It's fair to say we can probably file these comments, made at a Google Live event around the subject of mobile marketing, as 'things we should all know by now'. But even with that said, it's healthy to see a growing awareness that what has to date passed for marketing to mobile app customers is no longer good enough. As Matthew Goldhill of Mobile 5 put it, we need to move beyond:
“Just chucking out a push to all your app users saying open up your app, kind of like a nagging child."
The panel then went on to discuss the importance of targeting, and I think that's certainly something that we need to be constantly reminded about. I am consistently surprised at how many otherwise smart organizations seem to believe that sending millions of pretty unfocused push notifications is a sensible marketing strategy. I think we should call that what it is: spam. And just as with spam, the danger isn't less effective marketing, it's users deleting your app. They certainly won't be diligently looking for the app specific settings to turn off those notifications!
More Than Push
But it goes beyond simply being about targeting. It is revealing that in a session on mobile marketing the panel immediately talk about push notifications. But whilst they are undoubtably powerful in the right hands, I think perhaps they are the least of the weapons in the mobile marketers armoury. For one, mobile OSs are gradually de-powering the push notification - what was once unignorable is now easy to miss. For another, using them as a way to 'get people back' is a tough ask: by then a decision has already been made.
So in addition to targeting, I think it's vital to place push in context - as part of an integrated marketing strategy. That means using the capabilities of push alongside the other mobile techniques (native content changes, in-app messaging etc) and also considering the rest of the marketing tech ecosystem. In some cases that will mean integrated campaigns spanning mobile app, 'traditional' internet and even (gasp!) the real world of bricks and mortar. When integrated in campaigns that span these divides, push has a valuable place in the marketing mix.
On it's own as a last desperate throw of the dice, however, it has very little place at all.