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Push Notifications
7 min

21 Push Notification Best Practices You Should Follow in 2021

Push notifications are an important part of an omnichannel marketing strategy. When effectively used on mobile devices, laptops, and desktop browsers, they can boost CTR by up to 30%, ROI by up to 2200%, and website traffic by up to 25%.

Moreover, 70% of users feel that push notifications are useful. 52% look for relevant information and offers. 40% interact with push notifications within an hour of receiving them.

How do you use this powerful tool for the best results? Noah Weiss, Head of Search, Learning, & Intelligence at Slack, has some advice: “A great push notification is three things: timely, personal, and actionable.”

Here, then, are 21 best practices for using push notifications for browsers and apps. They’re divided into three broad categories: Promptness, Personalisation, and Action-oriented Cues. After you go through them, do also see these five examples of push notifications done right.

Promptness

1. Leverage the right moments

You could have users all over the world. That’s why it’s important to do a time zone check before sending out notifications. The time and day of the week matter, too.

Leverage-the-right-moments

Business and finance-related communications can be in the morning at the beginning of the week. Gaming and entertainment can be in the evenings and weekends. With automation, this can be planned and scheduled in advance.

2. Create urgency

Messages that are urgent capture attention. There should be a genuine reason for this, and it should not be simply a gimmick. They could announce the last day or hour of a sale, for example. For those in retail, a reminder that some items are going to be out of stock can work. 

push notifications to create urgency

3. Promote updates and new content

Consumers love to discover new and tailored content. They also like to be among the first to do this. Such behavior can be leveraged with notifications announcing app updates and new features. Using the words “new”, and “be the first” can be powerful hooks.

Examples of push notifications promoting updates and new content

4. Use locations

With location tracking technology, apps can send notifications to users that are triggered based on where they are at specific points in time. If they’re near a store or a restaurant, for instance, a tailored message could invite them to drop in. Such notifications could also be sent when the user travels to a new town. According to a survey, 49% of people said they’d use an app more if it sent them push notifications triggered by their selected hometown. 
location based push notifications

5. Don’t overdo it

One of the reasons consumers don’t opt-in for push notifications is the fear that they will receive too many. Reassure them from the start that this will not happen. Use timing and frequency judiciously. The optimal frequency will depend on the nature of the sector, and the need to deliver updates. One metric to find out the right frequency is engagement and click-through rates over time.

Reassuring customers from start that opt-in push notifications timings and frequency wont be overdone

Personalization

6. Pat consumers on the back

When users take action, you can use notifications to tell them how it helped. They can also use behavioral cues, such as telling consumers after work that they deserve a treat. The results of surveys that users have participated in can also be sent, with a note that this would not have been possible without them.

Examples of push notifications to pat customers on the back, show how their action helped them, etc

7. Arouse interest

Based on user segmentation, your notifications can engage the user by hinting at nuggets of information on the app or site. In this way, you can draw attention to what they have not yet seen. Demonstrate how they can gain knowledge. Inform them that they will miss out if they don’t use the app or visit the site.

Example of Push notification by News Today for arousing interest of userr(s)

8. Keep it light-hearted

Most consumers don’t like marketing jargon. This is where a sense of humor comes in handy. Light-hearted and funny notifications make them smile and feel treated as a person, not a consumer. Games or music apps, for instance, could use characters and lyrics to make a refreshing point. 
Example of Push Notification by Netflix using light-hearted alert

9. Use GIFs, photos, videos, and audio

Notifications that support photos, videos, and audio are referred to as rich push notifications. These can be extremely effective. One study of data from nearly 5 million messages showed that big picture notifications see a 56 percent higher direct open rate on average. Best practices include segmenting users so that only those with the supported browsers or operating systems receive them. 

Use-GIFs,-photos,-videos,-and-audio in push notifications

10. Start telling stories

Marketers know the power of brand storytelling. This same technique can be put to good use with push notifications. Such messages come across as personal, intriguing, and compelling. For example, you could use the words “Find out what happened when…” or “This is the story of how one of our users benefited…” When consumers hear of a relevant story, chances are they will click through to find out how it ends.

Example of push notification used for story telling

11. Be clear and crisp

The main characteristic of push notifications is that they are short. This means that every word is important. The shorter you can keep it, the better. Avoid jargon or filler words. For example, a finance app should not say: “We are pleased to inform you that you can now easily download your monthly statement by simply clicking here.” Instead: “Your April statement is ready. Download now.”

Example of clear and short push notification from Huntingtung

12. Explain features

Explaining features is an effective way to make use of push notifications, especially for new users. 

Push notification explaining features

A series can explain the chief features of your mobile app, for example. Highlighting the distinctive elements of your webpage or digital service is another tactic. The focus should be on how such features can personally benefit or add value to the consumer. Take this case study for Mamikos, which provides services for property owners. Using mobile push notification templates, they achieved 35% more booking confirmations.

13. Leverage social media

Social media is a key growth driver for every business. You can use push notifications to amplify this by including links to your social media channels. The more personal, the better. For example, if a consumer has made a recent purchase, you can ask them to display it on social media. Another example: if there is a social media post of relevance to your category, you can alert the consumer to this.

Example of push notification leveraging social media

14. Promote new content

You must already have planned regular rollouts of new content and upgraded app features as part of a retention and engagement strategy.

Example of push notification promoting upgraded app feature

Segment consumers and let them know of these updates via push notifications. Mention the benefits and a clear CTA via a link.

Action-oriented Cues

15. Focus on personal goals

This is an excellent tactic for categories and apps that help consumers target personal milestones. For example, fitness and health apps can send reminders of daily workouts and calories. Fintech companies can also guide consumers towards meeting financial goals through a series of instructive and timely reminders.

Example of push notification by MyFitnessPal reminding user to input calorie for the Dinner meal

16. Send nudges

This can be a constructive engagement booster. You can remind people who have not opened your app in a while about what they’re missing out on.

Example of Acme Mart sending push notification reminder

Or you could encourage other small, positive actions that add value. Social proof, positive reviews, and product comparisons are other examples of nudges that can drive consumers up the marketing funnel.

17. Send price information

For e-commerce merchants, push notifications can be a valuable way of reminding consumers of price drops, future price increases, or sales.

Example of Korner Space push notifications for reminding consumers of price drop/sale

In general, consumers are always open and receptive to such information. A prominent call to action button further stimulates action.

18. Promote deals

Virtually every digital marketer uses deals as a means of attracting interest at one time or another. Push notifications are a powerful way of getting users to take action. The notification should be crafted to clearly highlight the offer, and what steps need to be taken to avail of it.

Example of push notification clearly highlighting the promotion deal, and what step need to be taken to avail of it

19. Ask for feedback

Yet another effective way to get consumers to engage by taking action is by asking for regular feedback. This could be an online review, filling in a form, or simply providing an app rating.

Example of push notification by MyFlippinCart asking for feedback rating

The type of feedback requested, and the means for doing so should be clearly spelled out. It also helps to mention the time the user will need. For example: “Spend five minutes to improve how we work.”

20. Send real-time updates

One of the chief merits of push notifications is the ability to send out real-time updates.

Example of push notification by Turtle Airline providing Real-time update

This is often used by weather and news apps. Marketers can leverage this by sending sales dates, delivery, and dispatch notifications, and payment received messages. Action can be requested by asking for confirmations or sending reminders of other products or services that can be useful.

21. Use action buttons

Your notifications should be clear about the action you would like the consumer to take.

Example of push notification using action button

You should also provide them with an unmistakable prompt to do so. Using buttons with the words “Book Now” or “Recharge Now” are some ways of doing this.

Summary

In this way, using the above principles of Promptness, Personalisation, and Action-oriented Cues, you can come up with a marketing push notification strategy that’s compelling and effective. Going beyond message delivery to an interactive channel that drives usage, engagement, and retention

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