The Power of Push

After months of drafting out your latest marketing campaign and carefully choosing the perfect and most incisive language to draw your customer in to the merits of your company, there is nothing more deflating than your e-mail being unceremoniously overlooked by the intended viewer. Or, if you happen to inadvertently target the savvier consumer within your demographic, your e-mail will never see the light of day as it resides wasting away in the forsaken refuse bin known as the dreaded junk mail folder. Indeed, studies have shown that the average open rate of all e-mails sits at a meagre 20%, which is indicative of internet users being able to choose which messages to read and which to instantly delete.

However, it appears that the recent rise of the push notification is providing a welcome antidote to this pressing problem. A marketing tool that plays on the startling fact that everyone seems to own a Smartphone (there are a reported 43 million in use in the United Kingdom and over 200 million in the U.S ) each of which contain an average of 41 applications per person, push notifications send alerts about new app content directly to the mobile phone user.

Unlike e-mails, push notifications do not need to be opened in the traditional sense as they instantly appear on the home screen of a user’s phone and are normally accompanied by a sound alert. This marketing strategy can pay dividends in two ways. Firstly, this process establishes a more intimate and interactive bond with the consumer, with a company’s pro-active updating on the latest changes to their applications or games generating a sense of customer satisfaction. Secondly, whereas many people have now become immune to the persuasive nature of marketing e-mails, the user will have to unlock their phone screen and read a push message before deleting it. Therefore, even if the recipient elects to decline the notification, they will still absorb and internalise this information, which leaves a lasting impression. Unfortunately, much like e-mail, many users have the choice to opt out of receiving these messages but this should not occur if notifications are timely, relevant and sent out in moderation, some tips on which can be found here.

Regardless of these fundamental rules, push notifications have developed a reputation for being invasive and irritating, with many companies abusing this tool and failing to utilise its full potential. Therefore, the key to the effective usage of the push notification resides in adopting a more personal approach to keep users loyal and engaged. Certainly, in acknowledgement of push notification popularity, Apple’s latest operating system, iOS7, boasts more innovative ways of communicating push messages to the consumer. iOS7 enables owners of other smart technology, such as Pebble Watches, to receive dual coded push notification alerts (sports updates, weather changes) directly to the wrist to ensure that the recipient is kept in the loop whether they are enjoying a meal, engaged in the middle of a run or whilst they are being put through their paces at the local gym. A smart way to maximise connectivity and engagement.

The new system also makes use of iBeacons to develop ‘context-aware’ messages that can appear on a user’s phone interface as they walk into a particular high street or retail store. Acting as a type of virtual shop assistant, these notifications inform the recipient of the latest deals and guides them through the store, helping customers on their journey through the shop. However, it seems that Apple is not the only mobile brand embracing the awesome marketing potential of push notifications with Foursquare developing an initially Android-exclusive application that works on a similar premise to iOS7’s iBeacons. Described by Foursquare as a ‘feature that is like a sixth sense: proactive recommendations of things you didn’t even know you were looking for’, this push innovation accurately tracks user location and recommends places of interests to visit and restaurants to feast in. Placing the needs of the customer at the forefront whilst simultaneously facilitating business revenue, this Android service, in the same vein as iBeacons, re-establishes up-to-date and direct communication with the consumer instead of attempting to market products through the archaic method of the cold and detached e-mail.

Linking to both Apple and Android’s preoccupation with generating more user-orientated and specific push notifications, here at Dojit, we have adopted a similar ideology in the game-playing world. We have developed Dojit-notify, a notification service that works on the same premise as both iBeacons and Foursquare, but substitutes the messages that these applications send based on a user’s real-world location with notifications delivered in relation to a player’s progression through a certain game. Instead of sending retail offers directly to a handset, Dojit-notify creates relevant and bespoke in-game messages to keep each individual player stimulated and feeling like a valued customer.

Notify is based around the concept of ‘recipes’, a system that controls the frequency with which tailor-made notifications are sent to users, usually in the guise of cheat codes. This ‘context aware’ system places the needs of each single gamer above everything else and optimises their in-game engagement, providing an effective key to unlocking the increasingly fractured relationship that companies now have with their consumers, and re-awakening an invaluable trust between the two parties.

With much more faith being plowed into push notifications by companies using Apple (visible in iOS7’s list of push improvements and the reported 7.4 trillion messages that have been sent to app-users through the iCloud) and Android mobile systems as an alternative to resorting to e-mail to drum up potential revenue, it appears that a swift new strategy is staking a claim in the world of online and technological marketing. If push notifications can find the balance between annoying and informative, they can be more successful than e-mails in pulling in and keeping consumers using their games and applications.