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Push notifications: 10 best practices for a high-performing strategy

Push notifications are the channel that offers the greatest possibilities in terms of personalization and targeting. This is what makes them very effective. As we wrote in the first article of this series dedicated to push notifications, the average open rate of web and mobile push notifications exceeds 16%.

But to fully exploit the potential of push notifications, it is essential to implement a well-thought-out and well-planned strategy. A poorly designed approach can easily lead to user disengagement and negatively impact both performance and customer experience.

In this article, we propose 10 best practices for web and mobile push notifications.


1. Define clear and measurable objectives

Do you want to use web or mobile push notifications to complement traditional emails and SMS? The first step is to define clear and measurable objectives that align with your company's overall business goals.

Whether it's acquiring new users, improving customer engagement, retention, or conversion, each push notification campaign should have one (or more) specific and measurable goal(s).

Once the objectives are defined, it is important to associate them with key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your push notification campaigns and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Here are some examples of KPIs:

  • If the goal is to acquire new users: the number of new downloads or the growth rate of the number of users.

  • If the goal is to improve engagement: the open rate of web or mobile notifications, the number of actions taken following a notification, or the time spent in the mobile app after clicking on a notification.

  • If the goal is to strengthen retention: the retention rate at Day X or the number of sessions per user over a given period.

  • If the goal is to stimulate conversions: the conversion rate of desired actions (purchases, registrations, etc.) following a push notification or the increase in revenue directly attributable to users who received push notifications.


2. Finely segment your audience

One of the strengths of web and mobile push notifications lies in their ability to be highly personalized to adapt to users' specific interests and behaviors.

Personalization of notifications is possible through two tools:

  • Audience segmentation based on precise criteria.

  • The creation of scripted or "triggered" campaigns (to use a not-so-pretty term), i.e., campaigns or messages whose triggering is determined by the user's behavior towards the service/mobile application or related to the lifecycle.

To start, we recommend focusing on the first tool: audience segmentation.

Segmenting an audience consists of dividing your user base into distinct groups based on socio-demographic, behavioral, or affinity criteria: age, gender, geographic location, purchasing habits, history of interactions with the mobile application or website…

Segmentation then allows you to address targeted campaigns for each segment, in line with their profiles. Segmentation is the antechamber of targeting. The logic is the same as that used with the persona method.

A music streaming service, for example, can segment its users according to their favorite music genres to send them web or mobile notifications about new releases likely to interest them the most.

Segmentation is a powerful tool for personalizing notifications and optimizing engagement rates. It is a mandatory step if you want to carry out targeted and effective push notification campaigns.


3. Establish an editorial calendar

Any communication action must be planned. This is true for email campaigns, and it's also true for web and mobile push notifications.

Establishing an editorial calendar for your push notification campaigns will help you organize the sending frequency and choose the right moments to reach your audience.

The calendar must take into account both the types of content to be promoted via push notifications and the times when your users are most receptive to your messages.

You need to carefully define the timing and frequency of sending push notifications to avoid overloading your users and creating fatigue. At what time should you send push notifications? Very early in the morning, in the evening, during working hours? It depends on the application, the service. There is no general rule. It's up to you to define the timing based on your knowledge of your users… and to do tests. We'll talk about that again in a moment.

One last piece of advice to maintain the interest of recipients with push notifications and break the monotony: vary the type of content sent. Alternate between useful information, reminders, promotions, important updates…


4. Take care of the design and writing of notifications

The success of a push notification largely depends on its ability to instantly capture the user's attention and encourage action. This requires paying particular attention to the design and writing of notifications.

The essential writing rule? Conciseness. Messages should be short and to the point because display space is limited and users' attention span is short. Use clear and direct language.

To be effective, messages must be personalized (which brings us back to point 2) and encourage action. We advise you to:

  • Ensure that the main message and the call to action (CTA) are immediately visible.

  • Address the user by name or mention their interests. For example, "Hello [Name], the new album by [Favorite Singer] is now available!" is more impactful than "New album available".

You can also use rich media to enhance web and mobile push notifications and make them more attractive. A relevant image or a well-chosen emoji can significantly increase the click-through rate of your notifications. However, be careful to use these elements judiciously so as not to distract from the main call to action.


5. Optimize opt-in rates

The reach of your push notification campaigns depends on the number of users who agree to receive them, i.e., the opt-ins collected. Therefore, to maximize the impact of your campaigns, it is important to seek to optimize opt-in rates.

Here are some tips on this subject:

  • Clarify the value proposition of notifications from the permission request. This involves clearly communicating to users what they gain by accepting web or mobile push notifications: exclusive information, special offers, important updates, etc.

  • Use the "pre-permission" system, which consists of asking the user, through a contextual window and before the system permission request, if they are ready to receive notifications. This approach, when used well, increases the chances that the user will then accept the permission request.

  • Implement double opt-in. This consists, as the name indicates, of asking for confirmation from the user after an initial acceptance. It is a way not to increase the number of opt-ins, but to improve the quality of subscribers and therefore the engagement with notifications.

  • Do A/B testing to identify the wording, design, or timing of the permission request that generates the highest acceptance rate.

  • Ask for permission after the user has derived concrete value from the application. This generally (and logically) leads to higher opt-in rates compared to an immediate request at the first launch of the application.


6. Leverage user data

To optimize your push notification strategy, it is essential to rely on your user data. Collecting and analyzing this data will allow you to better understand their behaviors and preferences, and thus adapt your campaigns accordingly.

User data collection

The first step is to collect your user data. This data can come from various sources:

  • In-app behavior: pages visited, features used, purchases made…

  • Interactions with your notifications: opens, clicks, unsubscribes…

  • Demographic data: age, gender, location…

  • Purchase history: frequency, amount, product categories…

It is important to collect this data in a systematic and structured way, while respecting applicable regulations such as the GDPR. You can rely on your push notification management tool or your marketing platform to centralize this data.

User data analysis

Once the data is collected, you can move on to the analysis stage. The objective is to draw actionable insights from this data to optimize your push notification strategy.

Here are some examples of relevant analyses:

  • Segmentation of your users according to their behaviors and preferences

  • Identification of key moments in the user journey where notifications have the most impact

  • Analysis of the performance of your past campaigns (open rate, click rate…) to identify success factors

  • Monitoring the evolution of key metrics such as retention rate or average basket size per user segment

To conduct these analyses, you can use the reporting and data visualization tools integrated into your push notification management platform. You can also export your data to business intelligence tools, for example.

The key is to rely on reliable and up-to-date data to make informed decisions about your push notification strategy. By finely segmenting your users and analyzing their behaviors, you can create ultra-personalized and relevant campaigns that will engage your audience over the long term.

Remember that data exploitation is a continuous process. Set up regular analysis routines and don't hesitate to experiment with new approaches based on the insights obtained. It is by constantly refining your understanding of users that you can build a high-performing push notification strategy over the long term.


7. Integrate notifications into a cross-channel journey

Web or mobile push notifications should be integrated into a coherent cross-channel strategy, complementing and reinforcing messages sent on other channels (email, SMS, in-app interactions) to create a seamless and integrated user experience.

Let's take the example of push notifications integrated into an abandoned cart recovery scenario.

A visitor adds products to their cart on your website but leaves the site without completing their purchase. After a few hours, they receive an email reminding them of their abandoned cart and offering a 10% discount if they complete their purchase within 24 hours.

If the user has not responded to the email within 12 hours, a push notification is sent to their mobile device to remind them of the discount offer and encourage them to finalize their purchase directly through the brand's mobile application. If the user still hasn't responded after 24 hours, you send them a last-chance SMS, emphasizing that the discount will soon expire.

This example illustrates how intelligent orchestration of channels can create more relevant and effective customer journeys.

It should be noted that deploying this type of use case requires a certain level of marketing maturity. Let's not hide it, a cross-channel abandoned cart recovery scenario is much easier to design than to implement. In particular, it requires good data integration and good communication between the company's systems and tools.


8. Test, measure, and continuously optimize

Don't know what time to send a particular push notification? The most effective solution is to test several times to identify the best timing.

Push notification campaigns can be subject to continuous improvement using a tool we discussed in a previous article: A/B testing.

A/B testing consists of deploying different versions of a notification to test and identify what works best with your users and what generates maximum performance for your business (open rate, click rate, post-notification engagement).

Regarding push notifications, A/B tests can focus on content (text, design, CTA…), of course, but also on sending times or audience segments. Analysis of test results will help you gradually refine your strategy.


9. Respect user privacy and preferences

Respecting user privacy and preferences is fundamental. It is also a legal obligation, stemming from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Personal data about your users must be collected and used transparently. Make sure your users understand why and how their information will be used.

We also recommend that you allow your users to easily manage their notification preferences. This includes, in particular, the ability to unsubscribe at any time or to change the frequency of notifications.

Beyond being a legal obligation, never forget that respecting your users' privacy and preferences is an element of trust. Showing your commitment to protecting privacy can strengthen the relationship with your audience.


10. Equip yourself with a complete and integrated solution

To fully exploit the potential of push notifications, it is essential to rely on a suitable tool. With the acquisition of Notifcare, the Actito platform now offers a dedicated module that allows you to easily implement market best practices.

With Actito, you can design and send notifications that are perfectly integrated into your cross-channel strategy. The platform allows you to create reusable templates and personalize each message sent according to the user's profile and actions.

One of the tool's strengths is the ability to define notification triggers based on events or key moments in the lifecycle. For example, you can automatically re-engage a user who has abandoned their cart or wish them a happy birthday. It's an excellent way to send the right message at the right time, without manual effort.

Another key advantage is the ability to leverage data from other channels to enrich your notification scenarios. You can thus use information collected by email, SMS, or via your website to better target and personalize your messages. This offers a perfectly seamless and consistent experience to your users.

Finally, Actito provides you with comprehensive reporting tools to monitor and analyze the performance of your notification campaigns. Thanks to dedicated dashboards, you can monitor key metrics such as open rates, interaction rates, or unsubscribe rates in real-time, and thus continuously optimize your strategies.

By using a platform like Actito, you give yourself the means to apply push notification best practices in a simple and effective way. It is a valuable asset to make the most of this highly strategic channel and build lasting relationships with your mobile users.


Key takeaways

Here is a summary of the 10 best practices:

  1. Define clear and measurable objectives.

  2. Finely segment your audience.

  3. Establish an editorial calendar.

  4. Take care of the design and writing of notifications.

  5. Optimize opt-in rates.

  6. Leverage user data.

  7. Integrate notifications into a cross-channel journey.

  8. Test, measure, and continuously optimize.

  9. Respect user privacy and preferences.

  10. Equip yourself with a complete and integrated solution.

Let's insist, to conclude, on the importance of adopting a strategic approach. Push notifications must be integrated into your overall marketing strategy and pursue the company's CRM and business objectives.

We also advise you to iterate constantly and never stop your tests. The reason is simple: there is always room for improvement. Test, test, and test again to identify what works best.

About the author


Isabelle Henry

Head of Inbound and Growth

Always on the lookout for new skills and always ready to launch new marketing projects at Actito, I rely on my personal experiences but also on everything that is happening in the digital world to continue to learn, educate and share with you through inspiring content. My little extras? Video editing and photography!

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