Some consider push notifications to be spammy, with a high potential for annoyance. Studies show that 68% of app users enable push notifications for the apps they download and 70% of them say such notifications are valuable.
Push notifications are a permission-based service. As with any permission-based tool, it’s important to respect that license and use your notifications wisely; your audience will switch you off if you misuse such access. But actioned well, push notifications can help build trusted and valuable connections between your brand and your audience.
Here are five tips on creating great push notifications that your customers will definitely read and take action.
1. Know what your audience wants
As with any type of communication, it’s important to understand who your audience is and what they’re likely respond to. There’s no point sending out push notifications about your grand sale on pool toys to families living in the middle of an arctic plain.
While that’s an amplified example of what you need to look out for, many marketers do miss the boat when effectively communicating their sales and offers via push notifications for similar reasons.
The key thing to understand is what your audience is interested in hearing and why they’ve downloaded your app.
If your company provides a news or informational service, then sending out notifications relative to specific news events will likely prove valuable. In the same way that a traffic app that alerts users to accidents or road hazards will benefit the end user and help build brand reputation by providing such utility.
It’s important to understand that your audience does not need to see sales notifications three times a day. Understand the audience benefit of our app and ensure you’re maximizing this via your notifications.
2. Know when your audience wants it
The second critical element you need to keep in mind when reaching out to your audience via push notifications is what time’s best to reach them. Notifications sent at 3am will either largely go un-noticed, annoy your audience and possibly lead to your app being deleted. Within your push notification settings, you can set scheduled start and end dates for your messaging and establish send times relative to the local time zones of your users.
You also need to consider when your messages are likely to see the best response – if your audience is primarily stay-at-home mums, your optimum send time is going to be vastly different than someone who’s targeting office workers.
Do some research to understand when your audience is most likely to be active and/or most receptive to your notifications, and ensure you reach them when they want.
3. Know where your message will be most useful
Another element of push notifications to ensure your messages get shared by the right audience is by geo-targeting. This allows you to share your messages with audiences based on their geographic location. Although not everyone allows geo-tracking on their mobile device, many people do. This can prove extremely valuable in your push notification process.
For example, if you’re marketing a restaurant and you want to reach users who’ve downloaded your app within a certain geographic radius of your store to notify them of a new deal or menu item, you can. Such capacity can be great for eateries who want to reach office workers in the lunch time rush. Be careful though, any more than a couple of notifications of this sort per week could risk over doing and lose you subscribers. Success can be defined by a fine line.
4. Know who you’re trying to reach and speak to them, directly
Personalization may be the most valuable aspect of push notifications.
When you’re communicating with someone via their own mobile device, that’s a very personal thing. It’s a direct line of communications between you and them. With that perspective in mind, do you think sending people a generic notification is really the best way to cut through amongst the various other messages and updates they receive each day and make them take notice?
People love to be treated with priority; they love being shown that they’re important and that you’re listening to them. Though this may seem beyond the capacity of a push notification – it’s not. Taking the time to add in a level of personalisation can make a huge difference in your engagement and response rates.
For example, take a look at these two push notifications from Best Buy and Amazon:
Can you see the difference? Amazon’s notification are personalised, they’re directed at customers based on their purchase history. Best Buy’s messaging is not – they send the same, exact, message to all users of their app. Which do you think is more engaging? A customer who’s just purchased a range of baby gear is probably more likely to click through on a deal for related baby equipment than someone being hit with yet another Best Buy ‘Deal of the Day’.
Personalisation in this context is not necessarily about addressing people by their name. In actual fact, that’s often a big turn-off when it’s clearly an auto-generated message. What you should be focussing on is personalising the content.
Segmenting your app users with the data you have available, this way you can reach specific segments of your audience with messages relevant to them. When they click through, take them to the pages they visit most often and show them the deals most relevant to them. Someone who buys a lot of basketball gear is probably not going to be as interested in your special on golf shoes. Again, keep the customer utility of your app in mind and use the cues you have to focus your message – the more personally tuned-in the better.
5. Know your analytics and engagement stats
If you’re not utilising the data available to you based on actions taken in response to your push notifications, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re sending out the same message over and over again and getting the same poor response, that’s a pretty good sign you need to change your messaging. The most significant advantage of the connected era is data. The ability to track and correlate user activity and actions and use that to better focus and refine your processes to optimise your results.
Check what’s working, test different types of messaging at different times of day and find out what works best for your audience. Examine what works, improve where you can and refine often.
There’s a heap of opportunity in push notifications and the direct connection with your audience provided via this method, a heap of ways for brands to maximise the utility of their apps whilst also helping build their brand and expand the reach of their messaging.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that push notifications are about what your audience wants to hear and not necessarily what you want to tell them. Keep that in mind and you’ll be on your way to maximising success via this outreach option.