Do you find new friends and forget the old ones as you move through life? Or do you maintain a loyal squad that sticks with you?
Just like in life, businesses have different approaches to relationship building and customer acquisition. Some businesses focus all of their effort and resources on finding new customers, and some prefer to lean towards customer retention.
The balancing act between customer acquisition and customer retention is an interesting dilemma that any marketer needs to confront as they are identifying new marketing channels or attempting to optimize old ones.
In this article, I’d like to talk more about customer retention and how you can use web push notifications to keep customers hanging around for longer, and spending more money with your business.
But first, why is customer retention so important?
Why focus on customer retention?
Currently, only 8.5% of decision-makers in marketing consider customer retention as their top priority. Yet, returning customers not only bring in twice as much revenue as new customers but are also more likely to recommend you to others.
They also spend more time on your website and give a higher conversion rate. It is old news that marketers who work on retention marketing see an ROI of up to 15x, compared to the 4 to 6x ROI for new customer acquisition campaigns.
So how do you up your retention game without investing too many resources in setting up a new channel, and then spending some more time on artfully crafting communications like emails or social media posts? This is where Web Push Notifications come in.
Web or browser push notifications are instant not only to set up but also in composition as well as delivery. Set up is usually a five to ten-minute process if you sign up with any of the numerous notification service providers. Composing a notification also doesn’t eat into your time because there’s only so much copy you can fit into one. Once you hit send, it gets instantly delivered to your subscribers if they’re online.
Do they help you bring back visitors to your website? Oh yes, they do. But first, let me give you a brief introduction to this medium.
What are Web Push Notifications?
Web push notifications, for the uninitiated, are notifications sent by websites instead of mobile applications. When you click on them, they take you to a landing page as opposed to opening an app. They work on desktops as well as mobile web browsers.
At first, they used to be just clickable messages with a thumbnail image, a title, and the notification copy, along with the URL of the sending website. They would be linked to a single landing page.
Anatomy of a web push notification
Now, notifications also come in several rich formats that support CTA buttons and banner images. The CTA buttons allow the notification to be linked to as many as three landing pages. The banner images jazz it up and help in setting the context of the message with ease. All these elements contribute towards making web push notifications a very crisp and functional retention marketing channel.
How are they different from your other channels?
App users on Android usually get opted in to receive push notifications as soon they download and install an app. But users must explicitly opt-in to receive notifications from a website on both desktop and mobile. This makes it a permission-based medium right from the first touch point. It doesn’t stop there. Web push notifications also require very little commitment from the subscriber.
The opt-in does not ask website visitors for an email id, a phone number, or a login unlike newsletters, SMS, or social media. All they need to do is click a button to subscribe to it or block it.
Anatomy of an opt-in request
However, what truly sets apart this channel is the way it solves the problem of inertia. Normally, people who are busy doing other things continue being busy when an email gets delivered to their inbox, stays unopened, becomes outdated, and joins hundreds of other unread emails. Web push, on the other hand, appears on their screens or browsers, in front of their eyes even when that particular website isn’t open.
It comes with a brief message that tells users the gist of all they need to know and fades away into oblivion in a few seconds if they don’t click on the Close button. This attribute has another benefit. If you send multiple emails about the same matter, be it a discount offer or a recent blog post, they remain in the inbox adding to the clutter. A notification, on the other hand, doesn’t remain in the virtual collective memory for long even if it is delivered or not. While sending a notification, the sender can assign a TTL (Time to Live). This makes sure that:
- The delivery of a notification is halted after a pre-defined interval and the sender can now send fresh notifications to users who didn’t receive the first one.
- A time-bound notification like a seasonal offer or breaking news doesn’t get delivered late after the offer has expired or the news has become stale.
These attributes make it a very effective tool to bring users back to a website.
How are they bringing users back?
Image Source: The State of Web Push Notifications
As you can see, web push notifications have early adopters across several industries. To understand how they are acting as a retention marketing tool, let’s look at the industries themselves. We can broadly put them into two different groups.
- Those that intend to turn a website visitor into a customer through push notifications (eCommerce websites, online travel companies, etc.)
- The ones that use push notifications as a gateway of engagement with the website (blogs, news and media websites)
Your website might not be an online retail store or a content publishing site. Still, you can ask yourself what the ultimate objective of your marketing communication is – Is it to sell? Or is it engage users?
If you fall into the first category, here are some of the ways in which you can use web push notifications to your advantage:
- Announcing arrival of new products or features.
- Sending across discount offers, seasonal or otherwise.
- Making product recommendations.
- Sending reminders to finish a checkout process.
- Sharing the status of packages that are in transit.
- Creating a feedback loop by running quick surveys or asking for product reviews of a recent purchase.
If you’re aiming at improving user engagement, here’s what you can do.
- Tell your subscribers what’s new on your website. It could be a new blog post, a news article, or an eBook that can help you generate leads.
- Share content from the past that new users might have missed or distribute updated content that’s still useful for your loyal readers.
- Break news.
- Announce an upcoming content.
- Send transactional information like reminders to renew a subscription.
- Send educational content that can nudge casual readers to become subscribers or prospects to understand your business better.
You may be doing the same activities through your existing marketing channels. Then why do you need web push notifications? Simply put, people respond more to push notifications. They get an average click rate of 11-12%. On the other hand, the average click rate for emails is 3-4%. Of course, your other marketing matters. But push notifications give a much-needed shot in the arm in terms of response and engagement.
Is setting up all it takes?
We talked about how easy it is to set up web push notifications for your website. All it requires is adding a piece of smart code to your web pages. But is that all that’s needed to get high click rates and keep your website visitors engaged? No. Here’s what you have to pitch in from your side.
Lay down an opt-in strategy
The opt-in request is the first touchpoint between your potential subscriber and push notifications. How you ask and when you ask matter.
Make it very clear in the opt-in what subscribers can expect. If you’re planning to send push notifications about new blog posts, say that. If you’re planning to send them exciting offers, tell that too. It helps in increasing the opt-in rate.
Opt-in request on the Leadpages blog
Depending on the nature of your website, some pages get more traffic than others. The average time spent on each page also varies. Then there are some pages where you don’t want to disturb or distract the user from moving away to another page. Look at these factors and decide whether you want to show the opt-in as soon as a visitor lands on your website or you want to wait and time it strategically.
Plan your frequency and timing
Sending notifications daily makes sense if you’re a News website. But if you aren’t breaking news, it’s okay to not reach out to your subscribers every day. You may appear spammy if you send too many notifications. Try different frequencies and find out what works best for you. It could be anywhere between once in two days to once or twice a week.
Another important aspect is timing. Both seasonal and daily. Respect the time zone and geography of your customers. Do not send offers on winter clothing when someone is sweating it out in fine tropical weather. Sending product recommendations in the middle of the night is also not appreciated by many.
Segment your subscribers
Segment your customers based on geography, time zones, devices or browsers used, on-site behavior, purchase history, and so on. All the factors that you keep in mind while running a remarketing campaign are applicable here too. This helps in sending personalized and targeted notifications.
Compose notifications that grab attention
Use power words and calls to action that nudge your subscribers into clicking on the notification. Be witty and creative. Use emojis if it goes with your brand image. You’re restricted by a character limit, so try to convey your full message by making use of the title, copy, and images.
Cultivate symbiotic relationships
Push notifications aren’t here to take over your other online marketing channels. Like I said before, your other marketing channels matter. Push notifications can be used to promote your email newsletters. Emails can be used to promote opting in for your notifications. What matters the most is the objective of your marketing plan and how you can wield these channels to achieve it.
Web push notifications are new. However, they’re starting to appear in almost every smart marketer’s arsenal. By now you must have formed a brief idea whether it’s your cup of tea or not. And if it is, you now know how to use it to keep bringing visitors back to your website.
Guest Author: Megha Rajeev is the Content Marketing Lead at PushCrew.