What is a Mobile Push Notification?

Mobile push notifications are alert-like messages on a smartphone that display when the app is not actively being used. A mobile push notification—also known as a mobile push message—can come in the form of a pop-up badge, sound, or banner.

Mobile push notifications aim to draw the user’s attention and, more often than not, to get the user to dive back into the app. Mobile push notifications are available on iOS, Android, and other major platforms.

Mobile push notifications started off as purely text, with a character limit set by Apple, Google, or the smartphone platform provider. Users could tap on the mobile push notification to launch the app, or the message could be dismissed. These messages evolved to include more actions, and Android notifications now include rich media. Many expect mobile push notifications to evolve to include deeper hooks into apps and boosted rich media capabilities.

A user must actively give apps permission, or opt-in, to receive mobile push messages. The average opt-in rate for push messages across Android and iOS is 68.5%. Breaking it out by platform, the iOS has an average opt-in rate of 51% and Android has an average opt-in rate of 86%.

The difference between the platforms may boil down to the model for acquiring permission. Users must give explicit permission for each iOS app to send mobile push messages. Android users, however, are automatically opted in to push messaging. Google has begun to change its permissioning with its latest Android Marshmallow software, and its seems likely that at some point Google will follow Apple’s model and create an opt-in structure, rather than opt-out.

How Mobile Push Notifications Increase Engagement

Mobile is the most intimate and powerful channel ever created because it’s the only technology that people carry around nearly 24 hours a day. People are also spending an increasing amount of their lives on mobile, so mobile push notification engagement rates are dramatically higher than other channels.

A mobile push notification is a critical component of an intelligent communication strategy that increases engagement and, ultimately, boosts revenue. Winning brands employ a holistic marketing strategy that includes mobile push messages, email, social, and paid advertising in order to achieve concrete business goals.

Mobile Push Notification Campaigns

Mobile push notification campaigns impact nearly every step of the customer journey. In this section, we’ll go over two common campaigns that every app needs to master.

The best brands are tying mobile push notification campaigns to the user’s engagement state, as opposed to a batch-and-blast model that’s tied to a marketing calendar. Additionally, these messages must include information that’s relevant and contextual for each individual user.

Onboarding campaigns

Mobile push notification campaigns are a great way to start users off on the right foot. A successful user onboarding campaign nudges people toward actions you know correlate with a long-term valuable customer.

The first step to successful mobile push notification campaigns for user onboarding is to know how to properly ask for permission to message the user. Many apps ask the user to accept push notifications immediately after installation, with no context on what value this will be delivering. This is akin to asking someone to move in with you on the first date.

A better solution is to provide compelling reasons for users to opt into mobile push notifications. This can be achieved with splash screens when the app is first opened that spotlight the value mobile push messages deliver to the user’s experience. Brands also don’t have to ask for permission at the beginning; sometimes, waiting for the user to get value out of the app and then asking is the best path.

Successful apps also tailor onboarding mobile push notification campaigns to a user’s activities. Don’t send “check out this feature” messages to people who have already used the feature—this generic, spammy message will damage your brand with a new, valuable user. Brands should instead aim to make every message count when it comes to user onboarding push notification campaigns.

Conversion campaigns

Conversion campaigns aim to get the user to complete an action, whether it’s filling out a form, finalizing a purchase, or sharing on social media. One type of conversion campaign, the abandoned cart push notification campaign, is particularly ideal for commerce apps because it encourages people to complete the cart checkout process, but can be applied broadly to any action a user has started but not completed.

The basics of an abandoned mobile cart push notification campaign are pretty simple: when a user has placed an item in his shopping cart but hasn’t checked out, a mobile push message is triggered, reminding the user to check out. The goal is to get users to complete a purchase through a reminder that comes in the form of a push notification.

Brands can maximize these campaigns by including personalized content, leveraging deep links, and finding the right time to send the message. For example, the message will have more power if it’s referencing the exact item in the cart, as opposed to a generic “Your cart is waiting for you” message. Having a deep link that goes directly to the checkout page will also increase the odds of a purchase.

Finally, brands must consider that there is a natural period of time in which a user will convert organically. This is often dependent on the type of purchase—a $5 on-demand meal and a $500 TV have different purchase consideration times. Brands must be able to identify the optimal time to send abandoned cart push notification campaigns, whether that’s 10 minutes after a user abandons his cart or a week.

What Do Mobile Push Notification Services Accomplish?

Mobile push notification services enable brands to have a strategic approach to mobile marketing. At a basic level, mobile push notification services handle the technical aspects of delivering messages, as well as provide analytics on the efficacy of campaigns. Not all solutions offer the same level of sophistication, though.

The more powerful mobile push notification services automatically optimize messages for the best copy, delivery time, and device. These will also provide robust analytics that show how successful campaigns are in real-time. Finally, the best solutions provide the ability to segment users based on activity, engagement state, demographics, platform, personal attributes, and other attributes that are valuable to a business.

What to Look For in the Best Mobile Push Notification Services?

Brands looking for the best mobile push notification services should require three things: a person-centric data layer, a technology infrastructure that scales, and a platform that’s built for marketers. Basically, brands should pick a solution that ensures the best message goes to the right user, at the right time, on the right channel, without having to worry about constant tweaking or significant engineering effort.

It’s critical to have a person-centric view of users in order to win in the mobile era. The days of being able to identify people by a single device or email are long gone. The only possible way to create person-centric data layers that enable brands to individually message users with relevant content is with machine learning and big data. These technologies enable brands to message users with relevant content and adjust, in real time, to a variety of critical factors.

The best mobile push notification services must include an infrastructure that’s built for mobile era. This means being able to scale as the business grows, while maintaining person-centric layers of data. The infrastructure must also be able to work with increasingly massive data sets that people will generate, including the upcoming glut of data that will come from the Internet of Things.

Finally, the best mobile push notification services are built with marketers in mind. This means solutions must have an intuitive campaign-creator interface that allows marketing to send messages without engineering help. This also means the solution includes real-time analytics that show how effective the campaigns are, including tracking uninstalls and opt-outs.

Now that you know the ins-and-outs of mobile push notifications, it’s time to use them to drive engagement and revenue. You can bet that your competitors aren’t waiting.