In discussions with CMOs and marketers responsible for mobile across many categories, I’ve encountered some unusual and contradictory opinions about the best strategies for marketing to consumers on their mobile devices.

Curiously, some mobile marketers talk more about not marketing to their mobile customers, than they do about the best ways to engage with customers who are already loyal to the brand and eager for more mobile conversations, interactions and reasons to buy.

Common concerns emerge from many marketers – already under pressure to produce more sales, attract more customers, boost revenues and generate more leads – as they’re diving headfirst into the rapidly growing but still fairly new territory of the mobile marketplace. Their concerns tend to revolve around brands’ mobile apps, especially push notifications sent to customers’ smartphones. What I hear are sentiments along the lines of:

  • “If we ask our customers if they want to accept push notifications, they’ll just say no anyway…so we send them very sparingly.”
  • “We have to be careful about push messaging, because we don’t want to offend/upset our consumers by sending too many.”

It’s Time For A New Marketing Mindset

Mobile marketing based on not communicating with a certain group of consumers is completely missing the boat Mobile marketing based on not communicating with a certain group of consumers is completely missing the boat. Because chances are good that the boat is already filled with interested, eager-to-engage, ready-to-spend customers who are flocking to their smartphones to shop, find reasons to engage and be rewarded for their patronage and loyalty. Statistically speaking, any consumer presented with an offer to “opt in,” similar to an offer to sign up for an email newsletter or receive a push notification will say “no” 50% of the time, either because of disinterest, lack of time, irrelevance or other factors.

For marketers, these are the consumers of least importance.

The other 50% – consumers who are more likely to accept an opt-in offer – are the customers to whom today’s mobile marketers should pay the most attention. They’re a known quantity, the absolute motherlode of engagement potential. They are far more inclined to spend, spend more and seek deeper brand loyalty because an offer is relevant, personal and meaningful at that particular point in time.

Make Your Valued Customers Feel Even More Valued

Your opt-in consumers? Indulge them. Cater to them. Send them mobile messages that are relevant, personal and timely – all cornerstones of effective mobile marketing. And make sure mobile notifications that are sent are well-paced (so as not to offend or intrude) and tailored specifically to hit the sweet spot of marketing with the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Data backs up the value of focusing mobile marketing on consumers who have already opted in. A 2014 Aberdeen Group report, for example, found that precision push notifications deliver higher results on a variety of metrics: company revenue, visitor-to-buyer conversion rates, brand awareness, average order value, customer lifetime value, marketing return on investment, and visitor engagement.

Bolstered by immediacy and context, mobile push notifications also begin personal conversations between consumers and brands. One Consumer Electronics Association report, in fact, found that 58% of consumers prefer finding product information through a smartphone or tablet over a store employee. The door for mobile marketing is wide open – waiting for smart and well-informed marketers to walk through and start engaging with their mobile-empowered customers.

Make Sure Push Notices Get Noticed

A few key tactics can ensure the mobile push messages marketers do send are primed for success and more likely to hit their mark:

  • Use known data about customers’ individual habits and known preferences to send messages that are personal and relevant. Profile information, shopping activities, buying histories, loyalty status and other pieces of data can inform messages that are personal, relevant and timely.
  • Surprise your brand loyalists: Use known data from your known customers’ mobile devices (operating system, frequency or recency of app use, email address or account number provided when the app was downloaded) to provide content that’s fun, rewarding, exciting and filled with content that encourages recipients to do more, spend more, provide feedback and tell their friends.
  • Frame messages on loyalty: Members of a brand’s loyalty program are known quantities, and plenty of data exists to deepen their loyalty and engagement. Offer members-only promotions or status upgrades. Craft messages based on members’ known behaviors, preferred store locations or shopping cart status. Use mobile messages to make them even more loyal and more assured that the brand truly knows who its loyal customers are.
  • Consider peer-to-peer messages. Some apps support communication within the app between friends who have existing connections (eg Facebook friends). Word-of-mouth behavior and peer influence within an app can reinforce participating, reward achievement/successes, and become a familiar meeting place of known consumers.

Go Beyond Push Notifications

Once a mobile marketing strategy is in place for the opted-in, already-valuable consumer base, attention can shift to those who opted out originally or might be open to other types of messaging that encourage them to return. Remember that an initial decision not to opt-in is not the end ; Consumers who made a decision when they first opened an app can be convinced to return and re-engage if there’s something of value being offered to them.

  • Pursue other types of messages (including interstitials or pop-ups), that do not require opt-in by the consumer. Use location-based triggers or data from shopping carts and app activities to send reminders, alerts, incentives, please-come-back promotions or other opportunities to engage. Send an email with an invitation to update app settings from opt-out to opt-in to take advantage of a special offer.
  • Remember that some very engaged and potentially premium-value consumers opt out of push notifications initially because that’s what they always do when downloading a new app. Once they have established strong usage patterns or high levels of app activity, prompt them with interstitials and in-app alerts that make it value for them to change settings to opt-in.

Today’s CMOs, have identified “mobile” and “data/analytics” as two of the three capabilities they need most to meet their objectives in today’s digital marketplace, according to Leapfrog Marketing Institute’s 2014 Digital Benchmark Study. Brand marketers can be more effective in the mobile environment if they focus their data-informed messaging strategies on the top-tier, high-value, already-engaged customers rather than worry about the opt-out rates of consumers who have indicated they’re not interested at the moment.

Marketers should craft content and create conversations that resonate with their high-value customers , based on their interests, preferences, mobile activities and loyalty and other relevant factors.

The result? It’s what all marketers are striving for: more customers, more engaged customers, more sales, deeper brand loyalty and all of the pieces in place to support ongoing, informed interactions and mobile conversations throughout the customer’s journey.