Let’s take an example to begin with: you own a smartphone and you have numerous apps on it. How many do you use frequently? Five? Six? What about the rest? How will their strategy be taken care of? What can trigger you to open those dormant apps lying in your phone that you know are useful but never actually use? What’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Yes—a push notification. It’s only when you, a developer, start thinking like a consumer, picture becomes clearer. Nothing charms a user back on the app like a good, well strategized push message.
Did you know that a recent study revealed that the biggest reason people uninstalled an app was annoying notifications? Did you know Forrester just revealed that UK and US consumers use an average of 24 apps per month but spend more than 80% of their time on just five apps? This is an alarming data and just shows that a push, when used wisely can do wonders but, when used randomly can kill your business entirely. Let me give you best practices on how to use push notifications effectively to boost user engagement:
- Limit the frequency, hit the bull’s eye: Unless there is truly important message to convey, do not push any notification to the customer. Why? Because if your customer is not using your app regularly anyway, sending an irrelevant push is only going to aggravate the situation more and they might end up uninstalling your app. This practice works differently for different type of apps, for instance, a news app would attract more customers if latest and more relevant news was pushed by them before any other competitor, on the other hand a lifestyle app would get more responses if a message was pushed occasionally—like on Christmas eve the app may notify the customer of a new discount at a popular store. Same way a fitness app could get more word of mouth if it would notify the user to not miss the workout based on their usage on the app.
- Know your user, segment strategically: Your customer wants to feel important and needs your attention. When you segment your users based on their behavior, location, activity and send relevant push to them they get an impression that push is tailor made for them. Let’s say I’m using an app that lets me book tickets to events/movies/concerts, now say I recently purchased tickets of a concert of some rock band—there is another upcoming rock concert and I get notified about it—there is a very high chance that I will use the app to make another purchase. Similarly, let’s say I checked out the first rock concert a couple of times but did not buy tickets, the app can notify me about the upcoming concert with a message like, ‘Missed out on the previous concert? Here is the new opportunity,’ and probability says this time I might just make a purchase! Works, right?
- Talk, not push, gives more wins: Continuing the above point, your users want an assurance that you are there and interacting with them individually. So, talk to them. Since push has design limitations, it is very important that your write personalized and actionable message for your users based on their segment. Now you may think managing segments is a little tedious job—there are quite a few marketing automation tools out there to help you. Let’s say Halloween is round the corner and an e-commerce apparel store wants a boost in sale, what can they do? To females they can push message like, ‘Only for today! Be the damsel diva you always wanted to be—flat 10% off across all dresses!’ and for men the message can be, ‘Only for today! Beat all the odds and be the star of the night—flat 10% across all jackets!’
- When in doubt, A/B test: Who knows what works and what doesn’t better than customers, right? If you or your team cannot decide which copy is going to work or if the text is too long or too short or too verbose or too common—just without stressing your mind furthermore—create two best looking designs and deploy. The analytics will automatically let you know which design got more responses. Lesson learnt.
- Master the timing, master the world: Its 4am, your customer is sleeping and you push message with a very attracting sound hoping to conquer the world. But what happens in reality? That customer may wake up from their sleep, hurl some expletives and may even uninstall your app. Game over. What exactly should you do? Pay attention to your user segments’ time zones and customize messages according to the occasions. For instance, its Valentine’s eve and a restaurant finder app may send a notification in the evening like, ‘Be datelicious! This Valentine’s give an extravagant experience to your date at XYZ. Here’s your 15% off coupon code.’
Remember, your customers may not be using your app regularly but they are not entirely negligent to its existence and are open to receiving relevant information. Use this channel wisely and your app will always be in everybody’s good books. Word of mouth is the cheapest way to market your product and relevant push campaigns might influence your customers to bring in more. That being said, now would be a good time to get started with one of the smartest push notification tools in the market—you also get a free trial
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