Looking to take your push notification strategy to the next level?
Look no further!
We’ve got you covered with our extensive list of 19 best practices for push notifications complete with real-life examples from popular apps and games.
1. Make it Personal
Personalization is the go-to practice in all things mobile, and push notifications are no exception.
According to a recent study by OneSignal, personalized push notifications have a 259% higher engagement rate than non-personalized notifications.
Personalization is based on segmentation, so in order to create tailored push notifications, it’s vital to separate users into different groups by certain criteria. For example, location, gender, and in-app behavior. Of course, if you manage to get even more specific data like names, use it.
2. Be Relevant
Not every message needs to reach every user.
Let’s say a sports app sends out a notification about a tennis match to a user who uses it exclusively to stay on top of football scores.
To avoid a similar scenario, it’s important to continuously leverage your app analytics to get insights into your users’ behavior and target the right audience.
3. Provide Exciting, Real-Time Updates
People like to be among the first to find things out.
Of course, if it’s something relevant to them.
You can take advantage of this behavior by delivering notifications that inform users about app updates or new content.
Let’s take an entertainment app as an example. It can send notifications to users who have previously watched a particular show, informing them that a new episode is now available. Similarly, a music app can notify users about the release of a new album by their favorite artist.
4. Acknowledge User Actions
Deep down, we all appreciate receiving some kind of acknowledgment.
You can leverage push notifications to create this positive experience for your users. Brands frequently do this by responding to user actions.
For example, a travel app can thank users for leaving a review and let them know how many people have seen it. A sports app, on the other hand, can pat users on the back for their activity and invite them to check out their results.
5. Utilize Urgency
Want your users to take immediate action?
Create a sense of urgency and take advantage of their FOMO.
But, it’s extremely important not to overuse this strategy. Don’t spam people’s phones with info that isn’t genuinely time-sensitive – do it only when you have a legitimate reason. For example, shopping apps can use this method to remind users about the final day of a sale.
6. Offer Deals
Offering deals is a tried-and-true strategy for grabbing the users’ attention.
Naturally, this method is most used by e-commerce apps, but it can be applied to different apps that contain IAPs or subscriptions. For example, a mobile game can offer a discount to users who often visit the game’s store but have yet to make a purchase.
To ensure the success of these discount offers, make sure to craft push notifications that effectively highlight the benefits and provide a clear call-to-action (CTA).
7. Remind Users to Finish an Action
Sometimes, users leave apps before finishing the goal action.
The best example of this is cart abandonment in e-commerce apps.
Sometimes, this occurs because something interrupted them in the process, or they decided to postpone it for later. But in the majority of cases, it happens because the user was feeling indecisive about the purchase.
Whatever the reason might be, these users could use a little push.
Send them a notification that will encourage them to finish the action right away. In the text, you can suggest they forgot about it or offer them a little extra something that will make them change their mind. For example, free shipping or a small discount.
8. Invite Users to Claim Rewards
Does your app reward users for daily logins?
Rewarding users for coming back to the app is a proven retention and engagement method. It is especially effective in mobile games that often give out “daily rewards”.
To increase the chances of users returning to the app and claiming their rewards, you can remind them about it using push notifications.
9. Keep it Short
When users receive push notifications to their phones, they quickly scan the text. If something catches their attention, they will read it through.
Push notifications with lengthy, paragraphical texts are instantly off-putting.
To maximize the effectiveness of your push notifications, it is generally recommended to keep the text within 40 characters. Therefore, make good use of each word and keep things short and clear.
10. Don’t Shy Away From Using Emojis
According to research by Leanplum, emojis can increase push notification open rates by 85%.
Emojis can help you make the notification more noticeable, express emotion, and keep the text short. Here are a couple of best practices for push notifications with emojis:
- Use them only when they make sense
- Don’t go overboard with the number of emojis
- Research appropriate emojis for your target audience
- Be careful with cultural context (e.g. “thumbs up” is an insult in the Middle East)
11. Stay True to Your Brand Voice
Next on our list of best practices for push notifications is staying on brand.
Some brands nurture an official tone of voice, some are slightly more cheerful, while others are known for their edgy humor.
Whatever tone of voice you use on other channels, your push notification strategy should be consistent with it. This allows you to create a recognizable omnichannel experience that extends beyond the app.
12. Use Headline Space Wisely
The push notification headline is a short line of text that describes the notification’s purpose.
It’s not mandatory to use it, but most app developers do.
To get the most out of your push notification headlines, we advise you to make them strong, simple, and to the point. Additionally, if you want to draw extra attention to them, you can spice them up with emojis, numbers, or symbols.
13. Use Power Words
There are certain words and phrases that make push notifications more attractive.
Upon analyzing billions of notification examples, CleverTap compiled an extensive list of power words for push notifications across five app categories that lead to better CTRs. Here are just some of them:
- Final, Coupon, Ends soon, Running out, Discount (Retail & eCommerce)
- Flight, Reminder, Reward, Passport, Imagine (Travel and Booking)
- Alert, Be the first, Exclusive, Jaw-dropping, Secret (Media & Publishing)
- Delicious, In record time, Easy, Order, Save (Utility and Delivery)
- Commented, Followed, Mentioned, Liked, New (Social Media)
14. Use CTAs
What actions do you want users to take after receiving your push notification?
Don’t beat around the bush – use a call to action to tell them exactly what you want them to do.
The type of CTA you’ll use in the push notification depends on the type of the app, as well as the rest of the notification text. However, if you’re looking for safe options, you can always rely on these popular choices:
- Try now
- Check out
- Tap to X (e.g. order, stream, watch)
- Shop now (e-commerce apps)
- Play now (gaming apps)
According to Business of Apps, adding a call to action to push notifications can significantly boost CTRs. For example, eCommerce app push notifications that contain a CTA have an average 9.8% CTR, while those without it lag behind at 5.6%.
15. Track the Right Metrics
There is no talking about best practices for push notifications without talking about measurement.
To continuously improve your push notification game, make it a priority to track the following metrics:
- Open rate
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate
- Opt-out/unsubscribe rate
- App launch rate
- Retention rate
16. Watch out For Timing
Even the best push notification message in the world will get ignored if it arrives at the wrong time.
For example, while the user is asleep.
No one wants to hear buzzing in the middle of the night unless it’s something super important.
Push notifications should be delivered in the moments the user is most likely to interact with them. To achieve this, it’s mandatory to consider factors like time zones and usage habits.
17. Consider Timing Benchmarks
Until you have enough data to pace notifications based on your users’ habits, you can leverage practices that have been successful for others.
Data suggests that people are more receptive to push notifications at particular times of the day and week.
According to Business of Apps, the days with the highest reaction rates are Tuesday (8.4%) and Sunday (8.1%). Additionally, the best time to send push notifications is in the evening between 8 PM and 11 PM (Notix).
18. Don’t Spam
What’s even worse than sending push notifications at the wrong time? Sending them ALL THE TIME.
But how much is too much?
There is no definite answer to this question because it highly depends on the type of app and its features. While some apps send out 1-2 weekly notifications, others can get away with sending 7-10 of them.
As a starting point, you can base notification frequency based on app usage. For example, if a user opens the app three times a week, send them three notifications per week. As you collect more data over time, you can find the optimal frequency by analyzing your push notification metrics.
19. Test, Test, Test
Let’s conclude this list of best practices for push notifications with what we believe is the most important one – A/B testing.
If you only create one variation of a push notification, you’ll never know if it could have performed better. Use A/B tests to compare different versions of push notifications.
Push notification campaigns allow you to A/B test many variables like length, CTAs, emojis, icons, timing, frequency, tone of voice, titles, etc.
Remember – the key to effective A/B testing is only changing one variable at a time. This way, you’ll always know exactly what element contributed to better results.
Best Practices for Push Notifications: Over to You
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