Alerts and Notifications

A Picasso, a freight train, and how to make your business’s alerts and notifications stick out from the noise

  • Chris Piwinski
    Chris Piwinski
  • 1 month ago

Finding the balance between utilty and experience in your alerts and notification strategy. 

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Art and function. Experience and utility. A Picasso painting and a freight train. Individually, each serves a purpose. One for enjoyment, one for functionality.

In customer engagement, you need both: utility to make your campaign useful to your customer, and a delightful experience to make it enjoyable.

But you can’t just stick a Picasso painting in a freight train and call it a day.

Connecting utility and experience to enhance the customer journey requires thinking differently about how to make these two concepts actually work together.

Alerts and notification messages are one powerful way to marry these two concepts to improve consumer trust, but first you must break through the noise—a growing challenge in today's digital world.

And while it might seem simple, elementary even, to just send a mass message about a change in store hours or push out a generic delivery notification, in doing so, you miss a valuable opportunity to differentiate your brand by finding the connection between experience and utility.

So while everyone else is sticking paintings on trains and calling it success, below are best practices for creating a scalable, personalized customer experience that will make your customers want to stick around long term.

Leverage data to make informed engagement decisions

When an artist creates a painting, they aren’t thinking, “What would my audience like to see? Where should I post this? Should I take into consideration their schedules and preferences?” No way! They’re not creating it for their audience. They’re creating it for themselves. But they can do that—they’re artists, after all.

As a business owner, you don’t have the luxury of creating exclusively for creation’s sake. In order to not alienate your audience, you have to consider them every step of the way.

So why are so many business owners approaching alerts and notifications like artists?

With 94 percent of consumers reporting that they are annoyed by the current communications they receive from businesses, considerations around channels and personalized messaging need to be recognized when delivering information at scale.

Another consideration? Timing. In our recent consumer engagement survey, 83 percent of respondents preferred email as the main mode of communication from businesses unless it was urgent, in which case, texts were more than twice as popular.


Use your existing customer data, and the wealth of information in the survey above, to create alerts and notifications tailored to different audience demographics, preferred channels, and touchpoints within the customer journey.

Build for your current needs

The communication you send needs to serve a useful function in your customer’s businesses or lives, or you risk them getting off your communication train.

Organizations should be equipped to reliably supply accurate, real-time updates and information, as well as provide intelligent answers on the channels their customers prefer.

In building your own alert system, consider the following approaches:

  • Start simple: Start with a single channel that delivers basic information based on the content your customers and employees need. For example, a change to store hours or a COVID-related health update. Not sure which channel to start with? There’s an ebook for that here.

  • Make it multi-channel: After establishing a quality single channel, consider personalizing your alerts further by giving customers the option of choosing the channels that work best for them. Personalization improves consumer and employee trust and that’s especially important in differentiating your brand from your competitors.

  • Build for intelligence: Take personalization in your alerts to the next level through Interactive Voice Response (IVR), chatbots, and artificial intelligence to give customers even more autonomy over the conversation. Being able to solve a problem or get answers for themselves through your alert system deepens both the experience and the value of your customer’s communication with your brand. More on that below.

Learn more about the increasingly sophisticated approaches to notifications here.

Scale for the future

We live in a world of constant distraction. With incessant notifications, reminders, and alerts, it’s hard to be present for any experience, much less one created by a business to sell something to you.

Because of this, it’s not enough to talk AT customers anymore. You have to continue to work to speak with them. In taking that conversation to the next level, scaling for developing technologies while creating your alerts and notifications system today will help continue to differentiate your customer communication in the future.

This means leveraging AI and automation in your alerts system so you can create an experience that demonstrates seamless utility for your customers and cuts down on human support costs for your business.

It also means taking a moment to pause to consider the larger context of the reality your customers are living in.

The idea here is that while you may start with an alert or notification, conversational technology allows for your customers to follow up and receive more personalized messaging depending on their needs as well as the ability to follow up on the channel of their choosing.

Being able to find the sweet spot of scaling for that personalized experience and delivering useful and meaningful content to your customer will be integral in business communication into the future.

In considering your business’s message and alerts system, be thoughtful about creating utility and experience for your customer. They get enough ‘art on a freight’ train alerts.

Learn how to create a differentiated customer experience with both utility and delight in mind with this new ebook and free developer kit.

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Edition 1 | Winter 2021
  • Edition 1 | Winter 2021
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Chris Piwinski

Chris Piwinski

Chris Piwinski is a product marketing manager at Twilio where he works on programmable messaging. His focus is on how organizations can drive trust and engagement with their customers through channels like SMS, WhatsApp, and more. Prior to Twilio, Chris spent time in product marketing, sales, and project management at LinkedIn, Headspace, and a payments technology startup.