Why Marketers Are Prioritizing In-App Notifications in 2021

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Email has reigned supreme for years, and it will remain a top marketing channel in 2021. As brands head into this completely unexpected year, though, one major trend is signaling that a change in budgeting allocations could be on the horizon.

According to a survey by the cross-channel marketing platform Iterable, in-app and push notifications are primed for a jump in utilization in 2021, as marketers look for smarter ways to take advantage of the boost in mobile usage among consumers during the pandemic.

In surveying 500 B2C marketers, Iterable found that Covid-19 concerns aren’t going away in 2021 — at least not yet. Twenty-nine percent of marketers in Iterable’s survey said the growing demand for convenience and safety is their primary business concern this year. That’s nearly 2x higher than the second biggest concern, which was brand empathy perception by customers. The disruption of customer loyalty also showed up high on brand marketers’ list of concerns.

Although investments in communications and marketing remain high, Iterable found that budgets are shifting. Sixty percent of marketers gained more budget or kept the same budget in 2020, indicating a greater reliance in martech solutions through offerings like curbside pickup, delivery, and in-home entertainment. Marketers are also planning to increase their use of in-app channels this year, along with web push notifications and mobile push notifications.

“In-app, web push, and mobile push notifications are the only channels marketers plan to use more frequently in 2021 than they have previously. This tells us that the sudden boost in consumers’ mobile usage in 2020 pushed marketers to overhaul their customer engagement strategies with a stronger focus on the mobile experience,” says Iterable’s Alyssa Jarrett. “Now that marketers are more comfortable with harnessing mobile channels, we anticipate that more of them will leverage AI-driven tools and zero-party data in 2021 to better personalize their messages and build a more cohesive brand experience.”

Jarrett believes that the boost in mobile usage that occurred during the height of the pandemic will go on to define not only the content of brand marketing in 2021, but also its form and function.

“2021 will be the year that solidifies branded apps as a table-stakes marketing asset across most industries,” she says. “Companies are focusing more on delivering ultra-personalized customer experiences, supported by more detailed customer data. Weilding this data, brands can be more strategic with when and how they communicate with their customers—and what content they share with them—to create more personal experiences that build brand loyalty.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, given marketers’ broad push toward using more in-app notifications, is Iterable’s finding that 11% of B2C companies without an app don’t plan on building one next year. Currently, more than 60% of companies have a mobile app. Given the habits consumers have developed around mobile apps during the pandemic, Jarrett says brands that aren’t delivering on mobile experiences are putting themselves at risk of being left behind.

“Getting personal is exactly what’s needed to gain market share as consumers continue to reduce spending during the pandemic,” she says.

In their quest for increased personalization, Jarrett expects to see more brands adding to their martech stacks in 2021, with the highest growth in marketing automation, data warehouses, and customer data platforms. Although top-line business priorities will likely remain more or less the same from last year, Iterable’s survey found that 65% of marketers say they are focusing on increasing new customer acquisition and 44% are focusing on improving data management.

“If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that predicting the future is impossible,” Jarrett says. “With Covid-19 still impacting day-to-day business and customer engagement, the biggest stories in martech this year will hinge on how well companies listen to their customers, how they react to consumers habits and concerns, and how seamlessly they can navigate ongoing shutdowns and reopenings using the technology available to them.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.