How to make fantastic marketing with push notifications?

Just a few years ago, having internet access in your mobile phone was uncommon.

Many mobiles didn’t have a way to connect to the internet and those that had, worked very slow and drained internet packages in a flash (not to mention, those packages were quite expensive!), so not many people used internet on their mobiles.

Today, with the rapid increase in mobile internet speed, availability and the decrease in the prices of mobile internet, a growing number of customers use mobile devices as their primary device for browsing the web.

According to Statista, the total number of mobile users grew up to 3.7 billion, and mobile devices accounted for 49.7% of web page views all over the world. What is more, the global mobile data traffic is expected to increase nearly sevenfold between 2016 and 2021.

To get closer to this huge audience, many companies developed their own mobile app.

Do you have one too?

If you do, do you use push notifications? If you don’t, you are not the only one. Plenty of companies never heard about those while others know in theory what a push notification is and how it works, but have trouble with using it effectively.

Push notifications are a fantastic marketing tool, but it’s very easy to go overboard and use them too often. As with everything, too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore.

What are push messages?

Push notification is information that is sent from an application to a device without the user asking for the information first. They don’t even have to open the app!.

During an app installation or after the app is opened for the first time, users are asked to give their permission to get alerts from the app and 68% of app users do enable push notifications.

Earlier years, push notifications could use only text but recently, a new format known as “rich push notifications” allows marketers to also include images, video, and sounds alongside text.

Push messages are also an incredible help when it comes to building trust and brand reputation, engaging customers and even helping with restoring abandoned shopping carts!

Sounds complicated? But you surely see those notifications daily – as daily reminders, social media alerts, updates alerts or special offers. 

What are types of push notifications?

  • Update notifications – telling users about the newest updates and gives users a way to download and install the latest version straight away.
  • Reminder notifications – Based on the data user added himself, the app sends reminders, so users don’t forget about appointments or things they need to do.
  • Alerts – You surely see this kind of push messages every day if you have a social media account. This kind of notifications inform users when someone does something directly related to the users. For example when someone sends them a message or comments on their post.
  • Geolocation notifications. When the user enters a specific location, he can get a simple notification related to place the user is near. E.g., the information there’s a new menu in the restaurant two streets away or that there is a sale in a nearby store.
  • Engagement notifications. If user complete certain tasks with an app,  the app can then sent them a message to motivate them. For example, a fitness app can send a message congratulating the user on beating their previous record and motivate them to improve their results even more.
  • Promotional notifications. Those notifications inform users about exclusive offers, giveaways, or sales and encourage users to make purchases.
  • Rating/survey push notifications. Ask users to rate the app itself or to rate activity in the app (like making a purchase). If users rank the app high,  the app then sends a notification asking to post a review or to share the app with their friends.

All is well when push messages are used in moderation and all messages are relevant to the user.

The problem is, too many mobile apps misuse push messages. By sending them too often, at inconvenient times, with irrelevant information or with sales offers that are a bit different in the message and different in the app.

That’s why over 52% of app users find push notifications annoying and 60% of users opt-out of push notifications.

To help you engage your customers rather than annoy them, here are 7 best practices to be used right away to improve your push notifications.

Seven best practices for push notifications design:

Ask for permissions

Mobile users are pretty reluctant to give an app access to their personal information – even more than email users. If they don’t know why the app requires access to their camera and their contact list, they are likely to click “Deny”.

That’s why many apps try to be sneaky and give themselves all permissions without asking the user. Even if they mean no harm, an annoyed user might turn off all permissions or maybe even uninstall the app.

To keep them trusting you,  asking your users for permission to get messages from you is obvious.  

Wait before asking for permissions.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to ask your users to agree to get  push messages from you immediately after starting the app for the first time.

You will be surely declined – why would users agree to get messages from the app they didn’t even use yet? In the first days of the app usage you users should see why your app is fantastic and why they should use it.

A nice idea would be to ask for the permission after the user opened the app for a set number of times, used specific functions or spent set time using the app.

Timing matters

Timing is everything here – it can make all the difference between irritated user and a happy one. Sending a push to your user when they are sleeping or when they might be busy with work is more likely to annoy them rather than engage them.

Even worse if you have users from all over the world and your “good morning” push appears in the middle of the night or the evening!

So it’s essential to send notifications according to the local time zones of your users and pick the time when they are most likely to use their smartphone.

There are several researches on the topic which hour is the best for push messages but there’s no guarantee they will work for your audience. It’s always better to look at the data you have about your users and pick the time when they’re most open to new notifications.

Don’t overdo it

Many marketers who just discovered how useful push notifications are end up sending too many notifications, too often.

Instead of increasing engagement as they hoped, they only manage to infuriate users and make the uninstall the app.

Localytics did a survey on “how much is too much” for mobile apps users: 46% of respondents said that getting between 2 and 5 messages in one week would cause them to turn off push notifications and 32% said they would stop using an app if they received 6 to 10 messages in a week.

It’s definitely a good idea to test how much is “just right” for your audience so your app won’t end up treated like an annoying salesperson that gets blocked for calling every day.

Segment your users

  This one might seem obvious, but still, plenty of apps send only generic messages to every single user so it’s worthy to repeat. The more relevant the message is to the user, the higher the change they’ll click on it.

Therefore, it’s worth it to send certain push notifications to the users who are most likely to benefit from what you are offering, instead of sending the same message to everyone.

Now you might ask: “But how should I segment my users?”.

The options here are infinite –  you can segment your users them based on several criteria. If your app is a gaming app, you can segment users based on their level.

If it’s e-commerce, dividing customers based on the items they bought or put in their cart is a good idea. You can also segment them based on gender, location, interests, how often they use the app and so on.

Personalise your messages

Personalisation drives engagement, that’s a fact. Personalisation can start with small things such as using user’s first name in the message, but it can do so much more.

If you have information about your customers’ interests and behaviour (and you surely do), you can use them to create more convincing messages by for example based on your users’ purchase history.

A customer who recently purchased baby stroller is much more likely to want to learn more about recent sale for other baby equipment than a college student who was looking at camera models. He, on the other hand, might be interested in brand new models that were delivered today.

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A/B test everything 

Even if you think your push messages are working nicely, why not strive to make them even better?

Regular A/B testing will help in boosting your opt-in conversion rates even more, and virtually every single part of your push notification can be improved –  whether it is text, it’s length or time of day. You can try with changing:

  • Timing. Try sending the messages at different days or time of the day. You could also try to test different moments to ask for the permission. Maybe more customers allow for the push notifications after they spent a certain time reading articles or after hitting a certain level in a game?  
  • Design. Small change can make a huge impact so play around with text styles, colours, images and other styling elements.
  • Messaging. Try using different words and different text length to see what works best for your audience.

Many brands that are not yet using push notifications at all are missing out on an excellent tool for keeping in touch with their customers, but brands that send bland, generic messages or send them too often aren’t doing themselves any favour, either.

If you’re creating – or improving – your push notifications,  remember those few best practices for push notifications. If you use them correctly, your results will definitely improve.

  • Always ask your app users for their permission to receive push messages. Sending them unwanted messages is a sure way to lose them.
  • Wait a while before asking for the permissions. Users are more likely to agree after they already tried out the app.
  • Schedule push messages according to the time zone your user is in.
  • Don’t send too many, too often, or else users will opt-out of receiving them.
  • Segment and personalise messages for optimal results.
  • Test, test and once again test!
Are you using push notifications? How are they working for your business?
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