Mobile Push Notifications

11 Tips and Tricks to Make the Most of Push Notifications

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Sep 20, 2021

Companies that excel at customer engagement—by leveraging the latest best practices for push notifications and other messaging channels—are more likely to drive higher customer lifetime value and keep customer acquisition costs low. That's a winning formula for delivering long-term business growth.

When it comes to mobile marketing, what works—and, just as importantly, what doesn't—is constantly changing. That's why we've introduced a new ongoing series, our Braze Bonfire Masterclass sessions, where we'll be sharing everything you need to know about how to create and optimize successful campaigns, channel by channel. Check out these 11 top tips for push notifications that our experts shared in a recent Bonfire Push Notification Masterclass.

#1: Understand When to Send Push Notifications

Push notifications are ideal campaigns to deploy when you want to share time-sensitive calls to action with your customers. They're also great for re-engaging users who haven’t used your app or visited your website in a while. In general, you always want to reach your customers with push messages when they’re most likely to engage and take action, but making that happen can be easier said than done.

Looking for smart ways to send more timely push notifications? Consider these two tools:

  • Action-Based Delivery: User actions on your app or website function as a sort of digital body language, allowing thoughtful brands to better understand their users and serve them up relevant experiences in a timely manner. With Braze Action-Based Delivery, you can trigger push notifications when a user takes (or fails to take) a particular action, making it possible to be responsive to user behaviors and preferences while also ensuring time-sensitive communications.

  • Intelligent Timing: This feature, part of the Braze Intelligence Suite of automation tools, allows brands to deploy campaigns asynchronously, ensuring that they’re delivered during each recipients’ unique high-engagement windows, based on previous engagement with outreach. Even better? Braze research has found that push messages that use Intelligent Timing are 2.6X more effective at driving app opens than push messages that do not.

#2: Know the 3 Main Ways to Measure Push-Related Opens

When a brand sends their customers a push notification, the odds are good that they’re aiming to convince those recipients to take action by opening their mobile. These app opens are one of the main metrics that mobile marketers keep an eye on to assess the performance of their push campaigns, but there’s some nuance around opens that can help you get a more complete picture of your notification efforts and whether they’re paying off.

Within the Braze platform, we use the following three main definitions for push-related opens:

  1. Direct opens: When a user opens your app by interacting directly with a push notification.

  2. Influenced opens: The number of users who open your app after receiving a notification, without directly clicking on the notification.

  3. Total opens: The sum of users who click and open a given push notification campaign as a percentage of all users who receive the campaign. This total includes both direct and influenced opens.

Influenced opens are the wild card here—providing key additional insight, but only if you understand what they are and how they work. In essence, influenced opens are ways of measuring how many users took action and opened your app after receiving a push notification...but who never actually tapped the message in question. After all, not every recipient is going to tap every single message they receive, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t seeing a given message and being influenced.

To understand whether or not an app open was influenced by a push notification, consider a user’s average behavior. For instance, say a user opens the app two hours after seeing the push notification. If this user opens this app 20 times a day, that behavior indicates that the push notification wasn’t very influential. But if the user opens the app two hours after the push and typically only opens this app once a month, that open was likely influenced by the push maybe that push notification was more effective than you thought.

#3: Learn About the Key Differences Between iOS and Android Push Notifications

There are nuances to engaging Android and iOS users via push notifications that are important for brands to be aware of when developing campaigns for both operating systems.

For instance, iPhone users may be more affluent and more extroverted, as well as more likely to view their phones as status symbols. So, brands might want to target promotional push notifications to iPhone users in order to drive higher ROI for their messaging campaigns. And when it comes to push opt-ins, Android users are automatically opted into receiving push notifications, while iOS users must affirm that they want to opt in before they receive any messages, so brands that want to leverage push to reach iOS users will need a push primer strategy to ensure those users are reachable.

Check out our guide that breaks down all of the key iOS and Android push notification differences marketers need to know about.

#4: Keep These Browser-Level Differences in Mind for Web Push Notifications

While iOS and Android are the dominant players when it comes to mobile push notifications, the landscape is different—and broader—on the web side of things. Leading web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera each handle web push notifications in their own unique ways, making it essential for marketers looking to leverage this key channel to stay up to speed on these differences.

One key nuance? Whether or not a given browser supports web push on mobile as well as desktop browsers. While Chrome and Firefox allow marketers to send web push notifications to opted-in recipients on both desktop/laptop computers and mobile devices, other browsers—most notably Apple’s Safari browser—only allow desktop web push, potentially impacting how many users will see a given message based on their mobile device of choice.

Want to get up to speed on these and other key differences (including campaign specs for image sizes and text character limits)? Take a look at our guide that highlights the most important web push browser differences brands need to be aware of.

#5: Maximize Your Push Campaigns by Pairing Them with Other Messaging Channels

While push notifications can be a powerful way for brands to boost engagement, revenue, and retention rates, they don’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, Braze research has found that when push is paired with other channels—such as in-app messages and Content Cards—brands can drive even greater results.

So if you're ready to get the most out of your push notifications, consider triggering in-app messages within your push campaigns or creating a multi-channel campaign that includes a push notification and a Content Card.

#6: Go Beyond Opens and Clicks to Drive Further Engagement

As the name suggests, push notifications were originally designed to push users to take action, usually by driving them to open an app. However, users can also interact with some push notifications directly, such as tapping a button or entering text within the message. In other words, driving app opens doesn't have to be your only priority when it comes to sending push campaigns. With push action buttons, you can encourage key activities and conversions directly within your campaigns, without your users having to open your app.

#7: Skip Plain-Text Push Notifications and Get Creative with Custom Interfaces

Rich push notifications make it possible to create and deploy campaigns containing engaging images, animated GIFs, audio, and even video. The upgrade from plain text is well worth it for customers, who are 57% more likely to convert with messages containing even just an image.

#8: Take Advantage of A/B and Multivariate Testing

Even if your push notifications are moving the needle when it comes to your customer engagement program, it’s important not to rest on your laurels. Continually assessing the performance of your messaging and then leveraging testing to optimize that outreach is a key part of building and maintaining an effective marketing strategy today.

Thankfully, the Braze platform is designed to easily support both A/B and multivariate testing of push notifications and many other message types, providing a key window into what’s working (and what isn’t) when it comes to the notifications you send. Just add a message variant—up to eight, in fact—to your campaign within the compose tab. From there, you can target each variant to your liking using the “target users” tab.

Once your campaign is up and running and you have enough data, you can assess the results and determine a winning variant based on conversions. By carrying out this kind of analysis and testing on an ongoing basis, you can drive stronger performance while also ensuring that the messages you send are driving the kinds of outcomes you need to reach your larger marketing goals.

#9: Use Silent Push Campaigns to Reach Individuals Who Aren't Opted into Your Campaigns

In the public imagination, push notifications are known for their urgent, interruptive quality. But there’s another side to push, one that’s defined by its invisibility—namely, silent push notifications.

These notifications allow brands to quietly communicate with their mobile app when important actions occur—for instance, allowing brands to immediately ensure that the latest episode of a user’s favorite TV show is available to them on the app. And because these notifications aren’t actually seen by recipients and are more about triggering actions on the part of your app, they aren’t bound by strict opt-in rules, allowing them to be received by users who select “Do Not Allow” for push notifications from your application.

Interested in learning more about silent push notifications and how they can support your customer engagement efforts? Check out our developer guide on silent push for more information.

#10: Consider What to Do When Push Campaigns Get Sent to Customers While They’re Using Your App

At their core, push notifications are designed to give brands a way to drive users back to their app or website. So what happens when a user receives a push notification even though they’re actively engaged with your app?

Thankfully, both iOS and Android have ways of handling this scenario. Check out this iOS developer documentation and this Android documentation to learn more about your options.

#11: Use This Trick to Give Your Servers a Break

With iOS, you can use local notifications to send programmatic push notifications—without requiring any server assistance. Here's an example of how to create one:

Join Braze Bonfire to Level Up Your Customer Engagement Knowledge

The Braze Bonfire Slack channel is a virtual community connecting thousands of Braze users located all over the world. Join today and start asking questions about how to get the most out of the platform, sharing your favorite Braze hacks and tricks, and increasing your professional network by connecting with the wider community of customer engagement professionals. We'll also keep you posted about future Masterclass sessions led by our experts here at Braze as well as additional opportunities for members to further their knowledge.

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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