Push Notifications

Notifications. How do you leverage them without annoying your visitors?

“No”. “Block”. “Don’t Allow”. That is what I, and many like me, click on when we land on a new website and the “website xyz would like to show you notifications” pops up asking for permission. Why? Because I am not about to let some website I have no idea about start sending me notifications to kingdom come. I don’t know them, I don’t know what they are about, I don’t know if I would even want to come back here again. So why in the name of all that’s holy would I ever allow you to show me notifications? Makes sense, right?

Websites and business owners realise this as well, and yet there are so many websites around that continue showing these consent popups right at the page load. Why? Because they are playing the spread. If x% of visitors aren’t this particular about allowing a business to send them notifications, and/or click that “Allow” button by mistake, that’s x% more people these businesses have to send notifications to. At least that’s the logic they employ. It is a flawed logic, because unless you are able to prove value to your audience, no amount of notifications is going to make you a formidable business. You may end up enabling a few extra transactions for sure, but as far as repeat customers, NPS etc goes, you may very well have shot yourself in the foot.

The Rule of Thumb

As long as you look at the primary function of notifications as promotional, you would always be looking at ways in which you can use them to market your product and services as much as possible. This ultimately means constant interruptions, and a declining user experience.

Our recommendation always is to look at the role of notifications as a two pronged system. One, it is to help you understand your audience better, so it is a measurement and analysis tool. And two, and this is critical, it is to serve as one of the primary tools to keep your audience engaged with your product.

When you approach notifications this way, instead of becoming the master of mischief and interruption, they become a powerful tool in delivering a great user experience. So, what all do we need to do?

The Key: Contextual Relevance and Timing

Do away with the ‘one size fits all approach’. Get smarter about your notification strategy. Treat your notifications the same way you treat your product. When you do that, you would realise how it needs a well thought out strategy as much as your product does.

“We would like to send you notifications.”

What is the key piece missing from such messages? It doesn’t answer the question - Why!

So, to effectively engage your audience, your notifications should share only the most relevant product information (depending on where the user is at at any given time, hence the contextual bit). And understandably, this relevant information needs to be disseminated at the right time. Both of them are equally important.

Let us look at a simple enough example. We are a web analytics product, delivering actionable growth focused insights to our customers. Our insights are based on the web traffic data our customers generate. So the first step, naturally, is making sure they add websites to their account. This is an opportunity for us to help the customers, instead of leaving them in the wind trying to figure stuff out on their own. A simple popup such as this can go a long way into making the customer experience meaningful.

Adding a new website on Benne

Now, some might feel this is not necessarily a part of notifications since this would be coming under user onboarding. In this particular example, they would be partially right. Partially because user onboarding actions like this do not need to be separate from the overall notification module. They can work hand in hand.

What you need to understand is that for more and more customers to actually want to receive your notifications, you need to show them value first. You need to earn that “Yes”/“Allow”.

Take another scenario. What if, instead of showing this notification (which by design, is for a new customer), we were showing one to customers who have been using the product, but not all features. Say, they aren’t setting up goals for their websites. Now, the notifications would highlight the importance of goals, and guide them to a resource that helps them in setting up goals. Now it is getting closer to engagement, isn’t it? Highlighting the importance of goals could be a blog post, or a series of blog posts, and as the customer keeps on engaging with that content, we can show the notification asking for consent.

Even here, instead of showing a generic message, we would be action-oriented in our approach. We would be communicating the fact that we publish growth-focused articles every day, and would like to share them across to help the customer grow his business faster, better.

The chances of getting that “Allow” just increased exponentially as compared to the scenario when we would have asked for it as soon as they hit our website.

So. What Did We Just Do Here?

We showed the user helpful tips on how they should be navigating through the product.

We showed these tips based on the current point the user was at.

We sought permission after having delivered value for his current requirement.

We did so while emphasizing the intent. To continue delivering relevant value basis his just completed action/objective.

While the first two steps had nothing to do with seeking permissions, they were critical to bring the user to a point where he would have warmed up to the idea of receiving notifications from us, after having seen the value our content can bring to him.

That’s it. Nothing too special about it. Just think about your users, figure out how you can help them out, and ask permissions after having done so. Don’t be lazy and set up generic popups that fire up anytime someone is on. Put some effort into it, your customers are worth it.

If you have any questions/feedback about what we just discussed, or want to bounce your marketing ideas off of us, as always, we are here for you. Drop by any time.

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.

Cheers

Abhishek

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