Customer Communications

Push Notifications – The Future of Digital Communications for Banks?

By Karen Waters 7 December 2017

Your customers are busy people. They have numerous apps and are constantly bombarded with information, offers and advice.

Push notifications – messages that pop up as alerts on a mobile device – are a great way to grab their attention. And with more mobile users than ever opting in to receive them (46% for the finance industry, according to a recent report), they’re fast becoming ubiquitous.

But how should you leverage push notifications to communicate with your customers effectively? Do they always provide the answer to the communications conundrum? And what lessons can you learn from the way that other industries are using them?

We’ve compiled some thought-provoking facts and figures to demonstrate how push notifications can enhance the customer experience.

A brief history of push notifications

Push technology was pioneered by Research In Motion for Blackberry during the first years of the 21st century – and it revolutionised business the world over by delivering live email updates. Crazy as it seems, prior to this we had to manually check our emails.

However, it was when Apple (and subsequently Android) introduced the push notification service that it really went mainstream. And in 2013, when Google brought push notifications to browsers – and third-party app developers began to catch on – a whole new marketing channel was created.

These days, app publishers can send push notifications at any time, meaning users don’t have to be in the app or using their devices to receive them. They look like SMS text messages and mobile alerts, but – crucially – they only reach customers who have installed your app.

A little bit of push inspiration

Push notifications are versatile. From displaying the latest sports scores to encouraging a user to download a coupon or letting them know about a flash sale, they’re a useful tool for a diverse range of sectors and businesses.

If you have apps installed on your smartphone, then you’re likely to have received push notifications. The BBC sends out breaking news alerts, for example, while major retailers like ASOS will keep you up to date with relevant promotions and offers. From order confirmation to dispatch and delivery, Amazon alerts you at every step of the process.

So far, so standard. But we all know that the more personal the message, the better. Amazon knows this too, spicing up its copy for popular items to make shipping notices more interesting and memorable.

Push notifications can be deployed like a broad-brush marketing email, reaching a large audience but not encouraging engagement. However, this isn’t where you’ll witness their value. By contrast, an alert from Ticketmaster telling you that an event (of a kind you’ve bought tickets to in the past) is about to go on sale is both relevant and timely – and therefore more likely to produce results.

Done right, push notifications are linked to a particular moment in time and are targeted at a select user base, boosting customer engagement and nurturing a strong customer relationship. According to Localytics, they increase in-app engagement by a whopping 88%. What’s more, 65% of users who enable push notifications return to an app within 30 days, in contrast with just 19% of those who don’t.

Push updates for mobile banking millennials

So, how should the financial services sector leverage push notifications to enhance customer engagement?

Spearheaded by millennials, recent years have seen a huge increase in customer expectations when it comes to mobile banking. From mobile alerts to apps and chat bots, there’s been a proliferation in terms of available communication channels. And, according to a 2016 Special Report (What Millennials Expect From Their Banks), 27% of millennials would prefer a push notification to an SMS.

What’s more, end users no longer want to be addressed en masse. You achieve the best results when you tailor communications to individual circumstances at specific times. And remember, bespoke alerts will never be confused as sales messages or, worse still, spam.

Many banks have heavily invested in their apps over recent years, as a way of offering a digitally-savvy consumer base a more convenient way to access their accounts. Push notifications offer multiple benefits to these individuals:

  • Make your customers aware of relevant offers and discounts available as part of particular account privileges
  • Let them know about interest rate information, increased credit limits or confirm when a new card has been dispatched

By encouraging self-service, customers have access to the information they need at the touch of a button – leaving your contact centre operatives to concentrate on mission-critical calls and tasks.

Innovation and the future for financial services

However, it isn’t just about keeping your customers informed, millennial or otherwise. Innovation is crucial for financial services businesses who want to thrive in this new era of digital communication. And that’s where data aggregation comes in.

Data aggregation, supported by notifications APIs, has the potential to give customers the best return, delivering timely, holistic and bespoke advice. Alerting in financial services has an obvious role to play in combating fraud, but you can also leverage it to maintain a crucial customer service advantage.

  • For notifications to be meaningful they must do more than offer silo-ed product announcements – link them to an aggregated wealth picture (alerting users to a savings threshold, for example) and you’ll begin to relay a rounded and relevant picture of an individual’s financial health
  • Push notifications must pursue productivity enhancement, relaying important and timely information – and they should never require end-users to take an extra step, such as launching a separate app
  • The best notifications in financial services offer balance summaries, salary notifications, bill monitoring and overseas payments alerts to counter fraud – they also deliver budgeting and saving targets tracking

Meet these requirements and your financial health checking notifications will be successful in driving positive end-user engagement, especially among younger audiences demanding an intuitive, personalised 24/7 relationship with their bank.

Download our free guide Mobile Banking: The Vital Role of Cross-Channel Channel Communication in 2017 to learn more about how to use innovative technology to differentiate your offering.

See other posts by Karen Waters

Product and Marketing Director

As a Product and Marketing Director at Engage Hub, Karen has held a wide range of roles across Telefonica, Vivo and start-ups, gaining over 10 years of product management and commercial experience across different markets in LATAM, Africa and SEA. In her day to day duties, Karen is responsible for defining product strategy, roadmap creation and maintenance, release scheduling, and partnering across the company. If she’s not halfway across the world meeting with clients to gather product requirements, she’ll more than likely be found hiking a mountain or exploring remote villages.

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