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How marketing and IT can collaborate for push success

Walk into a retailer’s corporate office, and you’ll find the marketing department sitting on one side of the office and the IT gurus sitting on the other. With many channels, one department has ultimate responsibility. Yet with push notifications, the lines are blurred, and collaboration between marketing and IT is essential.

To understand why, let’s start with the basics of how push works. Push is the official channel for communicating with users who have downloaded an app to their smartphone, tablet or other connected device. Most apps are created from scratch, often with the help of third party app development companies.

In the early days of mobile, IT owned app development from concept to execution. This meant solutions were evaluated through an IT lens. For example, are the APIs powerful yet easy to integrate? As the mobile industry has matured, marketers are now taking primary responsibility by guiding app direction and strategy, while IT continues to manage the technical solution.

4 keys to valuable teamwork

Achieving success with the push channel is a team effort. Here are four tips for maximizing marketing and engineering collaboration for push:

1. Be proactive about how you’re going to use push.

Many marketers know that they want the push channel but they are unsure how they want to use it. Crafting your push channel strategy early is vital. Why? App development is a time consuming process, often taking three or six months — or more. Communicating your strategy with IT early enough ensures the push SDK, software for integrating with a push provider, is implemented with an eye toward how you plan to use the channel. Without this proactivity, the marketer may be left with a simple implementation that can only support blast ad hoc messages.

2. Personalize the experience.

All too often marketers resort to sending broadcasted push messages, but since customers control the conversation, only relevant, individualized messages are effective. When thinking about push strategy, marketers and engineers should consider building a preference center to let customers opt in and out of specific content. For example, a customer may want to be alerted whenever a new shoe collection is released, but not everyone wants to be messaged about shoes. Reverting to blasts is a great way to encourage customers to delete your app.

3. Understand the capabilities of push.

As you are crafting your push strategy, understand the full range of capabilities offered by your push provider. For example, does the SDK collect signals that you can utilize to segment users not just by interest but also with device-specific information? If you could segment your customers by local time zone and language settings, how would your strategy differ? For example, with this device data, marketers can send daily deal notifications at the most opportune time of the day and create language-aware campaigns.

Understanding what signals are collected by your push SDK can inform your other messaging strategies across email, SMS, display and social.

4. Don't rush into location-based technology.

iBeacons and geofencing are an exciting opportunity to add location context to your push strategy. However, think about your push strategy in stages. Location-based messaging requires a careful balance of user privacy and messaging frequency. In addition, location services can lead to excessive battery drain, if utilized too often.

Field testing is important with location-based messaging. For example, let's say a customer passes two Starbucks locations as she walks a few blocks down 16th Street in downtown Denver. It would be pretty annoying to receive four or five push notifications prompting her that a caramel latte is within reach. Instead of motivating her to make a purchase, the customer becomes annoyed because she's been over-messaged. Kinks like this can crop up if marketers rush into location-based technology without proper testing.

Marketers and IT must work together to get the most out of push notifications. Mature push solutions offer capabilities that appeal to both departments and will help you achieve success in your strategy.

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