How does a mobile app compete with traditional content marketing channels?
By Pete Winter

How does a mobile app compete with traditional content marketing channels?

Push notifications and email are both powerful ways to engage your audience, but which one is better for your B2B content marketing success? Let’s take a seat ringside as the two go head-to-head…

“Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein.

Despite what many would have the world believe, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. It isn’t essential to use one channel over another, nor is a blanket approach going to guarantee success.

The right approach is the one that’s driven by data and insight to determine:

  • The correct audience.
  • How they choose to engage.
  • When they choose to engage.
  • What they choose to engage with.

But how can a mobile application fit in and compete with such established marketing channel heavyweights as organic search or email?

Let’s get in the ring. In one corner, it’s a mobile app. In the other, it’s email.

Round 1: Push notifications

We’re all after opt-in subscribers. But even then, how do we turn subscribers who register to receive updates or notifications from us into something measurable and meaningful?

An article by Pushwoosh revealed that push notifications receive, on average an opt-in rate of between 60% and 70% (more than 40% of iOS users and more than 70% of Android users with web notifications having an opt-in rate of almost 90%).

Email? 5% on average.

Verdict? Mobile app takes the opening round.

Round 2 – Click-through rate

Click-through rate isn’t just limited to email or mobile app. It can also be used for advertisements, calls-to-action and many more marketing (and business) related elements. But, specifically, it is a metric that tells us how successful an item is by comparing the number of clicks the item has against the number of times it has been seen.

The same study by Pushwoosh shows that push notifications receive an average of between 17% and 20% click-through rate.

Email? 2-3% on average.

Verdict? Mobile app continues that assault and has email pinned up against the ropes.

Round 3 – Response time

Simply, this is the time it takes the audience to engage with something from the moment they receive it.

Pushwoosh shows that, on average, 30% to 40% of users interact with a push notification instantly. Let’s say that again. Instantly. Not an hour, not a few minutes, but straight away.

Email? The average response time would be 6.5 hours.

Verdict? Mercifully the referee steps in and puts a halt to proceedings before email can take any more damage.

Winner? The mobile app.

The post-match report

Now this isn’t to say that we should all stop sending out emails because that would be absurd. But what the match stats highlight is the importance of understanding your audience and knowing how to engage with them in ways that suit them.

If we know our audience is doing a daily commute and they’re most likely to be using their devices from 7am onwards, then this would be the perfect time to engage with them via a push notification.

Similarly, if our audience are heavy social media users, then you may also want to look at the potential for paid social advertising in the later hours of the evening when social app use is at its highest because it is what the user wants.

That’s the key thing to takeaway here: if your marketing team is coming to you with ideas for x and y but it isn’t backed up with the data to allow them to make an educated and informed decision about how and when to interact with your audience, just what else don’t they understand about the target audience? Start asking! Your ROI depends on it.

Mobile apps can (and should!) be used as part of an integrated, multi-channel marketing campaign. Apps offer potential returns that email just can’t compete with in terms of instant engagement rates.

However, they’re not a magic wand that will deliver you instant success. When used to complement other marketing channels, they will deliver both short- and long-term success as part of your mobile marketing strategy.


  • Push notifications can deliver the kind of instantaneous interaction that email simply can’t.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach, mobile apps are another channel to complement existing channels, such as email and social media.
  • Always make sure your marketing team are feeding you data-driven insights when providing recommendations.

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