Shutterfly exec: Leverage push notifications sparingly to drive sales spike


One of Shutterfly’s apps

SAN ANTONIO, TX A Shutterfly executive at eTail West said that the company sees a spike every time it sends out push notifications with flash sales, but the marketer stilltries to avoid overwhelming consumers with too many notifications.

During the App and Site Experiences that Deliver Conversions session, executives from StubHub, Alaska Airlines, Gamefly, Choice Hotels, Shutterfly and Smartify discussed the differences between mobile applications and mobile sites and how to optimize for both. The panel was moderated by Bob Moul, CEO of Artisan Mobile, Philadelphia.

You see spikes like email used to be,” said Anne Berger, senior director of ecommerce at Shutterfly, Redwood City, CA. “I think people have email fatigue these days.

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“Push notifications, we dont send them that often, but you can see it every time you send it out theres a spike, and you can do it for flash deals,” she said.

“Our push notifications that have been successful are flash deals that are good for that day only.”

App vs. site
For Shutterfly, the mobile site tends to be a discovery channel for consumers. They may have opened an email on their phone and decided to click through to check it out.

Apps on the other hand, provide unique functionality for Shutterfly, whether it be leveraging a smartphones camera capabilities or other features.

Shutterfly sees higher conversions on its apps compared to mobile sites, but Ms. Berger claims that app users are automatically more likely to convert than mobile site visitors.

The conversion is much higher on the apps, but you also have to think about whos downloading them, she said. Theyre usually your most engaged customers, your brand advocates, so I think youd expect conversion to be higher.

Another company that leverages push notifications is StubHub. Marcus Shelksohn, senior product manager of mobile at StubHub, San Francisco, explained that the company enables consumers to set up keywords for events they may be interested in, and then StubHub can send them push notifications when a new event is posted.

StubHub will also scan a consumers iTunes library and send them notifications when an artist they like is performing at a nearby area.

Really its leveraging the platform and building on it as opposed to porting your desktop site and building responsive for a site, Mr. Shelksohn said. If you want to be cool and a leader in the mobile space you need to do a native app.

With native apps you should start from the ground up, he said. Why would users download this app. Think of your users and cool new ideas. The worst use case is just to copy what youre doing on desktop and not add value.

The panelists

While it is important to create unique functionality on mobile, the panelists advised maintaining consistency across channels at the same time.

Customers are going to tap multiple different screens going through the process, said Hans Horn, director of mobile and emerging channels at Choice Hotels, Rockville, MD. While you dont want it to be identical, you want similarities, keeping the customer signed in.

Have a strategy; also have that basic core functionality that is going to cross platforms, he said. People will come to the app to do things they will do elsewhere.

You have this market-based view or resource based view, what need or functionality do you have and what do customers want. Theres a happy ground between that.

At the end of the day, it is all about testing and better understanding the consumer and his or her interests and expectations from a mobile site and app.

You’ve got to get to know your customer, said Kyle Fuhrer, mobile manager at Alaska Airlines, Seattle, WA. We spend a lot of time talking to travelers at the airport engaging with them as much as you can.

Start with your desktop site and mobile Web, and see what theyre doing. Use those sources to make a good decision around your feature set, he said.

We work really hard to make all our mobile products as good as they can be. You got to think about where the user is when theyre engaging with your brand.

Final Take
Carla Bourque isCEO of Smartify, Pasadena, CA


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