Good Push, Bad Push: There’s a Huge Difference

Last week we announced our second Good Push Index study that shows effective push messaging more than doubles app user retention rates and nearly quintuples engagement. Then we saw MMA Smartbrief share Mobile Marketer’s article with its own headline of “Even poorly executed push messaging works to retain users” and we cringed. That headline misses the point, big time.

There’s no denying that push messaging helps overcome Appathy—where the majority of your users stop caring about your app, and delete it, many within 30-days after downloading it—but there’s also probably not an easier way to cause a mass exodus of users than by being a constant, self-serving annoyance on the one device that consumers always have with them and that they want a high-level of control over.

Our Good Push study ranked 360 apps according to whether they achieved High, Average or Low Push Engagement in an effort to offer the beginnings of benchmarks to mobile marketers. And it’s true that those ranked as Low still achieved better retention and engagement of users opted-in to receive push than opted-out users. But our methodology for selecting these apps also likely precluded many of the apps that are the lowest of the low—the ones that through ignorance or arrogance are subverting the most direct communications channel ever created into audible, buzzing spam that follows you around throughout your day.

These bad pushers risk ruining it for all of us by conditioning users to expect the worst push messaging has to offer, where the automatic reflex becomes to not allow push messaging at all…from any app. And that would be a huge shame, especially as advancements are now enabling the precision-targeted delivering of very useful information and alerts when and where users need them the most.

We are starting to see other organizations jump into the fight for Good Push, from the mobile operating systems themselves to some of the largest digital properties in the world. Recently Facebook jumped into the fray, changing up its rules and beginning to monitor developers’ push messaging practices to maintain the 30% clickthrough rates its effective pushers are seeing. Going forward, Facebook apps will be unable to send notifications to users that have been inactive longer than 28 days and high volume senders must maintain at least a 17 percent click-to-impressions on notifications.

We also believe that Apple and Google may start taking a page from each other’s playbooks in order to protect the push messaging channel. Currently, Android apps are not obligated to ask for permission to send push notifications, which has been Apple’s requirement from day one. However, the JellyBean update to Android makes it easier than ever to disable an app’s push notifications by long-pressing the message itself, which pops-up an option to turn off that app’s notifications. Likewise, Apple’s iOS 6 offers a Do Not Disturb setting where notifications won’t be delivered during certain time periods—a feature we’ve long encouraged developers to build directly into the app’s preference center.

Obviously, push messaging is our business and you might think we have the most to lose if it were to degrade into a spam channel. But there is way more to it than that. It’s the millions of apps out there that each have their own business objectives and the one billion plus smartphone users who count on apps to deliver useful service more quickly and easily than ever before that would be the real losers. We’ve never been closer to friction-less information, where you get exactly what you need, when and where you need it, and this potential to transform both the mundane and the extraordinary would be the bigger loss.

A growing number of companies are quickly starting to internalize how big the opportunity is to directly reach consumers wherever they are, and the broad impact it will have across organizational departments. We are confident that Good Push will prevail, whether stemming from mandates from the platform owners or simple consumer-driven Darwinism, and we are plowing ahead in our efforts to create the next generation of mobile messaging that fosters stronger relationships with connected consumers.