In 2016, global mobile traffic to the web surpassed desktop for the first time.

For businesses, the continued rise of mobile is good news, as it enables them to better serve customers by harnessing the strengths unique to the channel. This includes the the ability to deliver personalised content, instant access to immersive apps, and 24/7, real-time communication.

The latter in particular can be an effective way to build loyalty, with mobile messaging channels allowing brands to reach consumers in unique and crucial moments.

You can read more on mobile strategy as a whole in Econsultancy’s Best Practice Guide, but in the meantime, here is a summary of the key messaging channels afforded by mobile, and how they can be utilised to drive loyalty.

Impactful SMS

SMS perhaps feels like an outdated channel in some ways, with the majority of consumers having moved over to WhatsApp or other internet-based messaging services. For brands, however SMS can still be a powerful and hugely impactful tool. This is largely because of the familiar and ingrained nature of text messaging – we all have the feature on our phones and an understanding of how the medium works.

What’s more, text messages are effective in their immediacy. According to research by the Data & Marketing Association, 90% of texts will be read within three minutes, and 98% will most likely be read by the end of the day. This means brands can feel confident that most users will at least engage with communication, and hopefully react positively to it.

Graphic of a mobile phone with a speech bubble on its screen

For consumers, the most effective SMS campaigns always offer valuable and useful information. They also tend to be one-way, and do not rely on replies or interaction. This could be updates about delivery, order confirmation, booking reminders, and so on.

The channel can also be used for promotions and other loyalty-driven offers like coupons and discounts. Again, with instant and time-sensitive elements, SMS messaging can have an immediate impact, and therefore cut through the noise of brand advertising.

The direct nature can also help to build a bond with consumers, with the channel replicating the one-to-one communication we tend to have with our friends and family.

Personalised push notifications

Push notifications, which are sent by an app installed on a user’s device, can likewise be a good medium for directly communicating and engaging with users. Mostly, push notifications are used to reduce churn rates and re-engage users that have forgotten-about or abandoned an app.

However, they can also be effective for boosting regular usage and long-term loyalty. This is because they are often personalised or highly contextual – reaching users in high-impact moments.

Take Netflix as one example, which might send a push notification informing users of a brand new season of a show they’ve previously watched and enjoyed. Or, the BBC weather app, which might send a push notification informing users of real-time or contextual changes in weather.

The fact that these push notifications offer real value to the user – and are not merely designed for advertising purposes – means they are likely to be well-received and prompt engagement.

What’s more, messaging via this channel can also spark overall engagement on a longer-term basis. According to Localytics, users who have push notifications enabled for certain apps have 53% more monthly sessions than users who do not.

push notifications

Customisable in-app messaging

In-app messages, which are are displayed to users while active within an app, can also be a great way to reduce churn and get users coming back again. One reason for this is that in-app communication can prevent frustration and friction (and eventually abandonment), by helping users to learn how to use an app or its features.

Further down the line, in-app messaging can also alert users of new features, special promotions, or inform them of transactions. Unlike push notifications, however, in-app messaging can be customised depending on the content itself and the context in which it is delivered.

For example, full-page or interstitial messages are by nature much more immersive, and therefore align better as part of the wider app’s creative or narrative arc (rather than to disrupt it). In contrast, a centred message is designed to grab the user’s attention in a much more direct way.

Ultimately, it is important to ensure that the message in question is both welcome and timely, and does not annoy or frustrate the user. If this is achieved, brands will be able to effectively build trust with users, and ensure that they are kept happy, engaged, and within constant reach.

For more on mobile strategy, subscribers can download Econsultancy’s Mobile Marketing Best Practice Guide.