Last update: April 2021

6 mins to read - 2021/04/12

Top 9 Strategies To Improve Your Push Notifications

Push notifications are without a doubt the most misrepresented and underestimated marketing tool there is. They tend to be overlooked by developers, and in many cases marketing teams only design a push notification campaign as an afterthought. Push notifications are not being used to their full potential. Even with most platforms offering some degree of personalization and user segmentation capacities, we find that push notifications are nearly always generic, one-size-fits-all, and deliver at random times. Even so, studies are beginning to show results that push notifications still deliver greater ROI than email marketing. So, what are some strategies you can use to improve your push notifications and deploy a top-notch user engagement campaign?

For more tips on how to craft spectacular push notifications, download our Mobile Marketing Playbook to perfect your user engagement game!

1. Send a Pre-Permission Notification for iOS Users

There are various ways that iOS and Android differ in their approach to push notifications. The starkest is how iOS requires mobile apps to get users their users to opt-in to receive notifications. (Android opts users in automatically, and they have to manually opt-out if they want to stop getting messages.)

For apps on iOS devices, developers can soft-sell the opt-in by sending a pre-permission notification. This is a customized message that you can send your user before the OS message. It has two benefits:

1) You can delay its delivery for as long as you want. This gives your user a chance to get a feel for your app and explore its features.

2) You can explain why push notifications will improve the app experience, with examples. Try using rich media (such as images, GIFs, and videos) to provide a more premium invitation to opt-in.

hq trivia pre-permission message
Image Source: Screenshot from HQ Trivia app

This pre-permission notification from the HQ Trivia app knocked it out of the park! It came with a video of a man congratulating you for finishing the onboarding process, and then clearly informing the user of how they stood to benefit from receiving notifications. (It would alert them of live trivia shows, where they could win money.)

2. Hit the Perfect Moment of Delivery

One of the top notification fails that can alienate users is when notifications arrive at an inconvenient time – e.g. when the user is at work, or sleeping. In fact, a study has found that sending push notifications at a time that’s right for the user can boost click-through rate (CTR) by 23.3%.

Traditional push notification platforms which send user data for processing in the cloud server is unable to offer reliable notification delivery. Because of this, mobile engagement campaigns have never strongly focused on convenient timing for the user. However, OpenBack’s hybrid mobile edge computing platform offers highly reliable delivery of notifications, due to developers being able to bypass the cloud and process user data on the device itself. This means that the OpenBack platform opens up a world of new opportunities for analyzing users’ behavioral data and determining what exact moment they will be most likely to interact with your notification.

To read more about the concept of the perfect Moment of Delivery, and how OpenBack’s custom data Signals can help you map out that perfect moment on a device-by-device basis, read our blog post: OpenBack DeviceDecisions Signal Results in +39% CTR for Push Notifications

3. Use Geofencing

Geofencing is a way of targeting users who approach a certain location, so that when they enter a certain radius they receive a push notification. For example, a mobile app for a cafe chain can schedule a notification to deliver whenever a user comes within 30 feet of a brick-and-mortar store. That way, when they’re walking past one of the cafes, they’ll receive an invitation to try the new mocha drink, or a 10% discount code for the sandwich of the week. No, it’s not very subtle… but in many cases it can be the extra push a user needs to make a purchase.

4. Personalization – Build User Segments

Once you have the timing for delivery of notifications scheduled through a combination of Signals, the next crucial strategy for a killer push campaign is personalization. Every user is unique, and will find different content relevant to their interests. Data from VWO Engage shows that CTR is reliably higher for notifications that are personalized according to user segment.

strategies to improve push notifications personalization segmenting
Image source:

Try segmenting users into different cohorts according to age, location, purchasing behavior, mobile gaming style, and other demographics. Then, you can tailor the content and language of push notifications according to which segment would be most receptive to it.

5. Write Great Content – Be Polite, and Use Emotional Language!

Words matter. And well-written content can go a long way in building a positive, receptive relationship with users. To start off, be friendly and polite. Address your user by name – “Good morning, Agatha!” rather than a more generic greeting. Use language that will build positive emotions. Words such as “epic,” “happy,” “adventure,” “dream,” and “special” all tend to get good CTR.

Words that convey a sense of urgency also get results: “deadline,” “last-chance,” “limited-time offer” and so on.

For retail apps, or any app that involves users making purchases, language that hints at saving money will also convince users to click: “money,” “sale,” “gold,” “bargain.”

For more tips on effective content-writing that achieves results, read our blog post Content Tutorial: Writing Push Notifications That Shine

6. Limited-Time Offers

On a similar line of thinking, light a fire under your users with a limited-time offer. These are pretty versatile, and can be adapted for apps for nearly all industries. Whether this is an offer to buy a product from a clearance section of your app – such as a sale on clothes, or a flash vacation package sale – or it’s an in-app purchase that ties into further engagement with your app – such as a discount on a VIP subscription, or a buy-1-get-1-free cosmetic item – letting users know that the clock is ticking can convince them to buy.

strategies to improve push notifications emoticons

7. Get Creative – Use Rich Media and Emojis

Push notifications are an extension of your app’s UX. So break up the text every now and then by sending rich content, such as images, GIFs, videos, and deep links. You can combine various OpenBack Signals to discern when a convenient moment to send, say, a video notification is – whether the user is using their headphone jack, how much battery life they have left, and how strong their Wi-Fi or data network is.

Keep in mind, iOS phones can process a wide variety of rich content. Android phones can only process JPEG and PNG images, and no audio or video content. However, both types of devices can support emojis, which are a great way to add some sparkle and color to your messages.

8. Send a Push Notification at the Same Time Each Day

App users are creatures of habit. Improve the effect of your push notifications by sending one at the same time each day. This will put users in the mindset of thinking on your app at, say, 3 pm every day. Even if they don’t click on every single push notification, your app will at least be at the top of their minds. And this may lead to some users organically opening your app and engaging. This works especially well when it comes to preventing user churn.

9. Perform A/B Testing to Make Sure You Got It Right

This may be the #1 strategy for improving your push notifications. The OpenBack platform provides a wide range of metrics to analyze the results of your push campaign. However, it’s also worth doing your own UX testing. Divide your user base into different cohorts for different variations of the same notification. For example, if you have a group of 15,000 users, use 5,000 as a control group. Send 5,000 a variation of the notification with, for example, 3 emojis and a GIF. Send 5,000 a variation of the notification with a 20-second video. Analyze results, and re-test. Continue to test variations of language, timing, and segmentation until you have honed your recipe for the perfect push notification. Then, iterate.

For more tips and strategies for building an effective push notification campaign and maximizing your ROI, get in touch with one of our experts.

Or, you can read our blog post on Return on Push Notifications, and how OpenBack’s entire platform is built around helping you get as much out of your push campaign as you possibly can.


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