Great mobile messaging strategies don’t just appear out of thin air. They’re the result of hard work, yes. But they also require some deep reflection about what differentiates your brand and your customers.

A great mobile messaging strategy is a powerful thing. Without one, no app stands a chance of fulfilling its potential as a tool for engagement and conversation. You probably have most of the building blocks of a mobile strategy in place, which we covered in our previous post. And we bet you’re looking to build on your early success.

Here are the tactics that bring brands past the basics. In other words, past the functionality that customers have come to regard as table stakes. These are the tactics that will help your messages, and your app, stand out in the crowd, becoming an indispensable part of your brand experience.

Advanced Mobile Messaging Tactics: Push Notifications

  1. Push notifications triggered by explicit user preferences. One of the best ways to discover which push notifications customers would like to receive is simply to ask them. If someone says they’d like to be alerted when the price of an item on their wish list drops, follow through. Maybe they want to know when only a few of their chosen items are left — especially if that ‘item’ is an airline seat. Sephora’s app includes a settings screen that lets shoppers choose to get an alert if an item becomes available off the waitlist, or to be alerted to sales.
  2. Location-based messaging. Zip codes are the easiest way to use location-based messaging. After a customer registers their zip code, alert them when there’s a special in-store event nearby. Geofencing is similar, but it’s more sophisticated. Messages can be triggered when someone moves in or out of an area, which can be much smaller than a zip code. For example, food delivery service Seamless sends push notifications to travelers that read, for example, “Welcome to New York. Check out these great food options while you’re here.” 
  3. Personalize push notifications with cross-channel data. Push notifications should have access to all the data you use to create a great customer experience, not just the data that is directly tied to your app. If a customer is shopping for, favoriting, or even abandoning an item on your web site, information about those actions should inform your mobile messaging.
  4. Push notifications triggered by customer behaviors. If a customer abandons a shopping cart, don’t you want to remind them to complete their purchase? Of course you do. A push notification can be a great way to do that. If a customer favorites an item or a type of item repeatedly, a push notification – with or without a small discount – can be a great way to get them off the fence. For example, Shopbop uses push notifications to alert customers when a favorite item is selling out.

Advanced Mobile Messaging Tactics: In-App

  • Preference settings. An in-app preference center lets customers choose which messages they’d like to receive, and how often. Giving customers this kind of control decreases opt-outs and app uninstalls, and increases the odds of conversion. Nike has a whole suite of apps, each with its own value proposition. Nike Run Club, for example, has a preference center outlining four different types of notifications users can receive, including when friends run or progress updates on shoe orders.
  • Incorporate message streams into an app’s navigation. Anchor your in-app messages their own permanent onscreen home, making it easier for users to find them.
  • Rich content. So much is possible with in-app messages because they essentially provide a new mailbox. If you can do something in email, you should be able to do it with an in-app message. Here are a few ideas:
    • Encourage loyalty tier participation. Send your loyalty members in-app messages about events, launches, sales and samples.
    • Dynamic content. Use behavior and interest profiles to ensure that each customer’s in-app messages are as relevant as possible
    • Cart abandonment messaging. Nothing is sadder than an abandoned cart. Expand your cart-rescue strategies with in-app reminders and, if necessary, incentives.
    • Re-engagement. If a customer hasn’t done much on their app in a while, offer them a small incentive to do so
    • Encourage loyalty tier participation. Send your loyalty members in-app messages about events, launches, sales and samples.

Not every brand will want to use every one of these tactics. But by testing, learning, and learning what works for you, you’ll see how each of these fit into your mobile strategy, and your customer experience, over time.