In our Marketer’s Guide to Push Notifications, we touched on several best practices for using push messages in Sales and Marketing. It’s been a few months since that post and we thought it would be a good idea to revisit those best practices and add a few new ones too.
These five new best practices are in addition to:
- Get consent (and use the mobile OSes native opt-in screens)
- Add/offer value with each message
- Segment your users into target groups
- Test (and test and test some more)
- Be mindful of timing and frequency of messages
These new best practices are common sense, but we will admit that one got us thinking about push differently.
Push means patience
From Appboy’s digital Magazine Relate we got this (and a few other) great ideas. Push messages mean you’re playing the long game for data. If you send 6 push messages a month, you might not be able to gauge how successful your campaign is for several months. It might take that long for customers to react positively, or negatively, to messages. Sure you’ll get preliminary data for engagement, but for testing long term engagement you need, well, to wait for the long term.
Words matter, use them sparingly
Both Selligent and Localytics highlight language as key best practices to follow. Selligent reminds us to keep messages short and compelling. Push messages are not the space for flowery prose. Localytics noted in their survey that the same trigger CTAs and words that work in other channels work for push messages too. Assume that users are going to glance quickly at the notification and decide in a moment or two if it’s important. Your words need to convey the right level of urgency and what the call to action is. Is the notification urgent or FYI? Act now or later? Be very clear what you expect people to do and make sure the level of urgency really does match up with the message. Users will turn off push messages if you cry wolf with "urgent" messages.
We will point out an exception to the "be brief" advice. The app some of us use to pay for parking uses a pretty huge push message to confirm parking (see below). This might be the biggest push message we’ve ever seen, but…
It works. At a glance anyone can confirm everything they need to park. We don’t know if the app makers did a lot of testing, but we applaud them for being bold and breaking the "rules" with their notification.
Don’t buzz me!
We didn’t think of this at all until we read the article, but Relate made this excellent point about vibrating messages:
Push notifications can be really intimate. People carry their smartphones on them all day, even sleep with them, and that means that a push notification that includes a vibration is often experienced as a physical sensation. That’s powerful, but like a lot of powerful things, it can have seriously negative consequences seriously if misused. "If [a notification] is urgent—like you are about to miss your plane, or an urgent, direct message from a coworker—a buzz can be a very powerful and appreciated tool. If not, it’s dangerous and will backfire, so don’t use it for events like favorites or likes from a friend," Weiss says. “With push, you can control the default of whether the phone vibrates or is silent” and what you decide has a big impact: “If a notification vibrates a user and she doesn’t find it urgent, the likelihood of the app being uninstalled immediately skyrockets.” - From 9 RULES FOR A TOP-FLIGHT PUSH NOTIFICATION STRATEGY.
We haven’t received many push notifications that use a buzz—except for iMessage and Facebook Messenger — which reinforces the point. Unless it’s really, really important...you don’t need to jolt us into action.
Define your KPIs
This should go without saying for any marketing communication program, but considering how often we see this best practice come up in marketing how to posts, we guess it doesn’t. Know from the outset what you want to accomplish with push. App opens? Registrations? Rate the app? Understand the goal, know where you are now, then measure how push messages affect it. Remember the first point in this list, it might take awhile to get good data.
Of course you should experiment and you might not always know all the important KPIs right away, but have a plan and maintain a data-driven mindset. Know that data will tell you if something is working and when it isn’t. And remember that a good push platform will give you lots of data, you have to look at the reports and dissect if you’re meeting or missing your KPIs.
Get the taps right
Another thing from Relate that hit us with a blinding flash of the obvious…
There’s little more annoying than receiving an engaging push notification, tapping it, and finding yourself dumped on the app’s home screen. "People will click on the notifications if [they] get them to where they were expecting. If not, they’ll ignore it next time," Weiss says. “A lot of e-commerce apps screw this up by sending customers to the generic home screen, rather than a specific page or item.” To avoid this issue, brands need to make sure that they have the ability to deep link directly from push notifications to relevant in-app pages or sections; otherwise, much of the impact of their messaging may be lost.
Yeah, make sure those taps you’re trying to get actually go somewhere useful. Just opening the app or a website or an App store is not good enough. You’ve gotten someone to give you their attention, don’t waste it with a useless tap.
We’ve all had it happen to us. You get a notification. It looks good. Tap. And you’re not anywhere useful. That just doesn’t fly.
Have a plan, keep to it, and use a platform that ties this all together
Like all the facets of omni channel communications and creating a holistic omni channel experience, you need a plan and you need to have the tools to support it.