Getting Pushy with Notifications Can Pay Off with Millennials

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With the volume and velocity of messaging in the digital economy increasing seemingly exponentially, brands everywhere need to weigh not only what information and content they share but also how much and the delivery channel they use. When it comes to highly connected millennials who use location-based apps, brands and retailers stand a good chance of cutting through the clutter with push notifications.

In a survey of 500 U.S. millennials commissioned by Retale, a location-based mobile and digital company that connects shoppers with local retailers, 84 percent of respondents said they act on push notifications they receive. An even higher percentage (89 percent) indicated they likely would take action on a notification from a favorite brand, demonstrating again that loyal customers tend to be the best customers.

Those are extraordinarily high engagement rates, but then again, millennials have the reputation of never putting down their phones. My.com research cited by eMarketer found that millennials spent more time than older consumers on nearly all mobile communication activities other than email.

Their reliance on their smartphones extends to location services. In the Retale study, use of location-based apps was near-universal, reaching 94 percent of respondents. That indicates a solid base for brands and retailers looking to connect their content with their customers’ context.

Coupons/discounts (61 percent) and customer rewards (61 percent) topped the list of millennials’ preferred types of information, followed more distantly by new product information and sale availability, at 35 percent, nearby store locations and store hours, also at 35 percent, and receipts after completing a purchase, at 27 percent. In-store guidance providing product location information finished at the bottom of the list, cited by just 16 percent of respondents.

Everyone likes to be in on a deal, but as beacons become more commonplace, retailers and their technology partners have begun thinking about ways to use mobile beyond as an efficient coupon delivery channel. Yext’s recently announced Xone, a beacon-based program for businesses to engage in-store consumers with relevant content, fits that mold. With Xone, businesses can deliver a range of information, from Wi-Fi codes and new product information to standard-issue sales promotions to incentives to download a brand’s app or become a social media fan or follower. One way participating businesses may use a program like Xone is to start by providing utility and move progressively to deeper engagement.

Relevance, frequency, and timing are key factors in making such a sequence work. In the Retale study, insufficient relevance (39 percent) was the top reason why respondents did not act on a notification, followed closely by complaints about intrusiveness (34 percent). One-quarter also said they received too many notifications and 11 percent stated those they received were “poorly timed.”

Being push-y can work for brands and retailers, especially with an always-on demographic like millennials, but as the Retale survey indicates, basic rules of engagement still apply.

Noah Elkin is Street Fight’s managing editor.

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