Design Effective Push Notifications

You have one unread message, your order is waiting for you at the point of issue, your tweet is liked by the person for whom you wrote it – all this good news is brought by push notifications.

Push notifications are small pop-ups that inform you of something important (or not) and appear on your smartphone’s screen even when you do not use the app. It’s a great marketing tool for user engagement, retention, building user loyalty, and increasing conversion.

Here are some statistics related to push notifications:

  • On average, a smartphone user in the United States receives 46 pushes per day.
  • 53.3% is the average percentage of subscriptions to push notifications.
  • Subscription rates for mobile push notifications are much higher on Android (91.1%) than on iOS (43.9%) because these messages require user confirmation on iOS.

VWO Engage provides statistics that show when users respond to push notifications as spam:

  • Too many notifications (62% of subscribers)
  • Irrelevant notifications (55%)
  • Clickbait (55%)
  • Notifications with outdated offers (48%)
  • Notifications sent at the wrong time (44%)

During the research, they identified the main reasons for user dissatisfaction, the top 3 of which were irritation, distraction, and absence of purpose. Only 18% of smartphone users find push notifications useful and are ready to receive them, while every second user wants to control whether the app can send pushes.

The advantage of push notifications is that they constantly remind the user that they have installed your app. However, this can also be a drawback. It turns out that as soon as you start to misuse the points of contact, the user will leave.

It’s important to remember a simple truth: push notifications are created for people, not gadgets. So how to make push messages work? In this article, you will find some helpful tips on how to design effective pushes.

Tip #1: Send push notifications at the right time

  • Make sure that your notifications arrive on time. If you work with other time zones, set up separate notifications for them. Correct load balancing will even help reduce server load.
  • Send the notification a limited number of times. The limit, of course, will depend on the value of the information, but, in any case, we recommend no more than 5-10 notifications per day. If the info that you want to share exceeds this limit, try to “bundle” the notifications as Instagram does. Instead of spamming you with 10 notifications about the activities of 10 users on your news feed, the app sends only one notification about those 10 users.
Push Notifications Right Time
  • Keep in mind that the timing typical for browser mailing may be ineffective for mobile push notifications. For example, in a browser-based mailing list, news feeds are usually sent in the morning, and the optimal time for long reads on blogs is closer to 5 p.m. At the same time, statistics claim that apps typically send notifications during the working day, while the gadget owners open them after 6 p.m. Therefore, the peak engagement and the optimal time for sending a push is between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. However, there are exceptions for urgent messages such as business lunch deals or alerts about the delayed flights.

Tip #2: Choose the topics that are interesting to your target audience.

Use push notifications that can interest users.

  • Don’t send the same content to absolutely everyone. Ultimately, the most valuable notifications are user-centric notifications, i.e., suggestions based on the history of alerts that are relevant to user preferences. All junk and spam will harm your brand’s reputation.
  • Personalize your messages. If you have names in your user base, you can use them in notifications so that the person feels that you are referring to them. However, personalization is about not only calling the user by name but also preparing personalized recommendations based on their preferences. For example, Netflix sends push messages based on what the users watch.
Interesting Topics for Target Audience

Tip #3: Keep the text of notifications as accurate as possible.

  • Communicate the most interesting information in a concise manner.
Accurate Text Notifications
  • Look for the perfect combination of text and link: give the user an opportunity to open the app and learn more. At the same time, do not force them into the text, this will only irritate the user.
Accurate Text Notifications
  • Make sure that each message confirms the user’s decision to install the app, and they receive the most interesting and relevant information.
  • Remember that the use of variables should not lead to the same message format, in which only the dates of promotions or the size of discounts change. Being aware of “a dialogue with the robot” can result in a canceled subscription.

Tip #4: Establish a dialog between the user and the system.

  • Get permission from the user. This is an important point that, for some reason, many people miss. A pop-up window to allow receiving notifications can become one of the most important dialog boxes. Explain to the user why you would like to send them notifications in the mobile application and their benefits. Here’s an example from the Conquest mobile game:
Establish a Dialog
  • Preload content. If the user clicked the notification and was automatically redirected to the app, then the interface should start loading at the same time. This will delay the push notification by 10-20 seconds, but the user will not end up on a blank page.
  • Give users access to copies of notifications inside the app. It’s quite easy to miss an important notification, so duplicate the information for the user inside the app. Keep useful information in your chat history or notification log that the user can return to if necessary.
  • Don’t forget to give the user an option to turn off push notifications from your app and enable them to select which types of notifications they can opt-in for. For example, the user can choose to get only the most important messages and updates in order not to miss any special offers. Here’s how Elevate, the brain training app, allows users to edit their notification preferences within the app.
Push Notifications Settings

Tip #5: Segment your target audience.

  • Geo-targeting. It’s possible to determine not only the time zone plus the city and country that the user-specified during registration but also a more accurate location according to the device’s geodata. How to use this information? Depends on the app. For example, Uber informs its users about attractive rates in their whereabouts:
Segment Target Audience

And Pokemon Go alerts the players about the new types of Pokemon in their area:

Pokemon Go Alerts
  • Customer life cycle stages. Dividing users into inactive, active, and newbies will allow you to offer everyone their own types of bonuses. Inactive users can appreciate a discount on the services they used before, active ones – accumulating points and changing statuses, and newbies – a gift or a discount for their first purchase. In addition, you can ask experienced users to review the product, and newcomers – to participate in a survey. Pay special attention to those who went through several stages in the process of purchasing a product/service and did not complete it – they should be reminded about discounts on goods that they added to the cart.
  • Results of actions in the app. For example, the airline can notify only those who bought tickets for a flight about a flight delay. Additionally, notifications can act as a direct link between the company and the user, answering his questions during the checkout process, waiting for the transportation of goods to the delivery point, choosing an individual package of goods in the app, etc. Here’s how GrubHub, a food delivery app, notifies the user that their order is being prepared:
GrubHub, a food delivery app, Alerts
  • Additional criteria. Segmentation is possible according to the criteria that the user specifies during registration. So, for example, you can immediately offer a newcomer products or services designed for users of their gender, age, and country.

Over to you

Push notifications are a helpful marketing tool. The main thing is to approach its use consciously:

  • do not spam,
  • competently plan the content and time of sending,
  • segment the recipient base,
  • personalize the offers.
Anastasia Khomych

Anastasia Khomych

Anastasia Khomych is a content marketing manager at GetSocial, an all-in-one solution to empower mobile app marketing and product teams with growth tools to maximize user acquisition, engagement, and retention.

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