Using Push Notifications to Create a Killer Mobile Engagement Strategy

November 20, 2014

Brian Howell


Staying ahead of today’s savvy mobile users and keeping them engaged in your app is a top challenge for mobile marketers and developers. Not only is it getting more expensive to acquire users, it’s getting difficult to keep their attention when they have so many alternative options. If your app isn’t providing value and convenience in their lives, there’s a good chance they’ll just forget about it.

Push notifications are a powerful engagement tool to alert users of actions they can take, discounts, promotions, and more but there is a fine line between being helpful and convenient and giving your users the feeling that they are getting spammed. To help you master the art of push notifications, we’ve outlined 5 important steps to take when evaluating your push notification strategy.

Step #1: Get your metrics right before you start pushing

What is a good engagement strategy if you can’t measure it, right? It’s important to know what metrics to track in order to optimize the performance of your campaigns. We advise marketers and app developers to track the following KPIs:

  • Push Adoption: % of DAU (daily active users) that can receive a push. We see this typically in the range of 40%-60% of your DAU
  • Push Reach: % of DAU that received a push. This percentage will vary based on how you target audience segments.
  • Push Effectiveness: % of DAU that received a push before opening. This can be up to 50% of your DAU for a well-designed, event driven app.

Step #2: Target the right audience

Gone are the days of a “spray and pray” push notification engagement strategy. Your users have unique characteristics that differentiate them from one another. If you’ve tested any engagement campaign, you know that what resonates for some users can fall completely flat for others. This is why targeting defined segments with targeted messages is more important than ever. Treat your users like individuals – send them messages that are relevant for them for example: what’s their geography, where are they in your app, when was the last time they opened your app?

Step #3: Timezones…they’ll be your best friend

Use local user timezone to ensure you’re not sending a message in the middle of the night or during dinner. Your users can be all around the world and trust me, a push notification at 3 am when your user is in a deep sleep is not the best strategy to get them stay in your app.

Step #4: Deliver a meaningful and engaging experience

Once a push is sent, take them somewhere in the app or point them to a Reward or Virtual Good Promotion. Give them a reason to keep looking out for your push notifications.

Remember, you’re trying to establish a relationship with your user. And relationships begin with trust. Your user needs to trust that the message within your push notification is valuable and will be valuable each time they receive one. So, be generous - offer rewards, level up tokens or other perks that will benefit your user when they come back.

One tip to avoid user opting-out: Don't ask them to opt-in before they understand the value of your app!

 Step #5: Track, analyze, adapt

Once you hit “send” and your notifications are pushed out to your users, the fun is just beginning. Watch how your users respond after each push campaign to inform how often to send pushes then set internal frequency caps accordingly to help manage and avoid burnout.

Don’t just look at the number of users who click on pushes to measure campaign success. Many users will see pushes, but act on them several minutes or a few hours later. Its important then to look at time between the push sent to the user and the user’s first app session. If you can get 10% of your DAU starting their first daily session, within 1 hour of a push, that’s a pretty good campaign. You can also look at how push drives user reactivation. If you can drive 5% of DAU from users who quit your app, but returned as the result of a push campaign, again, you’re on the right track.


winningstrat_feature_01-1To learn more best practices for boosting your mobile marketing strategy, download our whitepaper 4 Steps to Create a Winning Mobile Launch Strategy.


In: Product, Marketing

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