Learn about 10 best practices when sending push notifications to achieve the best results for your business.
A new survey recently found that people now spend a third of their time on mobile apps – a staggering 4.8 hours per day! Of course, this raises some interesting philosophical questions, such as “How the hell do we get anything done anymore?” From a marketing perspective, however, this is a golden opportunity.
Enter push notifications: Technology has gifted the world the ability to send messages directly to your customers. Not only that but, unlike emails that can go unnoticed for hours or even days, you are pretty sure your push notifications will be seen by your customers when you want them to view them.
But, with great power comes great responsibility. Yes, push notifications can reach your customers. Still, that direct access to your customer's attention comes at a price: Push notifications can be a surefire way to annoy if not used properly.
In this article, we shall look at 10 best practices for using push notifications to ensure that your message gets read by your customers rather than your customers getting red with anger.
What are Push Notifications?
Push notifications are the little messages on your devices – usually your phone. Just click your mobile now, and you’ll probably be greeted by a barrage of them visible even over your locked phone’s background pic.
They’re usually why you periodically call pings, even when you haven’t received a message. This is why they are so powerful as tools– they’re nearly impossible to ignore. That’s also why they’re so irritating when misused.
However, push notifications also have a saving grace. They’re temporary. Once clicked, they disappear, evaporating like dew on a summer morning instead of cluttering customers' inboxes.
10 best practices for push notifications.
Given their power to push promotions on patrons and punters, perhaps we should look at 10 best practices for push notifications.
Respect User Preferences
While it should be that you can’t send push notifications to a device without the user's express permission, that is not always the case, especially on Android devices.
This puts a level of responsibility on app developers to find out and respect people’s preferences when contacting them. The best practice is to ensure that you get express permission from users to send notifications, even if the technology doesn’t require it.
Similarly, providing an opt-out process is critical in ensuring that you build trust in your business and loyalty in your customers. Simply put, ensure that you have proper procedures and stick to them, regularly checking the internal audit checklists to ensure you only contact customers when they request it.
Understand Your Audience
The first thing to understand regarding push notifications is who you intend to send them to. As we have already touched upon, alienating your customers is all too easy. However, one huge advantage of push notifications is that you have a pre-selected audience; they have already downloaded your branded app.
Use this information to ensure you send the right messages to the right people. One way to do this is to segment your customers based on past purchases.
Browsing history, purchases, search terms, and app usage rates can all be used to figure out exactly what sort of customer you are targeting, allowing you to tailor your responses accordingly. Understanding your customer is just one way to invest in customer service and ensure you provide the best user experience.
Once you know what sort of audience you are targeting, you can optimize your messages. The first port of call is to determine when your customers are active.
One tremendous advantage of push notifications is that they disappear, but that is also a considerable downside. If not read immediately, there is a good chance it will be buried in the avalanche of announcements. Trust me, nobody is going back through them to find out what they missed.
Work out when your customers are most active and segment your messages accordingly. Hit the night owls when they’re on their phone when they should be sleeping; the early birds when they’re bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and enjoying their first cup of coffee.
Personalize Your Message
Once you’ve figured out when to send, it’s time to determine what. Again, don’t be afraid to dig into the data. Personalizing messages is the best way to ensure a high click-through rate (CTR).
Work out what your customers brought last and offer them something similar. Just as you can customize your platform to suit your customers, you can also personalize your push notifications.
However, not showing them things they do not wish to see is equally important. Sending unwanted or inappropriate messages is a quick way to lose the trust of your customers.
So far, it’s all been plain sailing. You know what your customers want and when they want to know about it. It's time to send those messages; the more, the merrier, right?
Well, no. The first push notification may be received with curiosity, but send a second one too soon, though, and it will be met with rage.
The key is to respect boundaries to ensure you stay on the user’s good side. Find out what message frequency works for each segment and optimize your strategy. The data is out there; you just need to use it.
And keep in mind that you can always contact your customers through other channels as well, maybe by sending an email or even making a call from your IP call center. That way you can make sure you keep in touch with your customers without annoying them with lots of push notifications.
Send Clear, Concise Messages
Push notifications are short. Real short. No time to ramble. Get in, get out. Make your message readable at a glance. That’s all.
Call Your Customers to Action
Want to know how to hook your customers? Great news: this post only has 50% off advice for today. Read this point to find out how to call your customers to action. Discover how using active verbs can improve your click-through rates.
With such a limited space for messages, ensuring that you use active Calls to Action (CTAs) will help to ensure that people click on your notifications.
While writing could be a whole other post in of itself, there are a few simple points that can help:
- Clear - Keep sentences simple.
- Active - Use people’s curiosity – people like doing things. Ask them to discover, find out, or learn.
- Urgent - Put a deadline on it. Incite your customers to click now.
Record and Measure
We have already mentioned how good push notifications are for data, but this point can’t be overstated. Push notifications come with a raft of analytics that can help you work out how successful your campaign is.
Delivery rates, open rates, and conversion rates can help you hone your message and timing for each segment of your customer base.Conversely, the dismiss rate can steer you away from messages that fail to hit home.
These and countless other push analytics can also be combined with data from other contact methods, such as Mailchimp’s email analytics or Vonage call analytics, to provide a broader perspective on your customer’s preferences.
Leveraging data this way can be tricky, but using the analytics from push notifications in conjunction with other sources can allow you to build a complete database.
Combining ETL databases will enable you to build a complex and thorough understanding of your customers. So, if you’ve been wondering, “What does ETL mean?” don’t worry; you’re already on your way to optimizing your customer data.
Finally, remember to test as well as record. This data allows you to try A/B testing to perfect your notifications. If the scientific method can get us to split the atom, it can help optimize your messages.
Design Visually Appealing Notifications
A short, concise message is essential when it comes to grabbing attention. However, don’t ignore emojis and pictures or other forms of media. Humans are visual creatures, and photos and videos jump out at us.
Remember, too, that phones are multimedia platforms. Push notifications can link to any other form of media, from websites to chatbots and internet phone services, through to videos and music.
Push notifications can be just the first stage in a customer’s journey with you. However you want to contact your customers, it is possible to alert them through push notifications.
Finally, we have only talked about push notifications going to phones so far. While that is, by far, the most common use of notifications, remember that they can come on any form of browser. Push notifications can be sent to computers and laptops from websites.
Similarly, companies using Only Domains domain names could receive notifications of service updates or get automated messages about searches done on their sites.
Finally, ensure that your notifications are relevant to your customers by using geolocation to segment your audience by geography. Customers will quickly turn off if they are offered the unobtainable.
However, a well-timed geolocated notification could help push customers through the door. These messages are triggered using the user's location rather than timed. If a customer walks near to an outlet, let them know.
This information is usually well received as it is seen as particularly relevant by the user. Phones may be the future of online ordering, but they can also be the key to driving in-person sales.
The Push for Perfection
Push notifications are curious beasts. It is one of our most direct marketing tools, but it also has the power to alienate your customers if misused.
However, follow these best practices, and you can ensure you deliver your message directly to your customers when they most want to see it, improving communication and driving sales for your business.