People VS. Walking wallets
I was sitting with 2 friends today, talking about their (relatively) new startup. Without giving away too much, the app they created allows one to create some sort of a wishlist for stuff they want to buy, and then sends a notification once one of the items on the list goes on sale.
As far as business objectives, they were spot on. Their business model says they get paid for every purchase made through their app, so it would only make sense they would aim at engaging their users through encouraging them to buy stuff. Right?
Sending this kind of notifications is only one step of the way, and it's not even the most important one. Why not? because people, believe it or not, want to be treated as people. Not just people with wallets. When you're sending a notification only when you want people to open their wallets, it means one thing- you don't care about people, not really. You care about your business, and therefore only about their wallets.
The way to change this perception is easy- think like a person, not like a business. How does your product helps people? what will they want it to do, to make their lives better?
In this example, offering the ability to send reminders that will be set by the user can solve a lot. Remind me when I get home/to work/to the mall, for example. By adding such a feature, you're telling your audience "I care about you. I want to answer your needs first".
But there are business goals, one might claim. I know about those, and appreciate all your goals. If you don't value trust and lasting reputation very high in your goals, you're in the wrong business - no matter what you do for a living. You cannot measure those with pixles and hitmaps, but once it's there, you'll know it's there. You'll know it because like it or not, you're also a person before you're a businessman or businesswoman. And you also don't appreciate businesses trying to reach out only for your wallet and not for you.
So what can you take from this post? Mainly that the first question you should ask yourself is "how does my product do good for people?" and the second is "how can it do so even better?". You want people to tell about your product to their loved ones, not download it as just another app in the endless parade of crap on our smartphones.
Think about the people first. Their wallets should come much later.