Messaging: An Integral Part of a Mobile Application
The publishers of these smartphone apps, be it an independent Developer or an Enterprise, have a challenge at their hands that is how to keep end user engaged and keep user away from that App Delete button. A smartphone app interacts with a user on one-to-one basis, providing continuous value and fresh content to such a user via app is the key to longevity of an app on a smartphone. Otherwise there is a high chance that this app will be uninstalled.
For the app publishers, the question is, what can I do to make my application hold its space (rather memory space) in end user's smartphone? This question is same as what a Marketing Manager will ask, how can he make his product relevant to the target audience and provide them value so that customers come again and again to buy it? This is not an easy question to answer in a meeting with a Marketing Manager, but in Smartphone's context the Internet (GPRS/EDGE/3G/4G or Wi-Fi) enabled "Smartphone Push Notification" (or just Push Notification - PN) provides a direct one way channel to the app publishers for engaging customers via text/image/audio or video messages. This gives app publishers a one-way ticket to provide fresh content/updates to the users.
All prominent Smartphone OS platforms now provide push notification feature into their platforms, this includes Apple, Android OS, BlackBerry and WindowsPhone OS. Smartphone push notifications are real time, direct and in most cases free of cost to the app publishers.
How a Push Notification enabled smartphone app adds value consider this example, an ABC Bank has published a mobile Banking App at App Stores; its customer have downloaded the app and registered to use it. This mobile Banking app is installed on customers' smartphones with internet connectivity. Now ABC Bank can send Text/Audio/Video Push Notifications in real time to its customers. These notifications could be alerts on transactions, account activity, promotional coupons, product details etc.
Benefit derived are real time alert sending, customer having better control of his account activity (in case of any fraudulent activity he would get alert immediately, provided smartphone data channel is on), sending relevant advt. to customer and establishment has opportunity to cross sell its products.
Once a user has installed the app, now it is up to the App Publisher that how can he keep providing continuous engagement points and keep the app fresh on a smartphone. To increase this app relevance factor Push Notifications can play a very differentiating role. By differentiating we mean; the apps that do not engage customer via messaging are more prone to be uninstalled than the ones that do.
In broader sense the smartphone apps can be categorized in two ways:
- Apps that are internet enabled and transport user centric data to and fro.
- Apps that are not internet enabled and are meant to increase user's productivity.
First category of apps encompasses most of the smartphone apps, and these apps can very well use the Smartphone Messaging. Some of the guidelines to use Push Notification Messaging effectively:
- Tell your app users that you will send them Push Notification messages. Responsible Publishers of the apps generally tell the app user that they can opt in and opt out of the push messaging service at the app. Sending customer relevant content via push notification. Since a customer gives his nod to receive push messages, publisher should not engage in sending irrelevant advt., coupons, texts etc., this may annoy users and they can very well identify the app and uninstall it.
- Know your app user (that would also be your product/service user) little better. Smartphone apps do not exist in isolation; businesses develop and distribute these apps to serve their customer better. For example a bank's mobile banking app is there to server customers on go, such a bank would anyway have the purchase patterns and spending habits data from credit or online payment usage. Such a Bank can use push notification along with location based services to send highly targeted advt. and coupons to their customers on smartphone (like a customer whose credit card transactions have good amount of books purchases can be sent book discount coupons or deals from book stores nearby, via push notification).
A properly planned app with push notification use cases can help the business grow faster with smartphone user base. Second category can also use push notification and local notifications to engage customers but push notification bears more results if the apps are account based.
Smartphone Messaging is no doubt an important tool in hands of the App Publishers, to use it effectively is equally important. Push Messaging delivery mechanism can be enhanced by devising feedback mechanism and user interactivity features to make it a two way communication channel, recollect that push notification is one way channel from app publishers to app users. When used responsibly and with customer specific content the push notification can make your app highly relevant to the end users, they will not uninstall an app that gives so much value to them.