(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)


Push notifications are a great way to reach your customers. A push notification is a message sent to target customers urging them to act as intended by the sender, on an app or website.

As an enterprise brand, push notifications should definitely be part of your Omni-channel marketing campaigns. As compared to other marketing channels, push notifications generate better ROI.

There are surveys to embellish these points. A research study by Localytics maintains Push notifications increase the number of times a customer opens the app. In 2020, OneSignal – a messaging solutions provider - found 82% companies reported that push notifications helped meet their business goals.

A good push notification campaign needs to be spot-on. Both in content and in its timing. When done right, customer response rate is high. On the flip side, reach them at an inappropriate time, or with the wrong message, you risk immediate uninstallation of the app.

So, what constitutes an effective push notification campaign?

This article discusses best practices to run effective push campaigns, and optimize campaign response rates.

Best practices with push notification campaigns

Your push notification campaigns have two primary goals.

  1. Your message should reach your recipient’s device.
  2. Your message should reach your recipient’s mind.

Optimize your campaigns to accomplish these two goals, and you are sorted.

The campaign goals are clear. And straightforward. How do you achieve them?

There are two guiding strategies. Both are intertwined.

  1. Optimize Deliveries to reach your customer’s device.
  2. Optimizing Responses to reach your customer’s mind.

Optimizing Deliveries

Once you’re done sending the push notifications, it would be great if your recipients receive them without any issue.

The best push notification is one that gets delivered, read, and reacted to. The weakest link here is delivery. No campaign, no strategy. Nothing even gets off the ground if delivery fails.

There are a number of reasons for the proverbial slip between cup and lip. Most are stupid, frustrating ones having to do with user technology. There are ways to deal with them using the “Bigger Fool” theory. It’s the failings in influencing intent that should make you sit up and take notice.

For example, your recipient loses internet connectivity while the message is in transit. Or could be using outdated Android or iOS versions that restrict notifications. Technology issues that can be solved with cleverer technology.

But if your recipient opts out of your push notification service, or worse, deletes the app from his device and mind, then you’re screwing up somewhere in influencing intent.

Calibrate message length

If the message text exceeds the character limit, your recipient gets a truncated message. Or the push notification fails to get delivered at all.

Message character limit ranges between 65 and 230 characters for Android and 45 to 110 characters for iOS.

Keep your message crisp and relevant. Look at every word. Keep within character limits. Xerago has copy writers who do this.

Use Push Amplification

Push notifications are served through delivery gateways. Such as Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) and Apple Push Notification service (APN).

Certain device functionalities restrict connectivity with delivery gateways. Preventing your messages from getting delivered. Particularly Chinese OEM devices such as Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi. These restrict apps from running in the background to save battery life.

Push amplification helps under such circumstances. It detects when there is a delivery failure, assigns an alternative push notification delivery gateway to ensure successful message delivery. Bypassing device - based restrictions. And enhancing your campaign delivery rates.

Leverage time settings

You want to inform your customers about an offer lasting only for 24 hours. Obviously, you don’t want them to get your message after that. So set an expiry time for your push notifications.

You can do this with Time To Live (TTL). Set this timing for your push notification campaigns. They will only be delivered till the TTL period ends. The message expires after that.

Now, let’s say your recipient’s device was not connected to the internet when the push notification was sent. If the connection is established within the TTL period, the push notification will be delivered successfully.

Use App Inbox

The only disadvantage with push notifications is this. One swipe and they’re gone. And forgotten.

Enabling App Inbox solves this problem. It’s an inbox within the app to directly receive and store push notification messages. Short of uninstalling the app, your notifications find eternal life in the App Inbox. Users open and read the messages at their own time and pace.

Also, unlike push notifications, your recipients needn’t opt-in to receive messages in their app inbox. This is a huge plus.

Pay attention to delivery errors

Here are some other reasons as to why your message deliveries fail. Be sure to avoid them in your campaigns.

  • GCM/FCM errors: These include errors of your recipient being an unregistered user, or registration is invalid. Invalid Payload, and Message Length Exceeds Limit errors. Or Sender ID mismatch and Google Authentication error.
  • Apple Push Notification Service Errors: These include processing and server errors, Invalid payload/token errors, Forbidden errors and Service-unavailable errors.
  • Other errors: Failure in personalization and time settings.

Optimizing Responses

You optimize your campaign deliveries. Your message reaches your recipient’s device. Yay! Congratulations! It now needs to fulfill its raison d'être. Reach your recipient’s mind. And induce them to take the intended action on your app or website.

These are some of the Best Practices you can use. We do.

Segment & Target

Campaigns are never one-size-fits-all.

Campaign audiences comprise sets of individuals. Each set with different demographics, psychographics, preferences and interests. And on different stages of their customer lifecycle.

At one end, a segment could be in the purchase stage. At the other end, you could have a segment of your brand advocates. Or a set of dormant profiles that haven’t used your products in a while.

So your campaign should aim to target different customer segments differently. With communication that is relevant to the segment. This will save your campaigns from failing on account of irrelevance. And generates good ROI to boot.

Segmentation optimizes your campaign response rates. It helps you:-

  • Target the right customers: For each campaign, target a specific customer segment. Helps you avoid irrelevant communications.
  • Personalize your campaigns: Reach your customers with communications tailored to each individual’s needs.
  • Test your campaigns: Conduct A/B tests, multivariate tests to a specific segment of your target audience. Add them to a control group before sending to the intended target segments.

Exclude suppression lists from your campaign

Good communication knows what to say, to whom, and not to whom. So, while targeting the right customers, you also need ways to exclude customer profiles that are likely to generate poor response rates.

Maintaining suppression lists is a good way to do this. Suppression lists consist of individuals in your ‘do not contact’ list. Such as recipient profiles that have opted out or unsubscribed from your service.

Maintaining suppression lists helps prevent campaigns from mis-targeting and reaching the wrong address. Importantly, suppression lists help adhere to privacy regulations. They prevent you from getting blacklisted or reported.

Don’t send too many

While seeking your customer’s attention is the goal of push notifications, do not be too eager by sending too many messages in a relatively short time period. You may face contact fatigue, and poor response rates.

As the frequency of the messages increases, they start to follow a path of diminishing effectiveness. And increasing customer annoyance. You risk losing them permanently if they disable notifications or even delete the app.

So, pay attention to the frequency of messages delivered. Frequency capping should be an essential part of your campaign. To set limits on the number of messages your customers receive in a specified period of time.

Choose the right timing

Timing of messages is important. A good push notification is timed to the day or week when it has the highest probability of being seen and responded to.

For instance, time of day variations include knowing who is likely to check messages before working hours. Who after, and who checks their lunch breaks. Day of week variations include weekday, weekend or special occasion.

Xerago uses analytical insights to identify the right time to target your audience segments.

Message Throughput matters

Throughput refers to the number of messages sent in a specific period of time.

Suppose your message-transfer service provider has a low throughput. And you’re targeting a huge customer base. The smaller funnel adds up to the processing time.  Causing a delay in the message delivery.

Or, let’s say you’re running a campaign on a large database. You use intricate filtering criteria such as micro-segmentation or personalization. That’s a lot of processing requests. Most platforms take time to process such a heavy load. Another reason for the delay in message delivery.

A badly timed message is guaranteed to get a poor response. It gets more serious when you’re running time-sensitive campaigns. Like a limited-period offer saying ‘ACT NOW! Offer expires within 24 hours’, which your recipient gets a day after the offer expires. And just to compound your woes, the customer was really keen on grabbing the offer.

Keep an eye on throughput rates.  Of your campaign platform (for a given set of processing requests). And of your message transfer service provider (for the number of messages that it can send per time). Time the whole thing per the lowest throughput rate. So your messages are delivered when they are still relevant.

Use real-time triggers

Real-time communication is a good way to gain attention and impress your customers. Track their preferences or behavior in real time. It allows for communications with a degree of familiarity and congeniality with the customer. Like in the real world.

For example, use real-time location triggers to track their location when your customer travels. Then send a message saying, “Hi! You’re just a mile away from our new store. Drop in to check out our winter collections while you’re in the neighborhood!”

Be creative with your messages

Good content in a push notification has the tone to connect with your audience. Rather than sound promotional. So, you got to get creative while drafting your message.

Use humor and friendliness. Everybody loves a quick joke that makes them laugh or lightens their mood. Also, be precise and to the point. Use short and crisp sentences in the message like this.

“Monday blues? This will cheer you up!”

Write the perfect message

What are the elements of a great message?

Mostly, Relevance. It’s a key factor with every message that you send. It’s a bad idea to send messages that have your recipients wondering why they are receiving them.

Provide timely and useful updates or alerts to customers. Create a sense of urgency that triggers your customers into immediate action. Use terms like ‘limited period offer’, ‘don’t miss out’, ‘today’s the last day’, while not sounding promotional.

If your customers find your push notifications useful and relevant, your campaigns are very likely to be successful.

Use Rich push notifications

Ever used rich push notifications?

If you did, did you observe that they drive more engagement than the regular ones?

Rich push notifications enable you to add images, gifs, videos, and audio elements to your push notifications, making them more engaging and interactive.

According to a study by MoEngage rich push notifications have an 18% click rate, as against a 15% click rate for regular push notifications.

To sum up

As an enterprise brand, push notifications should definitely be part of your Omni-channel marketing campaigns. Push notifications are known to have a good opening rate, click rate, and response rate as compared to email. As compared to other marketing channels, push notifications generate better ROI.

If your push notification campaigns are not generating the expected ROI, they need tweaking. Best practices to increase response rates include ways to Optimize for Delivery and Optimize for Response.

To list a few, the best practices in this article deal with

  • Device Limitations
  • Delivery-to-device failures
  • Other technological bottlenecks
  • Suppression Lists
  • Message content, timing, frequency and richness

Your campaigns can achieve a good response rate by adopting these best practices in optimizing them.