Stevie Snow

You created some fabulous content – even if you do say so yourself. But how can you ensure other people see it? Texting your parents and friends can only get you so many views. (Don’t worry, we’ve all done it.)

This is, of course, where your distribution strategy proves its worth. You send out emails, share social posts and maybe still text your friends. There’s one more tactic you can use to extend your content reach and it’s none other than the notifications and alerts you see on your smartphone and browser every day.

Formally known as push notifications, these messages can provide an extra nudge, serving as another valuable point of contact with your audience.

Remind me: What are push notifications?

In a way, push notifications are a reminder. They pop up on our devices, notifying us of news, updates and other tidbits of information. When they successfully get our attention, we follow them to the app or website they originally came from.

While we’re all used to app notifications appearing on our smartphone lock screens, they also come in the form of website push notifications – which is good news for marketers because it saves them from the need to develop an app just to enable a push notifications marketing strategy. Much like email, browser push notifications are a great way to get content in front of readers with little to no barriers. We can attest to this at Brafton, as we use pop-up messages to drive additional traffic to our blog and site.

Now that we’re all envisioning the same notifications, let’s talk about why and how you should work them into your content distribution strategy.

Why use push notifications?

There is one defining reason marketers send push notifications to users: They provide another outlet for brands to have conversations with their target audience.

This touchpoint can have a variety of positive outcomes, including an increase in customer engagement. These users are beyond the awareness stage, considering they had to visit your site or app to sign up for notifications in the first place. Research from the Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index proves that response rates are more than promising, with an average opt-in rate for push notifications of 62 percent.

The pop-up messages remind users that your brand exists and ideally give them a reason to return to your site or app – effective immediately. They’re the perfect marketing tool for nudging customers to come back, reaching them even when they aren’t on your site or app. Did they leave an item in their cart last time they browsed your site? No worries, you can bring it to their attention before you lose them to the highly unfortunate cart abandonment.

push notifications marketing

When engaging, timely, relevant and accurate, push notifications can also increase customer retention because you’re reminding them before they drop off and lose interest altogether. The Kahuna report revealed that well-executed messaging campaigns can even triple 90-day retention rates.

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider this: Your competitors are probably using push notifications. If they’re not, you should get on it before they do. The harsh reality is that your brand relevance and competitive edge could be at stake if you don’t integrate push notifications into your digital marketing strategy.

When done well, push notifications marketing helps you deliver value to your customers. Your reward? More user engagement, customer loyalty and sales.

How can marketers use push notifications?

Before you start sending push notifications, consider the types of messages best suited to your audience and product offering. Some to consider include:

  • The welcome message: Much like the first email you send users after signing up for your newsletter, these push notifications welcome users to the fam. These work especially well when you throw in an added-value, such as a discount code or insider secret.
  • The updates: Fresh content on the blog, new items in stock, food delivery on its way, shipment tracking info now available … and you get the gist.
  • The reminders: Encourage users to pick up where they left off, nudge them to check out content similar to the type they’ve engaged with before and so on.
  • The time-bound alerts: Delivered in real time, push notifications can display more urgency than the average email. Naturally, these work well for flash sales and limited time offers.

It helps to think about how other brands are already finding success with push notifications. Your favorite news outlets, for instance, alert you to breaking news and stories that you’re likely to find interesting. Netflix uses its data on customer viewing history to craft personalized alerts for its users, such as new-content announcements and top-pick recommendations.

Airlines send users push notifications when it’s time to check-in, and updates travelers on flight information through the pop-up messages. While the sale has already been made, this practical content provides incredible value for customers, leaving them with a positive view of the airline. It may even encourage them to book with the airline again.

Think about the push notifications that you appreciate getting on your devices, and fashion your own messages based on what you love about them.

Before you start: Know the best practices

For optimum results, send push notifications that are timely and relevant. Reading the room is also important, as you don’t want to send messages that are unhelpful, uninteresting or entirely out of context.

Build your push notifications marketing strategy with these best practices in mind:

Plan to secure the opt-ins

The choice to allow or block notifications from a website or app is entirely in users’ hands. You won’t be able to deliver push messages unless you get permission, so be ready to pop the question.

As with any first impression, you want to get it right without overwhelming or irritating users. It’s generally a good idea to give people a chance to interact with your website or app before asking them to commit to push notifications. That way, they have time to interact with your content and see the value in signing up for the messages.

Be mindful of your phrasing, too. Make it clear that there’s value in allowing the messages, rather than straight up asking “Would you like to receive push notifications?” Instead, customize the message to your brand. For instance, a food blog may ask users: “We’d love to share more kitchen tips with you. Ready to start cooking?”

On the flipside, you also want to make it easy for users to opt out of the notifications. While you certainly don’t want to lose them, it’s still important to keep the power in their hands. No one likes being stuck in an unwanted experience, so the option to back out can actually make people feel more confident about signing up.

Make it worth their while

Remember that push notifications should provide value for users – and be anything but an annoying message they immediately ignore. Make it clear that users will get something out of interacting with your push notifications. That something should also be exclusive to those who sign up for the messages, inciting a sense of FOMO if they don’t get the push notifications.

The need for instant gratification is real, so don’t promise users one thing in the notification and lead them to something else when they click on the message. Push notifications shouldn’t just tease users to visit your site or app, but rather create an engaging, worthwhile experience.

Get personal

Use your user data to customize your messages. Think names, location, purchase history, favorite categories, recently viewed content and so on. These user preferences and behaviors are crucial for targeting your push notifications for more personal messages. You can even be direct with it, asking users what kind of notifications they would like to receive.

Trust us, your personalization efforts won’t go to waste. A report from Leanplum revealed that personalized push notifications lead to 800 percent higher user engagement levels. Why such a gargantuan number? Well, according to the study, push notifications with personalized content receive four times the open rate of their generic counterparts.

Segment your audience

You know the drill: Generic messages won’t generate high levels of engagement. The more special you make your users feel, the better.

More than crafting personal messages, user behavior and preferences can help you target your notifications to different groups within your audience. For instance, you may send particular push notifications to those who viewed a certain product while other messages may go to those who haven’t visited your site or app in a few weeks.

Time it right

You don’t want to send notification blasts just for the sake of it. Careful planning is important for scheduling notifications that hit at the right moment. There are several factors to consider, including time zones and user engagement patterns.

Unless your data shows otherwise, it’s generally best to avoid sending a bunch of notifications at once. You don’t want to be on the fast train to annoying users – especially when trying to re-engage those who have been inactive for a while. To avoid bombarding users with too many notifications, try to limit yourself to sending no more than one per day.

While real-time analytics can help you nail down the ideal time, here’s a pro tip from push notifications software company PushCrew to get you started: After working hours is the best time to get a response, with the peak click-through rate generally landing somewhere between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Get crafty with the copy

Break out your best writing for push notifications, as catchy titles and messages will get the best response from users. Short, sweet and to the point is always better, especially considering users will likely be in the middle of another task when your notification comes through. As with any marketing copy, keep your tone on brand and use strong words to inspire action.

Keep testing the options

Experiment with various types of push notifications, try different copy and test out varying times to find the optimal ways to reach your audience. Keep an eye on response rates so you know which push notifications perform the best.

Time to start notifying

Ready to add push notifications to your digital marketing campaigns? If you have coding talent in-house, you can recruit them to help you build web push notifications for your site. Otherwise, push notification creation and scheduling tools can make your life a whole lot easier. Popular options include:

Once you start sending push notifications, you can measure their success by tracking important KPIs like subscriber counts, click-through rates, engagement and customer retention. Most push notification tools will generate these analytics for you, making it easy for you to adjust your messages and strategy accordingly.

Give it a shot and let us know how it goes!