So you have taken the plunge and created a mobile app for your business.
Excellent! The key questions to ask in your organisation now are these:
- Are you using ‘push alerts’ (also known as ‘push notifications’)?
- Who is doing the pushing, and do they understand the company’s goals?
- When and how often are you using alerts?
- What are you using them for?
- Why are you using push alerts? (to drive sales, offer more convenience, increase loyalty, calls to action)
Push alerts are a technique used by people, businesses or organisations with apps to advise of content updates, messages and other events within an app that users may wish to be aware of. Push alerts are one of the key functions of ‘native apps’, or mobile applications that work on smart phones and tablet devices using the full range of device features such as cameras, etc. Push alerts notify users even when the user is not actively using your application – so the promotional value of alerts can be significant.
So who can receive push alerts? Firstly your customers or stakeholders must have downloaded your app. Then they have to provide permission for you to send alerts to them, either all of your company’s alerts or just the topics they are interested in. For example parents can elect to receive all of their child’s school’s news, or selected year level or class news. A car dealer customer might choose to receive information or offers related to their model of vehicle. A retail customer might only wish to receive information about men’s clothing. A sports fan might only want scores from their team’s games. Many of our AppsWiz clients use their alerts for innovative communications, for example, Illusionist Cosentino reminded his 100,000 plus fans to vote for his TV show in the Logies; the Australian Fighting Championship (AFC) promoted their fights via a pay-per-view function on their app; and one of our personal trainer clients sends motivational messages to her clients.
The audience receiving your push alerts is valuable, and you should think carefully about what information they wish to receive from you. Don’t bombard them unnecessarily and remember they have ‘opted in’ to receive your alerts and you don’t want them to opt out because of the quality or quantity of your alerts.
Think about when and how often you send alerts. Should it be in the morning peak when they are on the train to work? You want each alert to be valued by the recipient, and to be timely. Don’t send an alert about an event happening a month away – it will lose impact and be forgotten. If your information relates to the next 12-24 hours, all the better to get your customers to appreciate the timely announcement and act on it.
Remember that alerts have a maximum display character allocation of just 107 characters, so you need to compose your alerts accordingly. You might also want to have people click directly to a special website landing page, or a section of your website, in which case you will need to include this link or URL. The best information to communicate via alerts is:
- Time dependent (i.e. ending soon, order-by date, auction, event cancellations, etc)
- Important to the user (relates to their interest/product/service/team etc)
- Requires an instant response (buy, add to calendar, order, registration of interest, etc)
98% of push alerts are opened and read instantly on mobile devices. This compares to only a 22% email open rate. So push alerts are powerful in getting the immediate attention of your customers or community, and calling them to action. Think about why you need to alert them and ensure your staff is disciplined in their use.
Push alerts are one of the greatest features of today’s mobile apps, and therefore a valuable marketing tool for your business. And, depending on your app provider, they should be unlimited and free to send! Smart managers should think about all the functions currently undertaken by the business and the reasons why customers need to be contacted; newsletter distribution, car service bookings, appointment reminders, event dates, overdue invoices, time-specific or important information and more. Could many of these functions be successfully accomplished (or replaced) by a push alert?
Remember when a customer gets a push alert, it’s a message from a company they are familiar with and want to hear from. Push wisely!
Dennis Benjamin is the founder and chief executive of mobile apps specialists AppsWiz and the Informatel Group. He is an expert in the areas of mobile trends, mobile apps, apps for businesses, entrepreneurship, and startups.