Here’s your official warning, mobile marketers, about a pending problem: it’s looking like overeager mobile marketers (read lacking in the discipline that comes with using granular mobile marketing analytics) are in danger of damaging the long-term value of push notifications.

The source of the pollution: push notifications. A powerful tool when utilized properly but it can also be an equally powerful annoyance when overused or abused. The Wall Street Journal has noticed this duality and thoughtfully provided a how-to on managing push notifications. (You can read/view it all here, subscription required).

A push-notification capability isn’t a mobile marketing strategy. It’s a specific tech-enabled technique that came about as a way to notify users about new email (originated by Research in Motion) and evolved into a way to notify users about new events/information in their apps. It’s now skipped over to the desktop and mobile browsers. The problem is that many mobile marketing teams looked at the push-notification’s capability and thought to themselves, “Hey, if I get the opt-in from the customer, why not use this wide-open, mostly free path to the consumer. All the time.”

Be clear, the WSJ article notes several types of push-notification-based irritants including the friend who has to share pictures of her/his most recent meal via Instagram or Facebook Messenger.  We can all agree our friends and “friends” on social networks aren’t the problem.  What is a problem is when product or service vendors we engage or want to engage with take our opt-in as a signal to get pushy. With notifications.

A well-timed push-notification that enhances the customer-brand relationship is almost always the result of a good, solid data-driven mobile marketing strategy that uses mobile Web and app analytics, as well as other data sets such as past purchases etc.  I say “almost always” because there are always instances when marketers have gotten lucky with a push notification.

But these days, it’s better to be good than lucky.

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