With push notifications, there’s always room for improvement
Push notifications have made some positive headway over the past few years, but there's clearly still room for improvement. Columnist Kristin Cronin offers tips on how to up your push game without pushing users away.
Congratulations, mobile marketers. Your valiant efforts at improving the value of push notifications have paid off.
New consumer research tells us that push notifications have greatly improved over the last few years. In fact, more than half of respondents in a recent survey conducted by my employer, Localytics, agreed. We’ve even seen that 65 percent of users with push enabled have returned to an app within 30 days.
While this is surely reason to celebrate, 38 percent of mobile users still feel the quality of push notifications has remained the same. Worse, 10 percent say push messages have deteriorated.
Even though the general perception is that push notifications have improved a good deal, there still appear to be some questions about their inherent value. Furthermore, one in five people still find them to be a complete distraction.
[pullquote]Receiving two to five notifications per week seems to be the threshold for potential overkill that could ultimately push your users away.[/pullquote]
Let’s face it: Push notifications are the bread and butter of many mobile marketing strategies — and there’s a good reason for that. Used well, they can be incredibly effective. But it’s also quite easy to misuse or abuse them, putting you at risk of annoying your users with unhelpful or poorly timed messages.
But fear not, marketers. The trend lines show us there is clearly room for improvement and that app users are a mostly receptive audience. Consider the facts: Compared with 2015, users today are willing to receive more push notifications before disabling the feature. However, receiving two to five notifications per week seems to be the threshold for potential overkill that could ultimately push your users away — so use them wisely.
If you’re taking into account the deluge of notifications from social media, dating and messaging apps, that’s a lot of screen time. The difference here is that notifications from these particular apps — relationship-based apps that rely on engagement — make people aware of conversations and information from and about the people they care about, as opposed to one-way promos from shopping apps.
Pushing for improvement
But like most things in life, this isn’t black-and-white. To truly discover the number of push notifications mobile marketers can send without pushing users over the edge, you need to be able to measure the impact of your push campaigns, on a granular level.
We’ve found that when it comes to users who stop using an app, the peak occurs when they receive six to 10 push notifications per week. This means people are more likely to disable push before they stop using an app completely if too many notifications are sent. It’s a fine line: After all, what’s worse, a user opting out of receiving notifications or losing that user forever? Neither is great if engagement is your goal.
When it comes to the perceived value of push notifications, the study revealed users most value content triggered by their stated preferences. About 49 percent of people believe these types of notifications even cause them to use an app more. In contrast, notifications triggered by in-app behavior (such as what you’re watching on Netflix) are most likely to cause them to use an app less frequently. Again, a fine line to factor into your push campaigns.
So my message to you is this: Let’s resolve to continue increasing the value of push notifications in 2018. To do so, here are some resolutions to get you through the rest of the year.
- Provide more options up front. As opposed to initially sending people notifications based on location and in-app behavior, give them options to receive specific types of notifications. For instance, a retailer might consider adding preferences for online or local specials and product suggestions.
- Test the waters. For behavior-based campaigns, start with one push per week. People are most weary of push notifications triggered by behavior tracking — however, 90 percent of people are willing to receive one push per week without disabling notifications. This makes experimentation relatively safe.
- Location, location, location. People crave individualization, and they want their interactions to be tailored to their preferences, location and in-app behavior. After stated preferences, we found that location tracking was considered the most valuable trigger for push notifications. So if you’re a business with a brick-and-mortar, it’s worth testing out geofencing to provide content that’s personalized to a user’s current location.