Push notifications have become a common phenomenon for everyone with a smartphone, smartwatch or computer. You don’t need to know about them to receive one. If you are connected to the internet, you will receive a push notification every other minute from one of the apps installed on your smartphone or through a website browser.
However, despite this prominence, superior ability to penetrate a deeper section, and grander options for personalization, some marketers don’t get the precise ROI. Their investments on luxurious push notification services fail to even make up for the service rentals.
For instance, consider the following push alert screaming out an overwhelming deal on the Men’s fashion.
Now, if this limited time offer comes at the stroke of midnight, answer the following questions related to this particular event:
- How many people do you think would actually see this alert at the right time?
- How many do you think would be interested in checking it out when it’s clearly interrupting their good night sleep?
- What about those subscribers who have blocked notifications on mobile but have them allowed on computer browsers?
That’s the nucleus of the matter. If we see how push notifications work, despite having quite tempting and great deals, many of them fail to get the deserving attention. Either they don’t make it on time, or don’t get delivered to the right device. This notification clearly deserves immediate action, but due to wrong timing, it fails to get that attention, not only on mobile phones but also on computer web browsers.
You must understand that, if people have opted-in to receive the notifications, they are actually interested in what you offer. You have to plan a little to make things, rightly timed, relevant to specific people, and finally get those relevant things delivered to the appropriate people only.
This article will discuss examples of this in practice as well as several push notification marketing strategies that many marketers aren’t using. By missing these strategies, they are missing the array of opportunities that push marketing holds.
1. You are not planning for getting opt-ins
This is how push notifications work. You cannot deliver push messages unless users subscribe to them from your website or mobile app. Specifically, for website-based web push notifications, you need to ask every visitor to subscribe to your alerts.
Luckily, Android users subscribe to app-based push alerts by default when they install an app. However, iOS apps don’t get this liberty. They need to manually ask every user right after the app-install to subscribe to the alerts.
Now here is the thing:
- Despite subscribing to your push alerts by default, the Android app users can easily unsubscribe whenever they want.
- The iOS users can do the same, even after manual opt-in post-app-install, and
- Same goes for web push notifications subscribers.
It’s not easy to get opt-ins, and more complex is retaining the subscribers.
You need a plan of action that does not only entice the users to opt-in but also encourages them to stay subscribed. The only way to do that is getting opt-ins from a relevant audience.
How do you get opt-ins?
Except for app-based Android push notifications, it is very tricky to get opt-ins. A marketer with some beginner-level knowledge would simply choose to trigger the following boxes to get the opt-in:
However, if you are not a rookie, you would know that people don’t want notifications. They want information. The more they are informed of the consequences of making a choice, the more they would be encouraged to opt-in or opt-out, based on their comprehension of the choices.
If you are merely asking – “XYZ wants to send you notifications- Block or Allow”, it’s purely based on luck to get the opt-in. A notification could be anything. It could be a piece of relevant information or not relevant at all.
The best way to do this is customizing an opt-in box to make it as informative as possible. While designing the box, make sure that it is informing the potential subscriber about the consequences of making each of the two choices. Explain to them about the type of information they would receive if they allow the same.
See this opt-in box for a blog that posts regular health tips:
It offers a clear comprehension of what users would get after opting-in and what they would miss if they block the same. This tweak is not limited to health tips, depending on your domain, you can come up with many such fancy opt-in box ideas.
For example, if you own a webshop, one of the best eCommerce marketing ideas would be sending transactional as well as engagement push notifications. Inform your users about this with a notification alert like this:
Text: “We keep our users posted about latest offers and purchase details through push notifications”
Choices: “Keep me informed”; “Not Required”
Bottom line: This tweak is so fundamental that a majority of marketers miss it, considering as not very crucial. In fact, while writing this point, I was looking for some websites to show you guys as an example, but hardly found one. Most of the websites are still stuck with the generic opt-in boxes.
In other words, it is the best opportunity to make your notifications unique and stand out from the rest.
2. You are not planning for preference and behavior-based notifications
Many marketers track in-app behaviors of the users to trigger corresponding alerts. No doubt behavior-based triggering is crucial and it helps you to automate the notifications without manual intervention. However, sometimes, these automatically triggered alerts get insanely frequent. Moreover, they are one-sided in nature – from a business point of view. Mostly, they surprise the users.
Behavioral targeting is decisive for re-marketing and app-engagement goals but not as efficient when you rely entirely on them for all categories of information. In a survey by Localytics, 58% of people said that behavior-based notifications are harassing, annoying and make them feel nervous. On the other hand, 49% admitted that preference-based alerts are useful and they caused them to use an app more.
The bottom line is, if you are entirely relying on automated push alerts, 58% of your push alerts are likely being ignored by your subscribers. Push notifications favor markers only when they let the users make an informed choice. Right from the opt-in box to the extent of having a choice about which notification to receive makes your notifications relevant and less-intrusive.
For Instance, a user chooses to discontinue watching a movie on Netflix, as he or she did not like it. Now if Netflix sends its popular “resume watching “notification to this user it would only irritate him/her. The automation cannot judge if the movie session was interrupted because of circumstances or willingly discontinued due to disliking.
The gist is, stop over utilizing behavior-based alerts and give some attention to preference-based alerts too. Let your subscribers have control of what type of alerts they want to receive and what to block. For example, if you are a news app, you can let your users select the categories or topics of notification they wish to stay informed about. Eg- sports, politics, science, or anything else.
See how Facebook gives in-app options to let users choose which notification to receive and which to block. Doing so encourages users to stop receiving certain notifications without blocking the whole Facebook alerts in one go.
3. You are not planning for geo-fencing with push notifications
Location-based alerts are the next most popular category after preference-based notifications. The problem is, not every business is suitable for utilizing them. However, if you think there is any chance of deploying these alerts with your business, go for it.
Traditionally, marketers believe that geo-fencing is applicable only when your business is available in physical locations. For example, you might geo-fence your physical retail store and trigger offers and discounts to every subscriber entered in the fenced area.
However, in my opinion, even a business without physical establishments can equally utilize geo-fencing to engage their users. You just have to consider two things:
- Use geo sensing to track the real-time location of the subscribers to send alerts relevant to people in that particular location only.
- Use geo-fencing of popular physical areas to send relevant alerts to engage the users and boost app retention.
This is how Uber utilizes the first case to send location-based offers in only the areas where they are applicable. This also helps them to avoid irritating users with irrelevant alerts. Just imagine the scene if this offer was meant for users in New York, but would have been also sent to Uber users in London.
Now, see this amazing example of how a travel app geo-fences an Airport without having a physical outlet there. It is engaging this particular user with a piece of important information. Would this user want to block the notifications like this?
4. You are not planning for the best time to trigger marketing alerts
Push marketing is not just about delivering alerts but also aimed at encouraging conversions or engagement-oriented actions. If not timed properly, readers may simply see your alert and clear them out from the notification board without acting on it.
We talked about this at the very beginning of the article. We saw how a wrongly timed notification is of no use. They don’t bring any action and return on your investment. To make sure they are doing what they are meant to, it is crucial to trigger them at a perfect time and in perfect frequency.
The perfect time to trigger
You might have users from different time-zones. Based on each time-zone, different users engage with your alerts at different times. So the first thing you need to consider is the time-zones of your subscribers. Hence, do not just trigger a single alert to all of your subscribers.
Second, even if the users fall under the same time-zone, you must consider the correct time-frame. For example, triggering a notification at mid-night will not perform as well as the same notification would have performed in the daytime.
Third, different types of notifications are meant to be sent in different time-frames. For example, if you are a blogger who posts daily articles on health topics, you might want to engage your readers with daily health tips. The perfect time to send such alerts is the morning time when people love reading news and other stuff. Same goes for a news and beauty tips app.
Fourth, bombardment of frequent notifications is likewise not a bright idea. Make sure to keep a substantial time-gap between two notifications to give your users enough time for thinking and reacting on your previous alerts. Irritating them with insanely frequent alerts will only encourage aggressive opt-outs.
Bottom line: These things should be understood and don’t demand hardcore stats to prove the best time-frames to send relevant alerts. However, on the marketing land blog, they have posted one detailed article about research from Localytics on the ‘best time to send push notifications’. You can check it out.
5. You are not doing audience research and segmenting subscribers
To make your notification perform exceptionally, relevancy is the key to success. And the best way to do that is by segmenting subscribers in distinctive groups based on certain aspects. You can create groups on the grounds of:
- Time zones
- Geo-location in real-time
- Purchase history
- Browsing behavior
- Browser type: Chrome, Safari, Firefox etc.
- Device type: Desktop web browsers, mobile browsers, mobile apps, TV apps etc.
- Traffic source: Direct or Referred traffic
- Visitor’s type: Frequent or inactive
You can target users on different types of devices with different push notifications too:
- Send in-app alerts to app users
- Trigger web push alerts to both Mobile and Desktop users
- Target Chrome users with dedicated buttons, which are available only in Chrome push notifications
You can also segment users based on the type of notifications to feed them information such as:
- Live scores
- A news flash
- Price drop of a product
- Weather forecast
- Change in flight schedule
- New Episode uploaded etc.
Ultimately, you can even set different frequencies of alerts for every kind. For example:
- You can send news alerts more frequently than a discount alert.
- You can fix a time to send daily news, health tips, or blog post alerts.
- You can segment certain alerts, which can be sent at any time of the day or night. For example, an alert for product shipment status, or an alert for deductions from their digital wallet. These are transactional alerts and should be delivered in real-time.
Be it a transactional, engagement, behavioral, preference, or location-based alert, users appreciate the information that is relevant and interesting for them.
Always get to know your audience, understand their pain points, and trigger notifications that offer them a solution.
Get a push notifications software that allows you to do the stuff mentioned in this article. Doing so actively involves understanding what users want to see and what is meaningful to them.
Ultimately, it should be something that binds utility for the users with your marketing goals. This is how push notifications work.
Guest author: Marry Ann is a branding consultant for PushMaze, a service that lets you send trackable push notifications for users. She mainly passionate about building brands in all aspect of online marketing. Find her on Quora, Twitter or LinkedIn