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Push notifications should be integrated into direct marketing, CRM strategies: Forrester

Marketers need to integrate push notifications as part of their overall direct marketing and CRM strategy to take full advantage of this important new opportunity, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

The report, "Push Mobile Engagement to the Next Level," states that push notifications are an important new channel for marketers because these alerts can help increase traffic, optimize app use and drive conversions. As the time spent on apps continues to grow, the importance of push notifications is also growing.

?Push notifications are not necessarily a replacement for email, SMS, and other direct messaging tactics,? said Thomas Husson, Paris-based vice president and principal analyst of the marketing and strategy client group at Forrester as well as author of the report.

?While they offer key benefits over this first generation of mobile messaging tools, they are mostly complementary,? he said.

?Moving forward, we expect to see push notifications integrated as a core component of any direct marketing and relationship program.?

Sophisticated analytics
Push notifications offer some key benefits over other messaging strategies, such as being less interruptive than SMS, providing the ability to view now or later and not as likely to be lost as an email.

Push also offers more sophisticated analytics with in-depth data about delivery receipt, open rate, time and engagement.

The data provided from push notifications can be used to understand how customers react to messages.

Push is also an inexpensive way to reach out to a brand's best customers.

One of the ways that push is expected to complement other messaging and CRM tactics is its extension beyond smartphones and tablets to other connected devices such as TVs, cars, game consoles and wearables. According to Forrester, two major TV operators are planning to launch push notifications soon.

Additionally, a wider variety of marketing vendors is expected to add push notification capabilities.

Heavy users
The report reveal that the more frequently consumers use an app, they more likely they are to receive push notifications. Among European online consumers who receive push notifications or SMS alerts on their mobile phone at least weekly, approximately 60 percent use apps at least daily.

According to Forrester's research, 76 percent of European smartphone-owning online adults who use apps receive push notifications.

There are also differences in push notification use by OS, with more ions users receiving push notifications but more Android users opening them.

However, because ions users have to turn push notifications and then opt-in to receive them from a specific app, this suggests they may be more valuable users.

User control
One of the key takeaways from the report is that users want to be able to set their preferences regarding the type and timing of the content they receive.

The ESPN Score Center is an example of a marketer that is doing a good job letting users personalize their notifications. Users can choose from several different points during a game that they want to receive alerts as well as indicate a quiet time when they do not want to receive any notifications.

What marketers need to keep in mind is that push notifications can be used for many different purposes and that marketers should start using them to benefit their marketing goals.

However, it is important to ensure that notifications are not viewed as intrusive or uninteresting.

To avoid this, marketers should deliver highly relevant alerts that make the most of mobile's unique benefits of intimacy, immediacy and context.

Push notifications can also be used to reach a marketer's loyalty goals by demonstrating the value of an app and pushing out useful content.

An integrated strategy
Marketers should also consider ways to reward their customers at specific moments of engagement to increase satisfaction.

Some of the ways that marketers can use push notifications include to up sell and cross-sell services via targeted offerings, to optimize mobile app usage and to test offerings in real-time.

For some companies, such as media firms, push notifications can also become a core part of the product experience via breaking news notifications.

However, to take full advantage of push notifications marketers must move beyond segmenting their mobile customer base to fully integrate push into their direct marketing and CRM strategy.

?Adding push notifications to your messaging strategy does not mean just adding another type of message to all the messages a marketer already sends to customers,? Mr. Husson said.

?An integrated strategy means making sure that all the messages you send, via any messaging channel, serve common goals and that taken all together, those messages aren?t overwhelming,? he said. ?This implies that you should invest internal resources to define how best to engage customers through different channels ? and avoid outsourcing this strategic task to an agency or a vendor.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York