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Last update: May 2021

5 mins to read - 2021/02/01

How to Write the Perfect Push Notification: 4 Stellar Tips

Here at OpenBack, we’ve covered everything you need to build a robust and effective push campaign. From our hybrid platform structured to maximize your click-through rate to our 40+ data signals that can help you make an informed decision about the perfect moment to send a notification, our SDK provides the most cutting-edge tool in the industry to help your mobile app engage users. But what about the softer side of mobile engagement? Push notifications are about making a human connection with your users. And, once you’ve nailed the challenges of timing and personalization, that means learning how to write the perfect push notification.

Download our FREE Mobile Marketing Playbook to perfect your push notification game!

write push notifications

Show Brand Authenticity

Consumers are more savvy than ever, and they can spot an inauthentic brand from a mile away. According to a study by Cohn & Wolfe, the #1 thing users look for in a brand is honesty about their products and services. So first and foremost, your push notifications should be straightforward. They should communicate information that’s in your users’ best interests to know, and they should use direct, informal language. Ideally, your message should be communicated in 10 words or less. 11+ words begin to show reduced levels of click-through from users. Remember, clarity and conciseness is key!

Don’t try to dazzle user with jargon, or try to pull a bait and switch with notification that offer one thing but clearly have ulterior motives. As we explored in our Top 10 Push Notification Fails of 2020, anything users interpret as fake or self-serving will backfire. And in extreme cases this can damage your brand.

Take this push notification from Uber, which was a blatant attempt to influence users’ votes. Proposition 22, which ultimately passed, was a proposition that would benefit Uber by keeping their drivers as independent contractors. Users of the Uber app saw this notification as fueled by self-interest, and many of them took to Twitter to air their grievances.

how to write push notifications uber prop 22
Image Source: https://twitter.com/hopes_burial/status/1313528658196262912

Provide Value and Benefit

When it comes to your user’s attention, your app is battling to make their voice heard over 34 other apps on average. Keep this in mind when writing your push notification copy. Every notification needs to provide value in some way. In some cases this means communicating important information, such as real-time travel or traffic updates. Or it can be something that will spark a positive emotion, such as a confirmation that a purchase is en route.

Of course, what is “beneficial” can vary from app to app. If your app is a meditation or mental health app, a morning notification saying “Namaste! Take 5 minutes today to breathe and be mindful of the moment,” is likely something your users would welcome. But if your app is a financial app, your users would likely see such a message as irrelevant. They would associate your notifications as being not very beneficial to their interests – balancing a monthly budget – and may turn them off.

As a rule of thumb for writing copy, all your push notifications should enhance the UX of your app. And there should always be a clear purpose for sending them, and a potential benefit for the user.

Entertain Them

It goes without saying that mobile engagement should be, well, engaging. Especially with Millennials and Gen Z users – who, statistically, are the majority user base of mobile apps – a sense of humor can go a long way. In a digital world where we are constantly flooded with mediocre content, a joke or something that elicits a positive emotion can give your brand some sticking power. (Who can forget Old Spice’s “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad, which won the Cannes Lions Film Grand Prix, and was nominated for an Emmy?)

If humor isn’t something that comes naturally to you, don’t try to force jokes as that can come off as inauthentic. Instead, you could offer users interesting information –  whether random trivia, famous quotes, or breaking news updates. If there’s something big going down in the news or pop culture, you can use that as common ground to forge a connection with your user.

writing push notifications

Or rather than sending out quick one-liners, you could design a more long-term push campaign that builds up to a coherent, fulfilling narrative. While it can be tricky to write content that holds users’ attention over a period of time, push notifications are short and snappy enough to engage yet keep them curious to find out more. For example, take this Japanese gummy ad campaign that became an internet sensation:

Provide a Call to Action

Getting those clicks is great, but how do you get that to transfer into conversions? Provide a call to action, a clear purpose or an actionable question that gets your user thinking or taking steps to accomplish something.

For example, a travel or restaurant booking app can simply send a notification informing users of an upcoming sale. Or they can use language that incites an emotional response. Combine this with a deep link that carries the user to a page in-app where they can take steps to book their flight, hotel, or table. Try to create a sense of urgency, or appeal to appeal to users’ desire for excitement, adventure, or rewards.

For example, “Our March Madness sale is almost up! Book your tickets to the sunny Bahamas now!” or “Need some ‘me time’ after a long month? Check out our at-home spa packages for some prime pampering!”

Be sure to vary your language according to different segments of users, and according to the context of your app. For example, retail apps may segment users according to how much they spend, and on which types of products. Bargain hunters may respond better to a push notification saying “You’ve never seen prices this low!” while more premium shoppers might prefer language like “Treat yourself… you’re worth it!”

Also keep in mind that different mobile apps have different goals. For news sites and mobile games that earn ad revenue as users engage with them, simply opening the app and reading content can qualify as a conversion. And, as always, don’t lose sight of your primary goal: to benefit the user, which means personalizing the content based on timing, personal preferences, and more.

To learn more about how to design a solid push notification campaign that will turbo-charge your click-through rate, get in touch with one of our experts. We’d love to hear from you!

For more advice on writing notifications, check out our blog post Content Tutorial: Writing Push Notifications That Shine

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