Is there a platform in existence that is more personal than mobile? It’s literally in the palm of your customer’s hand. While omnipresent — and practically omniscient — connections to your customers are compelling, mobile isn’t always a case of more is more. Instead, good mobile messaging comes down to respecting the intimate nature of the platform — as well as the relationships you build through it — and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of different types of mobile communications and engagements.
Navigating the World of Mobile Messaging
Here’s a quick summary to better acquaint you with today’s mobile-messaging options.
Push notifications are messages that are sent from an app to someone’s mobile device. Done right, they’re undeniably powerful — and, for brands lacking massive creative teams, they’re simple and straightforward. Further, they provide an opportunity for deep linking into the app — pulling users in to create or continue valuable experiences. Unsurprisingly, the key is to leverage the trust you’ve built with users so you can extend the relationships even further — ultimately, benefitting you both.
An important first step for using push notifications is to make sure you truly understand what your users want to do with your app — and then, help them accomplish that with notifications. Identifying the purpose of your message — for instance, you might send operational notifications (“Your prescription is ready for pickup.”) or marketing messages (“Check out our new spring collection!”) — also helps determine how to measure its effectiveness. When sending operational notifications, you can measure success by looking at how many users opened the app from the push notification. On the other hand, you can measure the success of marketing messages by looking at the number of users who fulfilled the call to action.
Push notifications have drawbacks to consider too. For starters, your target audience must be convinced to not only have your app, but also opt in to receive notifications. The opt-in rate varies by industry but averages about 40 percent — quite high when compared with email. However, push notifications tend to be very short, so recipients can often read them regardless whether they actually swipe them open. Therefore, they can feel a bit more invasive if they aren’t relevant and valuable. So, ensure your opt-in is ripe with value — and more importantly, that you deliver on that value.
With regard to trust and intimacy, SMS messaging — also known as text messaging — has a lot in common with push notifications. However, text messaging can also be used to enable two-way communications between brands and their customers. Ultimately, the power of texting lies in the fact that it is both incredibly abundant nowadays, and people are comfortable with it — four in five adults use text messaging, and 97 percent of mobile users send at least one text per day. What’s more, 90 percent of all texts are read within three minutes. When you send a text to your audience, you know they will not only see it, but also engage with it.
Still, as with most things, there are some drawbacks for marketers to think about. While SMS can be great for promotional and authentication purposes, it poses a few limitations on goals beyond that. For example, while push notifications allow for deep linking into the brand experience via the app — allowing marketers to create engaging and continuous app and brand experiences — SMS does not offer a way to invite customers deep into your app with a single click.
It can feel limiting to consumers as well. It’s probably not the ideal platform for information that customers may need to access later — think receipts or confirmation codes, for example — because texts are trickier to search through than emails. So, if you’re sending valuable, long-term information to a customer, it may be best to look at other options.
There are key benefits to mobile email beyond just these types of account-related messages. Communications — user achievements, milestones, and other badges of honor, for instance — are touchpoints that consumers will likely want to hold onto. In cases such as these, email tends to win. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “Will the consumer need or want this message at some point in the future?” If the answer is “Yes,” email away. It takes people an average of 6.5 hours to view an email but only 15 minutes to view texts and push notifications.
Mobile Social Messaging
Unsurprisingly — with constant reimagining and refreshing to meet consumers’ latest wants, needs, and even demands — mobile is one of the fastest-growing platforms available. Because brands are unable to push messages to consumers they don’t know or have permission to chat with, the communication flow from mobile social messaging tends to be more welcomed, more positive, and more warranted — users actually want to hear from brands they are connected with and will likely act on high-value messaging.
For instance, some of the most successful businesses on the platform are using mobile to offer real-time customer support and inspire other two-way communications with users, cutting back on wait times and enhancing overarching brand experiences. The WhatsApp social-messaging platform clocks engagement rates at around 70 percent — much higher than Facebook and with virtually no barrier to engagement once you’re in. Because WhatsApp doesn’t allow marketing, media, or ads, brands are free to engage with users one-on-one with messages that are sure to be relevant and engaging.
In addition, Chatbots like WeChat offer consumers the opportunity to seamlessly ask for and receive perfectly personalized and real-time brand experiences at all points of their customer journeys. In some parts of the global market, in fact, major brands are creating chatbots instead of websites to offer consumers what they want at their fingertips, alongside humanlike engagement opportunities and personalized customer service.
While you’ll need to work harder to generate consumer engagement, the payoff is well worth the time. These new platforms not only enhance brands’ abilities to deliver personalized experiences, but also take loyalty to the next level.
Building Trust and Loyalty for the Future
All it takes is one click for a customer to unsubscribe and be gone forever. So, as with anything else, it’s important to determine the right mobile channel (or channels) for your business — and, in most cases, that involves a more iterative testing process.
It’s better to have a well-articulated, high-value outreach than something cutting edge that totally misses the mark. Test, analyze, optimize — and test again. And, above all, remind yourself of the power you possess, because — for the first time ever — you, your brand, and your message can, quite literally, be in the palms of your consumers’ hands in highly targeted, entirely one-on-one ways.
At the end of the day, that is powerful — more powerful than anything we’ve ever seen on this scale. So, go ahead — send a (perfectly timed, highly personal, incredibly valuable) message.