Retail Strategies: A Comparison of E-mail & Push Notifications

Posted by Lauren Hand on Jul 30, 2015 11:30:00 AM
Lauren Hand

6x_Retailer_AppsNative apps are increasingly crushing mobile web – especially in the retail industry, where the most user-friendly shopping experience is the primary factor driving brand loyalty and sales. With persisted log-in, shopping cart sync across all devices, easy access to loyalty and credit card balance, exclusive offers and contests saved all in one place, it’s no wonder consumers are over 70% more likely to shop from a retailer that offers an app.

And retailers are benefiting tremendously, as well. Conversion rates are 3-5x higher and the average order value is 20-50% greater than that of mobile web. Additionally, app users typically spend 25% more in-store than shoppers who haven’t downloaded the retailer’s app.

But the marketing benefits of push notifications - a feature that’s exclusive to apps - could justify the use case for a mobile app alone.  During the first few years of mobile adoption, some retailers argued that e-mail marketing was sufficient for reaching their customer base. But the data said differently, and push quickly became the primary focus of retailers with strong marketing strategies.

Here’s a look at why push notifications have surpassed e-mail marketing as retailers’ most successful method of customer communication.

Opting Into Push and Opting Out of E-mail
Think about the influx of hard bounce notifications you received after your last e-mail campaign. In addition to the battle with strict spam filters, retailers are losing recipients in droves. 17% of Americans create a new e-mail address every six months, while 30% change it annually.

E-mail providers like Gmail, which consistently ranks in the three most-used e-mail clients in the US, have made unsubscribing a painless and instant process by adding a conspicuous “Unsubscribe” link that appears in the header of e-mails coming from marketers. Recipients no longer have to open the e-mail, search for a link within that allows them to opt-out, participate in a survey that begs for a last chance by offering less frequent or filtered content options, and confirm both their e-mail and their wish to opt-out. The formerly tedious process is now whittled down to an instant click.



Apparel and accessories retailer Charlotte Russe has a whopping 90% opt-in rate to push notifications, so it’s no mystery as to why the app’s conversion rate is double that of its industry peers.Research shows that many consumers are accepting of push messaging, with an opt-in rate averaging 51%. But when retailers combine the proximity-aware analytics gained from their mobile app platform’s reporting tools with contextually-relevant content based on their customers’ purchase or browsing history, their opt-in rate tops off well-above that industry average. 91% of consumers say access to content any way they want it is important.

The key to using push notifications properly is to allow the customer to choose what he or she wants to see. Explicit opt-in and opt-out policies are essential to gaining and keeping consumer trust, and that trust is critical in building brand loyalty.

Open Rates
Even if they don’t unsubscribe, the likelihood of your audience opening your e-mail - let alone reading and converting - is rapidly diminishing. Push Messaging outperforms e-mail 2-to-1 when it comes to open rates, and pushes with discounts or special offers perform even better, opened eight times more than their e-mail counterparts.


Additionally, because push notifications have the ability to be viewed even on a smartphone’s lock screen and don’t interrupt the user’s current activity, it is the only non-invasive method of communication with a high likelihood of being seen at the time of delivery. In fact, 92% of consumers open a push notification immediately upon seeing it, whereas the average time for recipients to view an e-mail message is 6.4 hours.

Instant Action
That instant delivery translates to instant action. On average, GPShopper clients experience a 150% spike in traffic and an increase of 20-50% in conversions on the same day that a push notification is distributed to their customer base.

And because the recommended character limit for push messages is 120-128 characters, marketers are forced to deliver a clear call to action to engage recipients instantly. The newer OS developments like embedded links, interactivity, and TouchID make action immediate and intuitive.


Messaging with Context
Maya Mikhailov, CMO and Co-Founder of GPShopper, recognizes that push eventually may suffer the same message fatigue that currently plagues e-mail. But for the foreseeable future, it engages by way of context and location.

“A key differentiator of Push Notifications vs e-mail marketing is location context,” says Mikhailov. “Push can activate within a geo-fence of a physical location. Unlike e-mail, which can encourage visits to a location at some time in the future, push acts as an immediate local activator to a very receptive mobile audience.

How receptive are they to local action? According to Google, 50% of searches occurring on a mobile device are conducted in order to find local results. So unlike e-mail, mobile notifications can literally push shoppers into stores. The value of this local call to action cannot be overstated.”

E-mail Marketing Has Its Place
This is not to say that e-mail should be ignored, or that it should be excluded from any retailer’s marketing strategy. E-mail communication has its place for communicating less timely and actionable offers, brand-building company announcements, or - most effective – driving app downloads by alerting customers that the newest version is available in Apple’s App Store or Google Play. Listing the latest version of your mobile app’s new added features is a great way to pique customer interest – something that can only be done when character restriction isn’t a factor.





Related Resources:

Learn more about the impact of push notifications for GPShopper’s retail clients, including same-day increased conversions and traffic spikes.

Fine-tune your strategy with GPShopper’s Best Practices for Retail Push Notifications

Calculate the revenue you’ll gain by adding a mobile app and push notifications. Download GPShopper’s Mobile App ROI Calculator.




Topics: Mobile Retail Apps, Retail Industry Research, Omnichannel Retail

About GPShopper

GPShopper is a mobile commerce platform and app developer for retailers, using technology to transform the total retail experience.  GPShopper is a Synchrony solution. 
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