Push Notifications

What are Push Notifications?

A push notification is a message sent by an app marketer that delivers a call to action (CTA). Much like SMS messages, push notifications are short, media-rich, and are sent to users while they are not using the app. 

 
In order to receive a push notification, a user is required to install an app and grant permission for that app to send alerts to their device. Depending on the software (iOS or Android), app permissions are granted differently and opt-in success rates vary. 
 
In today’s world, despite rising global connectivity and skyrocketing screen-time, it is harder than ever to reach users. Implementing push notifications in your marketing strategy is a must-do to increase brand engagement, optimise user retention, and improve revenue. 
 
Push notifications sound wonderful, don’t they? But where did these magic little messages come from? 

 

The History of Push Notifications

Long before the days of the iPhone, the Blackberry ruled the roost.
 
The Blackberry is credited with popularising the first push notification: Push Services. Their software provided a real-time “You’ve got mail” alert that appeared on a small section of the screen. 
 
Push services changed the user experience of mobile forever. That is, until Steve Jobs came along. When Jobs introduced the iOS 3.0 and the Apple push notification system, apps were pulled into the game. 
 
Flash forward to today and the entire user experience, on both iOS and Android, is dominated by push communications. Whether it’s news, games, finance, weather or retail - you name it, they push it. 
 
 
app_notifications_4

 
 
Push notifications may have begun with email, but in the modern era, they’ve all but replaced them. With 50% higher open rates and 7x higher click rates, push notifications are a highly visible, direct-line to your user. 
 
If you’re in the business of app development, push notifications are a lifeline. They can boost engagement by up to 88% and boast an ability to increase user retention by up to 180% in the first 90 days. This is a vital skill, considering ¼ of users abandon their apps after just 1 use.  
 
As Forbes put it, the world is now ‘addicted to the dopamine hit of push notifications’. You can reach your user at any time of the day, during any activity and send them anything you like. There’s a lot of power in that. But, as always, with great power comes great responsibility. 
 

 

The average US smartphone user receives up to 46 push notifications every day. So it makes sense that users become disgruntled with overbearing apps breathing down their necks. And, as such, 37% of users will disable push notifications if they receive 5 in 1 week from a particular brand.

 
Looking at those numbers, sending the right messages, to the right users, at the right time is clearly a high priority. Otherwise, you risk losing them altogether. 
 
Finding the right balance for your app might seem daunting right now. But after building a marketing strategy that utilises dynamic push notifications, with a focus on personalisation, you will soon be on your way to maximising your user experience. 

 
 
[Guide] A Copywriter's Guide to Perfect Push Notifications
[Video] 5 Things That Make a Really Great Push Notification Campaign

Benefits of Push Notification

With 4.68 billion global mobile customers using 205.4 billion apps, it's only logical that marketers benefit from a direct line of communication with their users. 

 

Enter Push Notifications

 

The potential to increase success rates across a multitude of KPI’s is too good to turn down. So let’s look at some of the ways you could benefit from a push notification strategy. 

Push Notifications boost user retention

App developers lose sleep at night over the dreaded ‘churn’. That is, the abandonment of app-use soon after download. 
 
Localytics report that 21% of app users abandon an app after one session, followed by a further 71% who churn by day 90. With numbers this harsh, it’s no wonder developers are weary-eyed. 
 
However, through the implementation of a push notification strategy, app retention, for opted-in users, can increase by up to 50%. It is particularly important that push notifications run within the first 90 days post-download, as this time is critical for building brand loyalty and user habits. 
 

boost_user_retention

[Blog] 3 Push Notifications to Boost your 30-day User Retention Rates

Push Notifications improve user experience

Modern consumers crave user experiences that are personalised to their interests, wants and needs. That’s why 58% of users are willing to trade their data for a more personalised experience. 
 
Technology has enabled push notification strategists to boost user experiences exponentially.
 
Content tailoring incorporates personal data such as name, age, stage in the customer journey, buyer-history, geographic location, and so on. 
 
In fact, a push notification campaign that is hyper-relevant to a user can boost open rates by 9% and 49% of users admit that they use an app more if it’s clear that their stated preferences (e.g. sports team, home town, etc.) are being factored into the content delivered to them. 
clickthru
[Blog] 3 Industries Boosting UX With Informative Push Notifications
[Infographic] 4 Factors to Boost your User Experience

Push Notifications drive engagement

52% of mobile users have enabled push notifications on their device, making these mighty little messages a highly effective marketing tactic. This large audience pool translates into a 7.8% average click-through rate for push notifications. Comparatively, email click-through rates are much lower at > 3%.  
 
Being mobile in nature, push notifications have the added advantage of geo-targeted content. Targeting of this kind has the power to increase engagement by up to 42%
 
Geo-targeted push campaigns send offers based on user locations (i.e. users who live in London), proximity to a certain area (i.e. when close to a physical store) or even hyper-localised data retrieved from iBeacons (i.e. proximity to a certain area within a store). 
 
 
mouseclickscreen

Push Notifications drive sales & revenue

Converting your users into paying customers can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.
 
Users who receive promotional push notifications are 9 times more likely to make a purchase than those who do not. Well-targeted, A/B tested push notifications that contain time-sensitive offers often return the highest results
 
Dakota Smith of Hopper told Forbes that a push notification strategy is integral to her app’s success
 
“Refining our push-notification strategy was really the key for us in converting our install base into paying customers. Each month we send upwards of 20 million push notifications to our users and almost all of our flights are sold in response to a push notification.”

 
 
money
[Infographic] The Power of Push Notifications 
[Guide] A Copywriter's Guide to Perfect Push Notifications

Getting Push Notification Opt-Ins

When it comes to push notifications, ensuring your users opt-in, and stay opted in, is vital. This is where the magic of opt-in messages comes into play. 
 
Opt-in messages ask your user for permission to send push notifications to your device. Without this permission, your entire user experience could be ruined. 
 
For example, imagine a user has downloaded a finance app, like RobinHood, to watch stock price movements and inform their investments. The app is specifically designed to send a push notification to the user when a stock price on a watch list rises or drops significantly. 
 
Unfortunately, the user denies initial push notification permissions due to privacy concerns and subsequently missed out on a great, new investment. This user is unlikely to continue using an app that they believe to be the root of their loss - even if the app was only performing, or not performing, actions based on the permissions granted. 
 
“There are plenty more apps in the sea”, says the user, as they uninstall the app and return to the app store to start the process again. 
 
Only 43.9% of iOS app-users opt-in to push notifications. By contrast, 91.1% of Android users opt-in. These numbers reflect one of the many ways in which push notifications vary depending upon the operating system they are running through.
 
Let’s delve deeper into those differences, shall we? 
 
First up, Android. 
 
 
[Video] Getting Started with Push Notifications
[Infographic] Master the Art of Push Notification Opt Ins 

 

Push Notifications on Android

 

Impressively, Android comes out on top in the push notification game with an almost perfect opt-in score. Their success rate in this area is down to their permissions approach. 
 
Up until Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), users were required to accept permissions upon installation of an app and those permissions could not be revoked by the user. The only way to not receive messages from an app after this point was to, well, not use that app. 
 
Android 6.0 changed this by introducing a split permissions approach that is partly granted at the time of installation and partly granted during app-use. 
 
This style of permissions process places several arduous opt-out steps between the user and the installation of their new app. Users are more likely to choose the path of least resistance and opt-in, which explains their 91% success rate.
 
In Android’s defence, their operating systems are becoming more conservative as tensions over digital privacy rise. Android 9.0 (Pie) brought with it the ‘manage notifications’ button which appears below push notifications on the lock screen. This allows users to browse a list of the types of notifications sent to them by an app. Using checkbox functionality, users are empowered to block or allow certain notifications. This process makes editing and changing permissions far more user-friendly. And that’s what we like.
 
Android users have more power than ever to switch off intrusive, annoying or irrelevant push notifications. With the current Android Q beta (expected to be fully released August 2019), Google is driving permission control one step further by adding ‘Location Services’ to the list of functions to be reined-in.
 
In a move that follows in Apple’s footsteps, users will be able to limit location access to ‘only when using the app’, ‘never’ or ‘all the time’. This change will have big implications on app marketers that utilise geo-located push notifications. 
 
Careful consideration needs to be given to the timing, composition, and value of any push campaign. Your priority must be to avoid users switching off their location settings and severing one of the most personalised ways of communicating with them: geo-targeting. 

 
 
 
[Blog] What Does Android 10 Mean for Your Push Notification Strategy?

 

Push Notifications Permission on IOS

Considering Apple’s status as the world’s most valuable company, it’s strange to see them lag so far behind Android in terms of opt-in rates. Less than half of iOS users opt-in for push notifications, and it’s largely due to their onboarding structure. 

In contrast to Android, iOS does not mention user permissions until after an app has been downloaded. The first time a user opens their newly downloaded iOS app they are faced with a dialogue box, like this;

 

cluster

 

At this point, the user does not know the requirements of the app and is likely to deny permission. Once a user selects deny there’s no second chance. The only way to get permission from then on is a ‘re-permissions campaign’ using other channels such as email or in-app messaging. 

 
The odds are stacked against you when it comes to re-permissioning campaigns. Even if your re-permission campaign garners traction, there's still a lengthy 5-click process standing between your user and opting-in. Chances are, they just won’t be bothered to go through that effort. 
 
Frustrated marketers came up with a way around this issue: Pre-permission messages. 
 
These messages take advantage of the period between download and opt-in messages, referred to as ‘prime and push’. 
 
You can design custom messages which help your user to understand how the app will operate. Allowing users to learn the benefits of push notification access before you pop the question can go a long way in getting the results you desire. 
 
Another bonus is that there’s no limit on the number of times you can send these messages to your users. So if they’re not convinced on the first try, you can wait for a while and then try again before launching the iOS permissions dialogue. 
 
Take a look at how Calm handles their pre-permission campaign:
 
full_calm_image
 
 
 

Most recently, iOS has taken steps to try to bridge the gap between their push notification opt-in rates and that of Androids. The iOS 12 update brought with it a trial protocol dubbed ‘provisional authorisation’. 
 
This feature allows for push notifications to be automatically delivered in ‘quiet mode’ until the user chooses to opt-out, or enables full push capabilities, like this
 
In order to make use of this new protocol, app developers will need to add a specific piece of code during the primary stages of development. 
 
Over half of retailers reported no change in notification engagement rates since the ‘provisional authorisation’ protocol was introduced in 2018. 
 
However, these options do give app marketers two ways to try and operate around iOS’s more rigid opt-in rules.
 
 
Push Notification reading: Your Order Has Been Shipped.
Video: iOS Push Notification Permissions: The Best Practices

Types of Push Notification Campaigns

Sending a push notification may seem easy, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. You won’t find success with this tactic if you’re sending out sporadic, blanket messages to your users.

It’s important to be familiar with the different types of push notification campaigns and the success you could enjoy if you correctly harness their potential. 
 
Let’s take a look at the main types of Push Notification campaigns.
 
 

Onboarding push notification campaign

 

After a successful permissions campaign, you might think it’s time to have a breather. Not quite, I’m afraid.

 
The first days of your app users' customer journey are crucial as 58% of app users churn by day 30
 
Welcoming your users to your platform is a must if you want to boost user retention. And exposing users to just one onboarding message in the first week can increase your user retention by 71% over 2 months. 
 
This is where onboarding push notification campaigns come in. This type of campaign gives you the opportunity to educate users regarding app features, promote your products and build brand loyalty. 
 
cof
 
Obviously, all of your users won’t sign up on the same day. So, in order to engage each user at the correct stage in their customer journey, you will need to create a behaviour-triggered push notification campaign known as a ‘drip campaign’.
 
A drip campaign essentially entails scheduling a series of push notifications that are released across a predetermined time-line. And you can create one of your own by doing just that. Once a user installs your app and accepts push notifications, the drip campaign is triggered to deliver the sequence. 

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Screenshot 2019-08-13 at 15.51.55

 

 
[Blog] 3 Awesome Onboarding Push Notifications To Welcome New Users

 

Informative Push

Notification Campaign

One of the quickest ways to your user's heart is by saving them time and energy. How can you do this? Through useful, informative push notifications. That’s how.

 
Traditionally, these notifications were reserved for ‘system notifications’ which alerted users to major changes in the operation of their app. However, marketers are increasingly using informative push in a more diverse way to build brand loyalty and improve user experience. 
 
A key factor of informative push notifications is efficiency; 20% of users find productivity-enhancing push notifications helpful in their day. Informative push notifications promote efficiency by sending time-sensitive reminders, confirming bookings and alerting to completed actions. Providing this information in a push notification saves the user time by cutting out the need to open an email, track an action or miss an important event. 

Here's how a travel app could implement informative push notifications:
 
Screenshot 2019-08-13 at 15.59.32
 
This message adds value to the user by saving them money and sends a subtle hint that the brand cares more about user experience than profits. 
 
 
Blog: 3 Industries Boosting UX With Informative Push Notifications

Geo-located Push Notifications

 
These days, hyper-personalised marketing is necessary to cut through the sheer volume of brand messages users receive on a regular basis. 
 
63% of smartphone users frequently use apps that require them to give their location. Geo-located push notifications pinpoint a user’s location and then personalise the message they receive based on this information. 
 
In order to track user locations, app programmers build in location services in the early stages of development. Apple developers work with a software called Core Locations and Android uses Google Location Services. 
 
location

 

The accuracy with which a location can be tracked depends on the method of geo-locating you use: 

 

geotargeting

Geo-targeting

Geo-targeting creates audience segments based on their IP address as opposed to their GPS. 

Because of this, geo-targeting is not hugely accurate and does not operate in real-time. 
 
Usually, if marketers use Geo-targeted push notifications, it blanket covers an entire city. Although, it’s likely they already have this information based on the user’s stated preferences. 
 
 
 
map

Geo-fencing

Using geo-fencing can provide a more accurate location based service by fencing off a radial area around a stated location. 
 
This location can be as wide as a city or as small as a specific street, with the latter being more effective. 
 
When a user enters the geo-fenced area they trigger a branded push notification.
 
 
 

bluetooth

Beacons

Beacons cast the narrowest range of these three methods. They are small, physical devices that receive signals from nearby smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices.  
 
Beacons receive signals via bluetooth and these signals trigger a notification. Using bluetooth allows beacons to operate in areas of low cell reception, such as store interiors. 

 

It’s true what they say; it’s all about ‘location, location, location’.  Who says that, you ask? Well, 60% of advertising professionals that agree that geo-targeted marketing efforts return stronger ROI’s. That’s who. 

 

Re-engagement push

notification campaign

We now know that 71% of all app users will churn completely within 90 days. And so, when developing and marketing an app, being aware of crucial stats like these can really make a difference.. With retention as a top priority, you need to get clever about re-engaging your high-risk users. Push notifications are perfect for re-engaging inactive users and reminding them of the value that your app can bring to their day. 
 
There are many reasons why users may become inactive and many different situations where re-engagement push notification campaigns can be useful. For example, you can use push notifications to: 
 
- Re-engage lapsed users 
- Re-engage after cart abandonment 
- New feature re-engagement 
 
Different industries have different ‘churn windows’: the average amount of time that can pass between app-uses before a user is considered ‘at risk’. 
 
For example, a Travel app may have a churn window of 2 weeks. In contrast, if an entertainment app is not opened within 12 hours, there is a 50% chance the user will churn. 
 
It is important that you pay close attention to your app’s user data and run tests to inform your churn window.
 
Whatever the window, to try to mitigate churn with a re-engagement campaign. For this, you will need to segment your audience to include the users that you want to re-engage. Define your audience by ‘X hours/days passed since last app launch’ and use specific collected data, such as likes and dislikes, to deliver hyper-relevant content that will re-engage your lapsed users. 
 
Blog: Re-engaging App Users Who Opt-Out of Push Notifications
womanonphone

 

Promotional Push Campaigns

 

We talk a lot about creating value when it comes to push notifications, and what’s more valuable to most than money? With promotional push notification campaigns, you can deploy discounts on products, events or gated-features of your app. 
 
Promotional push notifications are a great middle-of-the-funnel incentive to convert app users into app-purchasers. 
 
These promotions can take the form of: 
 
              %offDiscount                                   limitedtime                              offercodes                             loyalty
          %OFF discounts                      Limited Time Sales                      Offer Codes                         Loyalty Scheme
 
 
 
            2for1                               points                                birthday                                   businessachievement
             2 for 1 Deals                              Point Systems                      Birthday Rewards                 Business Achievement                                                                                                                                                                                                      Celebrations
 
 
                                              seasondiscounts                            freeshipping                               gift
                                          Seasonal Discounts                       Free Shipping                 Value Added offers (Free Gifts)

 

If carried out correctly, these campaigns can monopolise upon collected data from in-app activity to deliver content that is 48% more likely to see in-store purchasing. When you think about this ROI, it makes sense that 88% of all e-commerce push notifications include a discount. 
 
Creating a sense of urgency when crafting your promotional push notification is an effective method of boosting engagement. A combination of time-sensitive discounts and clever copy can nudge your user into a reaction. 
 
Your linguistic choices can drive results, so think about working in phrases such as:
 
Act fast! Sale ends today! Limited time only! Nearly gone! While supplies last!
 
[Blog] Push Notification Strategy: What The Influencers Have to Say
[Blog] 13 Things you Need to Include in Your Mobile App Marketing Strategy 

How to Create Great Push Notifications

Push notifications open a door to the most intimate user/marketer relationship possible. Just like real-life relationships, it takes work to perfect. And there are plenty of apps getting it wrong. 
 
Formulating a considerate and measured push notification strategy can be the difference between a loyal customer and a messy break-up. 
 
Marketingland have reported that perfecting your strategy can increase user retention by 180% within the first 90 days. 
 
When crafting your push notifications, value is key. Ask yourself the question: ‘What is this message going to add to my customers day?’. Focus your energy on creating communications that excite rather than interrupt your audience.
 
But how exactly can you perfect your push notification strategy? 
 
 
[Guide] A Copywriter's Guide to Perfect Push Notifications
[Video] 5 Things That Make a Really Great Push Notification Campaign

Set your objectives

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to push notification marketing is overlooking the importance of setting objectives. How will you know if your efforts have been successful if you don’t know what you’re aiming for? 
 
When crafting objectives, ensure that what you’ve set out to achieve is specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).  
 
We’ve already spoken about the benefits of push notifications, and we can now use our knowledge of the tactic’s strength to build our objectives. 
 
When setting objectives, it is important to think beyond just increasing revenue. Some objectives that could be reasonable to reach with push notifications include:
 
Increase engagement
Craft messages that encourage users to launch your app
 
Increase conversion
Craft messages that encourage users to take a specific action
 
Increase retention
Craft messages that encourage lapsed users to return to your app.
 
According to Noah Wiess from Slack, 12 weeks is a push notification campaign sweet spot. To gather valuable data, campaign timelines should be set across months, not weeks, as push notifications have ‘strong novelty biases’ which delay the true user response. 
 
Setting objectives gives your campaign direction; measure your progress throughout, analyse the results and, if necessary, make real-time adjustments whilst keeping your goal in mind. 
 
manonphone

 

Identify audience segments 

 

Delivering relevant communications requires segmentation. Market segmentation is the practise of grouping customers based on identifiable characteristics. 
 
Implementing segmentation into a campaign can increase click through rate by nearly 60%
 
Market segmentation can be as simple as grouping your users by gender, or as detailed as hyper-specific in-app activity.  
 
No matter what type of segmentation you implement, your segments will allow you to communicate relevant information to large groups.
 
gender_segment

There are 4 main types of segmentation and each has its own set of benefits:

 

Demographic

(age, gender, income, occupation, education level)

Demographic segmentation is the most basic of these processes. It is usually the first port of call for brands wishing to segment their audiences as the data is simple to collect, easy to analyse and is cost effective.
 
A demographically segmented push notification may look something like this:
 
iheartradio_push
Let’s assume this push notification was sent to all of iHeartRadio’s female app users; taking advantage of relevant topical content for this demographic adds value for their users. 
Targeting a female demographic with personalised ‘Women's history month’ content encourages brand loyalty - iHeartRadio care about their female audience members and want to celebrate with them. The implied social conscious emoted through this push notification makes for a highly engaging message. 
 
This is not to say that a male demographic would not respond to this push notification. However, it is far more likely to appeal to a female audience. 
 
This is the whole point of segmentation: fine tuning each message and delivering it to the most relevant user possible. 
 
 

Geographic

(location, urbanicity, climate, culture, language)

Geographic segmentation groups users based on their physical location. Similar to demographic segmentation, this type is based on objective facts collected about users. 
 
Geographic data can be collected when users enter details, such as their address, during onboarding. In most cases, however, geographic data is gathered when users grant apps permission to track a device’s location. 
 
Let’s look at an example of a geographically segmented push notification from one of Hillary Clinton’s apps:  
hillary_push
Here, the geographic segment chosen is ‘all users in the city of New York’. Monopolising on geographic data to drive users to a real-world location is a highly effective strategy. 
 
 
 

Behavioural

(user behaviour in-app: open frequency, cart abandonment, timing)

Behavioural segmentation groups users based on their activity in-app or in-store. This data is collected through algorithms, or platforms such as Google Analytics. 
 
Segments based on behavioural data usually consider elements such as ‘dwell time’ (the amount of time spent on an app) or bounce rate, and can group users based on whether they are new or returning. Brand interactions, such as cart-abandonments, are also recorded and push notifications that encourage activity completion are then formulated. 
 
Here’s an example of behavioural segmentation from Jet:
 
jet_push

A push notification of this kind may have been formulated by creating a segment for ‘all cart abandonments within the last 48 hours’. 

 
Using customer behaviour in this way can see your business outperform its peers by 85% in sales growth.
 
 
 

Psychographic

(values, interests, opinions, likes/dislikes)

Psychographic segmentation groups users based upon psychological attributes. Psychographic segmentation is carried out by gathering data on users’ personalities, likes, dislikes, interests, etc.
 
Traditionally psychographic data was collected through focus groups, interviews and surveys. However, social media has made it very easy to collect personal information on those who freely divulge their favourite brands, books, foods and more.  
 
 Let’s take a look at how Netflix uses psychographic data to craft relevant push notifications: 
 
netflix_push
This segment has likely been formulated by grouping users who like programmes related to Pablo Escobar, and users who have previously watched Narcos. By delivering highly relevant content that is proven to be of interest, Netflix adds value to their user’s day and increases the likelihood of user engagement. 
 
 
 

When it comes to choosing how to segment your audience, you must consider which type of segmentation is best suited and most cost/time effective for your business. 

 
An important element to remember, however, is that although market segmentation is designed to refine audiences, you can go too far. Avoid narrowly defining audience segments to an extent where they contain hardly any users. 
 
The result of over-segmentation is time wasted targeting too few users or writing messages for too many audience segments. Either way, it’s a lose-lose situation. 
 
Focus on a few, broad segments at a time. For example, a segment formatted to target “women, aged 40-50 who abandoned red shoes in a cart in the past 24hours” is likely to be far too small. Instead, aim for “women who abandoned carts containing shoes within the past 48hours”. The second option allows your segment room to group together enough users, making it worth your time and effort. 

 
 

 

Personalise and perfect your push

Personalisation is one of the most important steps you will take when creating your perfect push notification. Consumers now expect to receive personalised content that is relevant to them and they’re willing to sacrifice their data to get it! 
 
Research has found that over half of consumers would share personal data for product recommendations and personalised shopping experiences. 
 
Even a small amount of personalisation can go a long way with your users, by opening up a 1-to-1 conversation which disrupts the traditional marketing blast. In fact, personalisation can increase your open-rate by 800%!
 
Something as minimal as referring to your user by their name will break down the wall between business and customer, and build brand loyalty. However, we recommend going beyond the realm of first name formalities with your users. Use the data at your disposal to really drill down into the core value you can deliver.  
 
personalisation_push
 
 

You can personalise push notifications based on a number of factors: 
  • Demographic information (age, gender, marital status, income)
  • Technology (phone, tablet, iOS) 
  • Life cycle stage (new, returning, re-engaged)
  • Localisation (city, timezone, climate)
  • Behavioural information (time in-app, last session, last push, last purchase, items in cart) 
  • Data enrichment (third party data)   
 
 
 
img_man

 

But how does a company with thousands, if not millions, of users tackle the mammoth task of personalising each message? There’s no magic stopwatch that adds extra hours into the day. 

How, and where do you begin? One option is variable tags. 
 
A variable tag is a piece of code that is used on a mobile app to send data from a third party source, such as your CRM, to the content shown to your user. Tags are written directly into the copy in order to turn a lot of aggregated data into mass personalisation.
 
For example, a tagged message may be received by a user like so: 

Hey James! We’ve upped our game and added some great new features. Come see if you can beat level 10.
 
But what do you need to do to formulate this message in your back end system? Here's a quick visualisation of setting up a tagged push notification works: 

 

Add inline with your message text. Replacing tag_key with your own key, as well as the required default value. Example let say you have the following 3 users.

User 1: tags: {name: "James", current_stage: 10}
User 2: tags: {name: "Dominique", current_stage: 9}
User 3: tags: {}

Send a notification with the following contents:

Hey

This will result in the following notifications going out to each user.

User 1

Hey James! We’ve upped our game and added some great new features. Come see if you can beat level 10.
 
 
User 2:
Hey Dominique! We’ve upped our game and added some great new features. Come see if you can beat level 9.
 
 
User 3:
Hey there! We’ve upped our game and added some great new features. Come see if you can beat level 1.
 
 

 

Alternatively, marketers can use artificial intelligence and machine learning to implement personalisation. This may seem like a futuristic approach, but of marketers embracing this technology 63% have noted an increase in conversion rates, with 61% also recording an improved overall customer experience.

 
Machine learning leverages data to make decisions for itself; analysing and adjusting content based on results without the need for human input.
 
It can take the form of : 

Phone_Notification_List

 

It is important, however, when personalising content, to strike the right balance. 

 
Research has noted that 3⁄4 of consumers feel that all personalisation is creepy. Overdoing it with personalisation tactics may just drive users away, so it is vital that you A/B test the levels of tolerance held by your user-base. 

 

Add relevant media 

They say a picture paints a thousand words, and when it comes to your push notification engagement rates, so do GiFs, videos and emojis. So don’t be frugal with them.

 
Rich push notifications are a great way to manoeuvre the restrictive nature of push notification character length. Diversifying your copy by adding media-rich elements creates a more dynamic push that conveys meaning beyond words. 
 
But what are rich push notifications? 
 
A rich push notification is a text based push which incorporates some form of media which is more than simple text, such as video, image, or interactive features. These media-rich notifications are supported on both Android and iOS, and research shows that they can improve open rates by up to 56%
 
media
 
Push notification copy can also be made more dynamic and compelling to users through emoji’s. These small emoticons save time, and characters, with their unique ability to convey emotion.
 
Emojis evoke an emotional reaction from users as the brain interprets them as non-verbal communication and this causes users to engage at a much higher rate. Research has shown that inserting emojis into push copy can see an 85% lift in open rate; it’s no wonder that there’s been a 160% increase in their use since 2016. 
 
Using emojis also helps your brand integrate into the digital zeitgeist; blending the line between friend and marketer by emulating a common and current style of communication.
 
Whatever the type of media you decide to use with your push notifications, you must ensure that it is appropriate for your audience and your brand. Consider your brand voice, is it playful, serious, or somewhere in between? 
 
Some brands will have more room to experiment with rich push than others. For example, a breaking news app that heightens tension with video from an unfolding crime scene would be highly engaging. But using a GIF in that same push may belittle the serious nature of the incident, causing your audience to disengage.

 
 
 

Add a killer Call To Action

A Call-to-Action (CTA) is designed to nudge a user toward a desired action. Well crafted CTA’s add momentum and urgency to a message without coming across as aggressive or demanding. 
 
Subtlety is the key to effective CTAs, making overused statements like ‘BUY NOW’ a major fail. Avoid making your audience feel like they’re being taken for granted with hard-sell tactics by using unique, well thought-out CTAs. 
 
A great way to improve your engagement is to focus your attention on the value you’re offering your user rather than the action you want them to take. Calls to Value (CTV), emphasise the value of moving forward for a user by putting them in the picture. 
 
For example: 
 
CTA: 50% OF SHOES UNTIL 9PM. BUY NOW 
 
CTV: Hit the town in a new set of heels tonight with 50% off until 9pm. 
 
 
Using a CTV at the beginning of a campaign, then gradually moving toward a more focused CTA builds the bond and momentum needed to bag that conversion. 
 
Mobile app technology has advanced the traditional CTA beyond text-only formats and into interactive action buttons:
 
Push-Action-Buttons-Example-4-720x405
 
Source: Braze
 
Push action buttons give you the ability to serve your user up to four responses to a push notification. Ranging from the obvious ‘view now’, to ‘save’, to ‘remind me in 1 hour’, and anything in between. 
 
The logic behind this is that sometimes your user may want to take action, but it isn’t the right time for them. 
 
Acknowledging that your user may be busy, and giving them the option to delay their action, conveys the message to them that you care and don’t wish to interrupt their day. It places the message onus on the value offered rather than the immediate need to take an action that benefits the app. 
 
There is so much uncertainty that comes with trying to manually predict the best time to send messages to users. The problem is that each user is different; has a different schedule and a different level of tolerance for interruption throughout their day.
 
You can A/B test different timings but really you’ll never be able to get the accuracy that you crave...unless, that is, you invest in Intelligent Delivery
 
Intelligent Delivery uses machine learning AI to determine each individual user’s optimal time for engagement. 
 
From the moment of app-download, the machine begins to learn about a user. Each interaction informs the predictive technology and builds an algorithm for delivery. This algorithm develops a schedule for push notifications that is pin-pointed to the times when a user is most likely to engage.
 
It has been shown that intelligent delivery predictions can increase engagement with push notifications by 23%. This powerful prediction tool cuts through the clutter of traditional push notifications and stands out as the most valuable to audiences.
 
Intelligent Delivery is less invasive than traditional timing guesswork, removing the possibility of annoying your users during important meetings or life events. 
 
Additionally, the automated nature of Intelligent Delivery eliminates the arduous task of regulating delivery across time-zones. This frees up the marketer’s time to focus on more important tasks like creating valuable content for users. 
 
 
User_BestTime
 

Set up A/B Testing

 

The final step in any great push notification strategy is to set up A/B testing. Without effective testing, how can you be sure that your tactics are working? It would be foolish to assume that your decisions are always correct. A/B testing puts it to your audience and brings back the data that proves you right! 
 
A/B testing entails comparing one or more versions of a push notification to see which performs best. The test messages are delivered to selected groups of users, chosen at random, and the winning message is sent to the remaining majority of selected users from a segment. 
 
An effective way of splitting a segment list for testing is to divide the list A in two: list Aa & list Ab. Then divide list Aa into two again, leaving the smaller list Aa1 and list Aa2, and the larger list Ab. To test a push notification variant, send a test message to Aa1 and Aa2, the message with the most positive reactions will then be sent to the larger list Ab.

 

But what exactly do you test when it comes to push notifications? 
 
When it comes to testing, you must focus on one variant at a time to ensure you can clearly interpret the data. For example, if you test emojis and humour in the same push notification test and it fails, you will be unable to determine which element caused your audience to have a negative reaction.
 
Many of the factors that we have already discussed can be chosen as a testing variant:
 
  • Personalised v Unpersonalised 
 
Skeptical about the power of the personalised push? Why not try A/B testing a personalised push notification vs an unpersonalised message. This can be as simple as testing whether referring to users by their name has an effect on engagement rates. 
 
  • Wording 
 
Language is an important part of any push notification. There’s a million ways to express one sentiment and that may leave you feeling unsure of which wording will evoke a reaction from your users. You can test the sentence length, use of urgency-building words, use of capitalisation, use of humour...the list goes on. And one small change can go a long way in terms of results. 
 
  • Media 
 
Using media in your push notifications can help you stand out from the crowd, which can have a lot of power in today’s cluttered push notification market. Testing whether your users respond more positively to different kinds of media can help you craft your most engaging push yet! 
 
 
These are just a few options, out of many, that you can A/B test. When testing any variant, you must ensure you keep your campaign goals in mind and make final decisions based on data that points to success. 
 
[Blog] How to A/B Test Push Notifications 
[Infographic] Golden Rules For Push Notifications
[Blog] 5 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Push Notification Pest

Little Known Hacks & Tips

Now that we’ve covered the basics of push notifications, you have all the tools you need to create a great campaign. 

But what if you want to take your marketing to the next level? 
 
We’ve come up with a list of hacks & tips that you can consider to set your push notifications apart from the crowd. 
 
 
 
[Infographic] Hacks & Tips for Powerful Push Notifications
[Blog] Push Notifications Tutorial: Top Tips for Better Push Notifications

Tip #1 Deep link your push notifications for improved UX

We’ve come to a point in our consumption of digital content where we are heavily reliant on linking. In fact, we are so used to using links as navigation, it’s very frustrating when a link is either not present or doesn’t bring us to the page we were expecting. 

 
Deep linking goes beyond a link that launches your app. It’s about navigating users directly to the desired page within an app. The direct nature of deep linking increases the likelihood of conversion. 
 
What is deep linking?
 
Deep linking is a technique of linking triggered by external events such as push notification engagement. They allow an app to bypass its homepage and launch a specific page or resource based on a hierarchical scale. The deeper the link the further into the app's hierarchy the user will be pulled. 
 
 
Implementing deep linking makes an app more responsive and improves UX, all of which has a positive effect on user retention. 
 
Deep links are extremely useful for retail apps who require the ability to pull users directly to a product or department within their app based on a promotion. News and media apps with many articles in circulation at one time also benefit greatly from the use of deep links to send personalised content to their user segments. 
 
Deep linking creates the necessary seamlessness that users have come to expect from their digital experiences.  

 

Tip #2 Tailor your push notification length based on industry data

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours perfecting copy, finalising media and testing variables to find your push has been truncated by the operating system.

 
Depending on the operating system that your app is running on, the cut off point for notification character length varies. But it’s important to be aware of character limits to make sure you don’t get cut off mid senten... 
 
Each push notification has a maximum payload. The payload of a push notification contains the data you want to send and information about how to alert your user. It is this payload that dictates the point at which your push message will be cut off.
 
 
 

pushon_alert

For iOS: 

Depending on where your push notification is being viewed each character limit may be different. Push messages can be anything between 150 characters (iPhone) to 230 characters (iPad) on iOS. This character allowance translates into 4 lines. After this point, your message will be truncated with a ‘...’ to end. 

 

 

android_cut

For Android: 

On Android, initial character allowance stands at just 49 characters on the lock screen and notification drawer. However, notifications can be expanded to accommodate an estimated character maximum of 597. 

 

 

What’s the perfect push notification length?

 
 
Whether you’re running your app for iOS or Android, it is recommended that you keep push notification length to the shorter end of the scale. 
 
Research shows that short, punchy push notifications have a greater engagement rate than those which are cut short as they do not require any additional action on the part of the user. 
 
You should take your industry into consideration when formulating the length of your push notifications. 
 
Research has shown that those in the health & fitness and travel & hospitality industries should aim for 90 characters. Industries favouring shorter push lengths are education & training, which research recommends to display only 25 characters. 
 
notification_length
 

Tip #3 Inject your copy with power words

Now that we’ve handled length, we need to think about how you will convey your important message within such a small amount of space. 

 
There’s no escaping the fact that saying a lot with a little is a tough job for even the most accomplished copywriters. But here’s a simple hack that will help you pack a punch with your push: power words.
 
Power words are words within copy that are specifically chosen for their ability to impart psychological or emotional messages to audiences. Appearing as regular words within the text, power words have a special persuasive ability and are incredibly effective if used correctly. 
 
The basis for these power words comes from Festinger’s social comparison theory (1954). 
 
Festinger states that humans have a drive to evaluate their opinions and abilities in comparison with individuals around them. So, as retailers and marketers, we can play on this element of human nature by attaching emotions and values to the items we are promoting. Consumers, in turn, feel obligated to make purchases so that they measure up against their peers. 
 
There are 4 main categories of power word from which marketers can draw their push notification language: 
 
Urgency
 
A main component of social comparison theory is the fear of missing out on a product that others will have. Fostering a sense of time-running-out will push audiences to interact with your messages. 
 
 Power words: Quick, fast, running-out, hurry, breaking, alert 
 
Exclusivity 
 
Using language to convey a sense of exclusivity plays into the human desire to feel special, unique and superior. Your language can elevate a product or an offer to coincide with status in the mind of your audience. 
 
Power words: limited, luxury, VIP, invite, gift, reward 
 
Emotion 
 
Imparting emotion into a message is one of the most effective ways to incite a reaction from your audience. Emotional words have the ability to change a readers entire mindset about a topic. 
 
Power words: Adventure, dream, goal, love, beautiful, heavenly 
 
Value
 
I know I keep saying this, but value is so important when it comes to push notifications. Sometimes the best way to deliver value is spell it out. 
 
Power words: value, free, offer, sale, save, discount, treat
 
 
Again, when it comes to push notifications, your industry is an important guide toward which path you should take. Here are some power words which work best for 3 industries: 
 
Travel Retail Music
 
Dream Want Curated
Adventure Sweet Hand-picked
See Amazing Brand New
Hear Incredible Selected
Escape Quick Playlist
Memories Running-out Fresh
Indulge Claim Perfect

 

 

Tip #4 Brighten things up with a pop of colour psychology

 

Human beings are incredibly visual creatures; 70% of all our sensory reports are in the eye! Because of this, humans interpret visual triggers such as colour faster than words and, in turn, learning rates increase by 400% when prominent visual elements are included. 
 
Colour, and its ability to affect consumer moods both cognitively and emotionally, is integral to any visual communication. Colour psychology is simply the study of this wonderful ability.  
 
Research has shown that 90% of initial judgements on products are made based on colour alone. 
 
Implementing a colour scheme into push notifications has the potential to be a highly powerful engagement-lifting tool. However, in order to use colour effectively, you must understand the impact of different colours on things like mood and brand perception. 
 
Graphic Description 
 
Screenshot 2019-08-15 at 10.19.05            
 
 
 Textual Description 
 
A red plane with four equal straight sides and four right angles
 
The graphic description took you less than a second, didn't it?
 

 

 

So, what colour scheme should you use? Well, that really depends on the message you’re trying to convey.

red   blue   green   darkgreen

purple    yellow   orange   black

 
 
 
Studies in marketing and colour psychology suggest that your primary concern should be to portray your desired brand personality through appropriate colour choices. Rigidly adhering to stereotypical colour associations can sometimes be a negative creative choice, as the psychology of colours are partly determined by context. If a colour makes logical sense in the context of your product then it’s likely to be well received by your audience. 
 
How can you inject colour into your push notifications? 
  • Brand logo thumbnail 
  • Photographs 
  • Graphic images (animations, coloured text) 
  • Moving images (Video / Gifs) 
  • Emojis
 
The colour within all of these elements will pull user attention toward your push notification and evoke an emotional reaction that motivates their engagement. 

Logo colour is particularly important when it comes to conveying brand personality. The logo thumbnail appears in a push notification to identify the message sender. Your logo thumbnail in a push notification needs to be consistent with your overall branding so that your user instantly recognises it. 

 
Brand functionality and personality are intrinsically linked with colour psychology; a poorly chosen colour scheme can throw off customer perceptions and, in turn, cause users to disengage from your notifications. 

 
 
 
Let’s take a look at how a colour can convey emotion within a media rich push notification. 
 
Here we see a push notification which uses two main colours within an image. We can interpret the intended meaning of these colours based on the push copy. 
 
White/blue: cold, cool, winter, snow, ice, freezing
 
Colour use in the background reminds the audience of the frosty-cold of winter months.
 
Gold: superior, luxurious, lavish, rich, strong, exclusivity 
 
Foreground colour gives their product a sense of value and hopes to persuade the customer to make a purchase based on perceived quality. 
 
 
clothing_Push
When it comes to colour psychology, tread lightly as inappropriate use of colour can actually have the opposite effect to lifting engagement. Sending out push notifications with adverse colour pairings can drive users to dismiss messages that are not aesthetically pleasing. 
 
 
[Guide] A Copywriter's Guide to Perfect Push Notifications

Analytics

Hitting ‘send’ on a push notification campaign is not the end of the story! 

Ensuring your targets are measurable is part of effective goal setting. Without detailed analysis and measurement, your painstakingly crafted push notifications are a massive waste of time. 
 
Sending untracked messages to users is like shouting into a blackhole, how will you know if anyone is listening? 
 
In fact, if you neglect analytics when creating push notifications, you could actually be losing users! Imagine you scheduled a sequence of push notifications around the same theme; when your first message is delivered, users have a negative reaction which causes multiple users to uninstall your app. If you’re not monitoring your analytics you won’t be aware of this adverse reaction and your sequence will continue to push users away from your app! 
 
Flip the coin, and what do you get? Well, If you had enabled the correct tracking criteria, you would have caught the issue, made amendments to your sequence and got your campaign back on track. 
 
So, what exactly should you be tracking?
 
The metrics that you should track depend on the goals you select at the start of your campaign. You can track multiple KPIs: 
  • Impressions
  • Open rates 
  • Engagement rates
  • Click through rates
  • Conversions 
  • User retention
With so many elements available for you to track, you might feel a little lost. 
 
Keep these best practise tips in mind when you’re planning your goals and you’ll know exactly how to look at your data and optimise your campaigns. 
 
notification
 

 

Think beyond open rates

Don’t get me wrong, tracking how many users open your app by directly tapping your push notification is an important part of push notification analytics. You can calculate open rates by dividing the number of unique opens by the number of push notifications sent (excluding bounce). 

However, tracking open rates is just the first part of your customer journey.
 
If your tracking ends at open rates, you could be making some big assumptions about the success of your campaign. 
 
For example, imagine you A/B test two push notifications with a goal of finding which gains the most conversions. After testing, Push A has a much higher conversion rate than Push B. At this point, you may think Push A is the most successful message and subsequently select it for your campaign. 
 

Unfortunately, you would be wrong. 


Based on your goal, a further step is necessary to compare the conversion rates of each push. This is because the conversion rate is not directly correlated with the open rate. 


Always track the entire journey of your users,  otherwise you may run the risk of analysing incorrect data and falling  at the first hurdle. 

 
 

Engagements are your friend

Not all push notifications are opened, that’s just a fact of life. Across industries, the average open rate for push notifications doesn’t get much higher than 5%.  

But don’t worry, a push notification being left unopened doesn’t necessarily mean all of your hard work has gone to waste. This is where tracking engagement becomes a vital part of measuring your campaign’s success. 
 
Engagement can be measured by tracking the amount of app launches during a period directly after a push campaign has been deployed. The logic behind tracking engagement is that app users may view your push notification but decide not to launch the app directly. Instead, your push message is stored in their brain and motivates them to launch the app at a later time. 
 
The time period from which push notification engagement is measured is generally 24 hours from campaign delivery. 
 
Other elements that can be considered when tracking engagement are the number of repeat visits, per user, after a push message was sent, and your users’ session length on the app after they have received your expertly assembled push notification message.

 

Keep your eye closely on retention rates

Studies show that nearly 3/4 of users who downloaded your app will stop using it altogether before the 3 month mark. This makes tracking user retention majorly important to the overall success of your app. 
 
If used correctly, push notifications can boost user retention majorly. Depending on your strategy, however, they can also have an adverse effect. Neglecting segmentation, for example, can increase churn rates. Why? Simply because users resent receiving irrelevant mass-messages that don’t interest or relate to them. 
 
Whether positive or negative, you need to be aware of any significant shift in results which may be caused by your push notification strategy. 
 
You can track user retention with a simple cohort analysis. 

What is Cohort analysis? 
 
‘Cohort’ simply means ‘group’. So a cohort study tracks and examines things like user behaviour, performance of groups and variable changes in groups that have different starting positions, for example. For retention, you will need to track your users from the very beginning: the point of app sign up. 
 
 

                                                                             % Still Active in following months

Signed up in 1 2 3 4 5
JAN 100% 24% 23% 21% 20%
FEB 100% 26% 24% 22% 20%
MAR 100% 29% 25% 23% 21%
APR 100% 32% 26% 23% 21%
MAY 100% 33% 28% 24% 21%

 

 

As with most things, there are both advantages and disadvantages. A well created cohort analysis can offer you a clear distinction between growth and engagement, two variables which can often become intermingled. On the other hand, cohort studies can be rather time consuming to carry out. And you are, after all, a very busy marketer. 

 
Nevertheless, if you’re keen to create a cohort visualisation like the one featured above, simply follow this formula:
 
Customer retention rate = (CE - CN / CS) x 100 
 
CE= Customers at the end of period 
CN= New customers acquired during period 
CS= customers at the start of period
 
Alternatively, you can measure your retention qualitatively by asking your users to fill out customer satisfaction surveys and reviews. From here, you can find out the issues and questions facing your users. Once you have discovered your users’ issues, you can begin to amend them, which will, doubtlessly, positively impact your retention rates and optimise your user experiences. 
 
 
 
[Blog] 3 Push Notifications to Boost your 30-day User Retention Rates

Conclusion

 
Push notifications have been found to boost app engagement by 88%, so there’s no denying that push notifications are crucial to your app marketing strategy. The power of the push notification has evolved over the years; from humble beginnings, to one of our most recognisable methods of communication with users, globally. 

Users appreciate quality push messages in an age where they are bombarded with empty marketing content left, right and centre. Ensuring that your push notifications are timely, relevant and meaningful to your users is the only way to provide them with the value that they really deserve, and that ultimately retains your customers in the long run. 
 
Creating a push notification strategy that sets measurable goals, uses up-to-date techniques, like segmentation and personalisation, and continuously analyses data beyond the point of delivery, will foster the brand loyalty that every business craves.  

 

 

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