When the first iPhone hit the market, it transformed the humble mobile from a messaging and calling device to a multi-use tool that few can part with. Our phones can now do many things (like emailing, posting to social media and taking photos). Touching nearly every part of our lives. Therein lies the power and potential for marketers – and a big part of this involves push marketing.
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What are push notifications?
Push notifications are messages that pop-up on a user’s mobile device when they subscribe to them via an app. They offer a relatively quick and easy way to encourage consumers to engage with your brand and remain at the forefront of their minds. When used well, they can offer a great boost to your customer engagement and sales.
In fact, consumers are more open to push notifications now than in 2015. Which is likely because the quality of push notifications has improved – 52% of survey respondents stated that notifications have become better.
Push notifications can be used to promote various actions that you want your customers to perform, such as visiting a social media channel, re-engaging with your website or reconsidering an abandoned basket. This makes them a versatile marketing tool for every business, from e-commerce stores and brick-and-mortar retailers to restaurants and conferences. But push notifications are only effective when you use them in the right way.
1. Make sure your notifications provide value
When a user opts into push notifications, they’re trusting the brand not to overstep with irrelevant messaging. Each notification needs to provide value to the recipient. This might be exclusive access, new information or updates. If your push notifications are spammy and ill-timed (more on this later) you risk your users turning off notifications or removing your app completely.
Travel is one sector that does particularly well for push notifications – 78% of users opt into communications from travel brands. Timely updates about an upcoming trip are a good incentive for people to enable notifications. Delta Airlines, for instance, uses push notifications to give updates on baggage, delays and boarding times.
Providing value in your messaging starts with identifying your customers’ unique needs. If your notifications don’t provide value, don’t bother sending them.
Consider how your customers interact with your business normally and the context of their engagements. Once you understand their usual behaviour, you can identify the moments of need when a push notification will be useful. For Delta, this is at key points in a customer’s journey with them. For a retailer, it might be at the point-of-sale, delivery and returns.
Ensure you differentiate your messaging from other marketing channels. Too often, they are used as another version of email. This doesn’t take advantage of their timeliness and attention-grabbing format.
2. Move beyond re-engagement
Push notifications aren’t just a way to re-engage with lost or inactive customers either. They can be a critical part of your customer experience, a way to improve brand reputation and build loyalty.
Push marketing works well when notifications actively engage someone with a topic that they really care about.
Maternity app ‘The Bump’ offers resources for expectant mothers to monitor their pregnancy week-by-week. Part of this involves the app sending weekly updates about the size of the baby (in simple terms) and what to expect in the coming weeks. Of course, people are more likely to engage with status updates about their unborn child than irrelevant messages from a store they barely shop at.
Because push notifications are disruptive to a user’s day, sending ill-thought-out messages (or too many) can quickly annoy. Make sure you never send generic communications that can be done via email or social media. Don’t be too pushy with sales or advertising new products. Plus, if your content has already appeared in a blog, your newsletter or on social media, then it’s probably not appropriate for a push notification.
3. Stoke up FOMO (fear of missing out)
Flash sales and limited time offers are well-suited to push marketing because they are exclusive and time-driven. Push notifications interrupt the day, so they better be worth the interruption! Plus, if people think that someone is getting a better deal because they have enabled notifications, they’ll be more likely to sign-up.