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Rue La La drives 25pc increase in user sessions with push notifications

Flash sales site Rue La La has steadily increased its use of push notifications over the past year and is finding that the strategy has helped it drive a 25 percent increase in user sessions.

The push notifications are designed to remind shoppers about the daily flash sales held by Rue La La at 11 a.m. every morning. The online retailer first began using push notifications in January of 2011 and ramped up the number of notifications sent during the holiday season.

“We see a lot of benefit and promise for our customers in Urban Airship’s set of tools,” said Ashley Harmeling, marketing director at Rue La La, Boston.

“When push was first available, people didn’t understand how to effectively use it but everyone was still sending notifications,” she said. “

We want to lead the way and send smarter and more tasteful notifications to our customers. When you respect people’s preferences then it’s going to be a very positive experience for all parties.”

Mobile reach
Rue La La sells heavily discounted designer merchandise from brands such as Diesel, Chloe, and Armani through its daily 11 a.m. flash sales. The Rue La La mobile app enables shoppers to purchase items directly from their device.

However, because merchandise often sells out within hours of going on sale, the online retailer needed a way to remind shoppers about the upcoming flash sales and reach customers who may not be in front of their desktop computers while also getting them excited about the brands.

The company decided against email because it did not want the messages to get lost, be ignored or forgotten.

Push notifications made sense for the company because it is already seeing a significant number of sales taking place via mobile. Currently, 18 percent of Rue La La’s business comes through mobile on weekdays and that number jumps to 30 percent on weekends.  

“It is exploding in terms of adoption and popularity as marketers adopt this channel to drive engagement into their apps,” said Brent Hieggelke, chief marketing officer at Urban Airship, Portland, OR.

“Giving that user control and input and using the data to continually drive improvements in the messaging strategy is a really smart and savvy way to use this new communication platform,”  he said.

“As mobile commerce increases, it is great to see marketers like Rue La La diving in and understanding push notifications aggressively,”

Personal preferences
With push notifications, Rue La La can decide what time of day to send out the messages.

The company can also test how shoppers react to changes in the messaging so it can improve the strategy with time.

Currently, Rue La La is testing voice to find out whether the results are stronger if it lists the brands in a sale as opposed to what items are on sale or if it is better to have a fun voice that focuses less on items and brands.

As a result of the holiday jump in the number of push notifications sent, Rue La La increased open rates ten times and increased its number of user sessions by 25 percent.

Rue La La is also discovering the importance of enabling customers to choose when and how frequently they want to receive notifications.

“The more marketers respect people’s preferences, the better it works,” Mr. Hieggelke said.

“Unlike other channels, where you are using a blunt instrument that blasts out messages, because mobile is a such a personal device, users really want input in terms of when a message comes to them,” he said.