Do you want to engage your app users?
Use push notification; this app marketing tip is all over the web. But many small publishers and indie games don’t use it. There is one reason for this; push notifications are the double-edged sword of app marketing tools.
Yes, they can quickly engage your users which can result in higher app retention rate, low abandon rate and more. But one mistake and your app users are done. Here are some tips to help you use push notifications efficiently for your app marketing:
Note: Two experts also have some advice for you guys, be sure to check them out.
#1 Determine Your Goal
A first step when creating quality push notifications has a clear goal. Plan your strategy and determine your aim.
What is the purpose of your app and your push notification campaigns? What do you want to achieve? Do you want your users engaged with contents that make them purchase a product, service or micro transaction like in-game items, share your app through various social media, refer a new user, re-engage and check out the app again or something else?
#2 Gather Important Data
What do you know about your app users?
Since they were already using your app, it’s a bit easier to gather about your users as they might already provide it to you. Statistics like name, location, age, gender and other demographics are worth tracking and collecting if you want to start using push notification.
You can also monitor and use user preferences and settings, achievements, goals, activities, and more.
#3 Ask For Permission First
Before you start planning your push notification campaigns, be sure to ask your app users for permission.
Your app users should be educated about push notifications as early as possible, as soon as they open your app in the onboarding process. If they have consented and allowed you to send them (your app users) push notifications, they’ll be happy to receive your notifications, and you have fewer chances of annoying your app users. Less chances of annoying app users mean a lower chance of uninstalling your app due to spamming.
#4 Enable User Preference
Aside from asking for permissions, you should always give them the option to control and choose what content they would like to receive from you.
Give your app users to choose and decide what content they would like to receive. For example, whether to receive latest deals and discounts on your product, service or in-app purchases and not newsletters and reminders.
You can also provide them with an option to opt-in or out of your app push notifications anytime.
#5 Is It Valuable Enough?
What is the value of your push notifications?
How your push notification affects your app users? How are they going to react to your content? Is it going to help them like reminding them of something, save some bucks on incomplete order and purchases, advice them on fastest route, informing about latest technology?
If your push notification lacks or doesn’t even have any value, it’s better not to send one.
#6 Unleash Your Copy Writing Skills
There are a lot of ways to write push notifications, but you can’t engage them using weak and typical contents.
Creativity should be a priority when making your app’s push notification contents. Make sure the introduction is engaging and persuasive while the whole content must connect and relate to your app users.
#7 Use Emoji
You can also use the power of emoji to create engaging push notifications.
Of course, it depends on what kind of niche and app users you have, like if you have an app in a business category, some of your app users may not like it. BUT it creates visuals and emotion to your push notifications.
There is one report from Intelligent Environments which states that 64% of the Millennials (hate using this word) regularly use and communicate only using emoji. If you want to find out more go here: Intelligent Environments.
#8 Try iOS Rich Push Notifications
Aside from emoticons, use iOS rich push notification to engage more users.
Apple has unloaded some great features in Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2016 and one of them are “rich push notifications.”
What is “Rich Push Notification”?
I’m pretty sure you already know about it, but in case somehow you missed it, this is my short explanation. Rich push notifications improve the quality of your contents by giving us the ability to include media attachments to our push notifications. It’s great if you want more visuals in your push.
Supported media file types include image, audio and video formats.
Warning on using rich push notification
This feature is relatively new so there in not enough data I can give whether it is good or bad for your users or whether your app users like it or not. Just remember to test and benchmark your results and always get feedback from your app users.
#9 Engaging Call To Action
Don’t forget to include a call to action.
What is call-to-action (CTA)? By definition, in marketing, a call-to-action (CTA) is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response, usually using an imperative verb such as “call now,” “find out more,” or “visit a store today.”
Without a clear call to action, your app’s push notification might fail to engage your app users, or it might give them an unclear message. Failing to engage users will put your push notification campaigns into a wasted opportunity.
Here is a relevant article: The Wistia Guide to Calls to Action in Video Marketing. All of the listed call to action except “buy” outperformed all those without CTA at all. Interestingly, the word “sign up” have the best conversion. Although we can’t use the word “Sign up” in a normal way in push notifications, there are still some ways to do it. One example is to sign up on your app’s website or email newsletter.
#10 Consider Sending Time-Constrained Offers
Time-constrained offers are also called “vanishing” offers.
For example, you can provide a discount with an end date in your push notification to re-engage your app users to purchase their incomplete orders. On this way, you just don’t re-engage them but also build a relationship with your users. Time constrained offer is a perfect medium to personalize your content and convert your regular app users to a loyal app user.
Time-constrained offers will also create a sense of urgency which is good to engage users but be extra cautious using an urgent call to actions.
#11 Caution On Using Sense Of Urgency
The key for using a good sense of urgency in your push notification is to provide an excellent value. Without a proper goal, content, and timing, creating a sense of urgency will ruin your campaign.
As I said earlier, although it’s great to offer time-constrained offers and create a sense of urgency, avoid using a call to action that requires immediate urgent action. And unlike in other marketing fields where creating sense of urgency is encouraged, in the mobile world, this gets a negative result. Mobile users are sensitive about this.
Avoid using a call to actions like Buy now, Visit now, Shop now, etc. Instead of using the word “now” you can change it to “soon” or alike. Avoid offering a discount or sale in a very short time frames and consider running a discount in a longer time frame.
#12 Length Of Your Push Notification
How long should be my contents? Keep it short and sweet.
When it comes to engagement, shorter push notifications performs better than long push notifications. A study made by Appboy (Mobile Acquisition Costs are a Serious Problem – But Engagement Can Be the Solution) reveals that push notifications on iOS that are twenty-four (24) characters or less produce the highest conversion rates. The research almost gave the same results for Android, but forty-nine (49), or fewer characters also have robust and incredible conversion rates.
#13 Personalize Your Content
Personalization isn’t new. Inevitably suggested millions of time by marketing experts, but the sad part is, only a few brands/publishers/developers implementing it.
It isn’t easy to personalize but if you want to have higher conversion rate, you should. It is the most preferred push notifications by users. Aside from that, according to the same studies above from Appboy, personalization helps to keep your content relevant to your app users. Personalized messages have 27.5% higher conversion rate than generic and massively sent messages.
There are many ways to personalize a push notification. One example is, you can start to customize your app push notification is by using their profile names in your messages.
#14 Keep It Relevant
Free Christmas gifts? Black Friday deals? Heavy Traffic? Breaking News? Jon Snow died again?
Aside from keeping your content relevant to your app users, it’s also good to create content that is relevant to current affairs, events and trends. Appropriate notifications can quickly engage your app users who are always updated with the current trends. You can use Google Trends to follow some of the rising and ongoing trends.
Integrate local push timing into your strategy and always mind the time zones.
So you’ve heard your phone’s notification in the middle of the night, you crawled your way through the bed sheets and thought it is an important message. The message was “Get Your 95% Discount Code!.” It’s a great offer but annoying, right?
Timing is vital to your push notification.
Unlike the web and social media where there is enough data and research when to post contents, there is no definite time or date when to send push notifications. Maybe we will find soon but for now, the best you can do is to track and experiment your timing.
#16 A/B Test Your Push
Certain words, phrases, and tones will give you slightly different results. “Buy now” and “BUY NOW!” or “Sign up” and “Join us” might give a significant difference to your conversion rate.
Although it’s just fine to go without AB testing on some of your push notifications, it is still better to implement some testing to your push notifications especially when you have a large pool of app users. A/B testing is also relevant and useful when you are planning to have a major push notification campaigns, especially when you have some big sale or discount.
#17 When Is Too Much
The best way to annoy your users is to spam your app users with too many notifications. But how you will know if you are sending too much?
I don’t know. The person who can answer that is you. That’s why you need to gather and collect more data, and A/B test your campaigns. But if you really want to know the heart of the app users, here is a survey from Localytics.
According to the survey made by Localytics (
Track your frequencies, open-rates, and user activity to get the right timing to send your push notifications.
#18 Re-engage Inactive Users
We already know that personalization is the key to a successful push notification campaign.
Another proper use of personalization is to re-engage inactive users. A simple reminder and update about their current progress can engage your inactive app users. You can also send time-constrained offers or personalized support for those users who added an item to their shopping cart but doesn’t complete the order.
- You might like to read: App Retention Tips For New App Developers And Publishers
#19 Track And Segment
Continue to track your data and how your users interact with your campaigns. From there, we can narrow down the target audience and segment your app users to achieve better conversion rate.
Segmenting your push notifications alone can almost double your campaign’s open rate. Segmenting your app users like from profile, behavior, and preferences will help you create a better “User Audience” or targeted audience.
#20 Push Notification Tips From The Experts
So, I’ve been following an excellent discussion from MobileGrowth.org about push notifications (here is the link: Push Notifications: When, Why, How Often?) and I was blown away from the answer of the experts out there. I contacted some of the experts about their excellent tips and allowed me to share their answers here.
By the way, I would like to take this opportunity to thank MobilGrowth for creating providing a great community. These guys are also the guys from one of the free and smartest mobile app deep-linking technology, Branch.io. Please join MobileGrowth.org, here is the link: https://mobilegrowth.org/.
Disclaimer: What a shame on me, I just copy and pasted their answers. I shouldn’t have done that but I’m not even a good writer to summarize their answers, and I am afraid that I might miss so many valuable points and tips. Sorry guys.
Test Till You Got The Right Recipe
Marissa’s answer is really informative as it comes to her real experience. I don’t want to spoil you guys so here it is: (P.S Marissa’s answer have some jargons so in case you feel confused here are the definition: DAU means Daily Active Users and CTR means Click Through Rate. Correct me if I’m wrong.)
Short answer: test, test and test.
When I built out the push notification team a year ago, we started with a clear mission – we wanted to drive in app engagement (e.g. users doing the core actions we care about), and we weren’t there just to drive fluff DAU (e.g. people accidentally tapping a notification, opening the app then bailing). We set up our experiment dashboard to clearly show how our notification experiments were performing on this metric (core app actions), and have used this to measure success (while keeping an eye on coverage, CTR, uninstalls, notification disables).
We then started by building the best notifications which were contextually relevant (timing, location) and personalized (used the particular user’s tastes and preferences). In an effort to expand coverage, we had to eventually build some not-so-personalized and not-so-contextually relevant ones. However, we had a rigorous frequency cap, cool down and prioritization schema setup so that we are always trying to send the best possible ping to a user in a given moment, and trying to minimize annoying users with irrelevant noise. In addition to building new content modules, we experimented frequently across all our pings with timing, copy and location optimizations so we were continually improving what we send when to who and how often.
The right balance depends on your app and use case. So the only way to know is to make an educated guess, then test alternatives until you find a sweet spot that engages the most users (and pisses off the least).
Frequency And Timing
The next answer is from Donte Ledbetter. Donte Ledbetter is a marketer at Appboy with experience in mobile, content marketing, and brand development.
Donte’s answer revolves around the importance of frequency and timing of your push notification. Again, I don’t want to spoil you guys. Also, here’s the link we would like to promote: Web Notifications: The New Push Notifications. It’s about web push notifications. If you can find a way to weave that in there, that would awesome.
Push notifications are like cowbells. Sending them too much will most likely be annoying. The general rule of thumb is to send push notifications when you have something timely or urgent to say. For example, if a sale is ending or if they forget to register for an account. Don’t send out push for every new feature or new piece of content. That’s what in-app messages and emails are for (the power of multichannel).
To find the right balance and right cadence of push notifications, think about how people would use your app on a daily basis. For example, if you have a gaming app, there’s a good chance that you have power users who use your app on a daily basis. This type of activity would warrant more frequent push notifications for things like leveling up and new points, etc. On the contrary, if you have a travel app, you would send your users push notifications less frequently because most people aren’t traveling every day or even every month. That activity is less frequent, so your push should be as well.
Then there’s segmentation. You can send more frequent push notifications to more active users who you know are engaged and loyal without risking uninstalls.
Here’s a helpful link: Push Notifications: What Marketers Should Know.
#21 Relax And Don’t Be Afraid
Just push it and relax.
I’ve had a conversation with some app developers before, why they don’t use push notifications. When I used to have an app back then, I also don’t use push notifications. Sometimes, it’s scary to use push notification. You can’t know they hated it until they inflict some bit of damage to your app’s reputation.
Push notifications are similar to a double-edged sword. It’s a useful tool to re-engage users, but careless use of it will inevitably backfire. Be sure to apply some tips from above to minimize annoyance and achieve your goal. Push notifications can’t save your app retention alone but with a solid strategy, it is an excellent tool to keep your users engaged.
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