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Mobile marketing: 5 tips for personalizing push notifications

Consumers love mobile shopping apps. In fact, Responsys research shows that more than half of all consumers have downloaded apps from their favorite brands and, of those, 68 percent have enabled the alerts known as push notifications. Push not only promises to build customer loyalty, but it also drives unplanned purchases.

Digital marketers recognize the power of push, and are aggressively integrating these alerts into their mobile strategies. There's only one problem: push notifications often lack the personalized experience that drives customer engagement in other channels. Instead, many marketers adopt the "batch and blast" mentality with push, just like they once did with email. But just as marketers learned that mass-produced, generic messages don't work in email, they're learning, too, that mass-produced, generic messaging doesn't work with push.

What does work? A consistent, relevant and personalized experience for the customer, whether they're researching products via a smartphone, clicking on an email offer or walking past a beacon in your store.

The right — and wrong — way to send alerts

Let's take a closer look at push through the popular "daily deal" alert. While third-party services like Groupon, LivingSocial and Fab have stumbled in the market for daily discounts offered by local businesses, individual retailers are finding that customers love the discounts. Of the 57 percent of consumers who have downloaded apps from their favorite brands, half say they did it to access special or exclusive offers.

And while customers are choosing to download retailers' apps, if the messages aren't personalized, retailers will lose customers' attention — and business.

Take Best Buy and Amazon. The two large retailers follow different strategies for their daily deal push notifications. Best Buy sends customers the same message from one day to the next: “View today’s Deal of the Day. Quantities are limited.” The message is the same for everyone, regardless of what products the customer has bought or looked for in the past. Best Buy makes it too easy for customers to tune out.

Now consider Amazon. The retailer sends a series of "Gold Box" deals every day, with each one directly promoting a different product that targets distinct customer segments based on purchase and browsing histories. It almost goes without saying that a customer is more likely to consider a deal on a new stroller after buying an infant car seat than she is a new stereo. 

Little changes to strategy, big increases in customer loyalty

When retailers introduce push notifications, too often they opt for the most simplistic, automated way possible. Here's a little secret: it doesn't take a lot of effort to deliver messages that are personal, yet automated. Here are five ways to make a little effort with a daily alert program go a long way toward boosting sales — and building customer relationships that last.

  1. Welcome customers. When a customer signs up for push notifications, kickstart the personalized messages by welcoming the customer — for example, send a push message immediately after he signs up that says “Thanks for signing up to receive push notifications, Ken.”
  2. Integrate content across channels. Part of ensuring a consistent customer experience is orchestrating messages regardless of the channel. For example, Amazon sends shipping notifications that arrive at the same time on SMS, push and email — assuming the customer has selected all three as preferred notification methods — to alert a customer that his package will be delivered within minutes. The messages that Amazon delivers not only are consistent in their reach, but also in their look and feel.
  3. Use customer data. Instead of sending a generic message to every customer, Gilt Groupe pulls customized recommendations based on the customer’s behavior to suggest three sales from the 150 offers available. It’s a “top three sales for you” message instead of generic “sales that start now” approach, Jason John, the vice president of marketing at Gilt Groupe, told Mobile Commerce Daily.
  4. Let customers opt down. Many email marketers let customers choose the type of messaging they receive. The same strategy should apply to push notifications. For example, within the app, customers can check whether they’d like to receive daily deals, shipping and delivery alerts, or new product arrivals for specific categories.
  5. Pay attention to engagement levels. While daily deals are sent routinely at the same time every day, marketers should pay attention to whether or not a customer is opening the mobile app after the push notification is sent. If a customer isn’t engaging, the retailer should send the daily deals with a different call-to-action. For example, send a notification saying, “We’ve missed you. Check out our most popular sweater, now on sale in a variety of colors.”

What other ways have you seen retailers personalize daily deals content? Please share in the comments below.

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