The Difference between Good and Bad Push Notifications for E-Commerce

We live in a world where everything works best when it’s connected. So if anything that is relevant happens in any corner of the world, we demand to know about it instantly and in the most convenient manner. Thankfully, regular alerts and updates nowadays are not a problem. With the introduction of push notifications, businesses can send all the relevant news and happenings your customers require on whichever device they like to operate through.

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Thanks to such a channel, not only can web and mobile apps project their promotions on your users’ screen in a way they won’t just ignore them, most of the stuff that’s displayed is relevant to them and grabs at least some part of their attention.

A little something about push notifications

The very first company to introduce such a marketing concept was Apple, back in June 2009 with its Apple Push Notification Service (APNs). Soon after, popular platforms including Google and Facebook have adopted such a service as well, be it for promotion of certain products/discount codes or communicating a new trend to the users who’d like to be a part of it. It was only recently, when mobile apps started using the system as well, though it was specific to the different OS type with the likes of Android, iOS, Windows and Blackberry etc.

When it comes to Web notifications, they work similarly to the mobile apps, where the e-commerce stores or any online business that would like to reach their users on a regular basis, ask for your permission when you first visit their page or install their app.

Though best explained as regular updates, if we were to get a little more technical, these are clickable or interactive messages that are sent out in real-time. Of course, the notifications don’t have to be restricted to text. In fact, when Google announced ‘rich notifications’ in 2013, it brought the notifications game to a whole new level with illustrations and interactive buttons added to the mix for a more engaging and attractive alert.

Observing these push notifications now, they’ve been utilizing much more than just pictures and fancy interactive tools. You now have sound to accompany the alerts and companies have started including emoticons and mankind’s greatest strength: humour.

Examples can range from listening to a new song to redeeming discounted vouchers for a restaurant or getting notified for an event nearby.The notification messages also hold true for day-to-day updates including weather reports, road traffic on a particular day, news and sports alerts. Lastly, you can book hotel reservations, movie tickets or even flight details on the go. When it comes solely to the apps, you are instantly updated about new promotions, updates or new features.

Sure, push notifications sound intriguing both for the business and the audience. Before we discuss how it truly is a game changer, let’s look at how far this new kind of marketing has come, observing the various channels of notifications in the past.

What are the benefits of push notifications?

They are shorter and less time consuming to read:

Well for one, it wouldn’t feel so surprising to know the answer for those who have ever received newsletters and promotional offers via email. Though most of such messages will lie in your customers’ junk or spam folder, the ones that make into the inbox are less likely to be read, and even less so, to get their attention.

This is because, firstly, they tend to be much lengthier in contrast to the 2-3 short sentence messages brought by the push notifications. Secondly, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be spending a good amount of their time browsing through the mail box. It isn’t natural since it’s bound to make more sense if I say an average web or mobile user spends way more time browsing or surfing the internet. Thanks to the analysis and user feedback, the result’s a clear win for push notifications over email notifications when it comes to open rates, click-through rates and conversation rates.

Notifications and promotions through SMS gets tedious:

When you want to look back at that particular alert that came in a month back, which suddenly now you have need of. Most of the notifications via SMS are also unrelated to your customers’ interests and irrelevant as most of the companies that employ such a strategy are just forwarding the messages to a mass community without considering the segments in the target audience.

Nowadays, SMS notifications are only utilized by serious industries like banking centres or other organizations for the purpose of sending receipts of transactions, flight details or other personal updates. Outside these, there’s not much potential tied to the medium of SMS.

They are more engaging:

Lastly, you’ve got Social Media to do the promotional bidding for your business. This, at first, doesn’t seem like a bad idea considering the amount of time users, especially teenagers; spend using services like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. However, it should be noted that users are already engaged in the activity or a thread for which they logged onto the website for. The circumstances, thus, doesn’t allow for favourable responses to the product’s promotion for the company.

Let’s now take a look at how push notifications, when utilized correctly, excel in the e-commerce market of today, a place where the above strategies clearly had their drawbacks and shortcomings.

The Good and the Bad:

Push notifications are just a marketing gold mine waiting to be discovered. In addition to high return on investments and click-through rates, the long term benefits include the growth of your audience and knowing them well enough to maintain them within your market crowd. However, this only stands true for good push notifications.

The difference:

Relevance:

Just like it is important to create ads customized towards a targeted audience,push notifications also need to be sent keeping relevant audience in mind.

With a keen focus on the customer’s interests and keeping them up-to-date in regards to the products, services and any important events, good push notifications serve the consumer right and give them what they deserve. On the other hand, bad push notifications seem interruptive and unnecessary:

Your dentist appointment is tomorrow? Really helpful to know. Getting a notification for everything your favourite show’s character is tweeting? Probably not.

It’s also highly recommended to know your audience and promote products accordingly. Not every teenager will be fascinated with football; some would prefer merchandise related to basketball. Segmentation of a large pool of audience into smaller ones based on similar interests is essential. Similarly, alter the language and tone of the message according to the age, country of origin, or any other useful information the client may have provided. For e.g. teens might prefer some emojis to go with the promotions while elderly users might favour a more succinct and straightforward approach.

Short, Sweet and Not Too Frequent:

First of all, owing to the short, crispy, and always attention-worthy sentence structure of these push notification messages, the user is most likely to check out what the particular snippet of text is about.

Keeping things precise and to-the-point, good push notifications can successfully get the general idea across while never boring or annoying the viewer. It is for this purpose, that utmost priority should be given to frequency along with sentence structuring and the richness of the writing as each word or phrase can either result in a higher open rate or otherwise. A good notification, if sent too many times, can turn onto a bad notification really easily. Don’t send a push notification because you can; send it if you should.

Engaging:

This is where power words or focus keywords come in, to engage, intrigue or excite the user. These could be any relevant string of alphabets as long as they have the ability and capacity to engross the viewer either emotionally or giving them a sense of exclusivity or going for a personal touch. After all, most of the readers are just skimming through lines of text just to highlight what words best sum up or describe the importance of the particular offer. They are probably doing it now as well on an almost subconscious level.

Create Urgency:

That is why all offers and promotions should include wordings to create urgency, to immediately strike the viewer’s attention towards the monetary value or discount they might be getting, and finally what the offer may mean for them. For a nice example, instead of going for a more cold approach with ‘Check out new products at our sale’, you could manipulate it a little to say ‘We’ve got new products today, discounted just for you’.

Of course, there will be plenty of ‘yous’ the company will be notifying, but it’s still an intimate touch that matters. So, power words and open-rate go hand in hand.

Timing:

Another important aspect of a good push notification is how it is timed. The last thing you want is to disturb your user’s bedtime just because your app company didn’t pay much care to the user’s local time-zone. With that in mind, you can segment the consumers into groups based on their time-zones and send messages accordingly.

It goes without saying that the best days for alerts remain weekends and holidays, and the best time is preferably around noon, all the way to the evening. However, the timing keeps on fluctuating depending on your targeted audience as sometimes, higher click-through rates were recorded from Tuesday to Friday. This is where your company needs to do a little digging and use the user’s patterns of activity to devise the correct timings for these notifications.

Interactivity:

Lastly, include on-the-spot interactive buttons like dismissing an alert, confirm a booking or redirecting to a website. This will eliminate that ‘will look at it later’ notion of the users and so responses are quicker. Always remain open to the user’s choice regarding the types of notifications they should receive. They should have the freedom of receiving work-related alerts only during office hours. Similarly, a sports alert or a social media update about their friends can create some distractions while they’re working.

Everything works swell if the above guidelines are followed. Your business should however avoid the following points at all costs to avoid losing the consumer base or jeopardizing the company’s marketing success.

Avoiding the unrequired, irrelevant and unnecessary notifications

Pay special attention to these following points that highlight what mistakes most apps and web platforms make when utilizing push notifications. The solutions for these issues or the strategy you should be following have already been discussed above. Avoid all these to keep the business-to-customer relationship as flourishing and stable as possible.

  • As mentioned previously, avoid rolling out notifications at inappropriate times of the day. This can only be done by monitoring the stats of each user and paying close attention to their time zone and period of high-activity.

  • Always prioritize quality over quantity. Rolling out notifications rather frequently may swarm and annoy the user soon. However, even if you resort to a single notification per week and still keep that message is effective, you’ve done your job correctly.

  • Market segmentation is still a key aspect of this strategy as well. Make sure you don’t bombard irrelevant notifications on unrelated individuals by treating your entire market crowd as one big mass. Divide the base into smaller groups with similar interests and then notify them with alerts accordingly. The metrics and analysis of their previous data will help you give you an upper hand in providing the users with the most optimal experience related to the offers received.

Conclusion- Where do we stand?

Push notifications undoubtedly remain a strong and steady bridge between the publishers or business owners and the respective users. Not only are customers privileged to be treated personally and regularly about new offers in their best interest, for the business, the click through rate and customer satisfaction is greatly increased.

The only real challenge is to analyse the user data and stats, and to use their activity as the means to personalize and prioritize notifications accordingly. But if the challenge is overcome, the future of your business is expected to be bright indeed.

Author Bio Sohail Rupani is a Senior SEO Strategist for an agency known for best SEO Services in Florida ‘PNC Digital‘. He specializes in SEO and SEM techniques. He is passionate about technology and loves to analyze the tech industry in his spare time and stay in touch with the latest happenings. He also writes technical articles about SEO and digital marketing. Follow @sohailrupani for more updates

Author: Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IITs and IISc. She holds 2 patents and over 20 publications in her name. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.