Are We 'Pushing' The Messaging Threshold?

Does 3.1 billion, globally, sound like a lot of email addresses?   That number will increase dramatically over the next three years to over 4.2 billion, according to the Radicati Group.  Radicati’s report breaks down the geographic makeup of these email accounts: over 49% in Asia Pacific, Europe, 22%, and North America, 14%.  Consumer email accounts will represent the lion’s share, 75%.  

Consumers can expect to continue to consume and send email at an accelerated clip.  The average number of emails received and sent per day will range from 105 to 125 in 2015.    With all the press about increase in SPAM, still roughly 75% of the email a consumer will receive will be legitimate.

Email will continue as the number-one activity on a mobile device.   There were over 500 million wireless email users in 2011, a number projected to grow to over 1.2 billion wireless email users by 2015.  



Email has a significant impact on the everyday consumer. Yet are we pushing the threshold with new forms of messaging?   The Olympics virtually launched SMS and permission-based app-driven notification messaging (push messaging).  Millions of people were engaged with thousands of brands around a single event stretched over weeks -- the perfect petri dish for mobile app engagement!

I find push messaging extremely interesting from a marketer perspective. I try not to infuse my personal experiences with the bothersome, meaningless notices pushed from the game apps on my iPhone or irrelevant daily deal notices.   I think about how rich views of consumer data and engagement data can help drive valuable notifications without blowing up the experience altogether. 

I love the idea of knowing that consumers are near their shopping mall, and pushing them a 20% “local’s discount” at their favorite store that expires that afternoon. Still I wonder how consumers won’t see it as intrusive when 100 brands that they’ve opted into do the same thing at the same time. How are we going to manage the balance of convenience with value when consumers hear 50 dings on their phone as they’re driving?

I realize the push messaging market needs to mature before it enters mainstream CRM.     Even with the technical character limits of push messaging, the value of the “out of inbox” notification that is contextually well-timed is worth paying attention to.

Combining geo-location data with POS data, plus traditional customer data & segmentation, is still a challenge for many in the marketing population.  Doing this near real time and persistently is even more of a stretch.  While consumers take the inbox seriously, overuse of push messaging will have far more of an impact on brand perceptions than SPAM ever has.   The allure of reaching consumers must match marketing’s ability to do it responsibly.  Consumers may opt in to push messaging, yet as we’ve learned in the email space over the last 15 years, consumers have short memories for opt-ins. And the consumer backlash against abuse in push notifications will have far more impact on a brand than asynchronous email ever will.

7 comments about "Are We 'Pushing' The Messaging Threshold?".
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  1. Dave Hendricks from LiveIntent, March 4, 2013 at 11:05 a.m.

    David - yes. Users continue to have a large appetite for email. Especially email that reflects their desires, and their context.

    But it is and will always be stretch to try to push a timely marketing message via email based only on data known at time of message send or 'push'. Because, for the user, when the message has been sent is less important than when it is opened.

    Why? open time latency devalues marketing messages that have expired, or are targeted for another device or place. As long as marketers try to match a marketing message up with a user before they send the message they will risk missing the mark. If the user opens immediately? Maybe it's right for the time...will it be for the place? Where is the user? What device are they on? Can they take advantage of the offer?

    Presenting advertising within email in real time and persistently is actually quite easy now and it doesn't require nearly half the work as 'pushing' messages. Pushing messages based on segmenting can add unnecessary complexity and also is reliant on user reported information, like address. Same goes for mobile. Impossible to determine at send when people will open. Mixing (old) customer database information along with (new) real time data at open is the answer.

    By making these decisions at the time of open, using a real time advertising platform embedded into the email template, marketers can take advantage of the push benefits of email while obtain the immediacy benefits of web display media.

  2. Chris Vinson from Vinson Advertising, March 4, 2013 at 1:52 p.m.

    Thanks David and David!

  3. David Baker from Cordial, March 4, 2013 at 2 p.m.

    I tend to Agree Dave on some fronts, but let's recognize it's a different "message" experience that has the potential to be over promised and under delivered and have impact on all other messaging efforts..

    The Data Integration and complexity isn't the real issue here, as you know all too well that can be overcome. The real point of contention is whether we could make this a viable part of a communication strategy. as Notification Value is arguably the TOP value of any messaging strategy. Whether its SMTP email in the inbox or message notifications out of the inbox, the balance and coordination of messaging cross channel is where I strive to challenge the ceiling.

  4. Andrew Kordek from Trendline Interactive, March 5, 2013 at 12:23 a.m.

    Great post David B.

    As you may be aware, my agency is involved with doing research for ExactTarget's SUBSCRIBERS, FANS & FOLLOWER series and in the most recent report entitled Marketers are from Mars, we uncovered some interesting data on this very subject. The follwoing question was asked to 526 consumers and 369 marketers: "Smartphone apps will sometimes ask if they can send Push Notification. Do you typically "Allow" or "Deny" these messages? The consumers responses were interesting: 11% said they always allowed, 20% said they usually allowed, 23% said they usually denied and 17% said they always denied. 29% said that they didn't know or never seen this. Interesting responses which would beg the question is that companies can be at the ready to deploy this sort integrated push messaging into their communication strategy and see success given the current appetite or desire for the consumer to want to receive it.

  5. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, March 5, 2013 at 9:58 a.m.

    Email is far from the top activity on mobile devices. "The most popular activity amongst mobile subscribers in the U.S. is sending text messages (74.8%) followed by using downloaded apps (51.1%). The third most popular activity is browsing the web (49.8%). Accessing social networks/blogs and playing games round out the top 5 activities for mobile users with 36.7% and 33.5% respectively."

  6. Dave Hendricks from LiveIntent, March 5, 2013 at 10:38 a.m.

    @pete Austin - I'll save Mr Baker some typing time:

    Email has repeatedly been found to be the top activity by time and percent penetration for *smartphones* and Tablets. It's only getting bigger as more people move from 'feature phones'.

    ComScore can't measure email usage or phones nor do those two topics support their marketing themes or products positioning.

  7. Rick O'Connor from SportsSMS, March 14, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.

    oh, ..... I thought ignoring email on a mobile device, phone and/or tablet, was the number one mobile activity by time and percent penetration.
    Email open rates have leveled off because people can access them on their mobile, but it still tales 72 hours to achieve those rates.
    In one on one meetings, we ignore email, we don't usually ignore text messages.

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