Philip Ellis
News & Views
Push notifications can help tell a brand story

From breaking news to social media alerts, the push notification is a ubiquitous part of daily life — and something that media brands have mastered, for the most part. Bringing content to an audience is mission-critical for publishers, and organisations like BuzzFeed, the BBC, the New York Times and Twitter have all nailed the art of the breaking news message.

Now a growing number of brands are using push notifications as a way to reach and engage customers. AdWeek reports that this year’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday push notification marketing growth surpassed email and SMS marketing by more than 120 per cent. Marketers sent out 2.7 times as many alerts on Black Friday as usual, and customers interacted with those alerts 2.6 times more than usual.

Interestingly, some of the organisations seeing results in this are aren’t necessarily the ones using push notifications as a medium to advertise sales or discounts, but rather embracing it as a way of telling their brand story.

“Sure, we can use them to drive a product, a promotion… but more often than not, we find great engagement with just funny one-liners, like the notion of a tweet in push form,” says Tom Montgomery, co-founder of male apparel retailer Chubbies, whose app sends customers corny-but-entertaining “dad joke” messages as a way of standing out from other promotional messages. “Push is a solid content opportunity for us and one that we are still experimenting with.”

“For years, folks have imagined a scenario where consumers are walking by a Starbucks and get an offer for their favourite drink that causes them to buy coffee,” writes AdWeek’s Lauren Johnson. “By and large, that situation has never played out, so brands are starting to get more creative in how they rethink push notifications for the branded apps that they’ve poured huge investments into over the past few years.”

However, Thomas Walle, CEO of location data platform Unacast, believes that proximity campaigns have a part to play in driving offline purchases. It’s just about finding the right metrics, and perhaps allowing customers to opt in to which retailers send them coupons and brand news. He cites a campaign by Notify Nearby which used a combination of geofencing and beacons to send customised alerts to customers at a shopping centre, which saw 52 per cent of recipients visit the stores, and 28 per cent make a purchase. “It’s hard to measure real life,” he says, “people are constantly on the move… accuracy matters. You need to know if a person is standing outside a Macy’s or shopping on the fifth floor.”

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