According to a new global survey from Apigee, 85 percent of smartphone users say they would rather "give up drinking water" than delete their mobile apps. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that so many marketers are racing to build engaging apps that consumers can embrace - both with their attention and their wallets.
But here's the challenge: developing a smart mobile app that consumers like is one thing; getting them to engage regularly with it is another. It's a challenge that all brands face, which is why push notifications - the stream of alerts that spin out of a particular app - have become as ubiquitous as the apps themselves. Recent research by Urban Airship even suggests that in some cases push notifications can boost an app's usage by as much as 540 percent.
So how can you get the most from your app and use push to engage and build a powerful community? Here are 10 tips:
Connect the data. Encourage consumers to register after downloading an app and allow push notifications. Then, tie registration data to the master customer record or CRM database. This will allow you to leverage the customer data to target and orchestrate relevant cross-channel messaging, including push notifications.
Be selective. Don't be pushy. If you overwhelm your customers with notifications, you'll pay a price when they turn them off. Instead, focus on timely, relevant notifications that add value and enhance the customer experience. Do your homework - monitor consumer behaviors to inform frequency and then set frequency caps accordingly to help manage and avoid burnout.
Be relevant. Understand what your customers want - and then deliver it. Tap into the copious amounts of the first-party customer data you have to build valuable communications and offers. Consider triggering push notifications based on behaviors (e.g., didn't open an email) or new product availability based on past purchase behavior to maximize success and avoid message overload.
Be informative. Provide messaging and be of service to make your users' lives easier. JetBlue and other airlines use push to alert passengers of flight changes, including delays. Walgreens pushes out notifications to customers to alert them to refill their prescriptions. Live Nation can tap into a user's music downloads to notify app users when their favorite artists are performing nearby.
Be timely. Use GPS location technology to deliver special offers to a consumer's mobile device based on her location. Seamless, the online food delivery service, uses geo-targeting and push to detect a user's location, fill in a delivery address, and display neighborhood restaurants that can deliver to the address.
Be generous. Mobile users love a good deal. While mobile coupons make up less than 1 percent of all coupons today, they comprise 10 percent of all coupons redeemed - convenience matters. Cosmetics retailer Sephora, for instance, uses push notifications to alert customers to special offers.
Get customer feedback. Think about win-back, but make sure to have a strategy. One way to win the hearts of inactive users is to understand why they left and then address their issues. Use surveys, focus groups, and other channels to understand customer needs and develop the necessary content and offers to win them back.
Think content. Content is the key to keeping users engaged. Develop unique content through content partnerships based on your users' interests and keep it fresh so users come back for more.
Be polite and considerate. Borrow a page from telemarketers and never "buzz" during dinner. Utilize "local push" to avoid sending notifications that wake customers too early in the morning or late at night. Add a feedback button and give users the ability to rate the app. Make setting preferences easy, including the ability to opt out of push and turn off location.
Integrate your social communities and encourage sharing. Integrate social networking options that give users the ability to check into venues, for example, and then tap into that information to provide relevant deals or offers. Finally, encourage users to review and share their favorite products to extend the reach and positive word-of-mouth for your brand and products.
For more tips and best practices on engaging your customers on mobile, download my company's Mobile Success Guide.
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Michael Della Penna is senior vice president of emerging channels at Responsys. His responsibilities include spearheading the overall strategic direction, partnerships, and solution offering across emerging channels including social and mobile for the company. Michael is a seasoned marketing professional with a long, proven track record of launching successful marketing, branding, and sales strategies for leading public and private companies. Most recently, Michael founded SuiteDialog, a full-service email and social CRM agency that helps brands ignite conversations and cultivate relationships with customers across the social web. Prior to SuiteDialog, Michael founded Conversa Marketing, a social CRM company that was acquired by StrongMail Systems in 2010. Before branching out on his own, Michael served as chief marketing officer for Epsilon, a leading provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing services. Michael's other key marketing leadership roles include CMO at Bigfoot Interactive, VP of strategic development at CNET Networks, Inc., and VP of marketing at ZDNet. Michael received a B.B.A. and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University.