adopting push. The New York Times recently set up a dedicated Push Notification department. In addition to the obvious breaking news alerts, it’s now also using push alerts based on people’s reading history and interests, or their favourite writers.

No doubt others will follow, creating dedicated departments in the same way that social media teams were set up a few years ago.

App + push notification is the agile new channel to engage users at a fraction of the cost of complex legacy CRM systems based around email marketing. It’s a channel that delivers highly targeted and relevant messages via an app that people have chosen to use, based on their level of engagement.

With all this, it’s not hard to see why this year will be the year of the push notification. The only question is - why aren’t you working on it already?

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