Push Gone Terribly Terribly Wrong

By: Kahuna | October 15, 2014 | Mobile Marketing, Push Notifications

We all remember the BBC News push notification debacle. This is every marketer’s worst nightmare. A test push goes out by mistake not once, but twice, only to be followed by an apology push about the former two messages. Now you are three push notifications deep and everyone is tweeting about it.

Here at Kahuna, it’s our job to follow the industry and observe the mistakes being made with push. We have constructed this post to help you develop best practices to perfect your mobile marketing strategy. Navigating the mobile marketing space is new and challenging and it is important to remember that mistakes are part of the learning process. Here are several best practices that can help prevent a “push gone wrong” scenario.


The key question: What are the pitfalls of push notifications and how can they be avoided?


The components that contribute to a bad push are fairly simple but can be easily overlooked. Here are some “push gone wrong” examples and fixes to prevent them from happening to you:



1. The problem: Poor timing. An ill-timed push notification sent between 12 and 6 am that risks waking up or disrupting someone while they are sleeping is simply a no-go. Poorly timed push notifications are one of the surest ways to irritate your users, leading to app uninstalls.


The fix: The goal of a push notification is to maximize delight and minimize disruption. This is ensured with a well timed push. Knowing your user’s preferences is paramount. If your user is watching Sports Center Sunday at 12 noon, make sure a push is delivered Sunday, not Tuesday before 6 am. Sophisticated technology exists to make the timing piece of push easier for you. Unless you want to send individually timed push notifications to individual users you need to implement this technology.



2. The problem: Not relevant. Your user’s interests should always be considered when sending a notification. In the instance of FIFA during the World Cup, it wasn’t the play-by-play via push that lead to an unhappy user, but the lack of relevance for this particular user. If these updates had been about a game she was betting on, they would have had a positive impact on the user’s experience. Users expect high levels of personalization and it is our job to deliver that unique experience.



The fix: Focus on generating timely, relevant content that is specific to your user’s interests. If they are only tuning in for specific games, personalize your push notifications to feature information specific to those games. PLNDR is rocking notifications in the retail space, sending push notifications written in their company voice with a reminder about a specific item left in a shopper’s cart.



3. The problem: Mis-personalized. Unlike the point above, Groupon has made an effort to send a relevant push, however, the personalization is incorrect (a subtle but important distinction). Making sure your push notifications are both relevant and personalized to your user is easier said than done. In the instance of Groupon, a wife signed onto her husband’s device and did some shopping. When the husband returned to his device, he was notified of a lingerie sale taking place. Not tracking when a user logs in and out and simply targeting the device is how mis-personalized push occurs.


The fix:  The knowledge of a user’s device is not enough. Instead, knowledge of the user is imperative. You can’t simply track a device, you have to track a user across devices. Understanding your users on an individual level and across multiple devices is what leads to a uniform and enjoyable experience. Attempting to operate with limited knowledge (ie. only tracking devices) is how mis-personalized push notifications occur.

tiiny-screen-shot netflix-sherlock-image-2


4. The problem: Push overkill. In the instance of Tiiny, updating your user with every action that has taken place is both impersonal and redundant. As the user points out, this push technique is “a little overkill.”  Finesse in push notifications is the key to delighting your users. Finding the balance of how often to send and what content to include is something Netflix does really well.


The fix: Netflix has maximized user delight by minimizing push notifications. Mobile is all about making every message count. This is a prime example of quality coming out ahead in the quality vs. quantity battle. Netflix takes push one step further and personalizes their messaging to each one of their user’s specific interests. Sending a personalized push about the new series of Sherlock is one of the best ways to drive user engagement and improve lifetime value.



5. The problem: Errors or “Sloppy push.” Uber is a prime example of a mobile app using push to delight their user’s experience. While Allison received an extremely relevant and timely push, she also received a push with exposed coding the next day. This is what we call a “sloppy push.” Errors like this one damage the user experience and embarrass the brand.


The fix: Integrating a push platform that is marketing team friendly and can be fully owned and operated by your business team is essential. A complicated, overly-technical or hard- to- use product makes it easy to make messaging mistakes. Use a platform that accommodates the needs of the marketer or non-technical team member actually doing the messaging. Using a system that takes care of the heavy lifting for you is a proactive way of preventing push gone wrong scenario.


Final Wrap Up:

In a mobile world where social media allows for complete transparency, bad push marketing goes viral instantly. One bad push, screen captured and promoted to the masses, is difficult to overcome for any app. Learn from these push gone wrong scenarios and implement these best practice fixes that will take your push notifications to the next level.


Coming soon: Stay tuned for a follow up post featuring a step-by-step editing checklist that guarantees flawless push!


About Kahuna

Kahuna is a marketing automation company dedicated to fostering consumer delight and driving engagement and revenue through mobile. We help you understand your customers and intelligently communicate with them wherever they are: email, mobile web and apps, social networks. Delightful customer experiences are created by sending the right message to the right person at the right time, and the Kahuna Customer Engagement Engine is the intelligence behind your omni-channel marketing success. Be the brand your customers want to hear from with Kahuna.

Kahuna is trusted by Yahoo, Fox, Hotel Tonight, and hundreds of others. The company was founded in 2012 and is funded by Sequoia Capital.