How Mobile will be your Inbox

Oct 30

How Mobile will be your Inbox

According to MailChimp open rates across different sectors are currently averaging around 22% – across many sectors and sectors like “deals/offers” is lowest and HALF that for “hobbies”.

In contrast Mobile Push notifications open rates are 3% for general broadcast and 7% for segmented. That also is partially because only 52% of users are accepting push – although younger demographics have been seen up to 76% opt-in. I’ve written before on how “best practice” push permission requests get better uplift. The approach is to ask AFTER you’ve developed the relationship and explained WHY push is good for the consumer, not the sender (marketer or developer).

on the surface, this seems like Apps suck

So, on the surface, this seems like Apps suck, but not if Apple & Google can help it! The Mobile OS vendors are on a mission to replace email – and we agree.

Can you compare Email and Push?

Think about how you relate to your friends – SMS, WhatsApp, calls, FB Messenger – all these are “light-weight”,  quick and get most of the logistics done. Then for long form communications, you fall back to the more “heavy-weight” Facebook or email.

I’ve written elsewhere about how Mobile will be the remote control for your life and the release of iOS8 Interactive Notifications was a great leapfrog over Androids NotificationCompat buttons.

In other words: comparing Push to Email is Apples and Oranges.

What are Interactive Notifications?

Cosmetically your normal push now supports “buttons”. Sounds a bit ho-hum but those buttons are deep-linked engagement into your App – potentially without even opening it.

In these screenshots you can see the push appearing on the lock screen and when you swipe-left you see the buttons that can action your response.

iOS8 Interactive Push Lock Screen

iOS8 Interactive Push Lock Screen

iOS8 Interactive Push Lock Screen Buttons

iOS8 Interactive Push Lock Screen Buttons


This summarizes the StreetHawk mission: “to make interaction the center of the user experience” and two key inflection points.

Inflection Point #1: Your Mobile is the Remote Control for your life

As I mentioned above Apple & Google want to shift YOU away from email. This is why Steve Jobs was pro-App  – the seemingly innocuous “Interactive Notifications” are actually these mega-vendors leap-frogging each other to create more “instant” utility for Apps. Other examples of these features are:

  • Geolocation and Geofences
  • iBeacons
  • Wallets: like Apple Pay and (failed?) Google Wallet
  • Push and now Interactive Notifications
  • Extensions to Android Wear, Apple Watch and other wearables like Fitbit etc
  • Extensions to Internet of Things (IoT) via Bluetooth or network

Apple & Google know that: more context of the users current situation & more options to reach the user in subtle and “light-weight” ways – will be a huge differentiator from email.

Inflection Point #2: Apps will replace email for Engagement

I’ve used this Evolution of Engagement diagram before…

Evolution of Marketing Automation

Evolution of Marketing Automation


Email will always have a place in Customer Engagement but it will be:

  • occasional
  • long-form
  • designed for more detailed or voyeuristic purposes
  • early stages of customer funnel (acquisition)

Apps will take over for deeper engagement:

  • occasional but contextual (the users lifecycle and circumstances)
  • quick, context related interaction
  • action oriented
  • adding value to the relationship (time critical information, location-specific information,

Certainly Facebook Pages and Twitter are a threat to engagement but:

  • still in the broadcast metaphor
  • not personalised or contextual

What about HTML5 Apps?

I wanted to avoid any religious WebApp vs Native App stuff in this post, there are capabilities for Web-push appearing in browsers but the functionality is so far behind and completely under the control of Google and Apple, that the functionality gap is getting larger. Offline operation is a killer problem as well for WebApps.

The trojan inside Interactive Notifications

The killer thing is:

The user never needs to go inside the App

Its not immediately obvious but a button on the lock-screen means the user clicks without going into the App. This is huge – if your a Product Manager or a App Marketer you’ve typically designed to get the App open and then engage the user.

StreetHawk provides many types of interaction from a Push (or interactive Push):

  1. launch the App
  2. deeplink to a screen inside the App
  3. rich push HTML content
  4. Custom Workflows
  5. Custom Function
  6. Send the user to AppStore to rate the App
  7. etc.

Item 4,5,6 don’t require going into the application at all. A classic use-case might be a real-estate application has a change of time on inspection and updates interested buyers. On the lock screen, the buttons might say “Update Calendar”, “Not interested” – that’s nice utility your App has given the user – and you didn’t force them to unlock the phone, navigate to the page, click the button etc.

so you need to start thinking about designing Apps for
utility rather than glorified landing pages.


Key takeaways

  1. the notification center is now more important than the App
  2. this is the new InBox – users will get used to it and Apple/Google are going to figure out how to increase open rates and the UX
  3. Parts of Apps will become atomic, triggered by something from the cloud (like StreetHawk)
  4. Possibly might see more 2-level menu-ing or card-inside-card in Notification Centers
  5. Wearables will be a UI for atomic content.
  6. (Similar to #4) Watch out for more ideas of Apps inside Apps
  7. Your phone/watch is the remote control for your life

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