By
Tim Bichara

Don’t be pushy – but do try push notifications

If your app is gathering dust in the backroom of one of the app stores, it might be because you forgot to include, or perhaps abused, one of the most underrated but powerful communications tools of the moment – push.

Push notifications are borrowed from PC marketing in the 90s, which in turn almost certainly stole it from direct printed marketing. What technology allows us to do it be increasingly relevant, targeted and clever with something that once was just a catalogue with everything from trousers to trowels stuffed through someone’s door.

The UK’s mobile network operators have an opted-in SMS database of around 20 million between them. Priority Moments and Orange Wednedays have struck a chord with people that proves they don’t mind being contacted with push notifications by a brand they use, if it’s good. Right time, right place.

Although it was probably thought at one time that spam would kill email or SMS marketing, if your brand has a good, reciprocal relationship with your consumers, then push notifications are something you should be considering for your app.

Push notifications are still new for many marketers, let alone consumers. ‘Do you want to accept this thing you don’t understand?’ Probably not. This is something, like privacy, like cookies, that might have been better faced head on rather than sneaking behind the scenes… Do you want something that aims to add value to your life? An offer? A timely traffic update? Probably yes.

So don’t be pushy. Push notifications in-app can enable you to deliver information whenever you like. But you have to consider whether ‘whenever you like’ would be the same as whenever your customer likes. Do you want a marketing message while you’re trying to sleep?

Developing an app means you can build in relevant controls to show your customers that you want them to be able to decide how often you can contact them. If they trust you, then they will give you some of their time. If they don’t… Push is the least of your worries.

The data that you gather – how about nicely asking them for some? – can be used to deliver even more targeted notifications. And using a user’s location, with the increasing sophistication of geo-fencing technology, means you can send him an offer on fishing rods as he’s entering your store.

Ultimately push notifications can be the thing that stops your app being demoted to the last big thing. If the industry uses it badly, then it becomes spam for everyone else. Use it well, and it could be the best, most personalised permission-based marketing revolution the world has ever seen.

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