What You Should Know About Mobile Push Messaging

Written By Jaime Guerrero, Senior Director, Digital Marketing – North America, HCL Technologies
Edited By Nandita Pamnani, Medill IMC Class Of 2015

Published on 10/21/2015

In the era of the technological bubble, digital advancements have taken various forms beginning from the introduction of the Internet to the Internet of Things (IoT). With the progress of the Internet taking over almost every form of daily activity, there have been various primary points of contact connecting technology with utility. This being said, there is a complete market of these touchpoints in the form of devices, handsets, wearables and mobile technology. With the increasing dependency on this technology, there are various competitors in this market that are finding ways to leverage this current need. What sets each of these competitors apart is their ability to constantly optimize these interfaces to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of the consumer.

Mobile is a catalyst of change and innovation, and following how it’s transforming communication is essential. A great example of this is in the rise of mobile messaging. Mobile messaging is big, and for most of our clients, mobile push messaging is an incredible (underutilized and often misunderstood) tool in our marketing toolbox that’s transforming how we engage with consumers. The following will attempt to convince you that you really need to start thinking about a mobile push messaging strategy for your brand (or your clients) now.

Let’s start with mobile in general and learn about mobile messaging with a focus on push, and then talk about how it fits within an overall marketing strategy.

First off, no surprise: smartphone use is exploding around the world. Every country today has access to smartphones (see the $25 Mozilla smartphone) and people are using them constantly. Some, like me, would say that we’re handcuffed to our phones. It’s like they are part of our bodies. We wake up and go to sleep with them. We do everything with them…work, communicate, organize, shop, play, pay our bills, etc. That means that smartphone displays have become the most valuable real estate in the world. Think about how often you look at it. And we kind of know it’s big, right? Mobile marketing spend will grow to $19 billion by 2015. And why should we care? Because mobile will influence $689 billion in retail sales.1

Add in wearables, like smartwatches, and now it’s easier and more seamless for users to stay connected (or handcuffed).

Slap on mobile wallets, and consumers can use their phone to buy just about anything (Big Macs included) – instantly. Apple’s changing the game here and making Wallet even more prevalent.

Now look closer at what we are doing with our phones. Well, we’re playing with millions of apps of course. In fact, we are using them more than we are checking our email. Consumers use apps 10x more than email or phone functions.2 But with so many apps, how are brands going to stay on the phone and keep consumers engaged? That’s where mobile messaging comes in.

Mobile messaging activity is already ginormous. There are 14 trillion mobile messages sent worldwide – and this number will double by 2017.1 This activity is made up of several different kinds of messages too: SMS, MMS (multimedia messaging), OOT (messaging that allows for messaging between apps, think Skype), IM, voice messaging, and push notifications (messages from native apps or wallet passes on a smartphone).    

Push messaging is where I believe marketers should focus their digital communications efforts. More and more users are opting-in to messages from their favorite apps, with media, games and retail apps rounding out the top three most used verticals.2

Side bar here: just consider that we are becoming “Uber’s Children” (not my term)…meaning that we want things now! (cue Veruca from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). We want to order products fast from our fingertips, we want to track exactly where our order is, and we want it to arrive at our door…now. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a tool that could satisfy this? There is. It’s called push messaging.

But don’t take my word for it, the stats are telling us how the medium captures users’ attention. Mobile messages have a
97 percent open rate and are read within 15 minutes or less of being received.3 This makes email look like snail mail now (at least in the traditional sense of accessing it).   

We should take advantage of this. Here a few things you should consider when developing a push messaging strategy (spoiler alert: it’s going to sound a lot like a good CRM strategy):

  1. Utility: Find out what your consumers really value by asking them. They will be more inclined to opt-in to messaging and more receptive to the message. This control drives personalization, which leads to segmentation (but we’ll cover that later). Don’t try to sell every time and make it clear what users are “opting” in for.
  2. Value: Personalization is key. Best-in-
    class marketers acknowledge their consumers and reward them. Push messaging also allows marketers to re-engage with followers who have become dormant. These messages need a clear call to action, and testing is key to find out what best resonates with your audience.
  3. Triggers: Develop a “real-time” messaging strategy to offer immediate value and drive immediate action. Triggers can be used based on consumer behavior. There are five types of trigger categories: consumer preferences, lifecycle, proximity/location, behavior and external systems (like CRM and e-commerce).
  4. Location: Acknowledging where consumers are shopping is key: offering a special offer with that information is a critical tactic for engagement. Leveraging the phone’s location services is important but other technologies like iBeacons can also drive behavior. In fact, you can test offers depending on how close your consumers are to the store, or how long it’s been since a user last purchased from you.
  5. Segmentation: Behavior response can allow you to further identify your audience and trigger more personalized messaging. For example, you can quickly segment an audience by taking a quick survey and asking them to “self-select” into a particular information bucket for more relevant communication from you.

Now that you’ve been taken through this opportunity area and ways to take advantage of it, let’s not forget that it’s still a part of a bigger marketing engine. These personalized inputs from push messaging (both self-identified and behavioral), along with other marketing data, round out intelligence for your target consumer that makes you smarter. The smarter you are, the smarter and more relevant each of your channels becomes to help drive behavior and thus sales.

So there you have it. Mobile push messaging is a game changer: an essential tool to reach users in the palm of their hand where you can drive immediate results. It is forcing us to transform the way we market. So start thinking about your mobile push messaging strategy…now! [END]


  1. “A Marketer’s Guide to Messaging: Trends and Best Practices.” MMAGlobal.com, MMA Mobile Marketing Update, Feb. 2014.

  2. “2013 Good Push Index Offers First View of Push Notification Impact Across Vertical Industries.” UrbanAirship.com. Urban Airship, 6 Dec. 2013.

  3. “How The Relationship Between Apps & SMS can be used to Increase App Engagement.” Dynmark.com. Dynmark, April 2014.


jaimeguerro Jaime Guerrero is an accomplished digital marketing leader. He’s been in the marketing and advertising business for 20 years with a focus on digital and customer relationship marketing (CRM). He helps build strategies that drive results and has done so for Fortune 500 companies like McDonald’s, United Airlines, Kimberly-Clark, and The Home Depot. Jaime is currently acting as a senior leader in the North America Digital Marketing team at HCL Technologies where he educates, inspires, and guides on digital marketing solutions for new business development.
DSC_7467* Nandita Pamnani worked as a brand executive for a marketing agency in Mumbai where she helped execute strategic communications campaigns for luxury brands. Prior to that, she has worked in brand management at a startup agency. She holds a bachelor’s degree in IT engineering from the University of Mumbai and a diploma in advertising and PR from the Welingkar Institute of Management in Mumbai.

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