This sponsored post is produced by IBM Commerce. 

It’s no secret that marketing is changing — the customer should be the center of every message, piece of content, and broader campaign. One of the keys to delivering these awesome experiences is to provide relevant interactions on the channels and devices where customers and prospects are most likely to engage. Whether it’s a mobile push notification, email, or even an in-store interaction, knowing how and where customers want to receive communications is key to marketing success.

Mobile engagement is now essential to the overall customer journy — customers are using their phones and tablets to interact with your app, read your emails, browse your website, and most importantly, follow through with a purchase. In fact, mobile sales on Black Friday 2014 were nearly 30 percent higher than the previous year. So, how can you make sure you’re properly engaging with these mobile users?

Just having an app isn’t enough. Although app retention is on the rise, about one in five apps are downloaded, but never opened or activated. How can you ensure that your mobile properties are a go-to resource for your users, becoming an essential part of their interactions with your brand? Push notifications can not only increase app engagement, but also be key to increasing brand loyalty. Below, are three tips for making the most out of this exciting channel.

1. Determine the goal of your app

Today’s customers are very comfortable using their smartphones and tablets for a wide range of services, going beyond finding a nearest store location or tracking down store hours. Mobile gives companies the power to respond to inquiries and issues in a timely fashion, making customer service more responsive than ever.

So, think about what you want your customers to do in your app. Do you want them engaging with your content, making a purchase, or something else? How often do you want them accessing your app? Answering these questions will help you develop an overall push notification strategy. Remember, align the purpose of your app with what best suits your business goals and what can enhance your customers’ experiences.

2. Integrate your mobile app with your central marketing database

A key part of creating a consistent customer experience across channels is to de-silo your data, and app data is no exception. If it is housed separately from other marketing data, consider building out the necessary integrations so you can realize the app’s full potential.

By feeding the app behaviors you’re capturing into a central database, you can use them to trigger personalized content and interactions across your emails, website, call centers, and more. Likewise, you can use data from these other channels to customize the content in your mobile app for each individual user.

3. Use data triggers to send 1:1 push notifications

Just as emails triggered by a person’s unique behavior or demographic data can increase engagement, so can automated, individualized push notifications. A few ideas for 1:1 push notifications include:

  • Data/event: Appointment, reservation, or payment reminders
  • Behavior: Cart/browse abandonment reminders, package pick-up notices
  • Location: Check-in requests or recommendations/promotions based on the phone user’s location, including iBeacon notices
  • Profile: Combine data in a preference center or user profile with any of the above behaviors to take personalization up a notch

For most marketers, a push-marketing program that combines general broadcast, narrowcast, and 1:1 push notifications allows for maximizing message reach and relevance.

With customers engaging with mobile apps more than ever before, incorporating increasingly sophisticated push notifications into your messaging mix can help ensure you engage these mobile users via their smartphones, tablets, and wearables with the perfect content, at the right moment.

Joshua Rochlin is Global Business Leader of IBM Commerce.

For more information on incorporating mobile push into your marketing efforts, check the IBM Marketing Cloud.

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