Push messages. Ah, those little snippets of text you get while your smartphone sits idle. You hear the beep or feel the vibration from your smartphone. Then you read the message and tap to find out more. Sometimes it goes to the right place (or ‘screen’ as we say in the mobile world) and sometimes not. And sometimes these messages irritably wake you up in the middle of the night if your ringer is on.

So, you build up an affinity with which apps accomplish good push messaging and which ones not. You ignore the bad and irrelevant push messages. Or you may even uninstall those apps that really cross the line. Either way you look at it, ultimately the user decides with a flick of a finger to keep your app or not. The question is, are brands really doing push messaging right? Or are they just being too “pushy”?

We still have a long way to go regarding brand push messages. For example, look at the web. We went from a gimmicky, spam stuffed web and search to an evolved, more user-focused web/search after a series of different algorithms rolled out by search engines like Google to better index content, search results and so forth.

In due time, we will also see the evolution unfold with mobile marketing and engagement, especially in the form of push messages which so far, most people dislike. But first things first- let’s address the fact that there’s a wide misuse of information regarding push messages. And believe me, all that ‘noise about push messages’ will do your brand no good. Let’s dive into 5 myths you need to know about push messaging.

1. Push messages are always personalized

Unfortunately, most of the time, WRONG. First, let’s define what personalization actually is, then apply it into mobile terms.what is engagement

Emphasizing especially the last part circled in red, “to design or tailor to meet an individual’s specifications, needs or preferences” is pretty much spot on.

In mobile terms: With that definition in mind, would you feel personally addressed if you recently downloaded a fashion retail app, and you receive a push message like this,

1. “20% off all marked down items in-store.”
2. “Hey Linda, Like that summer skirt? Buy it in-store & get 20% off! Check your wallet for the coupon!”

Hopefully, you’d feel the 2nd push message is more personal. There are countless examples in which brands fail to personalize push messages.

When brand apps push out broadcast push messages (for wider audiences) it often doesn’t have the same effect as would a personal message tailored to the users’ interests in mind. The root of the problem is that brands fail to address customer satisfaction. In addition, brands lack actionable data about customers. Therefore, without this precious data, they cannot make precise engagement decisions.

Ironically, brands often have the data about their customers coming from their CRM systems, POS, loyalty programs, and so forth, but how they’re managing that data through the mobile channel has remained one of the most pressing challenges for CMOs and CIOs today. Considering the fact that we’re living in a mobile first world where apps are the #1 consumed media, it is pure irony. However, with the right mobile engagement platform, mobile marketers can segment users via personas and engage them with highly personalized assets (a part of which would be push messages) based on their preferences, interests and needs which draw from actionable data.

2. Push messaging is the most meaningful way to engage

WRONG. Push messages are NOT always the most meaningful way to engage with your mobile customers. It really depends on the context (see point #4). In fact, there’s a plethora of meaningful ways to engage with your mobile users. Just look at mobile assets alone. In order to understand assets, let’s take a look at the definition first: Assets are, but not limited to high quality, creatively rich, interactive engagement tools like coupons, vouchers, surveys, polls, messages, 3D product models, videos, loyalty points, games, etc. – all native designed to be displayed in a pixel perfect way on the screen of the mobile device – thus, delivering a very rich app experience to the customer. Assets can also be pushed even when the user doesn’t have the app opened.

Now let’s put assets into practice. Perhaps you are a travel meta-search brand and you compare hotel prices. Your goal is to inspire your users to travel and book through your app. Your user’s name is Jane. She lives in Portland. She’s had a history over the last 2 days of looking at Santa Barbara beachfront hotels on your website. After the synchronization of her data into your mobile engagement platform, why not send her an inspiring video with Santa Barbara or better yet, best beachfront hotels in Santa Barbara? A picture, or in this case video, is worth a thousand words, rather than “telling it” through a push message.

For more tips on travel apps, see this “Top 5 Travel Apps” blogpost.

3. Push messages are the only way to engage

One of the most misconceived notions is that push messages are in fact, THE only way to support mobile engagement. There are many different ways to support engagement besides push messages (depending on your mobile engagement platform).

Here are a few to tell:

  • Using the weather as a means to engagement with users

    Let’s say you’re an automotive brand. Your goal is to outperform your convertible sales from the previous summer. Why not start targeting your users with a beautiful 3D car spinner or invitations to test drive the new convertible in May (when the weather turns warmer). By tapping into the weather on an hourly basis, you wouldn’t want to send out the invitation during a summer thunderstorm, right?

  • Implementing beacons in order to drive gamification inside stores or venues

    Paired with an intelligent mobile engaegment platform, beacons are a great technology to use for tracking in-store behavior. In our case, beacons send out a signal which gets picked up by a MobileBridge enabled-app. Then the marketer automates an action through the platform and it gets triggered during the event. In the case of an engagement, it’s a gamification asset. During the CopacoCloud event, we found that users enjoyed playing a game which got them a free drink. As a result, users were concentrated nearby the coffee barista booths more than any other spot in the venue during the time frame from 12:00-12:07. Not only were they engaged, but they loved it and piled up!beacons

  • Maximizing the power of social media to reach new networks

    Let’s say your fashion retailer. With the overwhelming number of fashion bloggers, why not engage with the power social media engagement? You could first segment the users who have strong social media followers. Then follow-up by offering them loyalty points, a reward or offer if they can refer your app through their network. Or ask them to share an item through their Instagram, Pinterest, etc. in exchange for something else.

4. Push messages give you a lot of mobile data

Wrong. Let’s say you sell razors. Your goal is to understand what type of razor your user would need or like to buy. A user downloads your app. You send him/her a push message. Now what? What kind of data did you collect? How many messages were sent, how many were received and how many were opened and when. That’s not exactly the data you really want to get. You could benefit from a lot more.

Why not open up the conversation by asking your user (say it’s a guy) and ask a few questions through an in-app survey or poll. Break the ice by asking specifically what type of razor models or features he’s interested in, what his budget is, how often he shaves, etc. Once the user fills out this contextual data, it becomes actionable and extremely valuable because the mobile marketer can act upon it with better engagement decisions henceforth. A push message can’t suffice the same effect of an in-app survey or poll because push messages (not surprisingly) only push information and do not “listen” to users who are willing to share in exchange for something.

5. Push messages should be pushed out only in mid afternoons and on weekdays

Not necessarily. It always depends on the user’s unique attributes or contextual data based on their profile. Consider what times of days they’re most receptive to your assets. Or when the last time they re-opened the app, closed it, or how many sessions they did in a certain time period. Sometimes it depends on the context of the situation. Imagine if there was a weekend sale at the local fashion brand store. Is 2:00pm on Tuesday still the right time?

Why not remind them in advance, whether that would be a day before or a week, and then remind them the day of the sale on Saturday to stop by? Or why not simply engage them on the spot in the store or in the right aisle, regardless of what time or day it is? Generalizing when to send out push messages with one brush stroke isn’t fair for all the scenarios that could happen. Through contextual data can the mobile marketer decide when to engage certain users and audiences.

Find out what myths to debunk on push messaging. Download our guide “5 Myths About Mobile Engagement”

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