Since 1971, emails have been one of the quickest and most powerful tools to communicate online; with every organisation from giant international conglomerates to small independent businesses using emails to connect with customers and grow their businesses further. But over the last decade, we’ve seen the number of emails sent rise to 205 billion per day and with that, open rates and click-through rates have dropped significantly. With so many emails being sent and an increase in ever stronger spam filters to weed out any form of promotional sales messages, people just don’t have the time to engage with your marketing emails anymore. That being said, as of 2016 email still, underpins many businesses content marketing services and continues to show a reasonable return on investment.
Rising as the biggest competitor to email and what I believe will surpass it in 2017 is push notifications. Push notification began as a mobile tool allowing applications to notify you that you’ve received a message on social media, that your favourite store is having a sale, or that you’ve yet to complete a certain task within an application. However, in early 2016, push notifications moved from being solely on mobile to desktop, notifying subscribers directly within their browsers and ensuring that businesses can communicate quickly and efficiently with customers.
Let’s have a look at the three main ways that Push Notifications can be used:
Push notifications provide a seamless integration across mobile and desktop devices, meaning that you can reach customers wherever they are. So, for e-commerce and other product based businesses, you can utilise push notifications to quickly inform customers of sales, special offers or low stock for items they have previously browsed. In the past, this would have been something you would have done via email, which could have led to customers missing out due to not seeing the email until it’s too late or just not at all.
Take a look at the statistics below for reasons why push notifications are the way to go if you want to reach and engage with more of your audience.
For services, push notification can be a powerful tool to quickly raise any issues that your services may be having. My fitness tracking application on my mobile sends me a push notification whenever I forget to log my food or exercise and reminds me to do so, ensuring I’m keeping an up to date record of my training. The example from VWO below also illustrates how push notifications can be used to notify customers if anything is wrong with the set-up of certain components within a service, like the traffic being too low in the campaign being run through VWO. Here the push notification quickly addresses the issues, while the same message sent in an email may have been easily overlooked and therefore had ramifications on business performance.
News and Blogs
The final method that many businesses use push notification for, and definitely the way I use them at Hit Search, is to notify subscribers of important news and interesting content as it is released. Again, going back to the statistics shown above, push notifications can have up to 10 times the click through rate of an email, meaning that you can get more users to click through to your site’s content and increase the visibility of your main CTA offers.
Okay, so there you have three main ways to utilise push notifications, but how do you go about setting them up and using them for your business?
How to set up push notifications?
- Push notifications are a completely permission-based communication channel.
- On mobile devices, users provide permission when they accept the terms and conditions in order to download an application.
- On the desktop, however, websites need to explicitly ask for permission from users to be able to send them push notifications. To do this, there are two methods:
- The HTTP method of implementing Push Notifications involves a two-step verification process:
- Step 1: A standard pop-up window opens asking the user to allow or not allow push notifications from your website.
- Step 2: If the user selected allow in Step 1, then a new window will open within the browser asking the user to confirm that they want to allow your site to deliver push notifications to them.
- The HTTPS method of implementing is much more user-friendly and simply involves the first step of the HTTP process, asking the user to allow or not allow push notifications from you in a pop-up window.
- Once you have decided which format is compatible with your website, you simply need to add a snippet of code before the <\head> tag on your website page(s).
- From here, using your chosen push notification tool, (at Hit Search we use Push Crew) you can then craft your push notifications and schedule them for when you wish to send them.
- Here you’ll need to craft a strong notification headline, clear message copy and provide a tailored image to ensure that you get your audience to engage with your notification message.
- Once you have a large enough subscriber base, you can begin to segment your database by parameters such as location, age, gender or behavioural characteristics such as what articles a user has viewed or what products they have added to their basket.
3 Things to Consider
Now that you’ve implemented your push notifications there are three things you should consider before sending them out to ensure success:
The copy on your push notification is key to its success, unlike an email where you have plenty of room to get your message across (which isn’t always a good thing). In a push notification, you have a much more limited space to create a clear, action led message for your audience. With the typical smartphone user checking their device up to 150 times per day, you have a rather large window of space to reach out to your audience and drive subscribers to take action by delivering a well-crafted message.
Though you have 150 golden opportunities each day to reach your audience through mobile and even more through desktop, the timing of your push notifications is key to engagement. Here you want to identify the key times in the week and the day that your audience is most active online and on their mobile, so as to increase the visibility of your notifications. Segmentation can be useful here, which leads us to the final point to consider.
As with other marketing data, segmentation of your push notification subscriber lists can be a really powerful way to encourage engagement. As mentioned earlier, you can segment your subscriber lists by general demographic data like age, gender and location. You could also look to segment by preference such as if you have tiered levels of subscription on your mobile app or by using behavioural data like articles viewed, items added to the cart or via goal tracking. All of these will ensure that you provide a great personalised user experience.
So, there is a lot of great information on how you can use Push Notifications, how to set them up for your business and some important things you should consider before sending them to your subscribers.
But how does any of that justify my bold claim in the title of this blog?
Push Notifications will wipe out email in 2017.
Well first of all in 2015 we saw the number of mobile users overtake that of desktop, and we’ve continued to see that gap increase throughout 2016. With push notifications having been initially designed as a communication method for mobile devices, there has been a widely accepted uptake of them by both users and marketers, which is now being transferred to their use on the desktop.
But it is the next several examples that are the real nails in the coffin for email, as they relate to the real world benefits of push notifications for both your business and your customer’s experience:
- Your marketing lists have the potential to grow rapidly, as subscribing to push notifications is included in the mobile application download process and on the desktop it’s a simple one-click process. This compared to having to fill out of a form, open and then click a link in a verification email, shows just how easy and efficient the push notification process is for your customer’s experience.
- Unlike with email or social communications, your audience doesn’t have to open their email client, Facebook or Twitter, etc. to receive your messages via push notifications as they appear right in your audience’s browser, providing your communication with 100% visibility.
- Furthermore as mentioned earlier push notifications to receive a click through rate of 10 times that of emails due to presenting information in a short, clear message straight to your audience, without the need to open any other applications or programs to view them.
- And when it comes to time-sensitive information such as a flash sale, or limited stock notifications, you don’t have to wait for your audience to open your emails to see your promotions or breaking news, as push notifications offer real-time visibility.
When you add all of this together, along with the over saturation of emails, it’s clear to see why it may finally be the time to give up on emails for your marketing efforts and look to push notifications as your new tool to communicate directly with your customers regarding, sales, technical tips and news.