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Top App Push Notification Hacks for the Holidays

6 min

Human beings are drawn this way and that by puppet strings of impulse,” said Marcus Aurelius.

If anything, a carefully crafted push notification could act as a perfect puppet string that absolutely, positively turns even a reluctant shopper into an impulsive one, especially during the crazy holiday rush.

But then, for those who think push notifications are not worth their 2 cents, for the concept is frowned upon by no fewer than 50% of the app users, think again. Codswallop, in my opinion, because there are best practices to be followed and top strategies dissected threadbare, thanks to the groundwork and groundswell of data gathered by the top app analytic companies of the world. These have turned push notifications into pure science these days. It’s no longer a spray and pray strategy, considering its proven track record of doubling retention rates, specifically for the retail, finance and travel apps. Which means  app marketers and ecommerce companies should confidently cherry-pick push notifications as one of the most profitable app marketing activities this season.


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push notifications

So, does your business intend to employ push notifications and propel app conversion rates this holiday season?

If yes, here are some of the best push notification strategies that could give your eCommerce store a considerable leg-up, right before the holiday season.


Send notifications two weeks in advance of the holiday schedule

According to a study by Urban Airship, the second and third Thursdays before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday before Cyber Monday are crucial days for online retailers from holidays’ point of view, because that’s the time when shoppers engage themselves in compulsive shopping – researching their wish list and at the same time making last minute purchase decisions. So shooting notifications during or right before these days could prove critical for app conversions.

You could even have your notifications centered around cart abandonment, limited time offers, special holiday offers and so on.

push notifications
photo credit Urban Airship

In 2015, nearly 61 percent of the app opens were attributed to a notification on the Sunday, right before the Cyber Monday.

Even November 1st and 3rd are crucial days in terms of online sales.  So, retailers should be firing away push notifications at least by mid October to maximize sales for the upcoming months.

Also, make sure to localize your pushes because different countries lie in different time-zones. When Europeans would be fast asleep in their beds, your USA audience would be alive and kicking at the same time.  Localization ensures that users receive them during the best part of the day.


Flood consumers with notifications to ensure frequent app openings

Unlike other seasons when push notifications are considered annoying and intrusive, it’s welcome during holidays. In 2015, push notification volume increased by nearly  63%, as opposed to the previous season, which itself saw a 34% jump, resulting in more than one-third of the retail app opens. This meant consumers were glad to receive so many notifications and responded positively by opening the apps.

The only thing that has to be borne in mind while crafting such notifications is that it should revolve around holiday jargons, such as early bird offers, Cyber Monday discounts,  and much, much more.

However, don’t forget, app engagement levels on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday would be fairly low, given that shoppers would have already done their shopping, by that time.

Copy Cadence

Use interactive language to connect better

According to Forrester Research, Inc.’s March 2016 report, “The State of Mobile Marketer Tactics: 2016,” 48% of marketers and digital business executives would be employing interactive push notifications this year.

Last year Shop Direct’s MyVery App happened to sent out an interactive notification requesting its app users to swipe left if they wanted to receive daily deals during Black Friday.  Potential shoppers who punched in ‘Yes’ were added to the Black Friday segment. The campaign worked. The results surpassed expectations, as the company witnessed record sales, 64% growth year-over-year, over the weeks leading up to Black Friday.

Likewise, if you want your push notifications to trigger app downloads, and in turn sales, ensure that your notifications are truly interactive.

Simple, to-the-point CTAs to drive immediate action  

Make your messages concise and to the point, with maximum focus on calls to action. For example, “Shop now or Pick up in-store today.”

Be assured, consumers are going to hang on to every word you would be putting out there. So, be doubly sure about exactly what you want to convey to your audience.

Here again, don’t forget to add holiday punchlines, such as Black Friday deadly deals, Cyber Monday super sales and so on.

push notifications
photo credit Urban Airship

Say hello to personalization

As mentioned, nearly 50% of users dislike (sorry, hate) push notifications. It’s mostly because they come in the form of ‘broadcast’ blasts that are generic and irrelevant in nature. No wonder, the response rate of such push notifications is just 15%, On the other hand, a targeted message achieves 54% response rate,  according to Localytics.

Meaning, you have 300% better chance to convert if you use analytics to find what users really want, based on their last purchases, and then segment your messages accordingly.

push notifications
photo credit

Go creative, try using emojis

Including emojis in push notifications is an effortless way to make your notification look colorful/playful at the same time. You could even try changing the app’s icon to add a festive flavor, just like Wal-Mart tried last year.  

Geo-target your push notifications

It’s a no-brainer. But then again, it deserves a mention because it helps you to reach out to customers on the move. Think about it! Once you know where your target customers are, you could easily steer them to a local branch of yours by sending an instant notification, saying that this particular branch of theirs is offering some huge discounts and things like that.

What’s More?

Send push notifications via message centers

Message Centers guarantee  8x better read rate for your push notifications. In 2015,  4x more retail apps used message centers to the year before, registering a volume increase of 152%, with an average 22% read rate.

Implement custom push sounds

Yes, even a small ‘beep’ could act like magic, propelling users to check out their notification, and in turn, turn on your app.

In fact, with every beep you could expect your users to check out notifications that pops up in their devices. However, implement this idea only if you plan to send a selected few pushes to the users. Otherwise, it might just annoy the users and backfire.

Set expiration dates of pushes in advance

Your push notifications are relevant only for a particular period of time. So, when the deals expire, you need to delete them because they don’t matter to the users anymore.

Imagine a user opening a push notification on Black Friday that says 20% discount on Cajun Turkey for Thanksgiving. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? You could avoid this by setting up an expiry date for your pushes in advance so they get deleted, automatically.

Leverage badge counts

The feature keeps the user posted on the number of notifications the app receives directly on the app icon that’s displayed on the screen. This will let the users know that there are unread messages, prompting them to check them out.

Let users turn off notifications

It would do a world of good to you if you allow people to turn off their notifications easily in case they are not interested in receiving them anymore.

This would ensure that at least your app stays in their device, though your notifications are shown the door.

Final Thoughts

The holiday season is the time when consumers love to engage themselves in some awesome shopping therapies, specifically a retail therapy.  So the key for businesses is to push the right notification buttons to ensure that you offer them the finest therapy possible.

Do you know of any other good tips that need a mention here? Please leave them in the comment box below.