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How marketers can leverage revamped iOS notification widget

As marketers begin to get a feel for iOS 8?s capabilities, it is clear that the software is an enabler for highly targeted and location-driven mobile marketing efforts, and marketers should take advantage by integrating their apps with features such as the notification widget.

While experts are still skeptical of the widget, due to a lack of experience with it, it could be a great tool to reach consumers. Beacons have been a driver of location-based efforts in 2014, so the new location capabilities in the notification widget could be a game changer.

?Location based notifications, if opted in by users, are an extremely powerful marketing mechanism especially via a timely banner or alert,? said Rob Hoxie, vice president of business development and partnerships at Atimi Software, New York. ?Relying on this same functionality from the widgets section of the notification center has debatable merit as users are not accessing that panel frequently in my experience.?

Background, moving forward
The notification widget is the temporary disposal of all push notifications. If users happen to miss one, they can easily locate it in their widget. 

New with iOS 8, the widget is more customizable than ever. Users can opt in or out of seeing their calendar, weather, stocks, reminders and more. And now, marketers can link their apps with it, and users also have the option to see notifications from their apps or not.

Equipped with the weather, users? daily calendar and upcoming appointments, the widget is a convenient location for brands to show consumers their reliability. During idle time is the most likely occasion that consumers check their notifications in the widget.  

Some iPhone users may have noticed a new notification in their widget that considers current traffic conditions in real-time and alerts the user to how long it would take to drive home. 

It can be found at the top of the widget directly under the weather update.

?IOS location services tracks users' frequent locations and can surmise where home is if the user hasn?t identified that via other mechanisms,? Mr. Hoxie said.
Mobile marketing is undoubtedly being driven by location these days. 

With many large-scale retailers, and even smaller companies, leveraging mobile's ability to recognize a consumer's location, it is clear that marketers should get involved as many consumers are interested in receiving contextual offers.

The quick growth in beacons this year is a good example of location's importance in mobile marketing. 

?Location-based offers are one capability enabled by beacons,? said Jordan Gray, manager of creative labs at Organic. ?However, early beacon tests show that it's best to make a single offer per store visit. 

?Engagement after the first offer-per-visit tends to drop dramatically, but CTA for the first offer are high,? he said. ?Even more important than being able to notify in-store consumers is the data collection that beacons enable. 

?Another thing to keep in mind is that while beacons have been rolled out at some major retailers, only a small fraction of consumers about, 1 percent, have BLE enabled on their devices.?

Unique cases
Brands, retailers and platforms can use the notifications widget in unique ways to best display content.

For example, users that have the LinkedIn app can add it to their widget and will see recent profile views and connection requests, and users of the Rue La La app can see displays of items currently available for purchases. When enlisted, the OpenTable app provides users a list of any upcoming reservations.

Most importantly, quality will always trump quantity. Marketers need not to send too many notifications, or users will undoubtedly become deterred and could end the connection altogether by deleting the app.

?Users are already cautious about enabling notifications for apps,? Mr. Gray said. "If an app is putting out too many updates there's risk of users deleting it, which is quicker than digging through settings to disable notifications. 

"Retailers should consider notification widgets as one of the tools in their box as they design user experiences and look at consumer journeys rather than starting with notification widgets and saying, ?let?s build an experience around this,?? he said.

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York