Mastering the art of push notifications

Mobile applications have taken over every gigabyte of consumers’ smartphones. On average, smartphone users in the US utilize 11 mobile applications per day, for pretty much anything and everything. From ‘personal assistant’ apps that help with every tasks or apps that track sleep patterns and manage your money.

With consumers utilizing mobile applications so frequently, marketers have the challenge of retaining consumers and enabling them to convert. Research shows that 65 percent of users return to an app within 30 days when push is enabled. Push notifications solve these problems and allow brands visibility outside of the app. Users who enable push notifications opened an app an average of 14 times a month (three times more than those who did not have them enabled). Brands need to use push notifications to drive longer and more impactful app usage that contributes to the overall consumer lifetime value.

The biggest questions marketers have when it comes to push notifications are:

1. Does push provide me with good results?

2. How do I use push notifications?

Answer #1 - There is an average 38 percent conversion rate for push notifications signaling a huge opportunity for brands to utilize alternative ways to reach the consumer and engage them.

Another important factor to consider is the level of intrusiveness in relation to level of impact.

  • Push notifications have a much higher level of intrusiveness than a channel like email for example, but also can result in higher engagement from the consumer.

The bottom line is, it’s important to think about your channel mix when messaging consumers. For example, email programs allow for long-form content that is not time-sensitive while push is able to provoke quick action from the consumer. Your marketing planning should take into account which channel is best suited for the message goals and driving outcomes.

Answer #2- It all depends on the relationship with the consumer. Are they new? Have they engaged with you before? Are they on their way to deleting the app? Based on the consumer’s engagement patterns over a period of time, you are able to detect if they are disconnecting with your brand or still engaged. This directly influences how you can connect with the consumer and win them back.

Here are some steps to effectively communicate with your consumer through push notifications:

1. Acquisition

The first step before engaging consumers is assuring that your app is optimized in the app store and can be easily found. App Store Optimization is extremely important given that 63% of consumers are generally browsing in the app store looking for new apps. This means that although promoting the app through other channels is important, optimizing and making sure it has high real estate within the app store is crucial for customer acquisition.

  • Most brands are triggering notification opt-ins immediately after the consumer downloads the application. But is this the best time to ask? Only 42% of consumers click "OK" when triggered a generic opt-in.

Thinking about your customer experience, they haven’t yet experienced the app to understand the app value – so why would they be ready to say “OK” to push notifications? Test into when the prompt should be displayed. For example, five minutes after engaging on the second or third launch will help ensure the consumer is actively using the application before opting in.

Provide a descriptive opt-in that includes a value proposition and enables the consumer to opt-in.

  • If they say yes, trigger the generic opt-in. If they say no, you can close the prompt and you have the ability to ask them to opt-in later.

Brands that send push notifications to encourage customer on boarding see a 71 percent rise in their app's two-month retention

  • Utilize other channels to entice consumer to opt-in to push notifications.
  • Ensure to use compelling incentives that attract the consumer to enable push and continue to engage with them.

2. Activation

Personalizing messages boosts purchases, app opens and other conversions by 27.5 percent. Collect actionable consumer data in order to personalize your messages and utilize both behavioral and profile data to get a holistic view of the consumer. Next, personalize the timing of your messages by the consumer’s location and engagement patters. Send-time optimization increases engagement by 25 percent.

Do not send notifications during night hours to avoid the consumer missing your messages.

FOMO is Real!

Consumers have a serious fear of missing out (FOMO) and retailers can leverage FOMO to entice consumers to purchase. But approach thoughtfully in how you execute. Generally speaking, the urgency tactic is alarming and off putting as most consumers don’t respond well to buying on a deadline – they want to purchase on their own terms but with great deals. Urgency is the exact opposite in building customer relationships as it steers away from intimacy and consideration, instead focusing on the transaction. To resolve, focus your marketing language with the emotion elicited. For example, Nordstrom does a great job tapping first into the emotion with key dates being communicated towards the end of the push.

3. User Engagement Strategy

Only 16 percent of companies are focusing on customer retention. Although acquiring new customers costs 5 times more. Continue the conversation by using push notifications as a retention tactic. Send messages that are relevant to the customer for example, use push notifications to remind the consumer of order delivery, new arrivals, etc.

Don’t be afraid to leverage an omnichannel approach to continue the conversion and retain them.

In order to optimize engagement on a mobile app for a restaurant rating company, Epsilon developed a strategic approach that boosted their app rating and drove engagement for the 94 percent of app users that were disconnected. This was accomplished by making timing and targeting adjustments surrounding the app review prompt, identifying “happy” moments, optimizing the on boarding message sequencing driving sign-in, opt-in and engagement with core app features across initial user session, and finally developing contextually relevant notifications that enhanced the utility of the app and offer true value to the user.

  • Nurturing the consumer from the onboarding process with contextual personalization enhances the utility of the app and drives long-lasting engagement.
  • Once you've mastered best practices and determine the right push notification strategy for your client or brand. It's imperative to master the art of measuring success.

The art of push notifications varies from brand to brand. It's extremely important to analyze who your consumer is and where they are in the customer journey in order to effectively communicate with them and provide them with relevant information that triggers the ultimate goal: conversion.