UX Writing — 5 Tips For Writing Push Notifications That Drive Action

Push notifications are playing a great game reshaping the world of digital marketing. Recent statistics show that push notifications can increase app engagement up to 88% while 65% of the users return to an app within the first 30 days after the push is enabled. Also, sending push notifications increases the app retention rate 3–10 times. However, we have to admit, they have the tendency to get as annoying as the kid in school who always comes around your desk at the worst moments, blabbing away.

The goal of push notifications is to interact with users when they’re not in your app. Your notifications appear right in their eye-line as they pick up their device, making them powerful tools for driving users back into your app. Push notifications should ideally prompt users to take specific actions but when done poorly, they only prompt the user to take one action, deleting the app.

The benefits of properly written and designed push notifications are endless. They are brief, so they grab attention. They appear directly in front of your customers when they are not engaging with your product. They are a great way to announce urgent information such as breaking news, app updates or flash sales and they can be utilized across mobile, web and wearable devices.

I wake up every morning to a notification from my bible app which prompts me to read the Bible and say some prayers. I get a notification from my fitness app telling me to exercise, so I do. I get a notification from my gratitude app, it’s normally an affirmation so I repeat it a few times on my desk. I get a notification to break my fast, I get a notification to drink water, I get a notification to try out a new feature on my bank app, I get a notification when I have a message on Instagram…the gist is, just like your other customers, I get a lot of notifications and these notifications influence the activities I do throughout the day.

Here are 5 rules for writing push notifications that actually drive action.

Personalize Everything

Did you know that personalized marketing emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates? Personalization works for a lot of marketing channels yet marketers struggle with creating personalized content in real time. You guessed right! The reason marketers struggle with creating personalized content is a lot of us don’t leverage data.

By leveraging user data to determine people’s likes and interests, you can deliver push notifications that resonate with each individual. It would answer important questions about why THIS user would be interested in this message, what action would this message prompt, at what time and where would THIS user be.

Audience segmentation takes a lot of time, engaging users in ways to get this data is also quite tedious. However, by grouping users based on who they are and what they do (or don’t do) in your app, you can personalize your push notifications and drive action.

Tick off personalizing not just the copy but delivery time, product use, content type, message frequency and if possible user location.

Be Human, not spammy

Push notifications are considered a very personal marketing channel so it’s a good opportunity to humanize your brand. Use the first-person point-of-view to make push notifications feel like a one-on-one message. Yes, push notifications are marketing channels, however, the goal is for users to take action and not for them to overtly feel as if they’re being marketed to. Sounding more like a human being and less like a spambot is one of the ways to achieve this.

Instead of “This are the best investment opportunities available this week, [FIRSTNAME]” Listen to the latest releases from your favourite artists, [FIRSTNAME]”, try “We’ve curated the highest yielding investments just for you, [FIRSTNAME]”

Using “we” positions your app as a friend rather than a faceless company — which can make it easier for users to connect with — and feel an affinity for — your brand.

Sprinkle in some rich media

A standard push notification consists of just text, however, a rich notification, on the other hand, is one that utilizes rich media such as images, GIFs, videos, audio, deep links and interactive buttons. Plain text has a way of fading into the background even with a great copy but with advancements in iOS and Android’s OS, you can now include a rich media attachment to your push notifications

They are a great way to give your notifications some flavour to offset the written content. Use emoticons to add some colour. Add a touch of humour with a tongue-in-cheek GIF. Direct your user to a specific page in your app with a deep link.

Using rich media allows a lot more room for creativity. Something you might notice a reduction in click rate when you use rich media, my advice is to relax. Rich media generates fewer clicks because users consume content right on the spot without having to open the app. The action to be tracked should be included in the rich media.

Highlight a clear call to value:

If you were creating any other marketing campaign, you would prioritize a clear call-to-action, with a push notification, you need to prioritize telling customers what they’ll get, the call to value.

Here’s a typical push notification with the CTA in bold:

“ETH available for the lowest price today! Buy now

Here’s the same CTA written as a call to value:

“​Save money as you buy more ETH for less! Lowest price all week”

In this example, instead of prompting users to buy “ETH”, I’ve focused on prompting them to something that is valuable to them, saving money. It seems like there is not a lot of difference but a call-to-value is very useful in showing users how useful your app is especially when compared to apps with similar functions.

This however does not mean that call-to-actions have no place in push notifications, they are useful at the end of a campaign or once a user is really comfortable with your app.

Keep it short

Unlike other marketing channels, push notifications don’t give you a lot of space seeing as they go up on lock screens, so keep your copy concise and direct.

Push notifications are the perfect way to counter our shorter attention spans. So don’t abuse this format by trying to cram too much in. Remember, the best performing push messages are under 25 characters. It’s however important that you don’t focus on just being brief but also being clear. Sometimes the simplest messages get the job done so if you are struggling with figuring out the right copy for your push notifications, just say it.

Including some specific words can also nudge users to carry out specific actions

● “New” (because everyone loves newness)

● “Save” (does this really need an explanation?)

● “Limited” (ohhhh FOMO)

● “Exclusive” (because we all want to feel special)

In conclusion, Push Notifications play a powerful role in providing a much more valuable experience for your users. Carry out A/B Testing with different copies. Once you send it out, monitor the results with analytics tools and adjust your push parameters to improve on the new data.

Onyinye is a Nigerian-based content marketer at GTBank, Nigeria. When she’s not writing about financial products and services, she uses digital marketing to support the growth of local, independently-owned businesses. She also writes fictional stories centred around feminism, family and mental health within Africa. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram or via mail

I am a Marketing professional passionate about building brands, telling stories and female rights. I also run some small businesses.