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Can Marketing Humour Work for Push Notifications?

5 min read
Feb 28, 2019

Who doesn’t enjoy a good giggle from time to time? There is nothing more infectious than a laugh (except perhaps a yawn). This is why mobile marketers should consider adding a bit of comedy to their approach as an attempt to connect with their app users. Using marketing humour will give your brand a competitive edge to help you connect better with your customers and increase customer engagement.

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Why Marketing Humour Works

  • It Grabs our Attention

Mobile users receive countless pieces of information on a daily basis, whether that is through their social media feeds, push notifications, emails or SMS, and it is easy for your content to get lost and go unnoticed. Surprising your users with something funny or unexpected is sure to capture their attention and help you stand out from all the digital ‘noise’.

  • Gets People Talking

Laughter is very much a social thing. So when people find something funny they generally want to share it with others to laugh about it together. Just think of the #DancePonyDance ad by Three. Nobody was really sure what it was about but hey, it got everyone talking and sharing on social media.


  • Makes you Memorable

Take the #DancePonyDance example again… Ok yes, I had to do a quick Google search to remember the brand, but I remembered the ad almost instantly when it came to picking out a marketing campaign I considered memorable.


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  • Triggers an Emotion

One of the most effective ways to market is to trigger an emotion. When we laugh or smile, our body releases endorphins which are the chemicals responsible for making us feel happy and stress-free. If a brand can make you laugh then you are able to connect with them on a different level and feel the same way you do when you’re having a laugh with your friends.

How Innocent Drinks uses Humour on Social Media

Plenty of brands have been hugely successful in using marketing humour on social media. Take Innocent Drinks for example, despite being a juice and smoothie brand, a lot of their social media content is totally irrelevant to their brand. However, for some bizarre reason, it works! I thought I’d share with you a few examples of theirs that gave me a giggle anyway…


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However, just because this approach has worked for Innocent does not mean it will work for all brands. Innocent have branded their personality as light-hearted and fun so that’s why they get away with it.

How to Get Humour Marketing Right in Push Notifications

There are certain factors marketers need to take into consideration before turning into comedian of the year. Get it wrong and you could damage your brand reputation and look completely unprofessional. This is especially true for push notifications, as mobile is a completely different environment from social media. It’s a much more intimate experience and can be seen as more intrusive.

  • Test the Water

Not all brands are destined to be comical geniuses. Just like in your friend group, you can’t all be the funny one, so it’s important to test how your target market reacts to this approach.

8tracks, an internet radio company, showed how their light-hearted and humorous approach worked on their Twitter page but wanted to test how it would fan out on mobile. To gauge a reaction they used A/B/C testing to see how their levels of engagement varied between a playful, funny message (C) and their more typical messages that didn’t use humour (A & B):


As can be seen from the above data, the funny message (C) had the highest engagement rate of 16.39% and a 17.88% uplift in goals achieved. This initial test gave 8tracks the confidence to go out and engage with their mobile app users using humour.

  • Understand your Audience

Not everyone has the same sense of humour so you need to truly understand what would be funny to your target audience. Take the below example from TheLadBible. They have a young target audience of around 16 - 30 and so this push notification would appeal directly to their target market’s sense of humour. An older audience of say 40+ may not understand the humour behind the ‘side app’ reference just as well.


  • Be Consistent

If you are going to be the funny brand then ensure that this is present across all your channels; social media, email, SMS etc.

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  • Think about your Goals

Not every message needs to be funny. Whilst you need to be consistent, there is a time and a place for humour. Marketers need to understand the goals and objectives behind each mobile campaign and make use of humour accordingly. For example, infusing humour into a message where the goal is to increase awareness or raise money for a charity for orphaned children is never going to go down well.

  • Keep it Fresh

Don’t be the annoying friend who always tells the same jokes. If something works and gets a positive reaction then yes, do something similar again, but keep it updated and fresh.

  • Be Timely

Don’t be the brand that pushes out a funny notification when a local or worldwide tragedy has just occurred. This will just make you come across as distasteful and insensitive at a time that is definitely not appropriate for humour.

If used correctly, marketing humour is definitely a great way to engage your mobile app users and connect with them on a different level. For more information on ways to increase your app engagement then don’t hesitate to contact me directly via emma@hurree.co.

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