Push notifications have the potential to be a powerful tool for mobile marketers as they allow businesses to target app users with timely, relevant news and offers.

A new Mobile Maturity Report from Urban Airship indicates that they are a widely used marketing tactic, with more than half of companies with apps reporting that they use push notifications to engage their audience. 

With the exception of finance companies, 70% to 80% of companies with apps use push regularly.

However from personal experience I’ve found that very few companies make use of push messages. My phone is loaded with various apps from all the reviews I’ve written over the past few years, yet only one or two have ever sent me notifications.

I’ve previously blogged about Debenhams’ clever use of push messages, which were timed to coincide with seasonal sales or events such as Valentine’s Day or payday. These messages were enough to make me click through to the Debenhams app, even though it’s not really the sort of retailer I tend to buy from.

Here I'll look at the push messages I've received from Walmart, Asda and The Rolling Stones. And for more information on mobile marketing, download Econsultancy's Mobile Commerce Compendium.


I’ve only had Walmart’s app for a few months yet in that time I’ve received several push notifications to advertise seasonal sales.

As the messages come at a rate of less than once a month they aren’t annoying or spammy, and I’m quite happy to be kept informed of when Walmart is offering a discount on its normal prices.



Asda is owned by Walmart, so it’s perhaps not surprising that they both use push notifications.

Even so, Asda stole a march on its competitors by sending a message just before Christmas to inform users of its click-and-collect service.

Click-and-collect is hugely popular in the UK, with an Econsultancy survey showing that 45% of UK online shoppers used the service over the Christmas period.


This example shows that push notifications aren’t only useful for advertising sales or discounts. Asda used its app to remind customers that there was still time to buy online before Christmas, which no doubt helped to capture a few additional sales. 

The Rolling Stones

The most impressive use of push notifications comes from the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band, who I've previously praised for having an excellent social media strategy.

Even when the band aren’t on tour or promoting new music releases The Rolling Stones' app sends out frequent push notifications, and as I’m slightly obsessed with the band it’s always a joy to receive one.

For example, last year I received a message to tell me it was Keith Richards' birthday, while another one let me know that the app now contained a new video of the band performing ‘Miss You’.


Other examples have included tour announcements, fan votes and a video of Mick Jagger sending me season’s greetings.

Also, when the Stones announced their latest tour of the Middle East, Asia and Australia, users were sent a series of notifications and a video giving information about the tour dates.


It’s a great way of keeping fans engaged with the band and making sure that people return to the app from time-to-time.

I really can’t understand why more retailers don’t make use of push notifications as a way of driving traffic and sales. 

David Moth

Published 24 February, 2014 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

The problem with push notifications is that once you start them up, they never stop. They were the cause of my 19th nervous breakdown.

That is all....

over 4 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

That's a shame Stuart, sounds like you can't get no satisfaction with those push notifications.

I'm still in favour of them as I'm happy to have the power to access targeted offers under my thumb.

over 4 years ago


Chris Thomas

Great examples David, wasn't aware how active The Rolling Stones were on the app side of things. eBay is pretty good with notifications, letting you know when an item you're watching is about to expire.

over 4 years ago

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