Why Mobile Push Notifications May Do More Harm Than Good

There’s a lot of chatter around author circles about using mobile applications and push notifications (text messages) to market books. I can feel the FOMO knocking at the door. We’re talking about applications that send unsolicited messages to a person’s mobile phone. Push notifications and mobile apps come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Let’s explore if they might be a good marketing strategy for you.

Truth is, for 90% of authors, mobile applications and push notifications are not going to be worth your time. Having a mobile app or putting together a Messenger campaign needs the same scrutiny that any other marketing strategy needs. Start with the why and does it fit your platform level. Also, make sure it’s a fit for your readers. Here are a few hoops you need to jump through before considering hiring someone to build a mobile app or signing up for a text message marketing service.

  • Push notifications are, well, pushy. To get into someone’s text message feed is much more intimate than just sending them an email. If you “relationship jump,” as Jerry Seinfled would say, you could be in trouble.
  • Push notifications are not as good for finding new readers as they are for creating awareness of readers that already follow you. You are not going to snag many new readers with phone apps or text messages. App developers and marketing services are trying to sell these services by quoting statistics on mobile phone use. But that is only half the picture you need.  The important piece of marketing research left out is that people are not looking for new products and services in the App Store. Here are just a couple statistics that bring that into focus (sources: Impact and Think With Google).
  1. Only 26% of mobile users start a search with a mobile application. You’re going to need supplemental marketing to get people to discover your app.
  2. 48% of mobile users start a search with a search engine like Google or Yahoo, not an app.
  3. Heaviest mobile app users are 18-24. If that is your demographic, mobile marketing might be worth a shot. But above stats still apply. It will not be a good primary marketing channel. The question to ask: is it worth my time to set this all up?
  • Get the opt-in first. Mobile push notification marketing is much more intimate than email. The text message feed is the last stand of our online privacy. If you push into it without permission, your stock goes down, not up. Make sure you go through the opt-in process before you start.

Bottom line: If you’ve got an 18-24 demographic and you have a well developed platform already–meaning lots of dedicated fans– you may want to give push notifications or mobile apps a shot. But they are definitely not for everyone, especially new authors with just a couple books. Remember less is more when you’re starting out. If you want to keep your FOMO at bay and write more books, this is definitely a strategy to pass on for now.

Here are a couple blog posts that will give you more information if you are exploring these marketing strategies:

7 Types of Push Notifications Users Actually Enjoy

5 Push Notification Strategies to Increase App Engagement