Push It To The Limit
Posted by: Lizzie Healy
Your phone is laying next to you. The screen illuminates. You stop what you're doing and scan the screen for something to peak your interest. Low balance alert, damn it. You go back to what you were doing. Every app is at risk of being forgotten, left sitting on a back screen or in a folder labeled "Uselessness" along with the stocks app. Push notifications can make the difference in your app being one of the forgotten, or making it into someone's daily routine. Last year, users who enabled push notifications launched an app an average of 14.7 times per month versus 5.4 times a month for users who did not enable notifications. 3X more launches? Sign us up.
Come on girls, let's go show the guys that we know how to become number one in a hot party show. NOW PUSH IT.
Yes, driving users to engage with your app is the main goal of push notifications. But like most marketing, there is value to be found in other elements. Is it generating buzz? Is it adding value to your brand? Is it creating awareness or building trust with your users? Your strategy should be less focused on clicks, and more focused on ways to build your brand. The language (or emojis) you choose should be consistent with the messaging you use throughout your marketing.
Turn offs include...
Did you click on this article because it looked boring? No. Something about it was compelling. The content of your push notifications need to be compelling enough that users don't turn to the dreaded "Turn off push notifications" option, and instead are persuaded to open the app. The content should be witty and interesting, and provide them with something worthy of their time. If your users don't find value in receiving notifications from you, they will turn you off quicker than cargo pants.
Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me
I am a vicious online shopper. It's a hobby, it's a sport, it's a passion. And like any good online shopper, I filter my search with precision to find exactly what I'm looking for so I don't have to wade through items I'm not interested. You can apply this same concept to your user's push notifications by allowing them to customize their settings so they choose what notifications they want to see. Rather than turning notifications off completely, allow them the opportunity to decide what's important to them. For instance, ESPN's app prompts you to choose which teams you want to receive updates on, instead of just sending you blanket news about sports. Kayak, a travel app, gives you the option to set notifications based on dates and destinations that alert you when a price has dropped based on your criteria. Users are teeing it up for you by telling you exactly what they want to hear from you.
Push, not shove
You don't want to be the whiney girlfriend complaining that users never pay attention to you anymore. Instead, try to use language that is encouraging. Don't shame users into opening your app or try to preach to them that you know best. We get it Yahoo Fantasy Football, you don't agree with my lineup choices. I read the injury report, and I don't need your judgment.
What's in it for me?
Coupons have been around for decades, but they remain relevant because they offer incentive to customers that drive them to visit. Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks provide value to users by offering them a discount or a coupon at specific times. They make them time sensitive to further drive engagement. There is a 5% higher click through rate with notifications that include the words "off" for discounts and promotions. Success is also seen with words like "come" and "only" that create a sense of urgency.
I can't be the only one who immediately thinks of GrubHub when they see this phrase. In fact, its making me a little hungry to type this. GrubHub speaks to their users in a casual, comfortable manner. In addition to using language that reflects your brand, your language should speak to your demographic in a way they can relate to. Bonus points for using their name, with users being three times more likely to convert from a push notification when its personalized.
Timing is everything
When I was researching the best times to send out a push notification, I found that the strongest open rates are 10AM-1PM, with little variation by day. But I'm going to go out on a limb here with my marketing expertise and say that may not be the best time for you to hit send. I suggest you get to know your audience instead. A/B test until the cows come home. And most importantly, know your product. If you are a language app, your user probably isn't studying on a Saturday night, so hold off on push notifications that night. If you're an EDM show finding app, your user is ready to rage Saturday night and would love a push notification at that time. Know your audience and think about why they downloaded your app in the first place. Ignore best practices.
Location, Location, Location
One day I read a review for an app that assured me I would find the best drink deals in town. I downloaded it immediately, ready to start saving/drinking. I promptly forgot about it. A few days later, I was walking to a friend's apartment and ding ding! I received an alert that I was walking near a bar I could be saving/drinking at. The real value in this app was born. It was making my life easier and more convenient. Instead of leaving it to take up storage in my phone, I actually engaged with the app.
Never forget to SQUIRRELL!!
Our attention spans are short. Are you even still reading this article? Have you clicked on three different notifications while you read it? Because our attention spans are so short, we often get distracted and forget that we left an item in our cart instead of actually ordering it. Check in with users to see if they were done with your app to draw some clicks. Remember that your users have a short attention span when writing your notifications and keep the word count low. They should be able to quickly scan to determine if they are interested.
Facebook Birthdays, like, can you not?
I surveyed a few friends about the type of notifications that they liked and disliked. Highest marks go to Poshmark, an app where you can list, sell, and purchase clothing. Poshmark sends out clever notifications multiple times a day that are guaranteed to spark a conversation, a laugh, or a screenshot. As I am sitting here writing this blog post, I received a notification from Poshmark about pumpkin spice. Timely and relevant as always. However, the only thing this notification made me do was get up and get a coffee, not necessarily go sell some clothes. It's not a blatant sales pitch, but they were on my mind.
You gotta pump those numbers up, those are rookie numbers
The other response I received when polling my friends, family, and coworkers was that they have no interest in push notifications, and in fact turn most of them off immediately. A marketer's nightmare. However, a trend did emerge in the select few that made the cut. Most people continue to keep notifications on social apps, like Instagram and Snapchat. The other one was typically a news app, like CNN or New York Times. This is pretty interesting insight into what user's value. First and foremost, they value their friends. They want to stay connected with people. Second, they value the world around them and timely, breaking news. Ultimately, the most important question to consider when you are writing your push notifications is "does this create value for the user?" The ultimate goal should be to make your users life better! Don't be repetitive with your messages. Try to make your user laugh. Is this alert going to help them, or distract them? If you're going to interrupt someone's life, make it a worthwhile message.