What Media Brands Can Learn From Nascar and CNN’s Push Notifications

Personalizing alerts leads to increased engagement

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With display ad revenues on the decline, almost every media company is looking for new engagement-based monetization opportunities. From sponsored content to events and educational products, they’re carving out new value propositions for their readers. Over time, with continued testing, these revenue streams will start to become more mature. And wherever your company falls on the engagement-based monetization spectrum, whether you have successful, up-and-running programs in place or you’re still in experimentation mode, it’s important to strengthen your reader loyalty programs now. One powerful tool is a messaging channel that you’re likely already using—your news push notifications.

As the competition for eyeballs increases in the media universe, the risk of losing your audience to fleeting attention spans is at an all-time high (and likely to become a greater challenge over time, as more independent content creators make their way to the market). But traditionally, the goal of increasing engagement has been tough to achieve due to readers feeling inundated with too many company communications.

With loyalty being a media marketing must, how can you strike the right balance between being too aggressive in your outreach and delivering the right messaging to your audiences? Here are some simple, effective strategies.

Tailor push notifications to user goals

Example: NASCAR

Push notifications can be an effective marketing strategy, but they aren’t a cure-all for low engagement rates. Even if users opt-in and your content makes its way to your audience’s screens, you can’t guarantee that it will get read. Remember: on the other side of your smartphone app(s) are human beings. You need to earn their trust and respond to their behaviors and needs—only then are you likely to see higher response rates to your push notifications.

If you’re too aggressive in your messaging, you’re likely to face consequences. As one report from the Digital Marketing Association (DMA) points out, 78% of customers will opt out of push notifications or uninstall an app if they don’t like the messages they get.

That’s why NASCAR has tailored its push notification strategy to its app users’ goals—to keep track of events and races in real-time. Rather than sending generic messages and content to their entire audience, the company ensures that messages are in-line with what audiences want to learn about by allowing users to tailor their preferences to the updates they want. From these four opt-in options,NASCAR also analyzes its push data to create new segments for smaller groups of users who crave certain types of content.

NASCAR push preference center

The idea is to give users marketing communications that help them learn and stay on top of a sporting event that would take work to follow otherwise. Bonus points: this messaging strategy builds a direct funnel inNASCAR’s subscription products.

Nascar Push Subscriptions

Encourage users to personalize their experience

Example: CNN Money

One way to encourage higher engagement on push notifications is to make sure that your messages are tailored to your users. But segmentation for media companies can be tough, especially when audience bases are large, expansive, and one person can have diverse interests. How do you make sure that your messaging is on point? The simple answer: enable your users to self-direct their own app experiences. Rather than taking guesses about what your audiences want or relying solely on user behavior data, ask them to share their input when customizing their push notification settings.

One example to follow is CNN Money’s app, which allows the creation of personalized stock/watchlist alerts. Rather than risking targeting audiences with off-base messaging, the company focuses on delivering content and marketing messages that help target specific and focused long-term goals.

Preference center

So how do you incorporate this process within your own app?

  • At the point of enabling push notifications, ask your readers what categories they’re most interested in reading about.
  • Every so often, ask your users if they’d like to see messages from different content categories.
  • And then follow through—ensure streamlined categorization of your content so that you deliver a consistent user experience that is in line with what your audiences expect.

The idea is to give app users control over the content that they’re seeing. They’ll be more likely to stay engaged, creating a funnel into longer-term revenue opportunities along the way.

Final thoughts

The bottom line? Give your users the reigns, and approach your push notification strategy as a two-way dialogue. Listen and learn from your app users. Use your messaging strategy to respond to their needs in a personalized way and you’ll increase engagement, over the long-term, as a result.

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