Push Notification Essentials: What You Need to Focus on Before Sending Your Notifications

You’ve created an app, secured app downloads, and are rapidly increasing your user base. Now, in order to keep them engaged you use a multi-channel marketing platform and send messages via, push notifications, in-app messages, web messages, email etc. Despite adopting such an engagement strategy you see a stark rise in user churn and your user acquisition cost rises further.

Sounds relatable?

Push notifications can be a blessing or a curse. They are used to influence a users’ action. But, in today’s user-centric world, push notifications can also be perceived intrusive and annoying. They can appear on users’ screen at odd times distracting their viewing experience and include irrelevant messages that may not have relevance or context.

Most users opt-out of push notifications because they’re sent too often or don’t provide relevant information. However, the problem aren’t the push notifications themselves, but the way they are used to engage with users.

Being a mobile marketer in this crowded app marketing space can be super challenging. It is important for marketers like you to rise above the clutter of apps that send push notifications day-in and day-out.

You need to make sure your notifications reach the users’ device but at the right time through hyper-personalised and contextual content. 

Before you begin crafting incredible push notification campaigns, you need to remember these 7 essentials to retain and uplift the hygiene of your push notification campaigns:

  1. Campaign Objective

Don’t send push notifications for the sake of it. Different industries have different campaign objectives.

For instance, captivating users and keeping them active could be the objective for media and entertainment apps while boosting conversions could be the objective for retail and e-commerce apps.

Align your campaigns accordingly and tie it to the end objective that your campaign is meant to serve. There needs to be complete clarity on your objectives to ensure that your marketing ROI is met.

For instance, if your campaign objective is to increase conversions, then send a relevant push notification that nudges a user to make a purchase (Add to Cart Campaigns) or complete a purchase that has been left midway (Cart Abandonment Campaigns).

  1. User Segmentation

Once you have your campaign objectives in place, don’t adopt a shortcut by sending the same push notification to every user. It doesn’t make sense as one size doesn’t fit all. Identifying the right user segment to send is the key to leveraging push notifications. Use data-driven user segments to identify hidden user patterns and predictable behavior to send the right push notification to the right user segments.

For instance, Netflix sends a personalised push notification “Black Mirror Season 3 is out! Watch now” to every user who has watched Black Mirror Season 2. It wouldn’t make sense to users who watch “Orange Is the New Black”.

These notifications are sent based on their historical content consumption and usage patterns. Not only does this offer a personalised recommendation angle but also gives users the impression that Netflix cares about their likes and dislikes.

  1. Content

Content is the king in all aspects of marketing. Choose any channel of communication, your content has to be crisp and to the point, quickly reflecting your message’s purpose. It plays a prominent role in increasing your push notification CTRs.

To ensure your push notification campaigns achieve huge success, you need to ensure your push notifications have all the following elements:

  • Tone: The tone of your push notification plays an important role in your campaign. It sets a context to your message. Based on the type of business you operate, you can vary your tone from being strictly business to being witty, funny, quirky.
  • Personalisation: Adopting a batch-and-blast approach doesn’t work anymore. Personalisation initiates a one-to-one conversation instead of putting the user on the receiving end of a generic message sent to the entire user base.

Users respond to personalised messages as opposed to mundane and non-personalised messages. Personalised content can be sent in a number of ways, from lightweight to contextual. It factors in minor details, such as the first name, an event parameter, action item, language, lifecycle, real-time location, etc.

Personalisation

  • Notification Title (Subject Line) or Description: Your title or subject line is the first thing that a user views when it’s a plain text notification. A crisp and creative title can boost your user engagement and drive up conversions. Marketers like you face challenges deciding on which title to choose.

Using Subject Line Optimisation, you can include high conversion keywords based on your users’ historical responses. This determines the eventual click-worthiness of your push notification

Your description should be in alignment with what the title is all about. Always ensure not to exceed the character limit of your description. Keep it short and effective.

Push Notification TItle Optimisation

  • Power Words: When it comes to sending a push notification, your primary goal is to bring users back to your app, i.e. encourage app relaunch. But, when you have a limit on the number of characters, every single word counts!

These words not only have a significant impact on your push notification engagement but also help increase your open rates, user retention, and in-app revenues. Identify the words that users are engaging with and try to use them in your notifications. The use of power words can vary from industry to industry and depend on your campaign objectives.

Adopting such a data-driven approach helps you further improve your understanding of your users.

Do they respond to positive words that reward them for immediate action or to negative words that create a major sense of FOMO?

Push Notification Power Words

  • Calls to Action (CTA): Users today seek control over the way they want to receive push notifications and when they should receive them. A good practice is to include your push notifications with relevant CTAs. CTAs help users perform a desired action, serving as a bridge between established user intent and potential positive action.

Ensure that your CTAs are relevant and don’t misguide a user from the intended action. Always include two CTAs – one with the intended action and the other to control (Options/Dismiss). You don’t want to hard-sell or arm-twist a conversion event from a disinterested user.

  1. Deep Linking

Deep linking as best practice has grown at an increasing rate in recent years. Deep linked URLs take mobile users to a specific screen within your app or the relevant page on your mobile site. In fact, mobile apps see a 2X increase in retention over 30 days by adopting deep links.

Ensure your push notifications have deep links when you want your user to ensure fewer drop-offs and higher conversions.

Related Post: 8 Tips to Increase User Engagement by Deep Linking Push Notifications

  1. Use of Plain Text vs. Rich Elements

As I highlighted, one strategy doesn’t fit all. Choosing the right type of notification can be tricky. You might contemplate between a plain text notification and a rich push notification. It all depends on your industry type, campaign objectives, and KPIs.

Sometimes your plain text notifications can hit higher open rates and at other times this might not be the case at all.

Rich push notifications on the other hand have proven to get higher click-through rates. Use rich push only if you think your message needs a visual aid, else a plain push with the right balance of words and emojis may suffice.

Rich Push Notification

  1. Send Time

Of all the things, timing is a critical aspect of your push notification campaigns. If you aren’t assertive and don’t react on time, you might lose a valuable user.

You don’t want to send notifications at odd times that go unnoticed or lose relevancy. By relying on advanced analytical insights you can identify when is the best time, i.e. when they’re most likely to engage; to optimise your send times in order to target specific user segments.

Tip: While designing your app, let users have the control on their preferred time to receive push notifications. That’ll help you understand the best time to send push notifications.

Send Time Optimisation

  1. Mobile A/B Testing

Always A/B test your push notifications. Batch-and-blast communication doesn’t work anymore in today’s data-driven mobile marketing environment. Your target audience is made up of different user personas that react differently to your content, degrees of personalisation, rich elements, and send times.

You can’t send a single push notification to your entire user base and expect to drive higher CTRs and conversions. You need to test multiple variants of each push notification to identify what resonates with what user segment. Data from such calculated experimentation becomes your single source of truth, giving you insights into user behaviour and predicting future campaign success.

For instance, if you’re an e-commerce app, looking to promote at offers and heavy discounts to your target your user base of 10,00,000 active users, you should test at least 2 variants of the push notification that you plan to send.

The easiest way to do this is by dividing your entire user base by half, bringing that number to 5,00,000. Now, use random segmentation to create two equal segments of the first 5,00,000 users.

Test both your push notification variants on these segments. Based on the derived user engagement and conversion rates, you’ll be able to determine the best performing push notification which can then be sent to the remaining 5,00,000 users.

Final Thoughts

Push notification hygiene does not only involve segmenting your users. It involves learning from your previous mistakes and rectifying them with a data-driven approach that puts your user at the centre of the app usage experience.

Be sure to draw up a checklist keeping in mind the above essentials to ensure that each of your push notification campaigns help you elevate your KPIs: CTRs, user engagement, conversions, and retention.

To learn how you can level up your mobile marketing with an effective push notification strategy that wins, get in touch, today!

Vijay Mandeep


Vijay Mandeep is a data-driven B2B Saas marketer with a vested interest in startups. He’s passionate about growth hacking, content marketing, and everything social media for B2B SaaS. He works as Senior Growth Marketer at Smartech.

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