App Messaging: Push, Retain, Repeat

Jonathan Ofri, Senior Manager, Digital Engagement & Communications, Verizon, had to admit that some people ask why his company even bothers with push notification since it has its customers' numbers. Doh! But, as he put it at our Marketing In-App conference today in New York, push is powerful as part of a broader strategy and, therefore, Verizon is transitioning from text to push.

His fellow panelist, Matthew Kassan, Director, CRM & Retention, Discovery Inc, GolfTV, agreed, saying that push notification is yet another channel to extend reach and frequency. A fair amount of his customers are accessible only by push. "Think of a sports team app you might have," he said. With the team's app, you get notification of a game beginning. Plus, it's important to pull customers back into the app.

Yet, an app has to deliver on its promise of what the customer is using it for. Citing Delta as an example given by moderator Erin Lynch, VP, Group Executive Creative Director, R/GA, he said it is incredible. "You hear [about a gate change] through push. Think of all the news over the past few days. You probably heard about it through a push notification on your news apps." As for GolfTV, Kassan said it needs to let users know when a livestream starts. And then it becomes more of a storytelling channel.

Ofri suggested three ways to test whether your push notification is worth it, both to you and the customer. "Is it compatible with the core purpose of the digital experience?" he asked. "Does it anticipate or speak to a customer need or pain point? And, three, is timeliness the absolutely important factor?"

Optimizations, he said, are hot topics now. "You can take the same concepts and move to communications as well. We started our push practice with a promotion for a device. Not surprisingly, it was a broad message and got a low click rate and then a very high opt-out. And then that's one of the biggest problems because you can't reach them anymore via that channel. So you should consider the target of the promotion and tweak the message."

As for creative, Albert Thompson, Managing Director, Digital, Walton Isaacson, noted that things in the mobile space are not especially sexy or dramatic. Diligence in understanding when to offer a push message makes the approach to creative more refined.

Ofri said he has seen interesting examples where a company has integrated action into the push notification itself by combining geo-location, product trail, and AR experience with a data-driven personalization layer that speaks to the customer, adding a personal touch.

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