Push Marketing Evolving with Passbook

apple passbook

I just recently began to use Passbook on my iPhone when visiting Starbucks. Although I’m proud of my Starbucks Gold Card, I’m pretty happy to reduce the thickness of my wallet by one card. I just hand the barista my phone and they’re able to scan my rewards card in right there! Using the Starbuck’s app, I can reload my card directly from my phone as well.

apple passbook

The Next Web recently did a post all about Passbook and how businesses should jump on board, but a comment on the post really caught my attention. Because Apple integrated Passbook with its notification service, passes become a premium opportunity for businesses to push updates easily to its users.

Here’s a comment from Jim Passell on the article, explaining it’s biggest return on investment:

Every one of my customers who has gotten one of my passes, gets an update weekly of a new offer. Their pass refreshed or notifies them. Or I send them an announcement of coming sales, or a personal note from the store manager, or whatever. So my pass stays on the top of their wallet and becomes my channel to communicate with them. They become a permanent customer, even though they might have started out just a coupon-clipper.

Let’s face it. The inbox is plagued with spam filter issues and consumers have become numb to email marketing. While there’s still an incredible return on investment due to the low cost of email, getting attention is a growing problem. Text messaging is another fantastic push technology, but consumers are often hesitant in subscribing and releasing their phone number for access. Push notifications through mobile applications and apps like Passbook may be your best push marketing opportunity.

We’ve also discussed Geofencing, a proximity-based marketing tactic that incorporates SMS (text messaging) or Bluetooth marketing. Once your mobile device gets in range, you can push notifications. Well, Passbook offers geolocation as a strategy, too. You can literally push a pass update when someone gets within a certain geographic proximity. Best of all, you don’t need any additional technology to support it since it’s built right off of mobile geolocation services.

Since Passbook already requires registration of a ticket, boarding pass, coupon or loyalty program, these are also your most engaged users. They’ve already actively pursued a relationship with your company. And support is not limited to iOS devices, Attido Mobile has developed PassWallet, an Android app that also serves the standard pass packet.

You can develop your own Pass alongside your iOS application using the native library, or you can use an SDK like Passslot. Third party development and management companies include WalletKit, Passdock, PassTools, PassPages, PassRocket and PassKit.


  1. 1

    Hi Douglas,

    I’m the founder/CEO of PassTools, and we’re one of the leaders of the emerging pass building space. Would appreciate you including us in your list as well.



  2. 3

    Well written piece Douglas!

    I lead the product team at Vibes (http://www.vibes.com), a mobile marketing technology company who works with brands and retailers to forge immediate and long-lasting relationships with their customers. We’re making a bit bet on Passbook, already having integrated Pass lifecycle management capabilities (create – deliver – manage – analyze – re-target) into our platform. We’ve launched a Passbook Beta Program and have a number of large, national brands looking to leverage Passbook’s capabilities as part of their broader mobile marketing strategy.

    I wanted to echo your excitement about Passbook. I believe it will revolutionize the way brands engage with their loyal and sometimes-loyal customers. And it has already pushed Google to re-think their Google Wallet strategy.

  3. 4

    Good article, and thanks for sharing on pass development options. Considering the value both to consumer and marketer, it is surprising that a lot more companies have not jumped on board yet as far as adding themselves to Passbook. You are right, it is so super-convenient for the consumer (I’ve used Starbucks app myself ever since purchasing the iPhone5), and certainly seems like a very effective way to market to today’s information-weary audience. Looking forward to seeing more businesses joining Passbook, and getting rid of the plastic in my wallet.

  4. 5

    Great article Douglas and thanks for the mention.

    The push capability is probably the most valued feature of Passbook. Our clients and partners are always impressed when they first experience the lock screen message and the ‘circling update’. It also helps them better integrate Passbook Passes into their business, and engage with their customers. ie they don’t just simply implement a digital replacement of a static coupon or loyalty card.

    Anyone can experience this ‘push update’ for themselves now. Just download the ‘AbraKebabra’ pass from our home page and flip the Pass over to link to the Pass Update URL. This quick video shows how to do it: http://youtu.be/D7i7RsP3MvE

    If you’ve not experienced a Passbook Push it’s well worth giving it a go; and while the AbraKebabra sample Pass illustrates a balance update, the possibilities are limitless (as any field can be updated and ‘pushed’)

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