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'Fear of Missing Something' Drives Home Screen Alert Usage

Smartphone users pick up their phones nearly 100 times per day

No one wants to be left out, and consumers are turning to their phones’ lock and home screens—what they first see when awakening and unlocking their phones—to stay in the know. According to recent research, US smartphone users spend more time with these screens (26% of the total) than with any other mobile activity.

In October 2013, Mobile Posse and Phoenix Marketing International found that “fear of missing something” (FOMS) was one of the top trends reshaping how consumers used their smartphones—and more importantly, their lock/home screens. According to the study, today’s always-connected, always-on consumers pick up their phones nearly 100 times daily—and more than half of respondents said notifications were the first thing they checked when doing so. Those notifications likely don’t go unread for too long. Over one-third of smartphone users looked at their phone immediately after getting an alert.

And those alerts are frequent: On average, smartphone users had signed up for at least one notification from eight of the 14 categories included in the survey. And nearly one-fifth of respondents had signed up for every category—blame it on a severe case of FOMS.

“Traditional” ways of staying connected via mobile—calling, texting and emailing—were the leading push alerts respondents used. Social media also ranked highly (65%), likely due to the real-time updates—about everything from friends’ personal lives to breaking news—posted on such platforms. Thanks to FOMS, every app included was cited by around one-third of respondents or more.

Mobile apps were another top alert, and polling by mBlox confirmed app notifications’ high real estate value. Among mobile app users worldwide, SMS/push notifications were the No. 1 type of marketing message that would persuade them to make a purchase, cited by 57% of respondents—nearly four times more than the second-highest response, email marketing.

But marketers have yet to take full advantage of FOMS-ridden consumers. In an October 2013 survey by Forbes Insights and Adobe, just one-third of executives worldwide said they used push notifications to drive customers to their mobile app.

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