Any brand that uses push notifications as a marketing strategy, uses them as a part of a larger campaign, not only to push traffic to their content. There are plenty of examples of how push notifications can be used. The truth is they are powerful for both websites and mobile apps.
Brands like National Geographic and Ford have successfully leveraged this power to get customers engaged with their content. The importance of using push notifications for mobile marketing cannot be overstated. Just have a look at mobile users statistics:
- 80% of Internet users own a smartphone. (Source: Smart Insights Mobile Marketing Stats)
- 50% of those smartphone users look at their smartphones as soon as they wake up. (Source: Express Pigeon)
- 52% of mobile users have push notifications enabled. (Source: Localytics Blog)
Obviously, this is a marketing channel with very high potential for engagement.
And not just for mobile. This stunning graphic from PushCrew shows just how widespread Web (browser-based) Push Notifications are.
But if your push notifications are struggling to perform, you might wonder what went wrong. It calls for a thorough audit. When implementing a new push notification strategy, you should be looking at the tips given below.
What is a Push Notification and How it works?
Push notifications are short popup messages sent by a web-based application’s server to the application’s client. They’re a great tool to improve your app’s engagement level and website traffic.
To understand the definition, first we must under client-server communication.
Server is any computer/program that sends information over a network to the client, which is the receiving computer/program.
In a typical client-server exchange, the client asks for data and the server sends the requested information.
We use “push notification” when the server sends the information to the client without the client asking for it. So, the information is “pushed” by the server to the client.
They can be of two types:
- Desktop notifications
- Mobile notifications
How to reach users with push notifications
Apple Push Notification Service was first launched in 2009 for iOS devices.
Android devices soon started using their own service. On Android, the service iterated to become Rich Notifications.
For web push notifications, W3C Push API is used.
To send mobile notifications, the mobile app has to ask for permission during installation. So all apps generally come with all notifications enabled as users typically install apps quickly. However, if you overdo the frequency of these notifications on apps, the user can also revoke the app’s notification permission from his phone’s settings.
For desktop notifications, the website asks permission the first time it loads on the browser. These are browser-specific notifications. So if the user has allowed your website’s notifications on Chrome, he won’t be seeing them if he opens the website on Firefox.
The browser on which the user gave consent for the notifications must be open and must be connected to the Internet for the user to receive them. Notifications are not delivered if the browser app is closed.
How are push notifications added to an application?
To implement mobile app notifications, you will use the specific push notification service provided by each mobile OS.
There are different algorithms (such as long polling, poll streaming, etc) to implement these. These can be implemented while connecting your app’s functionality to the OS push notification service.
This notification service is like “the middleman” between your mobile app client and your app’s server. It will help the client and server exchange push notification messages and other commands used as a part of the algorithms.
The contents of the notifications can be what the OS service enables the app to add. Most of these services enable
- text-only notifications
- rich notifications with images
- notifications in 2 or 3 column layouts
- multiple CTA buttons linked to different in-app pages.
What are the benefits of push notifications?
There are a few reasons why these kinds of notifications have almost become mandatory tools in any content marketing strategy.
- They are sent on an opt-in basis. These short messages won’t be pushed if the user doesn’t allow them. So they remain non-intrusive ways of communicating with the user.
- Strategically timed push notifications are extremely powerful audience engagement tools. For example, geographically aware notifications sent when the user is close to a physical store of a brand chain can help drive sales.
- They can also help customer retention rate if sent at the right time
- These notifications are very cheap to implement. They’re also highly directed in comparison to ads, where ads may or may not served to existing customers. All you need to implement them are the features of the existing app.
Challenges of push notifications
The first challenge is to get users to opt-in for your notifications. For web notifications, you will likely get only one opportunity to ask permission. This means your opt-in cannot the natural browser notification mechanism, but instead use custom pop-up that manages browser notification in its background code.
Push notifications on Android apps are opted-in during installation as all apps have their notifications by default. Even if the user individually stops the app notifications, you can build features that request users to enable the notifications to be able to use features. For example, sports live score apps can’t function fully if the users turn these off.
iOS notifications are tricky because Apple devices don’t automatically enable all notifications. The app must ask for each type of notification when the user is using a related feature for the first time. This puts the control of opt-in in the hands of the user and puts more pressure on app developers to provide great value and amazing user experience simultaneously.
Some brands can balance engagement and timing perfectly. Some others end up spamming their users so much that the user ultimately gets annoyed and uninstalls the app.
A major challenge with these notifications is figuring out the optimal frequency and the optimal time to send them so you don’t turn off your customers.
How can push notifications help your conversion rate?
Before we can start repairing the conversion rate of your notifications, let’s look at some general uses of using these.
- Send users to your social media channels
- Sending special product offers
- Bringing them back to their abandoned product carts
- Getting users to trust your brand by sharing high-value content with them (use them as a content marketing tool).
- Improve customer retention rates
You might want to review the list to make sure your strategy has clearly defined goals to take advantage of each of these applications of push notifications.
Tips for a high throughput push notification strategy in 2019
So you want to start sending push notifications? That’s great. But do you have a strategy in place? Do you know what is the contribution of these notifications on your overall marketing strategy? Without clear answers to these questions, a strategy is as useless as a moist cookie.
To help you make that decision, we have compiled some crucial tips for implementation of push notifications on all platforms – desktop web, mobile web, and mobile apps. By following these tips, you too can increase your conversion rates, improve customer retention, and achieve other marketing goals.
Golden Tip #1: Take Permission after building the trust
I get turned off whenever I see a website asking to display push notifications on the first visit.
Why do they think that I would let them intrude my notifications when I don’t even know their content/product?
I will tell you why. You see, a customer accepting push notifications can mean two things:
First, they trust you – and what brand doesn’t want trust! Right?
Second, it guarantees a consistent channel of traffic. The value of this channel is even more significant for startups who don’t have great market traction or any organic traffic.
Which is why it is easy to get carried away and ask all of your visitors to subscribe to your notifications right on their first visit.
But they are misusing the channel.
Push messages are not just a way to increase your traffic, they are a channel to help advance your relationship with the customer. This means you should already have a relationship before asking for consent to opt-in.
When you ask the first-time visitor to subscribe to your notifications, they might say something to the tune of “Hey, thanks for the offer, I’d rather decline”.
Now consider a situation where the same visitor knows your brand, has visited your website at least three times and is a part of your email list.
When this customer sees you asking for permissions to show browser push notifications, their response could well be “hey, I know you, I like your content. Sure, please send me your latest updates directly to my browser”.
For mobile apps, one difference would be where you ask for this permission. iOS users have to explicitly consent for every access permission, while Android users have these permissions turned on by default.
In either case, your strategy wouldn’t be very different – First build trust, then ask for consent.
This is the point where many novice marketers might say “hey if the channel is available, why not leverage it to the max!”.
This is partly true. While you want to take advantage of the channel, you also don’t want to come across as push (which is also another way to say “needy”).
You can’t make the visitor go against their natural instincts. Forcing them to do so will only breed distrust.
When asking for their consent, make sure you allay on of their concerns for spam. This requires a simple message that informs them how they can turn off these notifications if and when the time comes.
Golden Tip #2: Segmentation
Let me ask you a question: When you cook at home, do you put cheese in every dish? The obvious answer is NO. (Unless you are a Keto freak!)
This single analogy helps define so many principles for a sound notification strategy. There’s enough empirical evidence for the efficacy of segmentation.
According to PushEngage (a popular provider), segmentation can increase click-through rates by up to 218% depending up on the type of industry.
Some marketers simply don’t like to segment – they are fine with sending the same message to everyone in their list.
Do you know who says it like that? A politician.
A naturally conniving sub-species of Homo Sapiens whose only purpose is to convince the spectators to vote for them.
Because they can’t really segment (and hold different rallies for different types of audiences), they have to work on unifying their messages.
They don’t care about not appearing as a hypocrite because they are speaking to everyone at the same time.
As a marketer, your goal should be to present the right notification message to the right audience at the right time.
Also, you will never have a fully qualified audience. Law of Averages says if there’s a surge in a number of marketing-qualified leads, it will be averaged out by a similar number of unqualified leads over a certain period of time.
Finding the “right audience” needs work.
The phrase “right audience” can further be divided based on their purchase history and interaction patterns with your brand’s online assets. Some may have never heard about the product, while some have finished their full research and maybe evaluating your product against that of your competitors’.
Unless you are locally limited business catering to a very narrow audience, everyone in your audience will have a different optimal time of activity.
Global businesses have to consider different time zones too. Finding the “right time” for your right audience will also need work.
Geographical and regional differences may also exist. Some users may be dormant, while some may hyperactive. My point is, differences are endless.
While the actual number of audience segments that YOU identify may not be as many, segmentation still remains the primary tactic to do your marketing the right way! (blockquote).
To segment your audience the right way, try answering this question about them:
- What is their age group?
- What is the mix of genders in your audience? Are there any other genders besides male/female? (especially important if you are marketing to LGBTQ community).
- What are their needs and motivations?
- Can you list their common and uncommon problems those which you can solve with your product/service?
- What are their general interests that are related to their interest in your business niche? For example, pregnant women may be interested in baby care products and baby proofing products f or their They want to be able to talk within their community too. There are apps that let them track baby’s development on a weekly basis.
You also want to personalize the notifications.
This means to add their first name; it gets their attention immediately.
Depending on the type of notifications you send, you may be able to implement a deeper level of personalization. For example, you can send an abandoned cart notification with the name, category, and image of the product.
There’s no doubt in my mind that push notifications work really well for your marketing growth and to keep your community of prospects engaged. However, keep in mind that you have to tailor your notifications according to their interests and needs.
And having a solid base of data will make this step easier. As I said before, you will collect their website visit patterns, their profile data, and (in case of mobile push notifications), their in-app usage/behavior data.
Segmentation allows you to send relevant, customized, and timely notifications to each audience segment, thereby maximizing your chances for engagement and conversion.
Golden Tip #3: Select the right kind for each message
Technically speaking, push notifications are simple blocks of text with a headline, a subheadline, one or more CTA buttons, and (sometimes) a Settings button.
There are several creative ways to use the structure of push notification. If used right, they can stoke positive emotions and the positive feeling gets reinforced when they click the CTA.
You can entertain them, make them feel loved, or even simply remind them of their account renewal date. There are several uses of these notifications. But which type of push notification should you send for what purpose?
Let’s see some creative ways to use them.
Funny or inspirational messages
A simple, encouraging message from a loved one is often enough to get one through the day. With these notifications, your brand gets to be that loved one for your leads and customers.
Here, the 12MinuteAthelete (a HIIT workout provider) is encouraging users to start working out with a short inspirational message.
These delightful little messages (along with a few other incredibly well-made ads converted me from an intrigued Headspace lead into a loyal paying customer.
I love fitness tracking apps, especially ones that remind me to drink water every hour. There are other things you could remind your users about too. For example, if your user hasn’t filled out his/her profile, that’s a candidate for a reminder notification.
If they saved some content in your app, you could remind them to check the saved links too. For example, a job search app could remind users to finish applying for jobs they saved.
Is there a piece of breaking news that your audience should be tuned into? Remind them with a push notification. Have you just released an update to your existing product or maybe a brand new video program? Push this information to them. People are busy enough in their work lives, your reminders could slowly become their handle to your industry.
Nudge to take action
You know, your users have a busy life. They are often doing a lot of things simultaneously. As a result, they may leave certain actions incomplete. You could remind them to finish these actions.
For example, abandoned cart remarketing ads work really well for e-commerce companies. They can also be delivered through app notifications. Another great example would be check-in reminders for flight apps.
This is arguably the best, most powerful use of app notifications. To implement this notification, your app needs access to GPS location from the user’s phone. If your app provides a location-based service, read the user’s location and send relevant content/offers that he/she can use in that area.
For example, a dining app like Zomato can tell me which are the best restaurants (or the most popular meals) when I travel to a new city. This notification can take me directly into the restaurant’s menu without having to even open the app.
A travel app can share the blog on the history of a particular city when the user travels to that city. It can also share an article on the “must-visit” places too.
Can’t decide which location-based notification you want to send? Have a look at this exhaustive list:
- New product information
- Active offers and deals
- Rewards received
- Store locations and their closing hours
- Aisle guidance and other helpful notifications to improve the in-store experience.
- E-receipts for offline purchases. (minimizes paper usage).
Push notifications are also an ideal way to implement scarcity marketing reminders. Send them reminders when a time-bound offer is about to expire. Don’t go overboard with these end-of-the-deal reminders; it’s very easy to send spam notifications instead of genuine reminders with scarcity marketing.
These notifications can be easily used for upsells and cross-sell in e-commerce industries. For example, if they just bought a winter sweater, remind them to buy socks, mittens, and winter caps.
Want to make it a more personalized recommendation? Send them directly to your best selling product page so that they order directly. This page should include a link to the aforementioned search page, in case the users don’t like the best-selling product.
An even more personalized recco would be based on analysis patterns of the user. Since this recommendation will be tailored to the user’s needs, he/she will find it hard to say no.
Are there specific events or points in your user’s day that they would like to be reminded of? Give them full control over such notifications on your app’s Settings screen. An example would be Twitter’s notification system:
Golden Tip #4: Send notifications at the right time
While notifications are extremely powerful to engage your audiences, wrongly timed notifications simply end up disturbing their lives. You want them to engage with your content. And if they are not in the optimal state of mind to consume it, that defeats the purpose.
So figuring out the right time to send a notification is a challenge.
Having said that, finding the right time slot isn’t as much of complicated mystery as it is about common sense. You don’t want to send them these notifications when they are busy, you want to target sending them during the pockets of free time your audience will have in the day. It’s as simple as that!
For example, if your audience is comprised of salaried professionals, they are likely to check their phones during early mornings travel to work, their lunchtimes, or when they travel back to home in the evening. If it’s a general informational notification, you send it during these slots.
If it’s a reminder notification and if the action is time-sensitive, a different set of rules will apply. And these rules may change according to the type of audience, your industry, and the goal you are trying to achieve.
A study from Localytics found out the right times to send notifications for maximized engagement was Tuesday through Friday in the afternoons (barring weekends). But you will likely need in-depth research of your own. Make sure you consider the most important factors such as the type of audience and their engagement hours within your industry.
Here’s another graphic showing how you can decide when to send what message.
(Source: iZooto Blog)
Golden Tip #5: Adjust the sending time according to users’ local time zone
Do you want your notifications to convert well? Do you want to delight your users with content and value?
In the modern global economy, nothing is limited to just your country. Your visitors could be from anywhere and everywhere in the world.
Not considering time zone customization in your strategy is purely ignorant. For users outside of your base country, it won’t delight them. Instead, it will startle and surprise them with marketing messages at the wrong time.
Besides, you don’t want to commit any marketing blunders like sending them discounts for bagel and coffee when they are reading a book on the bed and are about to sleep.
Golden Tip #6: Write engaging content
Engaging content is really the germ of success for all push notifications. You have to maintain the balance between information/persuasion and length due to the limited space you have.
While it is easy for many messages, it can be challenging to write content for complex messages.
Let’s look at some tips create engaging content:
Keep it simple, don’t try to do too much at once
Keeping the focus on a single message is one of the most fundamental concepts in copywriting. All great copywriters know this!
So don’t try to do too much with your content or else you may end up confusing the users. If you are trying to fulfill a specific goal, start with that and end with that.
If your goal is driving traffic to your website, write notification accordingly. Provide the users with a promise of benefits/value they will get after reading your content.
If it’s an offer, try adding deadline pressure along with benefits. Different goals will require different writing styles. Before you start writing, be sure of the one goal you want to optimize it for.
By “trying to do too much” I mean writing content with more than one goal in mind. You want to avoid that.
Use your creativity to craft compelling notifications
Keeping in line with the first point, you want to capture one benefit and use it to drive your notification. To do so, start your push text with a verb that indicates that benefit.
Besides plain English sentences, you can also mix and match creative styles to come up with engaging notifications.
Here is are few ways to create engaging copy:
- Try telling a joke
- Use metaphors to compare the benefit across niches (one being your niche, the other being a very common interest area for your audience).
- Rhyme your words to create novelty
- Try entendres
- Allude to any of your audience’s past experiences and use it to make your current notification relatable.
Golden Tip #7: Test with notifications in regional language
Let’s face it: As much as I love English, I also know that it’s improbable that all people I converse with will understand the language. That’s applicable to your audience too.
You want to make your notifications as natural as possible for them. And what’s more natural than their regional language?
Communicating to your audience in their regional language has many benefits:
- It provides them satisfaction and therefore higher engagement levels for your brand.
- It is more effective for certain types of marketing messages, especially for offers and discounts in their native language.
- It creates a very personal, long-term connection with the brand, resulting in more loyal customers and improved user retention
So if your audience has a significant number of users from non-English-speaking countries, consider localizing your site or app content along with your notifications. There are many online translation service providers listed on sites like PeoplePerHour, HubStaff Talent, Guru, Fiverr, and Upwork.
Golden Tip #8: Add images
When you add visuals to your content, it increases the persuasive appeal of your notifications thereby increasing the chances of the user engaging with it.
According to a study by PushEngage, adding large images in your push notifications can increase your CTR by up to 62%. However, the increase is not uniform across all industry.
This graphic on the same blog details the findings of the report.
(Source: PushEngage Blog)
As you can see, users on deal sites and entertainment sites respond the most to large images while users in financial service and education industry don’t prefer large images.
Roughly speaking, whether you add small images or large images, it can help your notifications in the following ways:
- It gives a unique identity to your notifications
- It delivers a powerful impact on your users. If you use the right kind of images, you can increase the number of your repeat visitors too.
- It adds a visual cue to the notifications, ensuring that users won’t forget them for a long time in their day (even after then have closed or ignored the notifications).
CTA is what helps well-written copy convert. It’s the culmination of the marketing message communicated by your copy and visuals. It’s written specifically to invite people to act on them.
If you have never used CTA in your push notifications, here are a few applications of it:
- Targeting multiple segments with different CTA on the same notification. This image below suggests how you can use this. Note that it can be used for further personalization as well.
(Source: PushEngage Blog)
- Sell different products relating to the same notification content.
- Use one CTA for positive content and add negative intent copy on the other CTA to make it your “close notification” button. For example, let’s say you are promoting off-season discount on one of your best-selling products, one CTA would read “Buy with Discount”, and the second one will read “I don’t need the discount”.
Golden Tip #10: Nurture leads with these notifications
For brand new subscribers who are in the early stages of brand exposure, share content that helps them know and get excited about your products. Also share other tips that can help solve their problems without the use of your product.
This creates much-needed brand recall. If you help them solve one problem, they will seek your help next time too.
For subscribers on the free plan, the easiest type of notification content is the benefits they will gain after buying the paid plan.
You can also twist this and send links to testimonials/case studies in your notifications. These notifications will leverage social proof to get free subscribers to convert into paid customers.
For those who are already your paid customers, send promotions for upselling and cross-selling that are tailored specifically for them.
With a smart mixture of email marketing and push notifications, you can push your conversion rate to its highest-ever levels.
Golden Tip #11: A/B test
All marketing methods require testing of some sort to know what your audience responds the best to. The most successful campaigns are rarely born out of sheer luck; they require careful, intentional modifications.
For making an A/B testing strategy that gets the best results, the marketing manager must be ready to experiment beyond his comfort zone.
To create a smart strategy, you will need a solid customer persona. This is a document capturing everything you know about your audience and should be, ideally, rich in actionable marketing information.
(Source: PushEngage Blog)
Here are some general steps you can follow if you are new to A/B testing:
- Create an assumption based on the information you see in your customer persona and document it in the A/B Test document.
- Decide what should change to test the assumption. Decide the variation and run the test.
- Measure the test using various KPIs (described below).
- Process the results of A/B test and gain insights about whether your assumption is true (and to what degree).
Here are some of the things you can experiment with::
- CTA copy
- Full notification copy
- Specific words in the notification copy (both variations being synonyms of each other and rest of the sentence being the same)
- The tone of the notification text
- The timing of sending the notification
Golden Tip #12: Measure your engagement with the right KPIs
For sustained performance, your campaigns need to be tweaked periodically by experimenting with different elements. This is called A/B (Split) testing, which you just learned about in the previous step.
Knowing which metrics are the right ones to measure gives you the confidence you need to conduct focused and informed A/B tests.
Here are some common metrics essential to the success of a push notification strategy:
Subscribes and Unsubscribes Count
Track it on a daily basis and weekly basis. If you want more people to subscribe to your notification, consider asking for permission a week after they have installed your app (or subscribed to your newsletter).
This allows you to first build trust through your content and that makes it easy for the users to give you permission.
To reduce the count of unsubscribers, look at where they are coming from and when are they being shown the notifications.
While unsubscribing, make sure you collect the reason with a single-question form. These reasons and the source and time of unsubscribes should give you the fair idea what’s going wrong.
The delivery rate of all notifications over time
In most cases, the notifications would be delivered to all users who have subscribed to them. Watch this stat for any dips and find patterns in these dips to narrow down the cause. If your notifications are not being delivered, this process will help you know where and why.
CTR of all notifications over time
Like delivery rates, CTR also gives a good idea of how your notifications are performing.
Again, notice the categories of notifications that give you more CTR on a consistent basis. Conduct A/B tests on them to know why they are working.
Once you gain the insights of what’s working with your audience, you can apply those lessons to your notifications that aren’t working.
Historical patterns of CTR will give you long-term visibility into what external and internal factors affect the performance of your notifications.
Consumption platforms for your Push Notifications
Where are the majority of notification conversions happening for your company? Is it on Chrome web or Chrome mobile? Is it on your mobile app?
Answering these questions gives you clarity about your traffic sources. You will also get an idea of what kind of notifications are most accepted on which platform.
You can then tweak your strategy to align with your marketing goals.
For example, if your users are clicking on mobile app notifications at night and on browser notifications during the day, then you can change where your high-value offers are delivered during those time intervals.
Best usage examples in marketing campaigns
Now you know what steps you need to take to increase the conversion rate of your push notifications. So many brands implement them but not all of them succeed.
Analyzing these successfully executed notifications can give you effective insights and perhaps even some creative inspiration for your own app/website.
Let’s see how best these brands use these notifications to further their marketing goals.
Example #1: Leanplum Travel – Hotel Booking Reminder
(Source: RubyGarage Blog)
This is my favorite use of reminder notifications. The user has bought travel tickets to Atlanta so obviously, he would need to book a hotel room to stay in the city. The app uses this simple “if-then” association to discover the user’s needs and show him a notification accordingly.
If the user doesn’t have a private place to stay in the city (say, a relative’s house), he would most likely use the Leanplum app to book his hotel reservation.
And because Leanplum made it so easy by reminding him to finish his travel plans, he is much more likely to use Leanplum again.
Example #2: Instagram – Profile Action Alerts
(Source: RubyGarage Blog)
Instagram does it best. Every time when someone interacts with the user’s profile, the app sends a notification to alert them of this action.
Given how wired to instant gratification, social users will find it hard to ignore these notifications. If the amount of activity is high, it will drive users to engage with the app.
Example #3: Duolingo – Location-based Reminders
(Source: Tamoco Blog)
Duolingo reads the user’s location and detects that he has entered France. Obviously, if someone not originally from France travels to France, he might need to brush up on his French (or learn it from scratch).
Duolingo, being a language training app, realizes that and reminds users that they have what the user needs to solve his problem.
Even without instant action, the availability of helpful content from Duolingo will bring him back to the app when he has free time to learn the language.
Example #4: IMdB – Movie Review and Re-engagement Reminder
(Source: Tamoco Blog)
IMdB user’s phone state to know whether the user has been to the cinema hall at a given movie show timing. Once the user finishes the movie, IMdB reminds them to watch more stuff related to the movie and also asks them to leave a review.
This push notification is doing two things at once, which is usually not what we want to do with our notification copy. We want to focus on one action at a time. That being said, this notification will still perform well because it invites the action with a simple verb “Swipe” (and we can easily remember the action when we read that word).
So, while this is a good example of how to use re-engagement, a more direct copy would perform even better.
Example #5: Waze – News Sharing
Want to show your app’s users you care? Do what Waze does. Inform them of important news in your niche and help them prepare better.
Waze, being a transport utility app, shares highway closure activity details to its users. If the user uses the I-280 route frequently, they can plan their day better thanks to this little reminder.
If they are not using the route on that day, they can simply pass the information on to someone who uses that route frequently or they can simply ignore it.
Whatever they do, they will definitely remember that Waze cares for them.
Example #6: Emotional Updates
This image shows a reminder of the baby’s size at regular intervals. This will definitely evoke positive emotions for the expecting mother and she would be encouraged to check it out.
Similarly, if your app helps track the journey of some aspect of the user’s life, use the emotions the user might feel at different stages of the journey.
You can add value by highlighting the positive events in the journey (as this app has done). Or help users manage the negative events of the journey (by sharing any mitigation steps).
Example #7: Simon Circles – Humorous Re-engagement
(Source: Business Insider)
Simon Circles seems to have mastered the art of using humor to re-engage the user to its app. There’s humor in both the notifications – first when the user makes the high score and, the second one is a nudge notification to bring him back to the app and keep him playing.
Example #8: Google Now – Smart Notifications
Whatever action you are taking with other brands, if you get an email sent to your Gmail address then Google will know about it. So, if your telecom operator emails you the bill, you just need to activate the reminder option and Google Now reminds you to pay the bill a day or two before the actual due date,
If you are going to a movie, google reads the location of the cinema hall from your email, calculates the distance from your home to the cinema hall, estimates travel time based on the current traffic and tells you when you should leave to arrive on time.
The user doesn’t have to do all these complex calculations; Google does it for them.
These are the few ways Google reminds its users how well it knows them. You can explore what role your product/service/app plays in your users’ lives. Figure out what kind of notifications/reminders you can send them to make their lives easier.
Avoid these mistakes while implementing a push notification strategy
In the end, push notifications (mobile, web, or mobile web) are about things you can add to make your relationship with the customer stronger.
So far, we have discussed 11 different tips that you can use to implement a strategy to elevate your brand and help build a positive relationship with your users. We have also shown you examples which you can use to get inspiration for your own notifications.
Now, let’s take a look at some mistakes that brands can avoid creating a negative impression so users don’t turn off their push notifications.
Mistake #1: Asking users to allow notification without sharing any benefits
When the user opens your app for the first time, they don’t know you very well and your relationship has just begun to develop. Many apps that I have used simply ask for permission without telling me why they need that permission.
It’s easy to think that the user might not be interested in technical details for granting permission. And that might even be true to some extent.
But when it comes to trust, there are no shortcuts.
If you want to send them regular reminders, you need to tell them why. It’s mandatory to tell them if you want to start your relationship with them on the right foot.
On Android, simple permissions like notifications and a few others are approved just when you are installing the app. Some apps may also ask certain notifications separately when you are using it for the first time. So you might get away with a simple, mechanical push text asking for permissions on the app.
However, the story is vastly different from iOS. On those apps, the user must explicitly grant each and every permission. They might begin to doubt you if you ask for multiple permissions one after another.
Need an example? See how Saks Fifth Avenue does it.
(Source: Netcore Smartech Blog)
It’s not written in a robotic, inhumane touch. The message here is pretty simple: Allow notifications to receive regular updates.
Mistake #2: Creating a bad first impression (or none at all!)
At the beginning of every relationship, you have to set up a unique welcome message to make sure the beginning is smooth.
This is the job of your first notification after the user grants you permission. Once again, keep the notification copy simple and benefits-oriented.
Have a look at how Farfetch does it:
(Source: Netcore Smartech Blog)
Even though the user installing the Farfetch app knows what’s the use of it. That doesn’t guarantee that the user will use your app. The user might never open your app.
This welcome message notification makes sure that the user uses it at least once.
Using a welcome notification after the app is installed has two direct advantages:
- Elevates your brand to the top of the user’s mind
- Lays the foundation for a higher CTR on your subsequent notifications.
Mistake #3: Sending push messages without a defined strategy
I’ll give you two reasons why it’s absolutely essential to define and document your strategy:
- It helps to understand your own brand better by examining the kinds of messages you send over time
- It helps curate user experience with the notifications, by tweaking the strategy as and when the users need.
Sending push messages without a larger strategy is a lot like shooting blanks in the dark. There’s no definition of your target audience or the kind of messages will make them engage with your app the most.
You need to monitor the in-app activity of your users and analyze their usage and profile data. This will tell you what they really want – and what they don’t want.
Having a solid strategy helps you take them to the next level.
Mistake #4: Treating push messages like any other marketing message
As a marketer, you will communicate with your users over multiple channels. Your app users are more likely to interact with your brand, as proved by the exponential rise smartphone usage over the last few years. Therefore, it is important to make them feel special and give them special discounts for using your app.
Always keep the generic offers limited to email or in public ads. Reward regular app users with specific discount codes tied to their usage and purchase behavior.
Here is how Urban Outfitters does it:
(Source: Netcore Smartech Blog)
By sending app-only offers, UO has a higher number of users downloading and using the app.
If the market in your niche is not as saturated, this technique can also position your app above other competing apps.
Mistake #5: Not collecting enough data while sign up to enable marketing personalization
We all know how important personalization is for conversion on all platforms.
The amount of data you collect at the time of sign-up decides how deeper your personalization will be.
If you ask for too many details during sign-up, chances are that the user will leave annoyed without completing the sign-up process.
On the flip side, if you do not collect enough data, you might not be able to personalize your messages for conversion.
Ensure you strike a balance and ask enough information to enable rich personalization of your app’s push notifications.
Mistake #6: Not targeting users who uninstall the app
You know your relationship with the user is not in its optimal state if he uninstalls the app.
You must retarget him/her through channels like emails, SMS, and social media ads. This way you can ensure that you are available when the user is ready to jump back on the ship i.e. install your app again.
Once he installs the app, his purchase cycle starts all over again. So your brand basically gets a do-over, a second chance to provide value. This time though, you want to make sure the user doesn’t uninstall.
To help you understand why the user left in the first place, you will need his app-usage and website-visit data. So make sure your app records data that is useful to help optimize the user experience.
When documenting a strategy, you must include retargeting to bring back uninstallers into the fold.
Mistake #7: Sending wrong notification messages that might provoke users
Often marketers forget that it’s about the overall quality of the relationship; each and every message you send affects the relationship.
Say, you sent a discount coupon and the customer bought the product. If the customer sees the same discount again, he is very likely to perceive it as spam. That’s -1 for your brand.
Need another example of a bad push message? Retargeting for products that are not in the cart, and were actually removed from the cart. These are the products customers has rejected them.
So, if your system is sending notifications for products/events/updates that the user has no discernible interest in, it becomes spam.
As I said, it’s about the relationship as a whole. So a few of these notifications when sent in a row will cause a big dent in the relationship.
Understand what’s working for your audience.
At the same time, don’t ignore their dislike signals.
Mistake #8: Sending push messages way too frequently
It is so basic – it shouldn’t even be on this list! Seriously, marketers need to stop spamming users with sales messages.
It’s annoying and it borders condescending. The phone belongs to the user. If you keep spamming them incessantly with unwanted, and irrelevant notifications, w that stops them
from turning off your app’s notifications completely?
Or better yet, they could simply uninstall the app!
If you keep sending notifications and the user is not responding to, simply stop sending notifications for a while and then surprise them with a customized offer. I have seen e-commerce apps that do the opposite.
A few years ago I had installed Flipkart and Amazon both for online shopping through my phone. When I first installed Flipkart, it bombarded me with 5 notifications in just 3 hours. It irritated me so much that now I associate Flipkart with spam in my mind. Now, I prefer ordering from Amazon over Flipkart, whose app I have long uninstalled.
It’s not like I don’t want to use Flipkart at all – I have ordered from them as they have some good products that are not available on Amazon. I use their mobile website instead, never use their app, because I have a fear that they will spam me again.
Mistake #9: Sending text-only notifications
As marketing has evolved, static push notifications became rich ones.
There are now so many brands using visual elements, and the effect of incorporating visuals into your push messages is becoming pretty clear.
In this notification, the app uses three columns with a different image and different CTA in each.
For a customer, this is better than an app because it provides me a side-by-side comparison of products as well as their prices.
ProTip: Make sure each of your CTA buttons is directly linked to final product pages with the discount applied. Don’t annoy your users by making them take more action after tapping the CTA.
Mistake #10: Sending generic notifications
Every competitor gives similar offers. What makes your products/services stand out is the way you market them.
When people are thinking of buying something, they are thinking of actual specifics of the product. So if I want to buy a brown leather jacket, I am actually adding a bit more detail in the picture I form in my mind – “brown leather cowboy jacket with pockets”.
If you show me a notification that says “50% off on leather jackets”, it connects with me but not as deeply.
If you show me “50% off on brown cowboy leather jackets” and show a handsome model wearing it, I will relate to and will immediately want to check it out.
That’s the problem with generic notifications. Their CTR will always be low because users just don’t connect with it nearly as effectively as something like this:
Mistake #11: Sending broadly targeted notification messages at the wrong time
Push notification, as a marketing channel, is not the same as email marketing. You cannot send any message at any time and hope people will open and read it.
It requires planning for timing and content. You need to analyze your users’ in-app behavior data to know their most active timing. You need to find an ideal time when the CTR of your notifications is likely to be very high.
Many marketers mistake them for a supplementary channel to email marketing.
Yes, it gives you an extra channel to market your product/services/brands over. But it is very complementary to email, rather than just providing supplementary real estate to market your products/services/brand.
However, push notifications have to be crafted with a lot of sophistication. Not every email message will also go in as a notification.
It needs to be related to the user’s NOW i.e. it must invite an immediate action. Don’t send a notification if you don’t want them to take immediate action.
Time to make your notifications perform better
So far, we have seen the tips, the good examples, and the bad mistakes of push notifications.
If your notifications are not performing well, try applying these tips to create its variations. Then run A/B tests to see which one converts better.
If you have been sending the same notification to all users without any regard to timing or the content, then it’s time to stop doing that.
Take your notifications out of the low-performing club and rethink your strategy.
Have you used a push notification strategy before? How did that work out for you? Let us know in comments.
(Cover Image Source: Marketing Land)