ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Marketing Dive acquired Mobile Marketer in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out the new Marketing Dive site for the latest marketing news.

Location-based, relevant push notifications will reign this holiday season

Push notifications can either be incredibly helpful or terribly annoying for shoppers, and while American consumers are currently enjoying the peak of summer, the holiday season will sneak up soon enough.

Several experts within the field of mobile strategy discuss challenging statistics, fruitful tactics to channel and why they believe push notifications are going to be as popular as mistletoe this holiday season. As retailers and brands are likely formulating strategies this time of year to stand out during the mad rush of shopping, there is a unanimous applause towards relevancy and timeliness while approaching a successful push notification strategy.

?Mobile being the most convenient and prevalent digital tool, combined with the location features of mobile, it is going to further facilitate and motivate consumers to abandon their usual retailers and go to the nearest lowest price provider,? said Derrick Lin, senior mobile strategist at Resource, Columbus. ?Coordinating with other mobile marketing tactics such as SMS or push notifications and geo-location, it will help boost the impact of the tactic on pricing and enable retailers to be more precise on the local store/region level.?

Success thus far
Mobile marketing agency experts name a number of features that have added to the success of push notifications.

?Some of the best push notifications I've seen are triggered based on location,? said Mark Tack, vice president of marketing at Vibes, Chicago. ?Using iBeacons, retailers are able to turn their app into an in-store shopping companion, using beacon-triggered push notifications to help customers navigate the store and discover valuable offers. 

?Push notifications should be fun, relevant alerts that direct consumers to specific pages within an app and/or into stores,? he said. ?Push requires clever marketing and smart segmentations to consistently deliver relevant and timely communications.?

The ugly truth
The success of a push notification program depends on the balance of four key components: frequency, timing, relevance, and value, according to Kevin Jennings, vice president of strategy at Fuzz Productions, New York. 

?A push notification timed just right with a relevant message that delivers true value to the consumer, can truly be a home run for a brand,? he said.

?Consumers are humans. They can immediately recognize when a push notification is self-serving to the brand and delivers no value to them, and they won?t be forgiving.?

Despite discouraging statistics regarding short attention spans and consumers? loyalty towards apps, push notifications, along with mobile wallet solutions and text alerts, could defy these odds just in time for the holidays.

?Brands and retailers make significant investments in their apps, but unfortunately, 80 percent of apps are used once and then deleted according to research from IBM,? Vibes' Mr. Tack said. ?Marketers can start to reverse this trend by turning their apps into a go-to customer communication tool leveraging push notifications. 

?Marketers who are really taking their mobile messaging strategy to the next level are now also orchestrating all push communications with their SMS and mobile wallet communications, such as Passbook and Google Wallet. The key is giving the consumer the option to specify their preferred mobile communication channel.?

Consumer research from Vibes shows that 60 percent of app users opt-in to receive push notifications. 

?Engaging your app downloaders with relevant push content while they're in-store or at home is a great way to drive incremental holiday purchases,? Mr. Tack said. ?Mobile usage has increased every holiday season for the past few years and I expect that trend to accelerate in 2014.?

The desirability
Marketers have spent an immense amount of time wondering whether push notifications are an approach that consumers want to receive. Consumers are more likely to be on board with timely and relative alerts, which can come in handy during the hectic holidays.

?It depends on the value of the message and how relevant it is to the consumer, and marketers shouldn?t assume value means a coupon or discount,? Fuzz Productions' Mr. Jennings said. ?Holidays are fraught with difficult searches for high-demand items. Push notifications that alert customers when inventory for these items is limited, or becomes available, deliver great value to the consumer. 

?Push notifications are a delicate dance between brand and consumer and should be treated as such,? he said. ?It only takes one push too many for a consumer to turn off push notifications from you forever.?

If push notifications are performed the right way, a consumer is likely to be loyal to that brand.

?Push, like any mobile messaging channel, is built on trust between brands and consumers,? Mr. Tack said. ?Consumers will enable app-based push notifications if the messages they receive are timely and relevant.

?If they aren't, then the app will be deleted in less than two seconds. Customers have little patience for push notifications sent out at 2 a.m. and marketers will find no shortage of consumers who voice their complaints and screenshots on Twitter.?

Components of push notifications
Mr. Jennings recommends strategies such as inventory alerts, cart abandonment and order management notifications to focus on while executing push notifications.

?Notifications that alert customers to return and complete their purchase before items held in their cart are released back into inventory deliver great value to the consumer, especially when hard-to-find sizes or high demand items may not be replenished late in the holiday season,? Mr. Jennings said. 

?Regarding order management notifications, ones that alert customers when their order has been received, or is available for in-store pickup, can include a timely, relevant marketing message based on their order to pull them back into the conversion funnel. 

?For example, ?Order 123456 is ready for in-store pickup. Items in your purchase require batteries, did you forget???

The use of specific strategies while attempting a series of push notifications can not only inform the customer of store inventory but can also keep them coming back to the brand.

?If you?re a big box retailer competing on price, allowing the consumer to request push notifications for when items on their wish list are discounted creates tremendous value for the comparison shopper,? Mr. Jennings said. 

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon, editorial assistant for Mobile Marketer, New York