7 Hacks for Writing Stellar Push Notification Copy

Don’t let boring notifications take over

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Let’s face it: push notifications have the potential to be as annoying to recipients as that colleague who always pops by your desk at exactly the wrong moment, forever interrupting your flow. Much more welcome are the colleagues who come by with an interesting and needed point of view or piece of information, endearing manner, and occasionally humor. Those are the visits you welcome, even look forward to. To make push notifications both welcome and effective, we want to channel those very same qualities. Here’s how to approach writing push notification copy for best effects and some inspiration to get you started.

To begin, what are the benefits and pitfalls of push as a marketing channel?

For starters, push notifications are brief. They grab attention. They’re a great way to appear in front of customers who aren’t engaging directly with your app or website. They work well for conveying urgency, like breaking news or a flash sale. Customers take notice of them, especially when they’re personalized. And you can utilize push across mobile, wearables, and the web.

The downsides: About half of your users are likely to have push turned off. As previously mentioned, push messages have the potential to feel invasive. And they can be somewhat limiting, depending on the message you wish to convey.

A simple checklist for fresh, effective push notification copywriting

If part of your job is sending push notifications, you’re probably writing them all the time. A creative’s mind, especially round after round, can become a tornado of words, ideas, and metaphors that can be hard to parse. So, how do we keep it fresh?

If you find yourself stuck in the mire of dry, worn-in push copy, consider checking your work against this list of creative-copy best practices.

1. Be honest

TOS push notification

The number one thing customers want from brands is honesty. Folks are cynical when it comes to the transparency of large companies. Consumers are ready and willing to drop a brand if they feel that brand has concealed something about their products or practices. An itsy-bitsy push notification is not the place to wax about internal process, but it could be a good place to show your readers you know what they want, and to declare with pride whether your service or product is meeting them where they’re at.

2. Be helpful

High value push notification

You exist in the lives of your users for one ultimate purpose: to help them accomplish something. If you’re a gaming company, you help your users relax, or maybe you help them sharpen their minds. Shopping company? You help them make their life more beautiful or efficient somehow. Whatever your brand story is, you’ve found your way to their device because you’ve promised to make an aspect of their life better, easier, more beautiful, more fun. Know what your service is about, and speak to that in your push notifications to whatever degree possible.

3. Be funny

Funny push notification

…and if funny doesn’t come naturally, be playful. Most of us can conjure some degree of funny fairly natural. It’s just a matter of tapping into it and being brave enough to put it in front of an audience. For inspiration, follow comedians on Twitter, consider tying your marketing to fun random facts, and keep an inspiration folder somewhere on your device to refer back to later.

4. Be memorable

Memorable push notification

There’s so much written about shorter attention spans and the imminent demise of the human intellect (cue the doomsday music…), but (upside!) the necessary brevity of a push notification meets shorter attention spans where they’re at. Push notifications, by design, are brief. Know what else is brief? Sound bytes. Memorable quotes. Try going deep Pinterest with your push-poetry, and see how users respond.

5. Be clear

Clear push notification

Sometimes clarity holds the keys to the kingdom. When in doubt, just come out and say what you need to say. If that cut and dry approach doesn’t make it all the way to print (or screen, as it were), you can at least use it as a starting point. Try erasing the whiteboard in your mind. Come back to something straightforward and to-the-point. Clear statement-making can be your ground zero when you’re in the creative soup. Likewise, if you’ve come to the end of a push writing attempt, and you’re feeling oh-so-clever with your copy, run it through the clarity mill. Make sure your final pass will have concrete meaning to all recipients.

6. Be empathic

Empathic push notification

Hold onto your hats, we’re going deep: all any of us really want is to be seen. Really seen. Can you make a user feel “seen” in a super brief marketing push notification? Probably not every time. But sometimes, there’s absolutely an opening to let your users know you feel their pain, struggle, or worry. Medical and wellness apps, especially, can tap into the overt needs of their customers in a heart-string-tugging way.

7. Be hip

Hip push notification

It’s possible by virtue of using the word “hip,” I’ve outed myself as anything but. That said, maybe you can do it better! Reference the big game, that crazy episode of Game of Thrones, the election (if you can find a way to be neutral and sensitive). Get in the zeitgeist. Connecting with customers means being a real person in the real world.

Always think of the user. Think of the user, always.

Pair your basic push notification best practices with these few tips for making your copy great, and seek to find harmony between requirements and your own creative impulses.

Don’t aim to be so clever that you become too impressed with yourself. Clever and cute doesn’t matter if those virtues don’t resonate with readers. Bear in mind that the most straightford guide to creative liberation with any of your mobile marketing copy, push or otherwise, is to keep the user in your line of sight.

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