Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Push Notifications

Increase user engagement, improve retention and maximize ROI – these are some of the main challenges app developers or marketer are confronted with every day. CoolaData’s push notifications enable our customers to address these needs precisely, providing an accurate analysis of their users and the means to act upon it.

What Are Push Notifications?

pushA push notification is an alert delivered by a server to an end point device – in this case, a smartphone. The “push” indicates that these messages are not initiated by the user and that the sending app doesn’t have to be active on the handset in order for a user to receive it. Push notifications are effective for promotions, status updates, feature announcements and new product arrivals. They are sent either to an entire user base, or, more effectively to segmented groups. A push notification appears on the screen with the application’s icon and a message. The message could be text, a hyperlink, audio, image or multimedia. In most cases push notifications include a call-to-action with a link sending the user to the app, invoking further engagement – a goldmine for marketers.

What is it Good For…?

Push notifications are a powerful tool to increase engagement, boost retention and thus augment ad ROI (the Return On Investment on user acquisition through advertising) and LTV (user Life Time Value). An Urban Airship report is conclusive: retention rates were 80% higher for users receiving push notification during the first month after download. Six months after download, the effect of push notifications was even more dramatic: users who received push notifications had a 120% higher retention rate than those who did not.

In terms of engagement, to state the obvious, people who get reminders tend to act more than people who were not reminded. But this still serves as a great incentive to use push notifications: the same Urban Airship study also found that users who received notifications were twice as engaged by the end of the first month after download, three times more engaged by the second month and four times more so by the end of the third month.

Measuring in-app campaigns and tracking responses to notifications should be part of your routine. Did they result in more impressions? More launches? More in-app purchases? A behavioral analysis of the data will provide you with indispensable knowledge as to future development and marketing strategies.

Doing it Well

Effective notifications are a key part of maintaining an engaged user base. Nevertheless, legislation requires developers to offer users the ability to control notifications. It is therefore imperative to handle them cleverly. Apple’s Appstore even requires an app to disable notifications by default and ask a user for push permission. So how can you try to make sure users approve push and continue to use them?

The three ground rules of push notifications are:

  1. Carefully choose what information to send.
  2. How often to send it.
  3. And to whom.

In other words: relevance, timing and segmentation. The message should be highly relevant to a user; what should guide you are his or her needs. For example, a critical piece of information to the user experience, like “Your taxi has just arrived.” is valuable. An irrelevant message, like “Say happy birthday to Barbara Wolf today” (Barbara who?!) is regarded as an intrusion in many cases. Even spam. It is alienating: not only will it get overlooked, it is likely to cause the user to cancel notifications, or uninstall the app altogether.

How often and when to send notifications? This is just as important. Use extreme caution when setting reoccurring notifications: they should come often enough to retain loyalty, or in less fortunate occasions, to remind your user you exist. Do not aggressively nag to the point of hostility. Also, something as trivial as different time zones may seem like a minor detail but can transform a notification to merely irrelevant or utterly annoying. Think of a notification letting you know of its app’s latest feature at 3am… Not good. So relevance is important and “timing is everything.” Still, segmentation is the key which leads to these two.

Pushing Notifications to The Right User at The Right Time

Segmenting your audience with behavioral analytics is elementary! All app developers want to know who their users are, where they are and what they are (human, male/female, age group, etc….). In most cases this information is free and easily attainable. The next step is to understand how users behave: How often do they use the app? Are they more responsive to in-app purchases than to “earning” virtual goods through loyalty? How do they respond to push notifications? Equally important, you would like to know why they behave the way they do. Why did they abandon a shopping cart? Why didn’t they react well to a particular campaign, while another one triggered a notable CTR (Click Through Rate)?

We all aspire to understand our audience as well as we can. CoolaData’s push notifications enable effective actions on very specific user cohorts. CoolaData’s customers track user behavior, measure and analyze important metrics and ultimately pinpoint actions through push notifications. And email, but that’s for another blog post!

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