February 2nd, 2016

6 Ways to Maximize Your Push Notification Strategy

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Push notifications play a crucial role in any successful app engagement or monetization campaign. A relevant, timely and personalized notification can help bring back lapsed users who might not have opened your app in quite some time, increase the frequency with which your active users open your app, spur casual users to make in-app purchases, and lead to many other direct actions within your app.

And yet, nothing can spoil your relationship with users nearly as fast and as irrevocably as the wrong notification sent to the wrong user without offering any context or value. Push is both the best way into your users hearts, minds and wallets and the easiest way to get your app uninstalled from their devices.

To help you maximize your push notification strategy, we’ve provided some tips on how to craft a push strategy that makes sure your users will value your notifications and maybe even take delight in receiving them.

1) Increase Push Opt-in Rates

We’ve all seen those dialog boxes that often appear during your first use of an app, asking whether you’d like to allow the app to send you push notifications or not. Most users’ immediate response to this dialog box is to press “Don’t Allow,” mainly because they just started using the app and haven’t seen any credible reason why they should give it such precious access to their home screen.

As a general rule, it’s best not to ask a user if you can send them push notifications until you really need to, or you’ll make it too easy for them to say “no.” Also, make sure users fully understand exactly what value they’ll get if they do allow you to send them notifications. Spell out how you plan to use the channel and assure users that you won’t abuse it.

2) Create very specific user segments & send relevant messages

Before you send that same push notification to your entire user base, stop for a moment and ask yourself whether it’s truly applicable to everyone. Chances are it’s not, and yet too many developers are still using this “batch-and-blast” or “one-size-fits-all” approach to push notifications.

Instead, segment your users into very distinct segments and send them each messages that relate directly to their unique characteristics and experiences. To increase monetization, send your paying customers an offer for in-app purchases and your non-spenders an offer involving a rewarded advertisement. Further still, segment your paying customers based on their spending habits and send your whales an offer for an exclusive, high-end item and your dolphins and minnows a discount on lower-end items. Or try segmenting your lapsed users and sending them a notification offering incentive to come back and re-engage with your app. Or segment your most socially-connected users and offer them a reward for inviting friends. There is practically no end to the number of different ways you can segment your user base. Doing so will allow you to send more personal, customized messages that receive higher open rates.

3) Use marketing automation to send timely, relevant notifications

With the marketing automation tools available today, there’s no reason why you should have to do all of the work of sending out a push notification manually. Tapjoy’s marketing automation platform allow you to automatically add users to pre-configured segments as they qualify and to automatically send out new notifications to users based on specific in-app events.

Below are just a few examples of the type of push notifications that can be easily automated:

A “welcome” message to new users immediately after they sign upA reward for coming back and re-opening the app to users who haven’t done so in the last seven daysGame updates based on in-app events, such as “It’s your turn” or “Your crops are ready”Location-based messages when a user enters a certain geographic zone

4) Include clear instructions and calls to action

What is it you want your users to do, exactly? Make a purchase? Complete a level? Invite a friend? Be very clear in what your goal is for each push campaign, and make sure that goal is communicated very clearly. It’s fine to put your copywriting skills to good use and include language that is fun, witty, or cute, but make sure it doesn’t prevent the user from understanding what they’re supposed to do.

Also be sure to include a specific call to action, such as “Buy now” or “Swipe to open the app.” In fact, just this week the Tapjoy Product team launched a new feature called “Push to Earn,” which allows a user to swipe a push notification and instead of being sent to the app’s home screen, it sends them to an in-app message that can then either direct them to our Direct Play Video unit or to the Offerwall. This creates a much simpler experience and more seamless flow in order to improve conversions and drive more revenue.

5) Develop a regular cadence

Sending push notifications too often can quickly lead to user burnout and sour your relationships. On the other hand, sending notifications too infrequently can make your users forget about your app and choose to ignore the few messages you send. There’s a fine line between too few and too many, and it’s up to you to develop a regular cadence so that users come to expect notifications from you and even delight in receiving them.

Unfortunately, there’s no secret recipe for what that cadence should be. It usually depends on both the type of app and the type of user. Social apps or gaming apps can often get away with sending notifications more frequently because there are often transactions within the app that users will want to know about. Retail apps, on the other hand, should be careful not to overdo it by sending too many promotional notifications.

6) Measure the right metrics

Oftentimes, the most important metric to measure when analyzing the effectiveness of a push campaigns isn’t necessarily the most obvious. Sure, app open rates are a good indicator of success, but it doesn’t always reflect the end goal of your campaign — unless the end goal happened to be to re-engage lapsed users. If your goal was to drive revenue, be sure to measure the sales conversions. If the goal was to increase virality, be sure to measure both the number of invites sent and the number of invites accepted. Then, rely on your analytics to tell you how to tweak future campaigns accordingly and optimize the performance of your overall push strategy as you go along.

Keep on Pushing

Push is a very effective way of engaging with your most important app users — much more effectively than email or other channels. Several of our app partners have experienced extremely high returns from push campaigns. For instance, Nekki boosted the ARPDAU of its hit game Shadow Fight 2 by 46% through push notifications, while Idle Gaming used a targeted push notification strategy to boost Day-7 retention 50%.

Try using some of the strategies described above to create push notification campaigns that get great results with being too “pushy.”


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