5 things comms pros need to know about push notifications

by | Oct 17, 2018 | Analysis, Public Relations

Back in the days, people just went online to find information. Today, people expect information to be brought to them.

Perhaps the perfect embodiment of this shift is the push notification. First rolled out with iOS 3.0 in 2009, push notifications are the epitome of content being brought to you. This marketing tactic allows companies to “push” short messages directly to a consumer’s phone, similar to the way they’d receive an SMS message.

The strategy has proven highly effective for marketing campaigns. Urban Airship conducted a six-month analysis of 2,400 apps and 500 million app push notifications and found that, depending on the industry, 35 percent to 50 percent of consumers enable push notifications on their mobile devices, illustrating the huge reach of push notifications.

Even better for small businesses, users that received push notifications were twice as likely to continue using the app sending those notifications. For a platform that is notorious for its cutthroat competition, any increase in app longevity can greatly boost a business’s cash flow.

So, you want to use push notifications for your business? Here are 5 things you need to know:

1. You can push to mobile or desktop

Push notifications are traditionally a marketing tactic for mobile devices, but a few years after their introduction, Windows, Safari, and Chrome all added push notification capabilities to their browsers, and this past spring, Chrome’s native push notifications became compatible with Apple’s OS X. What this means is that push notifications are quite versatile, and you no longer need to worry about mistakes in app design and ballooning budgets unless building an app actually makes sense for your business. Instead, you can now push to customers in the way that suits your platform and business goals best.

2. Always ask consumers to opt in

Except for Android devices (which automatically allow push notifications), you have to ask users to opt in and accept your push notifications before they’ll receive them. It’s standard to ask whether a user or site visitor would like to opt in the first time they open an app or visit a website, but there are ways to stand out in this process and boost your opt-in rate. To incentivize them, tell consumers a bit about the type of content they will receive from your push notifications, whether it’s discounts, sales, coupons, or new announcements and products.

To segment your audience (more on that below), allow users to opt in for specific types of push notifications, and ensure that they receive only the content they will be interested in reading. After all, a push notification is useless if it pushes the wrong information to people.

3. You will need great content

Great copy is essential for any marketing campaign, but with push notifications, marketers only have 40-65 characters to get their message across, depending on screen size. With such limited space, every space and punctuation mark matters—let alone words! The key is to be specific about what you’re offering with this notification: Is there a sale? What for? Is there a new product you think this particular consumer may be excited about? Add a call to action and a link for more information to bring your customers to the point of purchase. Most importantly, utilize great copy to grab their attention and encourage them to click through to your app or website.

4. Have a good sense of frequency

It’s easy to get overzealous when it comes to push notifications. Everyone has that friend who sends too many texts, and that sensation of annoyance gets amplified for businesses. 62 percent of consumers feel overwhelmed by the number of push notifications they receive, so be careful not to overdo it. Some researchers recommend 3 push notifications a week, but that number will vary from business to business. Experiment with different volumes of push notifications and track analytics with a tool like Mixpanel in order to strike the right balance for your user base.

5. Segment your users

Of course, the classic marketing rule applies here: having highly target audience lists and segmenting your marketing campaign brings better conversion rates. To better engage your users, create different push notification campaigns that target specific behaviors and histories. 54 percent of consumers converted from a segmented push notification, compared to 15 percent for broadcast messages, according to Localytics.

The success of a push notification is contingent on send-time, so marketers need to pay attention to time-zone and location when it comes to deciding to push a message. Geo-fencing is another crucial way to target consumers and ensure that you push at the right place at the right time.

Push notifications bring your business right to consumers. However, with such a personal platform, you need to be careful to provide clarity and utility and reach consumers at the right time. Use these tips to start your push campaign and over time you’ll find the right balance of notifications for your audience.

Ellie Martin
Ellie Martin is co-founder of Takanta. Her works have been featured on Yahoo! , Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. You may connect with her on Twitter.


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