Best Practices for Push Notifications

Push notifications – they’re a great way to grab your user’s attention quickly and an essential part of the mobile app experience. However, they can also be a real challenge. You need to use them effectively, or you risk losing your audience.

Anyone using a smartphone (that’s literally 80% of all internet users) is more than well-versed to receiving and consuming these snippets of content known as push notifications throughout the day. As we’ve mentioned previously, the mobile browsing market has been growing at a steady pace over the past decade. 72% of all minutes online are spent on mobile browsing and, rather sadly, over a quarter of us interact with our phones more than any other object… or human. So, cracking the code on push notifications is vital to digital marketing in 2019.

Some people find push notifications intrusive and annoying. It’s happened to all of us – you’re minding your own business, when suddenly you get distracted by a notification flashing in your face to remind you that you haven’t logged your calorie count today. You had pizza for lunch. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. In fact, 60% of app users turn push notifications off immediately because they’re invasive, and 71% of all app uninstalls are triggered by a push notification.

Remember: The good thing about push notifications is they remind your users that your app is installed. A bad thing about push notifications is they remind your users that your app is installed.

Get that touchpoint wrong, and you’ve lost that user, perhaps for life.

But don’t let the stats put you off – push notifications can be great if they’re relevant. Travel apps and companies like Netflix, Spotify and Facebook are great examples of using tailored notifications and providing actual significant and valuable information to users.

It isn’t push notifications that are an issue, it’s the way they are being used by marketers.

“A great push notification is three things: timely, personal and actionable.”

Noah Weiss, Head of Search, Learning & Intelligence at Slack

So how exactly do you keep users engaged via push notifications?

Time it Right

Research the best time to send out your push notification. Focus on the time zones of your user and when they’re most engaged. We suggest mornings between 7am-10am or evenings between 6pm-10pm. Avoid sending any later than this – there’s no point notifying a sleeping user.

Who exactly is the user?

Push notifications have to be user-focused. You can’t send out arbitrary content to all and expect people to care. It has to be relevant, applicable to the user, interesting and helpful. Remember: these are people that you’re targeting, not robots.

Personalisation is Key

Personalisation should be expected, but often something marketers forget when it comes to push notifications. The best push notifications are those customised to the user. Personalisation = better engagement. The MemConnect platform’s push notification engine allows you to send highly-targeted notifications based on the information you have about them, e.g. their interests, app usage, and behaviour.

Make it Visual

Adding images or videos to a push notification makes it stand out and can be really powerful in terms of storytelling.

Keep it Clear

Use 10 words max per notification – short but sweet. Be snappy and make your message understandable for the user.

But Keep it Fun

A friendly voice goes a long way. Keep things conversational, funny and playful. You don’t want to come across as spammy, which is often the case with pushes. Find the line between getting an important message across but remaining personable.

Don’t spam!

Aim to send no more than 2 notifications per day. However, this depends on your app. For membership organisations, this should be more like 1 per week. The number of notifications really depends on updates and the quality of the content you’re driving users to.

Instead of being overly aggressive, meaning people are more likely to switch off, focus on delivering value to your audience and building a long-term brand reputation.

Opt-in or out?

According to Accengage, only 43% of iOS users actually choose to opt in to push notifications. You need to show your users the value of your app via pushes so they don't turn them off. Ask for opt-in permissions at the right time (i.e. not immediately after download), give them the chance to play around with the app and use a ‘soft-ask’ approach.

Test, Test, Test

The only way to really find out how your users interact with push notifications is through testing. With MemConnect’s analytics toolkit, you can review data on how your push notifications are performing. Not everyone responds the same way, so collect as much data as you can in order to be more in-tune with your users’ needs.

On the whole, push notifications are a good way of re-engaging users outside of your app if you follow the best practices. Don’t overdo it, and remember to be helpful, relevant and valuable and you’ll get the best results.

Tabby Duff is Digital Marketing Executive at Cantarus 

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