ADOTAS – Today, mobile messaging and commerce services provider Sybase 365 announced a partnership with mobile app service provider Urban Airship to deliver targeted mobile push notifications to customers and potential customers of Sybase’s enterprise clients. By incorporating Urban-supported push notification capabilities to apps, Sybase aims to help its clients message customers based on, for example, the in-app preferences those customers have set, contextual factors or their locations, to name a few. In addition to push notifications themselves, Urban Airship is also providing Sybase services by which businesses can build and analyze push campaigns via the web.
In a phone call this morning, Sybase 365 vice president of product management, hosted services and business solutions Greg Dunn claimed his company handles 1.8 billion messages per day via more than 900 mobile operators around the world, making it “definitely a leader in person-to-person and also enterprise,” he said. In partnering with Urban Airship, he said his crew had wondered, “How do we continue to offer more opportunities to enterprise… as the smartphone user base grows?” Sybase wanted to be able to offer push notifications to its clients, in addition to SMS. “You get into this dialogue with the application,” he explained of the value of mobile messages. “When you walk into a Best Buy, a Home Depot, you get an alert. You get points of you scan blank. Our society likes to feel we’re being treated by that brand.”
Dunn said he’d observed how the market changed during the recent recession, and how those changes brought about challenges for brands to keep their names (and deals) fresh in customers’ minds. Previously, he said, “the customer population stayed very, very loyal. Now we see, with our economy, the brands lost that loyalty. You used to talk about the product life cycle. Now you talk about the customer life cycle.” So, he explained, it’s up to brands to allow more opportunities for customers to engage and to make purchases across multiple platforms, so “that life cycle keeps going and going.”
Dunn pointed out that his company has a global reach, and the number of smartphones around the world is still dwarfed by the number of older handsets. “The legacy-type handsets will always use SMS,” he said. But, he added, “Sybase has been really big in building out applications,” including B2E apps aimed at “making enterprise more productive.” In talking with senior sales execs, he said, he heard a desire to “really start targeting certain customers. How do you get that first engagement with the customer?”
“SMS and MMS oftentimes is the first point of contact with the customer,” Urban Airship CMO Brent Hieggelke explained in a separate phone conversation today, inadvertently answering Dunn. If a customer has downloaded a business’ app, they’re tacitly saying they want to stay in touch with that business, he explained. “These are your most valuable, most engaged customers,” he said.
Push notification campaigns have seen exemplary engagement rates compared to some other forms of advertising or marketing (check out this case study from Urban Airship that ADOTAS published in February), Hieggelke noted that when it comes to marketers adopting those campaigns, “there’s an education gap. ‘Push notification’ sounds technical.” But he calls the Sybase partnership “further evidence that push messaging is becoming a mainstream tool.”
Hieggelke said that while a big part of his company’s goals right now entails “getting our product in the hands of push marketers,” his team is also working on segmenting based on location, in a service he said should be coming out later this quarter, which could reach, he said by way of example, “not only people who live in San Francisco, but were in San Francisco last week. A huge part of the customer’s experience is based on location.”