6 Common Push Messaging Mistakes Your Brand Should Avoid

Push messaging can be a powerful tool for brands, helping them to re-engage latent app users and pull them back into the app. If used correctly, it can also be beneficial for users too, bringing them discounts, making them more aware of useful and entertaining app features and delivering content that they are most interested in.

But push messaging can also go terribly wrong when used without data or a strategy in mind. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when using push messaging for your app.


1. Sending the Same Message to All Users Without Context

According to Nielsen, the average consumer now has 41 apps on his or her phone. That's up from 32 apps last year. Plus, remember that according to Localytics data, about 22% of apps that are downloaded are only used once.

Therefore, brands have a lot of work to do to cut above the noise and stand out. An untargeted push message with a news alert about a sports event sent to people who haven't shown any interest in sport is not going to cut it.

Instead, track events in your app, such as "articles viewed" with an attribute for news articles. Segment people by those screen views, and send that push message to those folks. Only show people sports updates who have showed interest in sports in the past. Or, better yet, have people opt in to push notifications in the registration process, and offer granular opt in for push notifications just the way you would for an email list. Have them subscribe to push notifications for specific news alerts for certain sections.


2. Pushing Your Product - Not the Value it Offers

"We miss you!” isn’t a compelling offer to give to a latent user.

Focus instead on the value your app offers and those signature features, and use retroactive engagement analysis to gather past data about user preferences to send targeted campaign. For example, eComm apps can tell users who have shown interest in a certain designer (through product page screen views) that that designer’s new collection is now on sale in the app.


3. Disregarding Time Zones When Setting Up Campaigns

Hearing the “buzz” at 3am from an unwelcome push message is not an experience that any app user wants.

Use timing options in the message builder to choose when you want messages to get sent. Send the right message, to the right user, at the right time. Target messages to certain locations and demographics. You can even make your ad copy hyper contextual this way. For example, retail apps can send a catchy “Halfway through the week! Get your datenight outfit with us today and get free overnight shipping now!” on Wednesday night.


4. Sending Too Many Messages

If you're a social app, your users don't need an alert every time a "friend" takes a social action in a social app. Alternatively, for an eCommerce app, if a user has shown prior interest in in-app purchases, I may not mind an extra reminder about a flash sale.

It’s all about context. An individual reminder about every Facebook friend’s engagement or birthday would be overkill. But an extra "last chance" reminder about a truly compelling deal, sent to users who have a pattern of taking advantage of these kinds of things, is probably fine.


5. Only Measuring App Opens

If you are only measuring your push messaging campaigns in terms of app opens, you don't have a view into the conversions and lifetime value generated from your campaigns. You're only seeing part of the picture. In your analytics, set a value for the in-app action that you'd consider most important. This action, when repeated by users most consisted over time, drives your app business. That could be an increase in time spent in the app, ad clicks, or in-app purchases. Whatever that is, your push campaigns should be evaluated not only by their ability to bring users to the app but by whether or not those users converted.


6. Not Complementing Push Messaging with In-App Messaging

Finally, a holistic and data-driven approach to user engagement means to use push messaging and in-app messaging together for maximum impact. Push messages are perfect for engaging latent users and pulling them back into the app, while in-app messaging is especially great at nudging users along conversion funnels while they are in the app. Certain messages have more meaning when your brand is top-of-mind during an app session, so in-app messaging would be a better fit. Alternatively, time sensitive messages cannot wait - so push messages are better. To get the most value from your app marketing, you should use a blend of both.

Of course, mobile is still (somewhat) new, and so are push messages. The industry at large is still developing best practices and improving these marketing strategies each day. Most of all, the biggest improvement is coming from our use of data to target these messages, helping us to become more sophisticated and offer more personalized and useful messages to consumers.

What other mistakes do you see companies making with push messages? Let us know in the comments.