Notifications Will Kill the App

Robert Leefmans
Aug 20 2015
Posted in Announcements & Events

The apps that we use most ask for attention through push notifications

When you ask people how many apps they have on their phone, they usually answer about 50 or so. The real answer is that 119 apps, on average, are on our phones. So our estimation is way off, probably because we don’t use many of our apps. The apps that we use most are apps that ask for attention through push notifications. But excessive or irrelevant notifications are irritating and can lead to the app getting kicked off the phone. Surely there’s a better way?

In general, consumers find the push notifications of apps irritating and unwanted. Who wants all kinds of advertising and pointless messages on his or her phone anyway? Unless the messages are actually useful, such as a social media update from a good friend, or a message telling you your train is delayed. And taking it one step further, could push notifications play an even bigger part in helping to reach consumers? I think the mobile channel is going to be the best and most important way to achieve customer and audience engagement. The context-sensitive notification will be the centerpiece. It is even conceivable that it will surpass the app itself. Notifications will kill the app.

Unimaginably Close Reach

At this moment there are approximately two billion smartphone users in the world. 77% of these users download the apps that belong to their favorite brands or companies. And 70% of smartphone owners say “yes” to notifications. Add up all the numbers and there’s a business case waiting to happen that is every marketer’s dream. Think about it. Consumers always have their mobile phone with them and it is almost never turned off. What’s more almost everyone carries their phone on their person and can reach their phone in a matter of seconds. This makes the consumer hyperconnected and the smartphone hyperpersonal. Never before could the marketer get so close to his target group. And because the phone is always where its owner is, companies can reach out to their customers at exactly the right moment and in the right location; when they are open to a message.

Context is King

Marketing is all about timing. If I receive a discount voucher in the mail from my favorite sneaker shop, it remains to be seen if I’ll ever use it. I might not be into buying sneakers at that moment, because maybe I’m working, or hanging on the couch watching the news. But if I receive the exact same offer while I am out and about, in the shopping streets, or better yet at the very moment I step into my favorite sneaker shop, everything changes. At that moment I am open to the discount offer. If a company sends me an offer at the right moment, it will work as a direct trigger to pick out a new pair of sneakers. In other words: Context is king. Now this definitely doesn’t meant that King Content is being ousted. But it does mean that the effectiveness of the content is determined by the context, which can make the content considerably more relevant for a specific group of clients.

Diaper App


It’s my considered opinion that notifications are going to beat the mobile app in the long run. Apps very soon will be merely vehicles on which messages reach their target audience. At exactly the right moment and in the right location. Apps may even only be opened after receiving a relevant and high-value notification first. Now the customer can decide what to do next: Take the voucher to the shop, make an online purchase, pick up a previous order or look at a map to see how to get there. Isn’t that exactly what you want as a brand? Qualitative and personal interaction with the customer, instead of the classic but outdated “spray and pray.” The mobile telephone is becoming the center of all B2C marketing. At the moment we are still primarily looking at applications for the retail or events sector, but the possibilities are endless. Here’s a great example from a well-known diaper brand: An app – linked to a sensor in the baby’s diaper – that sends notifications when the diaper needs changing. And it even keeps track of your how many diapers you still have! An amusing joke, or the customer engagement of the future?

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