Are push notifications getting too pushy? Or are they the perfect ingredient to spice-up app engagement -- when used sparingly?
According to a recent study by Blueshift, personalized mobile push notifications receive a 2,770 percent increase in engagement compared to generic push notifications. Users today demand more than mobile outreach: In the face of endless advertisements and alerts, they want information relevant to their personal situation, location and habits.
That's why, with big players such as Facebook getting deeper into the personalized push race, entrepreneurs are scrambling to figure out how to make users feel that personal connection and continue to engage with their apps. Successful launch days are just the first battle in the war to win repeat users, and too often, companies see their engagement flat-line about a month after release.
Considering that each user has dozens -- if not hundreds -- of apps on his or her device, strategic notification campaigns can make the difference between long-term success and the fast lane to obscurity. The question is, what's the best way to create such a campaign?
Keep it personal to keep users engaged.
Repeat users are at the core of any mobile product. They drive revenue and demonstrate value to investors. Even more importantly, frequent users usually turn into brand advocates, preaching an app’s benefits to friends and helping to build a far-reaching, long-lasting user base.
When user engagement starts to flag, the following steps can bring them back to the table -- offering customers the chance to rediscover why they downloaded the app in the first place:
Understand the user process. Every company knows what its app does, but what does the typical user flow look like after the initial exploration is through? After people set up their accounts and spend some time navigating the software, how do they take advantage of the app to make their lives better? Considering that 23 percent of users abandon an app after a single use, understanding what the remaining 77 percent want from it on a regular basis is critical to continued success.
Identify touchpoints. Where and when do users interact with the app or the device, and where are the best opportunities to remind them to engage? Shopping apps should have wish lists and credit card storage, which will create opportunities for reminders and sales. Social apps should notify users of friends’ activity. Games can offer bonuses, challenges and special events. Taking advantage of information that users volunteer is one of the easiest ways to understand what those users want and provide relevant notifications.
Think beyond the phone. Standard OS push notifications are important, but multiple avenues exist to reach users. Smartwatch notifications and emails can also play integral roles in reminding users to engage. Saturating users with notifications from all sides comes off as annoying, but with a delicate touch, multichannel reminders make a tremendous difference in retention numbers.
Find the sweet spot of notification frequency. Like any marketing diet, push notifications require balance. Too few pushes and people forget the app, but when there are too many, they will disable or delete it. The number of acceptable notifications depends on the app, but users seem to respond best to weekly notifications rather than daily or monthly ones. An iterative approach often works best to achieve this balance, so many companies start small after their launch and slowly ramp up to keep users coming back.
Keep notifications smart. A person with 500 friends on a social app probably doesn’t want a push notification every time someone else signs on. Notifications that adapt to individual user circumstances, such as recent activity or a lack thereof, are more effective at retaining interest without becoming overbearing. Companies that track better mobile metrics regarding user activity are more likely to provide smarter notifications and keep users coming back.
Smartphone users do have short attention spans, but with the right reminders in the right place, they don’t have to stay gone forever. By spending more time understanding the user experience and providing relevant, timely notifications, companies can keep their apps relevant longer and bring back the users that might have otherwise stopped paying attention.