Did you know that only 2% of visitors convert when visiting a website for the first time? That’s the harsh, disappointing truth online stores need to know, even those that are already getting generous amounts of traffic.
The good news is that push notifications can significantly boost your conversions, especially if you send segmented messages (more on that later).
So what exactly are push notifications and how can they be used to encourage existing and potential shoppers to take positive action when visiting your online store?
What Are Push Notifications? The Basics
Web browser push notifications are short, easily digestible messages delivered through a subscriber’s browser, straight to their desktop or mobile device.
The notifications, when clicked on, will send the subscriber to another URL – your store.
Subscribers don’t need to be browsing your site to receive push notifications. You can send them whenever you like and they’ll pop up in front of subscribers connected to the internet.
Mobile push notifications differ slightly. They’re triggered by apps and are delivered straight to a mobile device.
Web push notifications, on the other hand, cover desktop devices as well as tablets and mobiles. They’re supported by Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, which make up 78% of total web browsers.
The benefit of using web push notifications for you as an e-commerce marketer means that there’s plenty of scope for customer engagement.
How Exactly Do Push Notifications Work?
They’re delivered from backend servers or apps through system push notification services (OSPNS) directly to the user interface. To receive push notifications, subscribers must sign up via an app, or through their web browser (no app needed).
They’re designed through two approaches: local and remote notifications.
- Local notifications are scheduled into the local device’s operating system, where they remain running at the backend until it’s time for the push notification to be displayed to the subscriber.
- Remote notifications are pushed remotely from a server or cloud service. You can learn more in this detailed article.
Automated Push Notification Campaigns
There are apps available that can help you get set up with web push notifications quickly and save you time by automating your marketing campaigns.
Such apps can trigger web push notifications automatically after a subscriber takes a particular action, such as if they abandon their shopping cart or once they’ve made a purchase.
One app to note is Firepush, which automates web push notifications and also provides insights as to how subscribers are interacting with communications. This means you can begin to understand their online behavior and shopping patterns, and send them highly personalized, automated push notifications in the future.
How Can Push Notifications be Used?
You can use push messages to prompt potential and existing customers into taking action through:
- A welcome message – send a personalized greeting whenever you get a new subscriber.
- Abandoned cart reminders – to tempt would-be shoppers to complete their purchase.
- Promotional offers – persuade subscribers to buy with special discounts and flash sales.
- Delivery updates – keep your customers informed at every stage of their order.
- Price drop alerts – let customers know when their favorite products have dropped in price.
- New product alerts – encourage customers to buy new products as soon as they’re available.
- Seasonal updates – shift stock quickly at certain times of the year.
- Countdown alerts – increase sales quickly by creating a sense of urgency around products.
- Review requests – automatically prompt customers to leave a review.
- Cross-sell pushes – get more value from existing customers by cross-selling other products.
- Re-engagement pushes – win back customers who haven’t shopped at your store in a while.
Web browser and mobile push notifications can be text-only or can include images and call-to-action buttons.
According to this article on Marketing Land, adding images to your push notifications can increase your open rates by up to 56%!
Advantages and disadvantages of push notifications
Let’s start with the positives;
- Instant messages – push notifications offer real-time communication, making them an excellent choice for abandoned cart reminders.
- Extensive reach – they don’t get lost in spam filters, so you can expect that they’ll be delivered to your subscribers most of the time.
- Digestible – web push notifications on Chrome, for example, have a limit of 50 characters for the title and 120 in the main body of the message. They have to be short, which makes them easy to read.
- High response and click-through rates – they have more than twice the open and click-through rate, compared to emails
- Provide useful insights – you can use them to track a customer’s online behavior and spending patterns.
- Simple – they’re so easy to use!
Now for the disadvantages…
- Can be seen as spammy – if you send them too often, subscribers can get fed up and may opt-out of them.
- Potentially intrusive – some people don’t like popups!
- Content is limited – we’ve discussed the merits of how short push notifications are, but sometimes you might need to get your message across in a more lengthy way.
Using push notifications successfully
To get the best results from push notifications, they should be highly relevant to your subscribers. In this section, learn more about why relevancy matters and which notification types work best.
One of the best strategies you can use for push notifications is personalization and segmentation. You can use customer insights to segment your subscribers according to different factors, such as personal attributes or shopping patterns.
As an example, if you’re selling shoes online, you could send notifications about ladies’ shoes to your female subscribers, or try to shift a surplus of small-sized stock to subscribers who you know have small feet!
As many as 54% of people who open a push notification convert from a segmented push.
Dynamic and segmented messaging performs the best in terms of engagement, as you can see from the above Localytics screenshot.
Dynamic messaging involves creating a push notification that really “speaks” to the subscriber, by taking into account an attribute from the subscriber’s profile and behavioral data.
Here’s a very simple scenario: let’s say that you know a user’s date of birth and you’ve also set up basic segmentation by gender. You could craft a “Happy Birthday” promotional message and include a discount on a popular product range that would appeal to either males or females.
Of course, you can set up much more complex dynamic and segmented notifications. Fitbit does a great job of this.
They use customer insights to send highly personalized and relevant push notifications according to each user’s fitness and wellbeing goals.
Examples include motivational pushes to inspire users to reach their daily step goals, and reminders to start winding down for the evening for those that want to improve their sleep patterns.
Whatever notifications you send, you must ensure that the content of your push notifications is of value to your subscribers.
By utilizing any customer data you have available, you can identify the products and types of incentives your subscribers are likely to be interested in and then craft targeted messages using this information so as to grab their attention
Push Notification Opt-in and Notification Timings
According to eMarketer, one of the biggest mistakes marketers make with push notifications is attempting to get web visitors to opt-in too early in the customer journey.
Think about it: if a web visitor hasn’t had the chance to fully interact with your website or your brand, being asked to opt-in to notifications could be seen as intrusive – how would they know if they want to opt-in or not at that stage anyway?
Once you start getting subscribers, ensure that you only send notifications to them at times that are acceptable.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an ideal fixed time that you should be sending your notifications, as it depends on individual subscribers’ browsing habits, shopping patterns and what time zone they’re in.
As a starting point, however, this study suggests that the highest CTRs occur between 12pm and 2pm.
Your best bet is to analyze when the majority of your subscribers are active and send notifications during a time window which avoids very early morning and late at night.
Depending on what tool you’re using for push notifications, you may be able to schedule notifications according to your subscribers’ time zones.
In the case of abandoned cart push notifications, however, it’s best to send them just one hour after someone abandons their cart, while your product is still fresh in their mind.
You should also follow up with another reminder around 24 hours later.
If using push notifications for general marketing, be careful not to send too many at once – the results of this 2018 study suggest that one push per week is enough to start with – that’s what 90% of subscribers are willing to receive before they consider disabling alerts.
Always evaluate your push notification campaigns after you send them. Check your response rate, your opt-out rate, and track conversions. Don’t forget to carry out A/B split testing on your notifications! These activities will help you see what’s working and what’s not.
Push notifications can bring many more sales your way
If used correctly, push notifications can boost your business growth and help you build better relationships with both existing and potential customers. As a Shopify store owner, push notifications are well worth adding to your marketing toolbox.
Author Bio: Tomas Kacevicius is the CEO of Firepush, an all-in-one omnichannel marketing app for Shopify stores. Firepush helps to boost online sales and re-engage shoppers, not just through automated web push notifications, but also by email, Messenger and SMS messages too.