mCommerce Insights

Making Messages Matter - 5 Do's and 5 Don't's in Push Notifications


When it comes to marketing your products and your app, there are are few words that can make even the most experienced marketer shudder. When people use words like “pushy” and “annoying” to describe your hard work, frustration builds up. For app marketers in particular, a hotly debated topic is that of push notifications. From your perspective, push notifications are the holy grail of marketing communications. The access they give you to your app users is second-to-none, and with open and click-through rates vastly outperforming email, these little pop-ups really are a marketer’s dream come true. However, for consumers, these messages can be seen as an annoyance, and one that can quickly cost your brand the affinity – and business – of your users.

But worry not, because there is indeed common ground here, and meeting customers in the middle is simple. Make your messages matter, and they won’t be perceived negatively. Remember that your customers are trusting you with their precious time and homescreen space when they download your app and opt in – don’t waste the opportunity.

First off, let’s review some messaging strategies that don’t work. If you were an app user, would you want to receive these kinds of updates?

  • Products You Don’t Care About - If I’m a middle aged man who downloaded your app for your line of grilling rubs I’m in love with, I probably don’t want to receive a push message peddling your new collection of floral aprons in the middle of my work day. (Okay, maybe that’s actually totally up my alley – no judgement here.)
  • Late Notices. So you’re having a sale on my favorite products, but you only notify me half an hour before it ends. While you were trying to drive a sense of urgency, I got annoyed with your brand for making me miss out because I didn’t have time to buy.
  • Late night outreach - why? If my phone is going to wake me from my slumber, it better be something important. Your flash sale of novelty socks does not count. It's vital to pay attention to time zones, holidays and other sensitive timeslots.  
  • The tease – promoting a product then linking elsewhere. I see your message, I get excited, I swipe to open, and I’m on your homepage. What? What was the thing I was excited about again? I can’t remember, and there’s nothing on your homepage to remind me. Bye bye, purchase.
  • Too much of a good thing. Ok, so I like your messages. They’re entertaining, relevant and generally make me happy to have your app. Until you start sending them 3 times a day, and I very quickly decide that I, in fact, hate your brand.

Opting into push messages is a serious relationship milestone with your customers, so don’t take the opportunity lightly. Turning off push notifications isn’t the simplest task on a smartphone, so keep in mind that it’s much faster to delete your app completely than navigate through settings to turn messages off.

So, what makes a push message good?

As you build your strategy and before you send every message, ask yourself “what’s in it for my customer?” There are several reasons a customer really would like to hear from you.

  • Event based: These are messages based on actions a user has actually taken in the app.  
    • Why should I care? Because it actually applies to me. If I’m browsing a product category, then get a reminder the next day to come back and see new options you’ve added, I’ll be interested, because you’re communicating with me about my experience with your brand.
  • Shipping updates: A notification letting users know their order is on its way to them, with a tracking link attached.  
    • Why should I care? Obviously, I care about your products enough to buy them, so of course I’ll want to know when the goods are en route.
  • Discounts I care about: Using smart segmentation, you can identify user groups and publish messages unique to them.
    • Why should i care? As the guy with an interest in grilling rubs, I’d probably be delighted to get notified of a 2-for-1 sale on my favorites.
  • Abandoned cart reminders: These messages can be automated to send after a certain period of time when a user has added items to their cart, but not completed a purchase.
    • Why should i care? I’m interested in your products enough to add them to my cart. If I shop two separate stores and go through the same process, but one reminds me to finish my order the next day, of course I’ll go with that brand.
  • Personality: I like your brand. I downloaded your app. Maybe I think you have a good brand voice, or love the values you promote. Messages don’t always have to be sales pitches. 
    • Why should i care? No one wants to be sold to non-stop. Remind me you’re human too by peppering in humor and goodwill, and I’ll be much happier to keep hearing from you.

When it comes to push messages, there’s really just one thing to remember: the golden rule. Don’t send push messages you wouldn’t want to receive, especially just for the sake of padding your bottom line. Keep messages relevant, and you’ll see more engaged users who stick around longer, and buy more from you. 

Want to get a more in-depth look at building a powerful push strategy? Download our Push Notification Playbook, and learn the 9 strategies for push messages that work. 

Amanda Laviana

Written by Amanda Laviana

Marketing Communications Manager | Amanda is an experienced content marketer, with a background in advertising copywriting. She manages content across an array of platforms for Shopgate, including blogs, whitepapers, webinars, social media and video.


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