Riddle us this – if spam costs American consumers and firms nearly $20 billion each year, why on earth do brands continue to do it? Nobody likes it. Nobody wants it. So let’s solemnly swear to stop creating it.
Sadly, spam is part of every industry. It’s so prolific because often, brands can’t recognize their own spammy habits and tactics, or, they don’t know how to get noticed any other way.
And now, spam has made it’s way to mobile too.
A philosopher once said, “Spam is a waste of the receiver’s time, and, a waste of the sender’s optimism.”
We’re all familiar with email spam (junk folder!), direct mail spam (trash!), website spam (down with flashy pop-ups!), and phone spam (do-not-call list!). But what does spam look like on mobile devices? And how do people respond when they get it?
Spammy app marketing takes the form of push and in-app messages that are unsolicited, disruptive, irrelevant, impersonal, ill timed, and poorly designed. In other words, spammy app marketing is a push or in-app message that is blatantly self-promotional and/or delivered to the wrong person, at the wrong time, with the wrong content.
And when people see these, they ignore them. Or worse, they uninstall your app.
Even the best marketers can be guilty of spamming if they stop focusing on the end user. In this case, the end user is the human being who downloaded your app because they thought it would be useful or helpful – not another advertising gimmick.
We searched our smartphones and pulled out some truly terrible app messages that made us sigh with despair. The intentions behind these messages may be good and pure, but the end result is bad (but not hopeless) app marketing.
Below, we dissect the sins of four spammy app messages and give suggestions on how the offending brands can redeem themselves.
Groupon’s app store listing proudly boasts that it delivers unbeatable deals for the best things to do around your neighborhood. Too bad their app’s push notifications don’t project this same level of excitement or enthusiasm for what the brand has to offer. Groupon’s bold promise seems to fall flat in push alerts that are boring, bland, and contain absolutely zero information about the deals in question. How much are these microfiber sheet sets on sale for? When does this sale end? What do I do now?
There’s also no call-to-action that directs us to buy, there’s no language that conveys urgency, and there’s nothing compelling that motivates us to reengage with the app or think of this offer as “unbeatable.”
Groupon is trying to showcase new in-app deals as they become available, but its push messages are too dry and dull to capture anyone’s attention. With some tweaks, this lackluster alert transforms into a stellar app marketing campaign that piques people’s interest.
Here’s how we fixed it:
In-app messages should nurture users through key funnels. In other words, they should influence action and be a catalyst for conversion. However, PackPoint’s pop-up, asking users to purchase the premium version of its app, leaves much to be desired (but wanting to upgrade to the paid version isn’t one of them). Yes, you should advertise different iterations of your app to your current users, but PackPoint’s approach is horribly wrong for a number of reasons.
To start, this in-app message is triggered as soon as a user attempts to input a travel destination (which is the second step of the app’s set-up process). Launching an in-app alert to buy in the middle of a new user’s onboarding experience results in a terrible, disruptive first impression. Second, this in-app message looks and feels bare, cold, and unwelcoming. It doesn’t convey any brand identity, images, or typographic elements to highlight important information – nor does it provide a striking call-to-action button or make good use of white space. Third, it’s overly formal and vague. Even if you read all the text, there is no clarity on what features PackPoint Premium has or why someone should upgrade.
The purpose of PackPoint’s in-app message was to gently nudge loyal users to upgrade to their premium version. However, poor timing, poor formatting, and ambiguity was rendering it ineffective so, we redesigned it into something more appealing.
Here’s how we fixed it:
There are very few scenarios in which it is acceptable to batch and blast a generic push message to all your app users. A new rewards program that affects everyone may seem like one of them, but Papagayo’s announcement is fraught with all the mistakes of a spammy and self-serving push notification.
What was supposed to be an enticing headline instead sounds like a long email squeezed into a push message. This alert fails to generate excitement, uses way too many words, has no call-to-action, and is downright confusing. What is urposse? Why is the correct pronunciation of urposse given precedence over explaining what it is? How is this innovative and secure? How do I sign up? What’s in it for me? None of these questions are answered and Papagayo’s new partnership comes across as a self-serving humble brag.
The launch of a rewards program usually means good news for customers, but Papagayo’s push message fails to make a splash because it’s not short, sweet, or to-the-point. We refocused this push notification around the user benefits to help it receive a better reception in the future.
Here’s how we fixed it:Removed the fluffy, unessential text to shorten it up
Push messages are far too frequent!
No context or details on what each holiday is
No CTA to learn more about these events
Repetitive, uninspired format does not encourage us to celebrate
Constantly bombarding your users with the same push message is like repeatedly poking a sleeping bear – soon enough, it (your users) will get angry and retaliate (delete your app). Sunrise, a calendar app, notifies users of significant events and upcoming holidays. Unfortunately, its well-intentioned campaign spams people with repetitive and hollow alerts that fail to shed any light on what makes each day special. These uninformative push messages appeared within seconds of each other and instantly becoming annoying.
Sunrise’s push notifications are not adequately spaced apart and they don’t inspire joy and celebration. That’s why we rewrote them to be more interesting and delightful.
Here’s how we fixed it:Consolidated multiple push messages into one to avoid bombarding users
What would a world without spam look like?
For one thing, marketers and consumers would live in harmony and have a wonderful, mutually beneficial relationship built on love and trust. By pledging to say no to spam, you can bring us closer to that peaceful utopia.
Dear brands, stop interrupting your customers’ days, stop failing to segment your audience, stop tooting your own horn, and stop earning a one-way ticket to your app’s uninstallation. Win over your app users by showing passion, personality, and purpose.
Your app user is an intelligent individual, not an airhead. Make your app marketing inherently, unequivocally, and remarkably useful for him (or her).
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