We’ve all had it happen. You download an app and suddenly you’re getting hit with what feels like the exact same message over and over. Maybe it’s announcing a discount. Maybe it’s trying to get you to use the app more often. But after a while, the sheer repetition makes the messages feel intrusive, even aggressive.
You don’t want your customers to feel that way–especially when you consider that 78% of people would disable notifications or uninstall an app if they became unhappy with the push notifications they receive. But you still need a way to let your customers know important things about your app and to demonstrate its value. To keep your messaging fresh, give these approaches a try:
Take advantage of pop culture
Pop culture doesn’t always get a lot of respect. Time passes and suddenly that blockbuster movie isn’t being buzzed about, the hit song drops out of everybody’s playlists, and an instantly recognizable meme goes from hilarious, to yesterday’s news. But it’s exactly this ephemeral quality that makes pop culture perfect for marketers.
Imagine your brand has a clothing and lifestyle-focused app—let’s call it Flash & Thread—that struggles with low customer engagement. You’ll send campaigns meant to get formerly active customers to give the app another try. Because pop culture comes and goes quickly, referencing it makes that message feel current, even if its purpose is similar to ones that you’ve sent before.
Some things to keep in mind:
1) Make sure the reference is a good fit for your brand
It’s okay to step a little outside your comfort zone if that’s where your customers are. But be mindful of your brand and what it stands for. Your references should either be universal or make intuitive sense when customers see them.
2) Know your audience (and what they care about)
Pay attention to audience demographics AND how customers interact with your brand. If most of you customers are men under 25, you’ll probably do better referencing college football than playing off a Taylor Swift song–but if you have a music app, the opposite might be true.
3) Keep an eye on patterns
As you send more campaigns that play off pop culture, you may find that referencing memes gets you better results than playing off hit TV shows. These kinds of patterns give you guidance on what your customers respond to and can help suggest future campaigns.
Highlight holidays and seasonal touchstones
Think of holidays and seasons as pop culture’s cyclical cousins: they’re familiar and current in the same way, but every year they come back.
Imagine that Flash & Thread schedules regular sales to highlight new collections. Holidays and seasons stretch across the whole year, so there’s always something you can reference. And because the difference between each holiday and each season is usually pronounced, these references help each message feel different from the last. Plus, successful outreach can be refined year after year, since most customers won’t remember a message they read 52 weeks ago.
When you’re sending campaigns with seasonal and holiday content, be thoughtful about how you’re targeting them. You’ll want to make sure that your Independence Day-themed campaigns aren’t being sent to people outside the U.S. and that you’re not sending messages about the changing leaves to Australian customers when it’s 90 degrees in Sydney.
Let visuals do more of the talking
A great picture is priceless. Images are more effective than text in conveying information and they can also affect how we think about the text they’re paired with. By using varied visuals for different messages conveying a similar call to action, you can make each one feel distinct.
Maybe Flash & Thread has had success driving purchases with simple, straightforward messages advertising flash sales and you’re looking for a way to keep using that type of copy for more sales without making customers feel like they’re getting the same message over and over. By using visuals to highlight each sale’s distinct items, the focus of your outreach shifts from message to message, keeping the experience fresh.
Remember, though, that a picture is only an asset if it supports your call to action. Because images are so powerful, using one that distracts from the purpose of your message can be worse than not using one at all.
Use different messaging channels
One mistake that marketers make is overusing a single outreach channel. Push notifications, for instance, can be a great way to reach your customers. But sending a push notification after push notification with a similar message can contribute to a sense of repetition and message overload. Making use of other outreach channels–like in-app messaging and email–lets you take advantage of the different look and feel of each of these message types to combat audience fatigue.
Imagine that Flash & Thread has a monthly lifestyle event you want customers to attend. While the messages you send each month focus on encouraging attendance, using a combination of push notifications, in-app messages, and emails, can keep you from relying too much on any one channel.
Plus, sending messages in different channels gives your outreach a more varied look and feel. Some channels support rich, immersive content (email and rich in-app messages), and others are at their best when you’re sending brief, direct outreach (push notifications and simple in-app messages). If your brand sends customers an email about the November event at the beginning of the month, and then follows up with a push notification the day of the event, each message will make a distinct impression on recipients, even if what’s being communicated is effectively the same.
Some things to keep in mind:
1) It’s possible to send too many messages, even if they’re sent in different channels
While sending messages in three different channels is less repetitive than sending three straight push notifications, it’s still possible to overdo it. Keep an eye on how many messages you’re sending people and consider scaling back if you start seeing diminishing returns.
2) Multi-channel messaging only varies your outreach for a subset of your customers
If a customer hasn’t shared their email address with you, they’re not going to receive emails from you. The same goes for push notifications for people who have opted out of push and in-app messages for people who no longer visit your app. That means that while multi-channel outreach is a great way to mix things up for some customers, you’ll need other tactics to keep things fresh for everyone else.
Personalize your outreach
When a customer starts to receiving a series of similar messages from one brand, the experience can feel objectifying, like they’re just a generic customer who can be pushed into a conversion. That’s not how you want your audience to feel and it’s not a good way to build the sort of durable customer/brand relationships you need to succeed in the long run.
By personalizing the messages that you send to your customers, you can take advantage of what you know about your audience to treat them as individuals whose interests and preferences you value. That makes it easier to show your customers the value of your brand while also adjusting your pitch based on the way they’re interacting with your app. (Plus, personalizing messages boosts conversions by more than 27%!)
Imagine that Flash & Thread regularly sends outreach to loyal customers promoting its latest shoes. By personalizing those messages to include references to each customer’s favorite shoe brand, they’ll receive outreach that’s targeted to them, but that changes as their preferences do–if someone gets sick of Nike and decides they really prefer Adidas, they’ll get messages that reflect that change.
Add in dynamic content
Dynamic content lets you insert personalized information from your brand’s internal servers or from third-party APIs into your outreach. These messages won’t just feel of-the-moment: they will BE of-the-moment, because they adjust in real time, or close to real-time. That means the message you send today is different than the one you’ll send tomorrow, even if the copy your marketing team has crafted doesn’t change.
If Flash & Thread sends out a winter campaign advertising a sale on bedding, you could use dynamic content to adjust the message based on up-to-the-minute weather data: if a customer receives the message when there’s heavy snow falling, they’ll be encouraged to shop online, but if they receive the same message when it’s nice out, they’ll get the address of your closest store. That way your message feels distinct and relevant every time.
What’s the next step?
None of these approaches will work for every one of the messages you regularly send, but they’re a good place to start. Try different tactics in different campaigns and see which ones lead to results you’re happy with. And don’t be afraid to mix and match different tactics in a single message–sometimes that’s just what you need to take a message to the next level…