Push notifications n the good, the bad and the ugly

James is editor in chief of TechForge Media, with a passion for how technologies influence business and several Mobile World Congress events under his belt. James has interviewed a variety of leading figures in his career, from former Mafia boss Michael Franzese, to Steve Wozniak, and Jean Michel Jarre. James can be found tweeting at @James_T_Bourne.

“A young life snuffed out at the hands of an unfit owner. You’ll pay for this on judgement day.”

So the My Pet app abruptly tells its users if they sufficiently neglect their animal friends, having given warnings such as “You are so horrible…you are the worst owner I’ve ever had.”

The concept isn’t a new one, going back to the days of Tamagotchis. But that’s not the problem.

It’s easy to put two and two together to work out the age of the average My Pet user. And, as Twitter user @simply_louby complained, it was hardly appropriate content for her nine year old daughter to be receiving.

Mobile marketing provider Urban Airship has released a document showcasing the best and worst practice for push notifications, and comes up with the following no-nos:

  • Not realising mobile is a completely different channel: It’s no good believing what works in one metric will work on another. The report notes that a successful mobile strategy should focus on “personalisation and contextual awareness.”
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew: With personalisation in mind, using mobile to badger your audience for more business is hardly going to leave them happy. Facebook in particular were noted for this.
  • Not asking users what matters to them: One of the quickest paths to deletion is offering irrelevant content to users. Companies aren’t psychic, of course, but not offering preferences to filter out the less affable stuff doesn’t help their cause.
  • Don’t badger your users and be a nuisance: As the report states, mobile is about relevance and context; the temptation is there to push as much as possible, but in reality it’ll just annoy people. Again, there’s a world of difference in thinking between mobile and traditional advertising.
  • Don’t leave things too late: “Send a push too late and you’re risking your reputation,” the report warns. All channels should be syncrhonised, so you don’t ignore when a user has interacted with you, for instance.

What do you make of these findings? Which push notifications push you over the edge?

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