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Using Mobile Push to Better Engage Customers on Your App

Especially during early stages of purchasing intent and consideration, customers are more often found using mobile devices than desktop – so much so that Marketingland reported that mobile now represents 65% of digital media time, with desktop becoming a “secondary touchpoint.” And whether a customer is using their phone to browse a store’s website or mobile app, marketers need to be sure that they’re delivering a cohesive and continuous experience by reaching out to customers in real-time on the device they’re actively using.

In an effort to explore how leading retailers are leveraging mobile marketing to engage with shoppers and better understand their marketing strategy, I downloaded mobile apps from three retailers and shopped exclusively on those apps – I created my own profiles, browsed merchandise, and left items in my mobile app shopping carts, to observe how the brand would choose to interact with me. And when creating my profiles, I used an email address that I haven’t checked in years, but that’s linked to my Apple ID. I then waited to start receiving push notifications.

And waited.

And waited. Two weeks went by, and despite the fact that I was regularly engaging with each app/each retailer’s merchandise, I didn’t receive a single in-app push notification or mobile message. What was going on? Out of curiosity, I decided to check my inbox on the Apple ID email account – there, I found several emails from all three brands promoting site-wide sales, offering me a welcome discount, and even delivering cart abandonment campaigns to remind me of merchandise that I’d left behind. If I hadn’t gone against my natural inclinations and switched from mobile to email, I wouldn’t have seen these messages at all.

On the one hand, it’s certainly important to leverage mobile push for the right type of message – because of its real-time nature, sending a mobile push message about something that isn’t newsworthy or time-sensitive (like new arrivals or a sale without a definite end date) may feel irrelevant to your customer. And it’s also worth keeping in mind that most customers who use mobile over any other channel often do so under some kind of time pressure –
behavioral economist Dan Ariely published a ThinkWithGoogle article about how the ticking clock narrows a customer’s focus in mobile decision-making.

But if your customers are chiefly engaging with your brand via your mobile in-app messages, it doesn’t make sense to reach out via some other channel. Especially during early stages of purchasing intent and consideration, customers are more often found using mobile devices than desktop – so much so that Marketingland reported that mobile now represents 65% of digital media time, with desktop becoming a “secondary touchpoint.” And whether a customer is using their phone to browse a store’s website or mobile app, marketers need to be sure that they’re delivering a cohesive and continuous experience by reaching out to customers in real-time on the device they’re actively using. At no point in my overall shopping journey with these brands did I switch from my phone to my computer (I only did so when I became concerned at the lack of response from any of the three retailers) – as a result, I missed the opportunity to receive the full value of the campaigns the brands were sending, and the brand missed an even bigger opportunity to engage with me effectively.

The key to reaching your mobile app users where they are and maximize mobile engagement is, first, to keep two important considerations in mind:

1. For every customer who engages with your brand solely on mobile, there’s a customer who channel-hops between devices when shopping – and you need to communicate with each customer individually based on where they are at any given moment. Mobile push can still be utilized for messages that might not seem time-sensitive at face value – when crafted with language that introduces urgency and encourages mobile customers to return to the app.(Click here to learn more about this specific point.)

2. By ensuring that you’re reaching customers where they are, on the channel they’re using, you’ll be able to more successfully deliver personalized messages that are most contextually-relevant to their needs at the right time. Mobile apps should enrich the shopping experience, not encumber it, and when you think about where your mobile customers are at each moment in their shopping journey, you can deliver real-time, opt-in push messages that align with that journey across each channel they’re on.

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