When Push Comes to Shove Off

Posted on: 08/07/12

When does a push notification push you over the edge?
Social Media Push Notifications for iPhone

As defines push notifications in a recent Mashable article,

“Good push notifications can mean alerting someone at the breakfast table to avoid a traffic jam by taking a different route to work. A bad push would be interrupting a parent with a “limited time offer” when he or she is trying to put a child to bed.”

For me, an offending push notification can warrant three responses:

I’m sure it’s not just me. Push notifications on your smartphone/tablet are likely pushing your buttons, too. After all, their default settings (not unlike any new program you sign up for) are always, “Send any and all notifications.” For me, someone who pays close attention to the scheming of email and push notification marketers, I get angry when I realize I did not block them from my phone/iPad in the first place. I feel sorry for those souls that just can’t figure out how to turn them off and continue to get pushed around by them. It’s just not right.

From toning down the twitter notifications, to that joyous feeling when you finally find the word, “Unsubscribe” at the bottom of those incessant flash sale emails, we all just want some breathing room!

Now that we’ve considered ‘The Bad,” let’s bring text message marketing to the table to get into “The Ugly.”

To me, text messages from brands are always a rude interruption. No, I don’t want your soup 30 miles away. No, I don’t want a SPECIAL OFFER TODAY ONLY for just me, your favorite customer, who’s been to your store once and doesn’t plan on returning any time soon. Text message marketing statistics rave about 95% open rates, but for traditional restaurants and retailers, unless you’re my absolute all-time favorite place and conveniently located down the street, I really don’t want you texting me. {Do you disagree? Tweet us @SocialLightUp if you like marketers being in your ‘Texting Sphere.”)

And finally, we best discuss “The Good.” Yes, despite all of this, I will interrupt this blog post to notify you that push notifications, when used sparingly and correctly, can be good for you and your brand.

Applications that consider everything they know about the user (creepy, yes, but it makes messaging much more relevant by including previous location information, in-app behaviors, stated preferences, and purchase history). For instance, if I’m walking past Starbucks at 8:00am on a Monday morning, and I’m a long-time loyal customer at this location, chances are I would love a coupon for a tall Pike Place right about now.

The second piece of the puzzle (after considering relevancy), comes down to copy. Really smart brands — like Rue La La, TMZ and Airbnb — actually sit down and think about the best voice for their push notifications. They make their notifications fresh, engaging, entertaining and totally on-brand to the point where the brand feels like a human being with whom you’re good friends. If you plan on using push notifications in your marketing mix, proceed with caution, and study what these brands are doing to make sure they don’t get shoved off right away.

By Martha McCarthy, Co-founder & CEO, The Social Lights LLC | Image courtesy of iPhonefreak.com.


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