The online marketing world is getting cluttered with content fluff and the mobile environment is practically clogged with apps getting launched every other day. Since people are constantly on the lookout for new things, their smartphones practically have at least a hundred applications installed on it.
While some of these applications are being used by them on a regular basis, there are those that are lying dormant in some folder. Let’s be honest for a minute here – no matter how successful your business is currently, you don’t want to fall in the latter category.
This is where app marketers need to strategize better and tap into the possibilities the latest technology and mobile together can offer to stay in the eyes of their user. In simpler words, we’re talking about push messaging.
Also known as push notifications, this tactic lets your application notify a user of recent activity, update, or an event in the app – even when he is not actively using your application. It serves as a call-out to the user that is aimed at bringing him back to the app.
Push messages or notifications are like that subtle nudge you give to your best friend to try new cuisine. It should be personal, engaging, and timed right – but at the same time, it should give him the choice to not try out that new dish at all!
10 steps to creating an effective push notifications campaign
A successful push notification is one that gets its point across in the most engaging, crisp and personalized manner – without being intrusive or irrelevant in nature. Since marketers are used to tapping into the various aspects of their products, they often tend to trip this tricky line.
So after trying and testing various push notifications campaign on different apps, we decided to jot down this 10 steps guide to creating a powerful push notifications campaign:
1. Make it easy to opt-in/out of
The first and foremost thing that an app marketer needs to ensure is that it is easy for the users to opt-in as well as opt-out of push notifications. The end goal here should be to let the user know what he should expect from the notifications and let him decide whether he wants them or not.
Being absolutely clear about the intent of your push notifications helps build trust with your users. The more they trust you and see value in what you offer, the more likely they are to opt-in for push notifications.
While opting in is one part of the campaign that should be strategized and simplified right from the beginning, giving the user the ability to opt out is also important. If you make it hard for them to opt out, they might just get annoyed with the notifications you send them or even uninstall your app to prevent being bothered.
A common practice followed by app marketers is to ask people to opt into their push notifications either right after the download of the app or after they have used it once. But remember, whichever approach you take, it must highlight the benefit of opting in.
2. Segment your users and personalize
Time and again we have stressed on the fact how personalization is the key to successful campaigns in today’s age. A generalized blast push notification will capture no one’s interest and result in a very low engagement rate. In simpler words, it won’t bring a user back to your application.
App marketers need to ensure that the content that gets delivered to the users via these notifications is highly relevant and contextual to his interests. The app usage statistics or user behavior should form the basis of segmentation and personalization of the messages.
For instance, users who have been actively engaging and converting on sales, are more likely to be interested in being notified of the next one as soon as it is launched.
3. Use subtle yet actionable language
While personalization should form the core of your messaging, it is also important to not forget the objective of a push notification – to stimulate an action that brings the user back to the app. The message needs to be a push but tailored enough to not seem too pushy.
For example, if you have an eCommerce app and plan to implement a push notification, an ideal message would be one that is personalized and has the slightest hint of urgency. If you’re running a sale, the user needs to know it isn’t going to last long – this would bring him back to the app instantly.
A sense of urgency helps motivate a user action. The longer you give the user to consume your message and reach your app, the lesser are the chances of him doing so.
Another important aspect to keep in mind here is that the screen the user is taken to from the push notification conveys the same message. Any kind of discrepancy may result in loss of faith, disappointment and in worst cases, an uninstall because the app ruined the user’s experience.
4. Find the right frequency
Imagine being notified every time we wrote a sentence in this blog post – irritating, right? Similar is the case with push notifications. Too many can irritate a user and too less might result in the user losing interest in the app.
Find the right frequency of push notifications can be hard, but it should entirely depend on what your business offers and who your users are.
For example, if you have a gaming app, you could send them notifications based on their in-app activity – the frequency of which is totally depended on his behavior. But if yours is a socializing app, you might want to send more regular notifications – a user won’t want to miss out on an opportunity to connect with like-minded people.
5. Identify the best timing
Push notifications are generally accompanied by a sound alert or phone vibration. If an app sent you a notification at 2 am in the night to check out a sale, you’re not just going to curse it then but also forget about the sale by the time you finally get up.
Based on the user data you segment for personalization (point no. 2), identify the timings your users are most likely to be active at. A good approach is to incorporate the local time of the user when setting up the push notifications.
Another good practice to keep in mind is to plan your push notification campaigns around prominent dates that most users would identify with. For example, on Mother’s Day, a notification that either wishes them or notifies them of a sale – based on the type of your app, will be a lot more welcome than a regular message. It adds a human touch to your app!
6. Make use of marketing automation
If you think you can manually sift through your user data before creating push notification campaigns, you’re wrong. In the ever-expanding digital landscape, user data can change at the blink of an eye. One wrong interpretation of a data point and you could lose the chance of converting your user.
Companies like Wigzo offer marketing automation tools that can fuel your push notification campaigns and drive them to success. It gives you the ability to set up user criteria for notifications and automatically segment them based on their in-app behavior.
Leveraging from this technology gives you insights into how your target audience is changing, what they expect from your business, what kind of interaction they are looking for and their action triggers. All the data points collated together to give you actionable insights to create high converting campaigns in the future.
And let’s be honest, automating these tasks can make the life of a marketer a lot more easy as well as productive!
7. Always run A/B tests
Like every other marketing effort you make to resonate better with your audience, push notifications too should A/B tested and optimized consistently for better results. Since you can’t really do much about how the notification would get displayed on iOS or Android devices, test other elements that it is comprised of.
Use A/B testing to understand which words, phrases, length, timing, etc work the best for your push notifications.
8. Use deep-linking
A lot of apps are missing out on this advantageous feature. Deep-linking implies using powerful links that make the userland on specific pages on the app. They help you acquire, engage and measure across all devices, channels, and platforms.
This, in turn, saves the user from putting in extra efforts of navigating to a specific section of the app to access the information they acquired from the push notification.
9. Measure your results and continue optimizing
Continuing on the point above, it is important that marketers measure the effectiveness of their push notification campaigns closely and optimize on the go.
But it is important to lay down these success metrics beforehand based on the nature of your app and campaign. Don’t just measure the open rates of your notification, but also identify and track metrics that are actually contributing to the end goal of the campaign.
For example, if your push notification was about an ongoing sale in the men’s section, ideally your campaign should measure the following metrics – open rates, how many people viewed the sale, how many people added items from the sale to their cart and how many purchases did it actually lead to.
10. You absolutely should not push users
It is true that users are getting more and more accustomed and usually feel delighted with the convenience of push notifications, but you need to be mindful when nudging the users. Sending too many or untimely notifications can result in push notification spam and therefore cause user backlash or even large-scale app uninstalls.
There are two ways to avoid getting caught in this situation. First, would be Frequency Capping. Set a limit on the frequency and number of push notifications you send to your users and avoid any gripes from them of receiving too many notifications.
Second, receiving the notification at wrong hours can be very annoying for users. Activate ‘do not disturb’ settings and ensure users get notifications only at their desired timings.
Over to you
Push notifications are a powerful way to engage or re-engage with users and remain at the top of their mind, despite them being exposed to a gazillion other apps of various digital platforms. With about 68% of smartphone users willingly enabling push notifications, it is a marketing channel that businesses must not miss leveraging from.
The only thing a marketer must continue to remember is aligning the push notification campaigns with the user’s interest and not just the business’s end goals.
Have you used to push notifications on your app? Do you think they provide you with the perfect opportunity to engage and convert your users?
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on May 4, 2016, and has been updated regularly since then for relevance and comprehensiveness.