Push Notifications: A Great Tool to Keep Your Customers Engaged


May 14, 2015 at 7:02 pm

Page-1-Image-1We are living in the Dawn of Smartphone age. We use Smartphone while we sleep, eat, Drink …and the list goes on. How would you grab the attention of your customers when they have multiple applications installed on their personal devices? Here a question arises, that is, how many applications do we use frequently? May be a favorite game, a News App, a map or a navigator, social media apps and a few more.

Now if we think about it as a marketer for an app. How can we engage our customers to keep visiting our app or in simple terms how to increase traffic on our app or on our website?

If on locked screen of device, if we could send a small and concise message that may delight users, then it is highly probable that they’ll visit the app or redirected to the website. Or in other way, the icon of the app shows number of new updates or messages that could possibly delight the end user.

This is possible with the help of introducing push notification services to the mobile application.

So, what is push notification?

According to Apple*, a push notification is defined as “Send over-the-air alerts, such as news updates or social networking status changes.”
According to Google*, “It allows third-party application servers to send lightweight messages to their Android applications. The messaging service is not designed for sending a lot of user content via the messages. Rather, it should be used to tell the application that there is new data on the server, so that the application can fetch it. “
In simple terms: Push notifications are short and light weight messages from apps installed on a device displayed on the home or lock screen of the user’s phone, waking up the handset. They are generally accepted as a great way to bring app users back to your app.
These notifications are “pushed” by Native Push Channels to the users’ device.

Where can it be used?
Gaming-

Notify users of changes in league tables to encourage them to return to the app. Appeal to their competitive nature.
“Hi {First Name}, your top score has been beaten, log on now to compete.”

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Retail-
Drive users back to your retail app with attention grabbing offers and promotions, with a short snappy call to action to encourage “there and then” engagement.
“20% off today only, purchase before 12pm and you’ll get free next day delivery”

Entertainment-
Update your users on what’s happening now; what do they really want to know that will make their lives easier?
“Your Radio2 podcast is now ready to download”
Publishing-
Don’t forget that everyone forgets, if your user is paying for a service from you, they’ll appreciate your help in remembering it!
“The new issue of Vogue is ready to read, get it now for your free scarf”

Business/ Internal-
Major business giants or large enterprises having their own apps, Push Notifications can be really helpful to create awareness about the urgent and important updates for staff for disaster recovery or event issues.

Benefits of push notifications in an App-

There are n numbers of reasons to use push notification in your app and they have numerous benefits in terms of engaging with customers and driving traffic, however it is essential to use them in a way that keeps customers connected, rather than annoyed.

The five major benefits of push notifications, how best to use them and what they can do for your app.
Push notifications informs users on new/updated information related to an app, providing valuable and relevant updates to customers, even when the app is closed.
For Example a message or a post on Facebook app, a news article updated on news app, or a new feature in a game.

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Engage Users

A customer downloads n number of apps onto his mobile out of which 90% of the apps are inactive. They are often forgotten, lost in the sea of apps on users mobile. Push notifications allows developers to provide up-to-date relevant information to users, encouraging engagement, sparking recognition and increasing involvement.

User Control

User can change or customize the settings of the user mobile to view in terms of notification, greatly decreasing the chance of your updates annoying the users.
NDTV refers to the news app as an example of an app that is doing well in terms of letting users personalize/customize their notifications, “users can choose which news (All, Breaking News, Sports, Entertainment, etc.) they want to receive alerts in notification column as well as indicate a quiet time when they do not want to receive any notifications.”

Customer Behavior Insight
1) Push Notification provide valuable information on user behavior through the tracking of messages and the interaction times, devices, platforms and situations which generate the most engagement, revealing the time and location, reason and how users use your app.
2) Push notifications provides sophisticated analytics with data on delivery receipt, open rate time and engagement.

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Ease of Use
Push notifications are a lot less messy then emails, they are quick to deal with and manage. They are simple, uncomplicated messages that provide only the essential information, making them user friendly and effective. On the developer side they are simpler to produce and cheaper than SMS. They provide valuable customer information, which is highly directed and specific, making it easy to translate into effective marketing strategies.

Complementary Communication Channel
Push Notification is used as powerful method of alerting customers of last minute deals, coupons and special deals. These additional messages form a complementary marketing channel where developers to communicate extra, value-adding information. The information to be displayed can be customized, especially for push notifications, ensuring their relevance and improving their importance to users.

Business view:
Today mobile apps are used as a channel to get more business, the benefits of mobile apps is clear. They increase the visibility and reach of a business and often become a very profitable retargeting sales channel.
Mobile apps, unlike mobile websites, possess qualities that other communication channels simply don’t measure up to because of how they interact with functionality built into a device hardware. The biggest benefit of mobile apps is the ability to deliver notifications that are instantly seen and – unlike other marketing messages – seen on the best digital real estate possible – the user interface of a consumer’s mobile phone. This is why most mobile push notifications are opened and read by 97% of app subscribers.”
As app use grows so does the need for developers to take advantage of the opportunity that push notifications offer. They are less interruptive than other forms of customer engagement and can be used to effectively bring in more traffic and add value for the user by pushing out useful information. However, it is essential this information is relevant and interesting, if not push notifications can become intrusive and annoying, leading to negative perceptions about your app.

How you can use push notifications to engage and retain customers?
Target your audience
Actively target your audience through in-app behaviors and data the user has already provided you with.

These include:
User preferences
Provide users the decision to opt in or out of notifications, and those who opt-in can be directed to define their preferences further. For example, users might want to receive Only the “Breaking News” of a news app.
Letting the user to choose their options to view the notification types they want to receive will make them more likely to opt-in. As long as the users are receiving relevant messages that add value, they will be willing to be interrupted.
It’s the irrelevant, non-targeted push notifications that are forcing users to opt out and uninstall apps.

Geo detection

Geo detection allows marketers to find out where users spend the majority of their time. You can even find out location details for specified periods of time.
Retailers can use geo detection to find out when a customer last visited their store or when a customer is nearby, and then you can push out a relevant notification: “Come inside for a free Cup of Coffee while you shop!” or “Get 30% off when you’re next in store”.


Audience segmentation

By using in-app analytics, you can also integrate your app with CRM systems to gain data of your users. This means audiences can be narrowed down into different user groups based on historical habits.
If a certain group of users frequently purchase Shoes by a specific Brand, you can send out a targeted push offering a discount on the Brand.

Decide on your content

As well as targeting the right customers, you also need to deliver relevant information to the user. Many are unaware that with text notifications, you can also send out rich media content to engage your users.

Methodology used in Push Notification-

Push Notification uses different methodology on each platform:

How it works on Windows platform

There are four primary actors (Please Refer the image below), two of which are wholly responsible and two are provided by Microsoft as part of the platform:
• Windows Store App: is an awesome Windows 8 application
• Cloud Service: is responsible for two things
• Keeping track of the devices/users that are running your app
• The content that will be generated is pushed to a subset (typically) of those users via a tile or toast notification.
• Windows Notification Service (WNS): is a Microsoft-provided cloud service that is responsible for sending out the notification to the targeted clients
• Notification Client Platform (NCP): is a subset of the Windows 8 OS that interacts with WNS and passes the relevant notifications to the app running on the given device.
Notification channel is another primary element of this workflow, it is a unique URI that identifies a single user on a single device for a single application (or secondary tile).
Cloud Service is an involved and complex method, but in terms of the workflow is a black box. As long as it manages the OAuth exchange and provides a tile or toast template to WNS, all is well.

Workflow of push notification in simple terms (iPhone)
Each device receives “Push notification” from APNs through secured IP connections. If the App is not running on device and a notification arrives, the device alerts the user.
The workflow of push notification is as follows-
• The App developer or providers create notifications in their server/s.
• The providers then connect with APNs via secure channel.
• The APNs receives the notification and pushes it to the target device.

The types of notification:
Apple supports the following types of notifications:
Alerts (type: string or dictionary, with buttons “Close” and “View” the short message or notification)
Badges (type: number on the top of the icon of the App)
Sounds (type: string)
How it sends specific notifications to only targeted clients-
Push notifications can be sent to specific target users. For instance, if users have an App of news agency installed on their device and some of them opt for business, some opt for share market, entertainment, sports and so on, the app, APNs and providers make it sure that users get want they want.
Push notification has this quality due to registration with the help of TokenIDs. Here is how it works:
• The application installed on device requests iOS to enable push notifications.
• iOS then forward this request to APNs.
• APNs generate a specific TokenID for iOS on that device that returns it to the App installed.
• The application provides this TokenID to the notification provider also so that it identifies particular devices and can send notifications accordingly.

 

According to Apple “TokenIDs are analogous to phone numbers “, so we can infer that it identifies each device uniquely and can send highly specific notifications too.

• Now the notification provider has the specific TokenIDs for devices.
• Providers decide the particular notifications for particular devices.
• It then generates the notification and sends this payload along with the TokenID to APNs.
• APNs forwards this notification to the iOS devices with same TokenIDs.
• Now iOS pushes the notification content to application.
Essentials for Applications to have this feature –
To register your application for push notifications, you must perform the following steps:
• Create code that subscribes to push notifications in your application.
• Enable push notifications in the application XML file.
• Create a provisioning profile and certificate that enable iOS Push Services.

 

What will APNs do if notification is to be delivered and device is offline-
APNs (Apple Push Notification service) have a store-and-forward function for such situation. APNs stores a notification for limited period and forward it device becomes available.
If there are many notifications on a queue, APNs keeps the most recent one and discards all the previous notifications.
If device remains offline for a longer time, all the notifications stored by APNs will be discarded.

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