We’ve all received push notifications. Those messages that appear on our mobile screens and tell us that one of our apps requires attention.
But did you realize just how valuable they can be when it comes to your marketing efforts?
Maybe not; many people don’t.
However, push notifications are slowly becoming a marketing channel on their own.
With that in mind, we’ve written this guide to what you need to know about push notifications, and how best you can take advantage of their unique features.
First things first, why should you bother? What are the perks of using push notifications as part of your app marketing strategy?
Here are what we consider to be the main perks
They’re naturally ‘opt-in’
No modern company wants to be seen as pushy, and despite the name, push notifications are one of the least forceful marketing options available.
Why? Because at the outset, users can choose not to receive them. They can choose to opt out.
It’s the same principle as having someone sign up to your e-mail list: as long as you’re open and don’t use tricks to get people to sign up, by adding themselves to the list, they’ve given you permission to get in touch.
In a world where junk filters and ad blockers are rife, customers giving you permission to get in touch is more valuable than you might think.
They can help improve app retention
Push notifications can be the difference between someone using your app and someone simply forgetting it’s there.
(And then deleting it later on when they find they need the storage space.)
As long as you use them carefully (and we’ll come onto that later), push notifications can make a huge difference to the number of people that choose to keep using your app.
They can increase engagement
The best way to achieve success is to give users what they want, and the best way to give them what they want is to…
Yes, you guessed it: it’s to ask them what it is!
Push notifications can be a great way to obtain feedback and to find out what your users really think about your app.
Then, you can use the information you gain from this engagement to improve your product.
They can increase profit
There’s no way around this: effective push notifications can help your company make more money.
By alerting customers as to special offers and promotions you’re offering, you can send additional traffic to your app and (if you need to) to your website.
And the best bit? You won’t have to pay a cent for the extra traffic: you’re simply making the most of people who’ve already declared themselves interested in what you do.
You can learn more about your users
Push notifications can provide more information than you might think.
By using the right analytics software, you can see at what time people respond to messages, how (or indeed if) they engage, whether they click and even if they receive the messages at all. (The latter is useful for seeing how many people have completely opted out.)
Effective marketing is about using the data, and push notifications can provide you with additional information you can’t get elsewhere.
They’re easy to use
Using push notifications is in many ways the easiest way to communicate with customers. They take less time to send out than e-mails, and they’re also less complex to manage.
What’s more, they’re both cheaper and less intrusive than text messages. Some people aren’t a fan of SMS messages from businesses, but push notifications are fairly standard.
If you just want to send a speedy, simple communication out to your customer base, push notifications are a great option.
There are a number of ways in which you can push notifications to optimize your results. Here are some of the main things to bear in mind to achieve success:
Make sure you only send messages that offer something
As with any kind of marketing communication, you should set out a regular schedule of posts, without trying to over-complicate things.
Don’t go too long in between sending something – your users will likely forget you otherwise – but don’t overdo it, either.
A good way of ensuring you’re able to strike a balance is simply to ask yourself if your message would be worthy of sending an e-mail out to your mailing list.
If the answer is no, then the chances are your message isn’t worth sending. Leave it until you’ve got a better reason to get in touch.
Ensure you keep your push notifications synced with other channels
If someone’s on your e-mailing mailing list, your Facebook page, your app user list and they comment regularly on your blog, you should avoid sending them the same message in multiple places.
The key is to send out details to app users through two channels at most. Those people are your loyal fans, and you want to help them, not hassle them with the same message in five different places.
Ensure your message is balanced across your app marketing channels.
Make sure you understand your audience
Hopefully, you’ve got a successful app in place: hence the fact that you’re worrying about push notifications in the first place!
You want to communicate with your users in a way they’ll find enjoyable. How can you do this? By taking the research you carried out before you built your app – we’re assuming you did some! – and using that to guide your communications.
Communicate in a way that you know your users will like, and they’re far more likely to engage in a positive way.
Wherever possible, segment your audience
This is another point that can also apply to e-mail. You should aim to try and communicate to different parts of your audience in ways that suit them.
If someone’s only just installed your app and you don’t know anything about them, for instance, you should speak to them differently than you would a loyal fan who’s been buying your products for five years!
The same also applies to different demographics. You should speak to people in their seventies different than you would to teenagers, and speak differently to those in higher income brackets than you would those in lower ones.
Of course, you won’t always have access to this much information about your users, but where you do have demographic data be sure to make use of it.
If you get push notifications wrong, they can seriously harm your reputation. People will start to see you see you as a spammer, and in worst case scenario as a pest.
That’s not the sort of reputation you want to earn in an online world where nothing’s forgotten!
Here, then, are some of the mistakes people make when it comes to push notifications:
Using push instead of e-mail, rather than in addition to it
While push notifications are simpler than e-mail, that doesn’t mean you can use them as a substitute. E-mail communications have a depth and a formality that push notifications can’t match.
You shouldn’t ever use push notifications for more serious communications, such as account changes, charges to policies, refunds and so on. If it’s more serious, stick to e-mail.
Push notifications should mostly be just that – notifications.
Do you want to know how to get someone who really likes your app to delete it instantly? By sending them a push notification at 3am when they’re trying to sleep!
You need to take into account the time zones of your user. If in doubt here, don’t send it! You want to send out your push notifications at a time when your customers will be happy to receive it.
Waffling in your message
Push notifications need to be concise. As in, get your message out using clear and simple language.
Unsure how to go about doing this, whilst still making sure your users actually want to click? We’d recommend reading up on sales copywriting: there remains no better way of getting users to take action with one sentence.
Unsure whether you’ll get better results with a message that says ‘money off’ or one that says ‘sale now on’?
Test them! It’s a big mistake to just send blanket messages without inspecting them to see which are most effective.
The good news is that – as with emails – you can test a lot of different things. Your word choice, your text layout, the phrases… you name it.
Test as much as you can.
Not making your messages personal
Now, don’t get us wrong. You don’t want to send a message out saying ‘I love your new curtains’!
However, personalization has been shown to increase conversion rates. Even something like displaying a particular product the user has looked at rather than just a generic ‘sale’ image can make the world of difference.
Try to adjust your push notifications in a way that appeals to users on a personal note, and you’ll usually get better results.
Not putting users first
We’ve half mentioned this above, but it’s worth highlighting again:
Do not send a push notification unless it’s going to benefit the recipient’s life in some way!
Is it notifying them that a product they’ve looked at ten times is on half-price? Are you informing them of gig tickets that have just gone on sale? Have you sent them a discount voucher for your store?
Remember, unless it’s going to make them smile, don’t bother. Too many companies will send push notifications saying things like ‘you haven’t logged in for a week’ or ‘treat yourself today’.
Those apps get deleted more often than not by users that’re sick of being hassled. Don’t fall into the trap!
If you’d like to start taking advantage of mobile app marketing tactics, pick up the phone and call Iconic Solutions today. We’d love to help you.