Push notifications are too impactful of a marketing trend to ignore. Many industries from e-commerce to travel, health, and education have found excellent use cases for interacting with customers through this new communication channel.
But in today’s world where customers are more wary of privacy and consent more than ever, it’s important that you get push notifications done right. Sure, they can be an excellent alternative to text messages and emails, but a well-crafted mobile marketing strategy needs to build a non-intrusive approach that genuinely provides value to its subscribers.
You’ve likely received push notifications on your smartphone before whenever a friend messages you on Facebook or you’ve received an order confirmation from a food delivery app. These little messages make a brief sound and show up on your phone’s home screen.
By definition, a push notification is sent either by an application or a website and shows up on a subscriber’s personal device, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Businesses use this technology to send alerts and messages to its customers in real-time.
Push notifications can be more than just text; they can contain rich media like images, videos, and emojis to spice up the message. And they can and should be personalized towards the recipient to make it more relevant to the user’s needs. Above all, they need to be succinct and contain some sort of Call to Action (CTA) to let readers know what to do with the notification.
Marketing strategies use push notifications to boost customer engagement and encourage sales and conversions. And it works too; studies have shown that notifications have a higher opening and click-through rate than other marketing channels like emails.
However, it’s certainly possible to get them wrong. Learn how to use push notifications effectively so that you get the message across without coming off as intrusive.
Companies across multiple industries have found creative applications for push notifications. A few broad categories of what they hope to achieve include the following.
- Engaging customers: Let’s say a customer has installed your company’s app on his phone and hasn’t opened it for a while. What can you do to re-engage this client and prevent him from uninstalling it? A simple reminder or personal offer sent through a push notification might be enough to catch his attention and keep him on the platform.
- Encouraging sales: Push notifications are regularly used to drive conversions and are often a major component of any omnichannel marketing initiative. By notifying users of a limited-time promotion, you raise the chance of generating an online or in-store purchase.
- Providing real-time updates: Most people already rely on push notifications outside of marketing, such as checking weather conditions or getting messages from friends on social media. Likewise, businesses can use them to send delivery updates or order tracking.
The convenience and accessibility of push notifications makes them a prime target for short and sweet tidbits of communication between customers and businesses.
There are two main types of push notifications: web-based and mobile. Web notifications are naturally sent from websites and received on desktops or mobile devices. Best of all, they work even if the website itself isn’t open as long as the browser supports the functionality. Chrome and Safari are two examples of push-compatible browsers.
More notable are the mobile push notifications sent from apps on your phone. As long as you install the apps and give permission, you can receive notifications the same way you get messages from friends on Facebook.
But beyond that distinction, we can distinguish push notifications based on the exact business use case:
- Transactional: Send out notifications regarding recent purchases, such as received payments and shipping and delivery notices.
- Retention: If a customer has abandoned a cart or simply hasn’t interacted with your brand in a while, a notification might be the spark to get him active again.
- Education: From blog posts to newsletters, notifications are an excellent way to inform your audience about new topics in your specific industry, which can drive up engagement rates.
- Promotional: The most well-known marketing strategy is to offer up new deals and promotions through these short messages, prompting in-store or in-app purchases that otherwise would not have happened.
- Feedback: Use this opportunity to request reviews and feedback from previous buyers.
- Location: With the implementation of GPS technology into almost all mobile phones, companies have found ways to deliver proximity-based notifications for nearby locations and events. For example, you could send a contextual message out whenever someone passes by one of your physical stores.
- Reminders: Businesses that provide professional services could use push notifications to send out helpful appointment reminders.
This list is certainly non-exhaustive, and it’s up to you to find your own creative applications of this lucrative new marketing opportunity.
A notification-empowered marketing strategy is sure to be a successful one as long as you follow a few basic principles and best practices to implement it. Below are our tips and recommendations.
Perfect the Opt-In Procedure
Push notifications are inherently permission-based and require that the recipient opt-in to the service. Make sure your marketing strategy is legally compliant with consumer privacy laws by asking recipients directly whether they would like to receive notifications from your app or website.
You can even add in some basic information regarding what value or benefit users will receive from your notifications, but don’t make it too long-winded, or you’ll risk opt-outs.
Make the Content Relatable
What users read on your notifications should be relevant to their needs and preferences. A strong mobile marketing strategy can segment users into their interest groups and personalize notifications accordingly before sending them out.
An excellent example is YouTube Music, a music streaming service that notifies users of new albums depending on their listening history.
Don’t Forget to Include Visual Flair
Humans are naturally visual learners, and adding some videos, photos, and even emojis to your messages will improve opening rates and generally make what you have to say stand out.
Send the Occasional Friendly Message
Push notifications don’t have to be all work and no play. It’s perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to send out just friendly support and encouragement every now and again.
The most tried-and-true examples are holidays and special events. Sending out Christmas wishes or Valentine’s Day love will help your recipients feel like they’re part of a community.
Or think about what your specific customer demographic would love to hear about. Fitness apps, for instance, tend to send out motivational quotations and news stories regarding sports and exercise.
End with a Call to Action
Also known as a CTA, a call to action tells the customer directly what to do. Customers should have a real message to take away from each notification and know what they should do in response to receiving one, whether it’s to make a purchase or check out a newsletter.
Measure Your Progress Over Time
Like any business strategy, mobile marketing should improve over time. All it takes is for you to collect and analyze metrics to make more informed business decisions in the future. Those metrics can include:
- Opt-in rate: What percentage of your customers are choosing to receive notifications from your app or website?
- Platform distribution: Who’s reading notifications on desktop, and who’s on mobile? Do the platforms have different activity trends that you can take advantage of?
- Click-through rate: Also known as CTR, this is the premier performance metric for push notifications. It measures how many people have clicked or tapped on the notification after receiving it instead of swiping it away. A high CTR is a good sign of a successful campaign.
- Conversion rate: The best-case scenario involves a user not only clicking on your notification but also making a purchase through your store as a result.
The best way to measure and analyze these trends is through an automated push notification manager, which is often built into a marketing software package.
Get the Timing Just Right
Getting the timing and frequency of push notifications down is essential. You want to send just enough to keep people engaged but not too much to the point where everyone opts out.
Send notifications out sparingly, and save them for the most important and high-priority announcements. Doing so makes the messages more appealing when they do come out. The exact frequency is up to you, but generally look at no more than 10 a week.
In terms of timing, send them out in such a way that your readers see them at the perfect time. It’s worth doing research on your target demographic to tailor your content. Take, for example, a restaurant with a breakfast menu. A notification around the morning would obviously help.
And schedule notifications for certain milestones. Onboarding messages are common for new customers and have been proven to raise app retention rates.