Wednesday morning. 11.43am

Take a look at the above push notification I received recently from LinkedIn. My first (and natural, we’ve all done it) inclination – I wonder who’s been checking me out? So I had a peek at who was peeking at me. Hmm. That’s odd – the push definitely said I was getting noticed. Appears I’m not…

Appears not indeed. And it turns out that this push message is not isolated. It is part of a LinkedIn ‘fire and forget’ campaign designed to game app engagement. You see, every Wednesday at approximately 11:30am, I receive the exact same push message, irrespective of whether I’m getting noticed or not….

This mildly annoying campaign became infuriating last week. I was in San Francisco, asleep, only to be awoken by the LinkedIn bot at 3:34am (11:34am Dublin time, Ireland): Hi Barry, you’re getting noticed….

This weekly spam is artfully designed in its own way – faking relevant information to drive engagement. It exploits the tendency (sometimes known as the Barnum effect) to accept certain information as true, such as character assessments or horoscopes, even when the information is so vague as to be worthless.

But ultimately, this is a lazy campaign that damages the user experience. It’s a great example of mobile marketing that does little more than take the approach of desktop or email marketing (scheduled weekly updates to large user groups) and simply apply it to mobile. Using this trick, they probably get some people coming back into the app. And I’m sure it’s effective to some extent, right until the sleight-of-hand is discovered – at 3:34 in the morning.

What’s particularly irritating is that this would be so easy to fix. It simply requires two simple amendments:

  • Send the message at a time when I am likely to respond. I mean me, personally. If I have a habit of checking LinkedIn within a particular time frame, send the message during that period. Engagement rates typically double when mobile businesses make that simple step.
  • Only deliver an update when it is truly relevant to me. The standard weekly ‘ping’ becomes routine and pointless. An alert ‘in the moment’ when an unusual volume of activity has taken place is almost certain to be more effective in the medium term.

Not too much to ask. And mobile success stories are made when businesses go the extra mile to make ‘native mobile’ experiences like these.

Read more: LinkedIn App vs. Desktop: Which Should You Be Using?