With the 2015 holiday season about to take hold this month, marketers are naturally ramping up their mobile messaging campaigns.

 

According to the technology research company, Gartner, over 50% of commerce will be conducted on mobile devices by 2017. Brands need to reach smartphone and tablet users, but when, how often, and with what content?

 

New data from Gartner’s 2015 Retail Mobile Messaging Study indicates that messaging frequency, the “how often,” is a key metric that can make or break any mobile campaign. The study conducted an eight-week program to experiment with brands messaging to their mobile app users. The questions posed were these: 1) Would more frequent messages improve engagement and sales? and 2) Or would they cause annoyance and increase opt-out rates? The answer was quite clear: more frequent messaging led to a significant uptick in engagement.

In their marketing study, the distributed messages to app users encouraged use of key app features such as list generation, favoriting items and also announced holiday-oriented promotions. The result? The more messages the user received, the more often they engaged with the app. This is in direct contrast to current thinking that indicates customers view messages as invasive and thus choose to interact less with the app.

 

The evidence is strong that brands that message more, sell more. Here were the biggest takeaways:

 

Call to Action: The users who received “heavy” messaging (+3 messages over a weekend) followed a call to action more often than customers who received “light” messaging (only one message over a weekend.)

Foot Traffic: A more frequent digital message distribution can boost foot traffic to traditional brick-and-mortar stores. In one set of messages, 11% more shoppers took a store locator action (ex: viewing store details) when they received heavy messaging as compared to light messaging.

Successful Promotions: Higher messaging frequency increased the success of special promotions. Shoppers who received multiple messages from the retailer engaged with holiday products 11% more often than shoppers who didn’t receive any messages.

 

It’s not just the frequency of messaging that boosts app engagement. The direct content matters, too. Holiday-related content generated more lift than non-holiday content, and consumers had higher engagement if they could scan a barcode from the app. Some messages were purely utilitarian in nature, meaning they encouraged recipients to view shopping lists, add items to shopping lists, sort items by aisle, or use a product finder to search for items in the store. Audiences viewed these messages as inherently useful and thoughtful to their own needs vs. the company’s needs. The results on this front were impactful: the campaign logged an almost 15% increase in a sales lift.

 

So what can companies take away from this report? Don’t follow up too infrequently with customers and potential customers. Keep your messages direct and special promotions easy to understand. Make sure what you are saying is important and relevant to your consumer base. If you follow these simple rules, you’ll forge a better relationship with customers, and you may just get some great results from your holiday messaging campaigns to boot.