A simple ‘nudge’ message sent to a user at a strategic time, serving as a reminder or a positive reinforcement, can be a powerful interaction, and can influence a user to do something that they may not otherwise do.

The problem is figuring out how to do it right, because if you get it wrong, not only will campaigns fail, but you could harm your relationship with mobile customers. Too many unsubtle nudges will appear to be desperate; a nudge at the wrong time will be an annoyance; a nudge with no context will just be plain confusing, and so on.

“Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say-no-more.”

As pitiful as Eric Idle’s ‘Arthur Nudge’ character is, perhaps we can learn something from him. Obviously his total lack of subtlety is the crux of the joke, but to re-work the old comedic cliche - it’s not how he said it, it’s what he said. And what he says (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say-no-more) is perfect! Applied to mobile marketing, a wink and a nudge is all that should be needed, and the better the nudge is, the more the user will feel like they’ve come to the decision on their own accord; say enough and say no more. This matters: your users are more likely to develop a stronger bond with your brand if they don’t feel like (or realise!) they are being nudged.

How To Create A Successful Nudge

So what is the process and end product of creating a nudge interaction that will influence your users? Or to really milk the Monty Python sketch - “What’s it like?”

Define What You Want To Achieve

It can be tempting to try and engage users for engagement’s sake. The more time users spend in your app the better, right? No, this is often not what you should be aiming to achieve. It is far more effective to have a good idea of why you are sending a nudge - or better yet, have an actual reason! Each campaign should be built around one particular problem you want to solve, or job to be done. For instance, you need to convert x amount of casual users into subscribers, or increase the retention rate of new users by x%.

Think How Best To Deploy Your Nudge

Once you have defined what it is you want to achieve, the next step is deciding how to do it. Using a platform like Swrve gives marketers a range of easy to use tools for different methods of nudging. For example, a push notification can be sent to remind users about an abandoned cart purchase a few days after the aborted session. Or encourage a passenger who has upgraded to business class on a previous journey to upgrade again, using an in-app message, when they open the app to check in for their flight. Think about things like: perhaps a push notification is too much for the task in hand, and you’re better off being patient until the user opens up the app the next time when you can serve them an in-app message which will be better suited for the job.

Let Data and Automation Do the Hard Work

One of the really great things about marketing automation is how much of the heavy lifting it does for you. Each user’s behaviour is tracked (anonymously, if needs be!), in real-time, and can be segmented based on predefined user properties, such as: users who are flying to Barcelona and haven’t booked a hotel. Campaigns can then be built in a matter of minutes to target very specific users, inside or outside of the app. Of course timing is essential, and you wouldn’t want to annoy a user in the middle of the night, or during a time where they have never used your app. Thankfully Swrve enables you to schedule a push notification at the optimal time for the user, based on their previous app usage times.

How To Communicate The Message

Let me re-work that comedy cliche again, this time to: ‘it’s what you say and how you say it’. You simply have to get your wording right with a nudge. Anything that will too explicitly betray your intentions has a high possibility of failing. Using a mobile marketing automation tool allows you to add personalization to messaging, enriching them with details such as names and locations, and providing context, so that individual users are receiving content that is relevant to them. Fortunately the next step will help you decide if what you are saying and how you are saying it is being successful.

Test, Test, Test

It is critical to relentlessly A/B test your campaigns. Experiment with content on small-scale sample groups, and compare them to the campaigns that you have been normally running. Only by doing so can you discover what is working, or not working, and then apply the findings to optimize your campaigns. If the results are considerably lower than you expected, it probably wasn’t a campaign worth running, but if you see a healthy increase in the KPIs that matter to you, it could be the change needed to take your nudges from Arthur Nudge levels of hopelessness to Edward Bernays levels of sophistication.