What are Push Notifications? An In-depth 2020 Guide
By Akshatha Kamath Published: 25 July 2019 | Updated: 7 April 2020
Recently, Google listed Push Notifications as an important marketing trend that cannot be ignored by marketers anymore. In the age of GDPR where customers do not appreciate being intruded with unwanted messages or emails, push notifications works as a perfect alternative as it works on the principle of permission-based marketing. As more and more brands adopt push notifications, we have put together a 15-chapter step-by-step guide that will help you create winning push campaigns and drive sales. Also, check out:
- Best practices to optimize push notification campaigns after analyzing 45 BILLION push notifications from across 35 countries.
- Use cases from different industries that can serve as an inspiration for your campaigns.
Table of contents –
- What are Push Notifications?
- How do Push Notifications Work?
- Types of Push Notifications?
- What are Push Notifications used for?
- Difference between web push notifications and app push notifications
- Push notification opt-in process
- Technical requirements for implementing web push notifications
- Browsers and devices that support push notifications
- Types of push messages, brands send in their campaigns
- Push notification click-through rates
- Examples of push messages
- Difference between push and text messages
- What are Chrome Push Notifications?
- Getting App Push Notifications Right
- Why App Push Notifications Do Not Get Delivered
- Factors Influencing Push Notifications Delivery on Android
- Boosting Push Delivery with Push Amplification +
- How to Boost Push Notifications Delivery on Android?
- iOS 12 Push Notifications – What’s Changed and Why it’s a Good Thing?
- Why Personalize App Push Notifications?
- How to Personalize App Push Notifications
- Benefits of using push notifications
- How to Drive Conversions Using App Push Notifications
- 3 Ways to Use Web Push Notifications and Drive Online Conversions
- Push notifications best practices
- 5 ways to Improve Push Notifications Performance in 2020
- Push notification use cases across industries
- Using Geofencing and personalization in push messages.
What are Push Notifications?
There are various definitions for push notifications that get thrown around; some call them actionable messages, others refer to them as rich messages, and some others use the term personalized messages. But which of these is the right description? All of them. Here’s how we can break it down:
- Sent by an app or website to the user’s phone or desktop.
- Used to send alerts and messages to the user in real-time.
- Can contain rich media content such as images, GIFs or videos.
- Content within the push notification can be personalized to drive the desired action from the user.
Push notifications are short messages that pop up on the user’s mobile or desktop, nudging them to take some action. Your customers are busy individuals who are likely to forget about the great offers you had announced a few days ago via e-mail or about the cart they have abandoned after adding a lot of items to it.
If you want them to stay updated with the latest offers that you are offering or remind them of the impending items in their cart, push notifications can be a perfect way to communicate. With email open rates declining at a rapid pace, push notifications can be a great way for businesses to engage with users and reduce churn. The benefit of push notification is you can time the message and even customize it depending upon the situation. For example, a customer who had abandoned the cart will receive a reminder notification, while a customer who has not used the app for shopping for a long time can receive offers that are relevant to them.
Push notification is also a powerful marketing tool. According to Invespcro, push notifications can boost app engagement by 88% and has led to 48% of mobile users making an in-store purchase. However, push notifications can get intrusive if not done the right way. Read ahead to know how to use them judiciously and the best practices to follow to make the most of it.
How do Push Notifications Work?
Now that you know how powerful push notifications can be to your marketing campaign, let’s dig deeper to know how it works. We have taken the example of MoEngage’s way of push notification delivery to help you understand the working better. When a marketer creates and executes a campaign using MoEngage’s platform, MoEngage identifies the users who fulfill the segmentation criteria set by the marketers and has at least one active device linked to an active push token (a unique identifier set by cloud messaging platforms such as APNS and FCM that helps marketers to communicate with the end-users of the app).
Once MoEngage identifies the eligible users with the help of frequency capping, it determines the active devices that will receive the message. The cloud messaging platforms such as GCM, FCM, and APNS receives the message and takes over the delivery process. The cloud messaging platform then relays the message to the end user’s device. Once the user receives the notification, MoEngage’s Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) informs the server about it. This is called an Impression. You can read more about how it works in this article.
Types of Push Notifications?
There are two types of push notifications – web push notification and mobile push notifications. Web push notifications are sent from a website. You get them on your desktop or a mobile device even when the website is not open. Web push notifications are compatible with Safari and Chrome and are ideal for companies that have not created an app yet. Mobile push notifications are sent from mobile apps. The user needs to install the mobile app for the marketer to be able to send notifications.
What are Push Notifications used for?
Push notifications can be used for various purposes such as:
- Engaging with your customers: An average mobile user uses at least nine apps per day. Most apps are not as frequently opened as maybe a cab-hailing or an OTT app. To ensure that your customer does not forget about your app or uninstalls it, you need to keep them engaged. That’s where push notifications come to play. With personalized offers, reminders, and relevant notifications, you can capture your customer’s attention and engage them on your platform.
- Leading the customer to make an in-store purchase: Push notifications can help you to bridge the gap between online and offline channels and create a seamless omnichannel experience for your customers. According to Google, 82% of smartphone users use their mobile device to make an in-store purchase. You can leverage this opportunity to send personalized push notifications to drive your in-store sales.
- Retaining customers: Retaining customers is a bigger challenge than acquiring ones. Push notifications, however, can fix that problem. It also helps in retaining new customers. Reports suggest that sending an onboarding push notification to a newly acquired customer within the first week can lead to a 71% increase in app retention rates.
- Provide real-time updates: Whether it is to inform the user about the weather conditions or enable the user to track a package, you can send real-time updates to your user using push notifications.
Difference between web push notifications and app push notifications
The difference between web push notifications and app push notifications is outreach. Web push notifications have a wider reach than mobile app notifications. You don’t require a mobile application to send notifications to the user. You can send them notifications on computers, laptops, and mobile browsers. For mobile push notification, the user has to install the app to receive messages.
Push notification opt-in process
Push notification opt-in is a process that enables customers to manage their push messages by allowing or stopping the mobile apps from sending them. A mobile application needs to make an opt-in request during installation to ensure that the user has permitted them to send push messages.
Considering that push notifications are permission-based, the opt-in process typically involves a strategy wherein you either hard-ask or soft-ask for opt-ins. Hard-ask is when you directly ask the user a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, i.e., whether they want to allow or block the notifications. The user chooses their desired option, and the process gets closed.
Hard-ask is straightforward and has the highest number of opt-in rates. However, they work better with HTTPS sites. Soft-ask, on the other hand, involves providing additional information about what value or benefit the user will receive on answering affirmatively. It comes before the hard-ask. There are chances that the user may drop-off if there are too many steps involved. So, keep the soft ask visually presentable and ensure that you ask at the right moment. No matter what approach you choose, ensure that your opt-in message is relevant and personalized. This could double the opt-in rates.
Technical requirements for implementing web push notifications
Web push notifications are ideal for audiences who do not want to subscribe to email but at the same time would like to receive the latest updates from your websites. To ensure maximum opt-ins and engagement, you need to make your web push notifications a winning channel. Here are the technical requirements that you need to fulfill when you send push notifications.
- FCM details: MoEngage uses FCM Project Number and corresponding API Server Key to send push notifications. To get those, use MoEngage’s Shared FCM credentials, and select Custom to enter the details of your projects.
- Push icon: Upload your logo to show your brand’s icon in push notifications.
- HTTP or HTTPS integration: While web pushes are supported only for the HTTPS domain, MoEngage enables marketers to allow subscription for HTTP sites too. MoEngage creates an HTTPS sub-domain. Once that is done, you can select the HTTP domain type while setting up the push and initialize the SDK on your page with MoEngage’s App ID. If your website is an HTTPS, select HTTPS as domain type while setting up Web Push. You need to host two files in the root directory of your web server – manifest.json and serviceworker.js. Click on Save and download these two files. Use your existing manifest and serviceworker files to support the push notifications, add a link to manifest in HTML, and integrate the SDK on your page.
Browsers and devices that support push notifications
Currently, MoEngage’s web push notification works on Chrome (version 42+ on macOS, Windows, Linux, and Android), Firefox (version 44+ on macOS, Windows, Linux, and Android), and Opera (version 37+ on macOS, Windows, Linux, and Android). Web push notifications work on all computers and laptops irrespective of the OS type.
Types of push messages, brands send in their campaigns
Push notifications can be customized based on what stage of the customer lifecycle the user belongs to and your campaign’s objectives. Here are a few types of push messages that you can send to your customers:
- Transactional: Transactional push messages are sent to users when you want to inform them of the status of their transaction. For example, when you make a bill payment using a payment app, you would receive a transactional notification informing that the payment has been made.
- Educational: You can use educational push messages to send information such as new course additions or reminders to take an exam.
- Promotional: You can use promotional push notifications to inform users about new deals, exclusive offers, and flash sales. The objective is to prompt the user to purchase in your app.
- Lifecycle: Personalization is the secret sauce to keep your customers engaged at every stage of the customer lifecycle. You can send your customers personalized push messages depending upon the stage of their lifecycle. For example, you can send a warm onboarding notification to a newly acquired customer to prompt them to open the app, while you can send special promotional offers to re-engage with customers who have not purchased from your app for a long time.
- Rating or customer feedback: Want your customers to review your product or service on the app store? You can send push notifications requesting them to leave feedback and a rating on your app.
Push notification click-through rates
The push click-through rates can go up to 45%, reveals a study conducted by MoEngage on the push notification campaigns across 35+ countries. As compared to other channels such as emails and SMSes, the push notification click-through rates are 7x more than emails, while the opening rate is 50% more.
Push notifications work better than other channels is because it pops up on the screen of the user, unlike emails that remain unopened for a long time. Concise messaging also makes it a more effective communication medium, and the fact that the user opts-in for notifications makes it a more reliable channel as compared to the others.
Examples of push messages
Let’s look at a few examples of how brands used push notifications to boost their sales.
- Sivvi: Sivvi is a Dubai-based online retailer that sells trendy clothing, footwear, and accessories to men and women. Sivvi faced a common problem that most e-commerce companies face, customers abandoned their shopping cart after adding items to it. This resulted in low conversions. Sivvi used MoEngage’s push notifications to bring back visitors to the website, which resulted in converting up to 10% of abandoned users. Read how Sivvi increased their ROI by 70%.
- PetFlow: PetFlow is a retail brand that offered specialized pet food, toys, treats, and other pet accessories. PetFlow solely relied on email marketing to boost conversions. When they found a decline in engagement, PetFlow used web push notifications to send personalized messages to customers and to drive traffic to their stores. It led to a 7% increase in the engagement rate. Check out how PetFlow improved their engagement rate with push notifications.
- SportsCafe: SportsCafe is a one-stop-platform for Indian sports fans that offers them with live-scores, match reports, etc. SportsCafe used social media and Google AdWords to drive traffic to their website. However, 90% of them were anonymous visitors. The team wanted to increase the traffic and create a pool of engaged visitors. They used MoEngage’s web push notifications to deliver breaking sports news and analytical write-ups to users on desktop and mobile phones. This resulted in a 32% increase in average page views on the website and a 120% increase in time spent on the website. Read how SportsCafe increased their average page views with push notifications.
Here’s an insightful article on how to get push notifications right.
Difference between push and text messages
Text messages or SMSes might seem like an old approach to reach out to customers. However, it can be an effective medium to reach out to customers, especially those who do not have a smartphone to install the app. In fact, you can also automate SMS campaigns using automation tools.
The drawback is that you cannot add rich media content such as GIFs, animations, and emojis to make the text visually appealing. Push notification lets you do that. There are also legal limitations such as certain countries have a cap on the number of text messages that you can send per day. Push notifications have no such limits.
Another major difference is, it’s easy to opt-out of push messages than messages. While this might seem like good news to marketers, the truth is, your customers may find your text messages intrusive and spam and may even choose to not engage with you anymore. This can have a major impact on customer loyalty.
What are Chrome Push Notifications?
Do you know Chrome Push Notifications can increase conversions on your website by up to 9x? It is more beneficial than other channels like email and app push as the opt-in rates are higher than the email opt-in rates and the opt-out rates are significantly less than that of mobile app push. Chrome push notification helps marketers to track anonymous visitors on the website, understand them, and engage them with relevant content via push notifications. This guide will tell you how chrome push notification works and how it can strengthen your marketing efforts.
In this chapter, you will learn:
- How do chrome push notifications work?
- How it can help in solving web marketing problems
- How it can help in bringing users back to the website
- And deliver seamless cross-channel engagement
Getting App Push Notifications Right
Push notifications are undoubtedly the best way to communicate with customers and increase conversions. However, an irrelevant or spam push notification can harm your brand’s reputation and create mistrust in the minds of your customers. 85% of Android users do not know how to disable android notifications. This might spell happiness for the marketers but not for too long.
The following image illustrates how to get your push notifications right,
We have packed this chapter with best practices that will teach you to use push notifications the right way. You will learn:
- How push notifications are helping marketers to communicate with the customers?
- Why user segmentation is important?
- The art of being useful, courteous, and swift
- How segmentation, personalization, and deep link together helps to create a strong mobile marketing tool?
Why App Push Notifications Do Not Get Delivered
Don’t worry if your notifications do not get delivered despite following the best practices (refer to chapter 3) of push notifications and setting the campaign correctly. There can be multiple reasons why they do not get delivered to the end-users despite successfully sending it to the GCM.
- Notifications could be blocked by the user at the OS level
- The user is not connected to the GCM
- Expiry of time to live before notification delivery
- User devices not receiving notifications
In this chapter, we’ll dig deep into the probable reasons that could affect the deliverability of the messages.
Bonus: We’ve discussed how you can overcome this marketing challenge in the chapter.
For a detailed analysis of factors that influence push notifications delivery rate, download this Push Notifications Delivery Report.
Factors Influencing Push Notifications Delivery on Android
This chapter discusses in detail the factors that influence push notification and how you can fix it with a simple solution. In this chapter, you will learn:
- How push notification delivery rate is measured?
- How 9 factors such as user behavior, device manufacturer, device network, OS versions, etc. can influence the delivery of push notifications on Android.
- How you can improve your push delivery rate by 20% in a simple way.
Boosting Push Delivery with Push Amplification +
In spite of Push Notification being such an important way of reaching users as high as 40%-70% of your notifications may not be delivered to end-users.
One of the reasons for low delivery rates can be attributed to OEM-related challenges. For example, Xiaomi devices can shut down apps in the background or when the screen is off to optimize battery usage. For Vivo devices, an “Auto-Start Manager” prevents applications from being woken up to process notifications.
Challenges like these make it imperative to fill the gaps that are plaguing the current mobile ecosystem. Push Amplifications helps marketers combat push delivery challenges and engage their mobile users more effectively. Using this capability, marketers can reach more potential user devices that are cut-off from FCM. Brands could improve their push delivery rates by up to 20% and drive higher conversions.
To understand the push notification delivery funnel and delve on the discrepancies in the push delivery rate, watch this webinar.
How to Boost Push Notifications Delivery on Android?
Do you know up to 15% of the e-commerce conversions are driven by push notifications? From notification on the abandoned cart to transactional alerts, marketers can send customized messages to the customers at a lesser cost than SMS. In this chapter, Raviteja Dodda, the CEO of MoEngage and Nalin Goel, the VP of Product Management, takes you behind the scenes of how push notifications are delivered on Android phones. Some of the points that are discussed in this chapter include:
- How do push notifications impact business?
- The 3 W’s of campaign creation
- How push notifications are delivered to the end-user?
Bonus: There’s a link to the full on-demand webinar in this chapter. Don’t miss it!
iOS 12 Push Notifications – What’s Changed and Why it’s a Good Thing?
Last year, Apple made several updates to iOS 12, including the push notifications that gave users more control over the messages they prefer to see. While this is a cause of worry for marketers, we will tell you how you can leverage it to your advantage in this chapter.
Few takeaways for you from this chapter include:
- How to leverage push notifications grouping?
- Why warming up to the customer is critical to prevent opt-outs?
- How to befriend Siri who manages notifications?
- How to avoid disturbing the user’s sleep with intelligent timing?
- How to send multiple product recommendations by making a small change to the UI
Why Personalize App Push Notifications?
In the age of 1:1 communication, brands have to move away from the traditional approach of reaching out to the customers. If you still use the “batch and blast” approach for push notifications, it’s time to shift to personalization. Personalized push notifications can increase conversions by 4x. This chapter will quickly run you through the benefits of using personalized push notifications. You will learn why personalized push notifications are more powerful batch and blast push notifications and how 1:1 personalization can strengthen your marketing efforts.
Bonus: You will find a solution that will help you to personalize your push notifications and drive conversions by 4x.
How to Personalize App Push Notifications
This chapter will walk you through the process of setting up your app to send push notifications. You will learn:
- How to create an APNS certificate for your app in .pem format and upload it to iOS?
- How to implement push notification changes in your app?
- How to make changes to actionable notifications?
- How to use inbox, customize its appearance, and disable it?
- How to enable geofence and test it on the simulator and device?
Benefits of using push notifications
The benefits of using push notifications include:
- Higher conversion rate: Considering that push notifications are short, concise, and media-rich, and reaches the customer directly, the conversion rate is higher than other channels such as e-mails and SMSes. In fact, personalized push notifications can improve the conversion rate by 3x as compared to broadcast messages.
How to Drive Conversions Using App Push Notifications
An average smartphone user has around 26 apps on their phone, out of which only 3.3% of Android apps and 3.2% of iOS apps have active users by the end of 30 days. As a marketer, these numbers could worry you. You will have to find a way to grab the attention of the user and engage them to drive conversions. In this chapter, we have covered how you can increase conversions with push notifications. You will learn:
- How to identify customer micro-moments?
- How to target micro-moments using push notifications?
- Why action-oriented communication is important?
3 Ways to Use Web Push Notifications and Drive Online Conversions
Web push notifications are one of the most effective ways to bring users back to your website after they’ve dropped off. Whether you’ve got a great offer or have discounts running for the next couple of hours, web push notifications can be leveraged to spread the word among your subscribers and bring them to your website. Be prepared for a surge in site traffic after you’ve sent web push notifications to all your subscribers
There are 3 ways you can use web push and drive conversions for your online business:
- Broadcast messages to all subscribers
- Targeted broadcasts to segmented users
- Auto-triggered notifications at a user level
Dive deep into these strategies and see which one works best for your business.
Push notifications best practices
There are certain push notification best practices that you need to adhere to ensure that your users do not opt-out of receiving them.
- Use Emojis: Emojis definitely make the push messages warmer and visually rich. However, using too many of them or using the wrong one could lead your user to opt-out of push messages. Use emojis that are contextually and culturally correct and ensure that they are used only when needed.
- Here are the Best Practices to Use Emojis in Push Notifications
Marketers are using emojis in several ways, including email subject lines, push notifications, social media marketing, and even customer service chats. Although emojis aren’t for everyone and every brand, marketers are using emojis because they are getting results:
- Hubspot says Tweets with emojis get 25.4% more engagement, and Facebook posts with emojis get 57% more likes and 33% more shares.
- Using emojis in email subject lines can lead to a 56% higher open rate.
- One study found push notifications with emojis saw an 85% increase in open rates and a 9% increase in conversions.This chapter provides an overview to use of emojis in push notifications and the do’s and don’ts for using emojis to grow engagement.
- Use Concise Content: You have limited characters to lead your user to take action. Ensure that your content is concise yet impactful, and gives a clear idea of what you expect the user to do.
- Leverage the Right Context: Context is as important as content. A message with the right context can improve the push notification click-through rate. Sending a push notification without the right context can be as meaningless as sending Valentine’s day wishes on New Year’s Eve. So, take the demography, the location, and the situation into consideration before crafting your push notification.
- Timing: You don’t want to disturb your user in the middle of the night or early morning with push notifications. Understand what time would work best for your user and set the timings for sending the notification accordingly.
- Frequency: While your customer may have permitted you to communicate with them, you must use this opportunity very judiciously. Too many notifications can annoy the customer and may lead them even to uninstall your app. Send push notifications sparingly only when it is necessary.
5 ways to Improve Push Notifications Performance in 2020
Push notifications have become more intelligent and efficient. They help you to personalize your messages through better segmentation, reduce the cost of customer acquisition by deploying better omnichannel lifecycle campaigns, and reconnect with your customers using dynamic push notifications. In this chapter, we have covered the top 5 trends that can help you improve your push notifications strategy in 2020. You will learn:
- How to improve push notification delivery?
- How Artificial Intelligence can benefit your mobile marketing strategy?
- How a focused and improved marketing workflow can 50% more revenue?
- How to leverage data and segmentation to hyper-personalize experiences for your customers?
- How dynamic push notifications can open new revenue streams for your customers?
Bonus: Also learn the 7 best practices to increase the ROI of your push notification strategy by 11 times.
Push notification use cases across industries
These use cases from different industries will show you how you can use push notification to reach your customers.
- E-commerce: Whether it is to notify the customer about new arrivals and deals or to remind them of the abandoned cart, you can use push notifications to drive sales for your e-commerce business.
- Entertainment: Personalized push notifications can boost subscriptions for entertainment apps to a great extent. From sending intelligent recommendations based on previous viewing history or genre of music heard to addressing each user individually, you can increase the engagement and upgrade the user to a premium plan.
- BFSI and Fintech: From sending transactional push notifications on payments received or completed to sending exclusive deals for customers with membership or using it as an educational medium to address customer problems, push notifications can be a great help in engaging with new and existing customers on a personal level.
- Travel: Travel companies can leverage notifications to inform the user about the weather condition in the place they are visiting or to remind the user of their upcoming travel plans. You can also add a touch of personalization by offering recommendations on places they can visit when they are traveling to a place or recommend hotels offering great deals to cross-sell and upsell products to the user.
Using Geofencing and personalization in push messages.
Geofencing is a method of creating a virtual fence around a particular geographic area (mainly around the area you operate), so you can send highly targeted and hyper-personalized push messages to people who are close to your vicinity. Imagine, you have landed at the airport after a long flight hungry and tired. Suddenly, you get a notification on your mobile phone directing you to some of the best restaurants in the vicinity. Wouldn’t you be relieved? Or imagine going to a mall with a plan of meeting a friend, when suddenly Starbucks sends you a notification informing you about the great deals available at their cafe, wouldn’t you and friend head there? These micro-moments can go a long way in building customer experiences, and you can create them by using geofencing.
According to Market Research Future, the global geofencing market is expected to grow to $2.2 billion by 2023. According to Search Engine Land, geofencing advertising increases the click-through rate by double as compared to digital advertising and is said to provide 20 times more ROI than traditional banner ads. Adding geofencing to your campaign is very simple, especially when you have a marketing automation tool like MoEngage that enables you to create such hyper-personalized campaigns.
Read the success stories of brands that have deployed MoEngage for their Omnichannel marketing.
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