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Dos and Don’ts of Push Notifications

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Staying top-of-mind is an age-old advertising strategy to maintain brand awareness with target audiences. Historically, frequency has been a successful play. This includes running ads during peak drive times for radio, buying primetime ad placements on TV, and host-read ads that saturate segment breaks for podcasts. But with the advent of the smartphone, brand awareness reached a new level of engagement. Brands can nudge users with push notifications to stay top of mind with a scheduled cadence. 

In a world where brands compete for attention everywhere, from Amazon to the Olympics, strategy is key. So plan your push notifications thoughtfully and ladder them up to broader marketing goals. Here are some best practices for push notifications, along with some common missteps to avoid. 

Push Notifications: Best Practices 

As with any strategic rollout, it’s critical to take a tailored approach to your push notifications. Know your audience and dig for insights to create the most effective messages.  

1. Get the message right.
Send notifications for a specific objective and hit all the high notes. Personalize your message by addressing your users by their names, and include contextual information when appropriate. Just be careful not to overdo it. Annoying your users is a one-way ticket to app uninstallation.

It’s also important to keep your notification content on-brand. For example, if your app is a Gen Z-targeted budgeting tool, light humor is appropriate and likely well received by your audience. On the other hand, if your offering is an investment app for brokers, that tone is probably all wrong. Just remember your push notifications are a personal, almost intimate engagement with both your brand and your user. It’s one they will pay attention to, so be sure it’s hitting the right notes. 

2. Segment your audience for improved value.
Segmenting users based on need, engagement, and activity ensures your notifications land in front of the right eyeballs at the right time with the right message attached. In addition, segmentation with tailored messaging helps drive personalization. When users receive your notification, they should think, “This is for me.” They are more inclined to open the notification and interact with your brand when they do. 

A 2016 study by Econsultancy noted that personalization could improve push notification open rates by an astonishing 800%. Consumers have gotten savvier in the years since, but so have brands. Similar data published in early 2021 show more modest numbers, though no less impressive, with personalization estimated to increase open rates by 400%. Without segmentation, you eliminate personalization and risk losing out on this powerful opportunity. 

3. Be punctual.
Timing is everything when it comes to push notifications. Again, if you’re bothering your target audience, you not only risk being ignored but also being deleted. We’re all human here (we think), and looking at the human experience can go a long way in determining the ideal time to send push notifications. What are people doing at the time you are sending your nudge? One study by NotifyVisitors shows that click-through rates were highest for notifications sent in the afternoon until 6:00 p.m., although it also noted different industries have different peak send times. This again highlights the importance of personalization and keeping the human experience in mind. 

Avoiding Common Mistakes With Push Notifications

With a smart plan in place, you will set yourself up for the best chances for success. But, a few missteps can derail even well-organized strategies. Here are a few key ones to avoid. 

1. Don’t send too many notifications.
Pestering users will incite action, but it’s not necessarily the kind you want. According to Statista, 39% of users who feel they’ve received too many notifications will turn off notifications from that sender altogether. Push notifications are a gateway to direct interaction with your customers. Don’t blow it by inundating them. 

2. Don’t send generic content.
Generic content is typically useless and downright irritating in some cases. Remember, notification content should be personalized, valuable and timely. Sending the same message to everyone about using your app — for no other reason than to have them literally open the app — offers nothing of value. Push sales. Push key communications, Push personal discounts and cart abandons. Don’t push a daily reminder to “Rise and shine and open our app!” Nobody will appreciate that. 

3. Don’t create dead-ends.
When you get the click, don’t waste it. If you’re advertising a discount, send users to the sale page. If you’re offering limited-time items, send them directly to product pages. Nothing is more infuriating than opening a notification for a sweet 20% off, only to be taken to the homepage. Instead, create a cohesive journey that leads users down a path you design. 

Push notifications are a unique opportunity to be within arm’s reach of your target audience at almost any time of day. But, remember that this access is not unconditional. Customers trust you to treat your relationship with care and consideration; respect their time boundaries and send only information they’ll find valuable. 

Need help designing your brand’s push notification strategy? Let’s talk about it

Featured image by Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash.

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