The Power of Push

In the age of engagement, strategies based on ad breaks and interruption have got a bad name. Mark Terry-Lush argues that push can be positive.

We all know it’s wrong. We’ve been told it’s wrong thousands of times, not just wrong but old-school thinking that belongs in the analogue age.

The truth, however, is that interruption remains powerful. Not just in TV ad breaks during event programming but also on the newest devices.

What’s different is that brands need to handle these interruptions with greater care and provide a reason for consumers to be happy to accept them. The new power of push is that messages with permission are accepted and welcomed.

Research shows that consumers – in the UK at least – are avid consumers of messages pushed at them by friends and chosen brands. A recent study by Havas and Weve indicates that 64% of 16-34 year olds regularly check for responses on social media and 41% would rather lose their wallet than their mobile.

In fact we have become so tied to our digital devices that there are now even mobile-related medical conditions: Nomophobia is the fear of separation fro your mobile device, while Phantom Vibration Syndrome, when one thinks their device has buzzed in their pocket, is also well-known.

So given that consumers delight in checking their devices and feel a strong need to have them near, how can brands take advantage of the power of push to earn a place in their social and email feeds?

The key starting point is permission to push. Consumers have to opt in to receiving your message. Otherwise it’s just old-fashioned interruption and won’t be welcomed.

Once that step is passed then brand push can be incredibly effective. Way back in 2009 the New York Times wrote that opted in messaging via SMS and MMS is the closest thing we have to a guaranteed read. It’s the same today.

The next step is to ensure that that push comes at the right time and place. Brand messages need to be native and relevant, contextual.  Marketers must think about the end user, not the deodorant, mobile or website they are promoting, for example.

There are lots of tools to help brands do this but geofencing allows advertisers to ensure that their messaging reaches consumers when they are near a point of opportunity.

This is potentially incredibly powerful. For example, imagine a consumer who has opted in to messages from an outdoor brand being sent a message as they hit a walking trail or visit an outdoors store.

Brands need to identify triggers and find a way to respond in a relevant and appropriate manner. For push to work and be accepted (opt in consumers can quickly opt out after all) they need to know how people thinking.

The critical step to take to make the message deliver on an emotional level. According to studies by Havas and Crowd Emotion tests, less than 20% of social media stories generate an emotional response.

That’s the result of desensitization brought on by an overload of ephemeral, noisy, mind numbing, mindless and pointless social wallpaper and clickbait headlines that under-deliver.

One way to deliver emotion is via powerful images, because people don’t talk or write like they used to, images includes the emoticons and word shapes that now form our digital sign language.

The first step in the process however is to gain permission for such pushes to earn consumer approval. Brands can achieve this by making every experience of their products and service tweetworthy.

By providing a great experience, they encourage consumers not just to give them valuable word of mouth but also to enable marketers to initiate a conversation. So next time a consumer says something nice about your company, thank them and start the conversation that leads to permission to interrupt their day.

Mark Terry-Lush