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Complete Guide: Get The Most ROI Out Of Push Notifications

An average person has about 40 apps on their phone. Easy to guess that marketing and growth managers need to make relevant efforts for their app to stand out. Amidst a sea of means to achieve that, push notifications rightly make it among the top.

In 2009, Apple was the first to use mobile push notifications to announce its new iOS update. Since then, this feature has been widely adopted to increase user engagement metrics.

What are push notifications?

Push notifications are nothing but messages that appear in the notifications bar of your mobile devices/browsers, aimed at bringing the user back on the app/website and nudging them to take desired actions. These push notifications are sent during different times of the day to increase engagement rates.

They keep your app on the top of your user’s minds. Nowadays, you can trigger push notifications on your user’s desktop devices and web browsers.

Note that push notifications have a stellar record on mobile devices. To begin with, you can drastically increase your retention rate anywhere from 3x to 10x. If you send a push notification during the first week of app installation, you can increase your retention rate by 71%. When it comes to the number of subscribers, about 91.1% of Android and 43.9% of iOS users are subscribed to push notifications. Google Chrome emerges as the champion in the browser arena as it accounts for 90% of web push notification subscribers.

How do push notifications work?

A lot of elements come together to send a single push notification. The app publisher enables its app with an operating system push notification service (OSPNS). After that, they upload the app to the app store. There are multiple operating systems such as Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry, and Fire OS. All these systems have their OSPNS.

Once all the necessary arrangements are made, the OS offers the publishers an application programming interface (API). The publisher then adds the SDK, a code library that is made to work in conjunction with the OSPNS, to the app. Firebase is one such example of OSPNS, which serves as a battery-efficient and reliable connection between your devices and server for you to deliver push notifications on your (Android and iOS) apps and web.

Uses of push notifications

Push notifications are all about capturing the customer’s attention, bringing them back on the app, and driving them to interact (and act) on your app/website.

Here’s how you make the most out of push notifications.

Sending personalised offers

Push notifications work best in conjunction with marketing segments. These segments allow you to send personalised and contextual offers and targeted ads to your customers based on various factors. Primary data like age, gender, etc., gets collected along with the user’s interaction with the brand site or app. The purchase and browsing history from the app are also accounted for before sending them personalised notifications.

Customer engagement

Push notifications are one of the most engaging channels for enhancing customer engagement. Customer engagement comes easy with hyper-personalised push notifications tailored precisely for your users. To gain an edge, don’t miss out on leveraging interactive elements like images, videos, GIFs, emojis, and audio to craft rich notifications and capture your users’ attention.

Rich media push notifications with hyper-personalised messaging will always have an edge when it comes to engaging customers–even when you’re working on retaining customers who are abandoning the website/app. Here’s an example of how Myntra did it.

Guiding to make a purchase

Another great use of push notifications is to create a seamless shopping experience for customers. When using push notifications to advertise a product, ensure the link points directly to the item page, reducing the friction and encouraging the customer to make the purchase. Cart abandonment notifications are another proven way to drive users to make purchases.

Sending information/educational content

Push notifications are a great way to send updates about features on your mobile app. In fact, you can also leverage push notifications to ace your welcome drip campaign. Drip campaigns are mostly done through a series of welcome emails. However, in the past few years, the trend has been moving towards push notifications as they have a 50% more click rate than emails.

Similarly, brands, especially ed-tech apps, can leverage push notifications to send informational or educational content relevant to the users. Any updates, notices, or latest events must be actively communicated to the users, and push notifications are an efficient medium to do that. You may send a summary leading to the main content through these notifications.

GPay is a great example. Here, it used smart push notifications to educate users about staying in control of their OTP and UPI pin.

Types of push notifications

To leverage push notifications, don’t restrict them to your mobile applications. Spread them far and wide, for example, to the web and desktop.

Smart app push notifications (mobile)

Let’s start with the most common type of push notification–app push notifications. These can only be triggered when users have the app downloaded onto their phones. Once the user approves, you can use a unique identifier to start pushing notifications. You must also leverage built-in triggers that launch personalised notifications for the users.

Smart push notifications are an excellent channel to engage and retain your users since they can be used to:

  1. Send them exciting offers and deals

  2. Update them about the latest features or flash sales

  3. Nudging them to complete the order in case of an abandoned cart

Here’s an example where AJIO leveraged smart push notification the right way to engage and update the users about an exciting deal.

Web push notifications

Web push notifications work similarly to mobile push notifications. It starts with the browser asking for the user’s permission to send notifications. Post-approval, the web browser starts displaying notifications either on the top or bottom corners of the screen, depending on the operating system. The best part is that web push notifications also work on mobile browsers. In this case, however, the notifications appear within the browser window instead of the notification tab.

Smart push notifications, however, supersede web push notifications in the aspect that the former can be delivered even if the user is out of the app, unlike web push notifications that require the user to be on the web browser.

You can reduce drop-offs and convert anonymous leads by automating the customer’s journey with hyper-personalised messaging and adopting a multi-channel advertising approach (including web push notifications).

Desktop push notifications

Desktop notifications only appear on users’ desktops that have the application installed. The only objective of the desktop notifications is to drive customer engagement and increase the application usage time. These are not the easiest to build, and marketers must collaborate with developers to create these simple notifications.

Also, desktop notifications are less common (and come with low ROI) than other types of notifications.

How to implement smart push notifications?

As fascinating as the quirky push notifications with rich media may seem, with so many variables involved, implementing them right can be an uphill task with so many variables involved. How do you then implement smart push notifications right, every single time? For starters, build these notifications with platforms that leverage proven frameworks to implement push notifications systems.

Use a 4 stage approach to implementing a push notification system.

Stage 1 – push amplification

This stage includes creating a unique ID for the user using Smartech’s SDK. Apart from the regular delivery system like Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) / Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) and APNS, Smartech also builds a backup delivery system and leverages its pull-back mechanism to ensure all the users are receiving the notification. Especially the ones that didn’t receive them the first time.

Stage 2 – Xiaomi push gateway

To avoid certain OEMs, Smartech triggers the notification through Xiaomi push gateway, general push amplification, and also through FCM. Even though Smartech SDK triggers the push notification thrice, it ensures that the customer receives it only once.

Stage 3 – Boosters

Delivery boosters are unique additions that promise a 100% notification delivery rate to active users. You only have to schedule the notification. Smartech servers will then find the optimum plan to deliver it to the user. This is why delivery boosters promise full delivery despite network errors.

Stage 4 – reputation optimisation

Before sending the notification, CDP/CRM platform experts help you optimise the notification configuration and sender reputation. The system ensures real-time adaption, real-time optimisation of parameters, and notification delivery optimisation.

Best practices to get the most out of push notifications

If your push notifications are not getting you the desired results, there’s a chance you are using them the right way. Here are the best practices to keep in mind while designing your push notifications.

Keep the message on point

While drafting the copy for your push notifications, ensure that it’s relevant, personalised, contextual, and actionable. Use the data collected from the customers such as location, behaviour, product preference, and more to create notifications that the user finds relevant. Direct the notification towards a specific action, and highlight what they are missing out.

Here, Zomato shows an excellent example of a concise, quirky, and on-point message in a push notification.

Add some flavour – use emojis

Excite your users with rich media. Realise that most notifications that users receive are text-only. You can use this to gain an edge and stand out simply by using emojis in your notification to make it look more appealing and relatable.

Half the battle is won when you capture your user’s attention. You can then use your witty and curiosity-inducing copy to drive them towards taking the desired action.

A/B testing on different segments

A/B testing for push notification involves sending multiple variations of the same notification to different groups of people. Once done, analyse the click rate and open rates to determine which notification performed better. After that, you can deploy the better-performing notification to the rest of your customer base. A/B testing ensures that you are not relying on guesswork or what you think is best and are instead asking your users what they prefer and proceeding from there.

The right message at the right time

The right message at the right time to the right user ensures enhanced customer engagement rates.

Here’s an example of Swiggy nudging user to reorder:

But how do you come up with the right message? And the right time? Well, head over to the next section to understand this in detail.

How to optimise push notifications for conversions?

Sending the right message at the right time to the right user is key to optimising push notifications for maximum conversions. Here’s how you can achieve that.

Account for geography and time

Leveraging your user’s location helps you maximise the potential of push notifications. This can be done through geofencing—drawing a virtual fence over a particular location such that the push notification is triggered when the user enters that area—or simply taking into account the user’s location and using it as a trigger to send push notifications. Food delivery apps, for example, can send a list of all the top restaurants that deliver to your current location.

Similarly, time is also a crucial aspect of deploying push notifications the right way. Considering the above example, if you send the notification about top restaurants nearby at midnight, instead of when the users’ engagement is at the peak, your users are least likely to take action.

Check your frequency

The frequency at which you are sending your push notifications also matters regarding conversion rates. If you are constantly pinging your customer’s phones, they are sure to get annoyed and probably turn off the notifications or uninstall the app.

You need to send fewer (but high-quality) notifications. This does not mean reducing your push notifications to only once a week, as this will be equally detrimental to the engagement metrics of your app. A healthy balance is daily or 2-3 times a week, depending on the type of products.

Check historical click rates

It is essential to track the click-through rates of your push notification campaigns. Proper analysis of the click rates will paint a clearer picture of the type of notifications performing better than the rest. You can then work on the loopholes while increasing the frequency of your successful campaigns. The overall click rate of push notifications across all mobile devices was around 7.8%. And the average open rate for web browser push notifications was between 5-15%.

Check historical conversion rates

Along with historical click rates, it is also crucial to track the historical conversion rates of your push notification campaigns. Why? Because while it’s essential to figure out what makes your users click on the notifications, it is even more critical to analyse the kind of notifications that ultimately convert them. Historical conversion rates can act as a solid reference when you’re formulating your next push notifications strategy, so you can rely on what’s already proven to work.

Use an AI engine

Getting all these strategies right every single time can be quite overwhelming. Truth be told, with manual efforts, it is. But now with AI engines, you can achieve all this and more minus the overwhelm.

AI automatically analyses the data collected by the campaigns and provides intelligent insights about them. Based on those insights, It can create predictive segments, which are later used to automate and optimise the entire campaign.


Push notifications open a direct path of communication to the customers. But there’s a correct and incorrect way to do it. Similarly, there is also an easy and hard way to do it. With AI-powered solutions, you choose the most appropriate and easiest way to leverage push notifications to get the maximum ROI eventually. Learn more about smart push notifications here.

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