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Push Notifications: A How-to And Why-to Guide

To app, or not to app, that is one of the questions businesses need to answer for themselves today. Fortunately, developing apps for multiple platforms is getting easier and consequently more businesses are taking the plunge. I want to look at one specific marketing and branding tool that becomes available to you, should you decide to develop an app: push notifications.

There was a time when businesses wanted to feel like they had their customers or clients “in their pocket.” It denoted the power of the company’s brand relationship. Today, that phrase can be reversed; savvy brands want to be in their customers’ pockets and that points to opening up the mobile device communication pipeline.

SMS text message marketing has its merits, but the push notifications associated with apps gives you even more power and flexibility. As a quick review, push notifications are short messages that are sent to the main screen of a mobile device. Users need to approve the receipt of push notifications for any app that sends them—and while that may seem like a stumbling block, it is, in fact, their first selling point.

Push Notifications: A How-to And Why-to Guide

High Acceptance Rate

According to a Responsys survey, when mobile device users download a brand app, they enable push notifications at a rate of 70 percent. Even better, 76 percent of the coveted 18-34 year olds opt in.

The news gets even sweeter. The single most important reason consumers fire up push notifications when they download brand apps is so they can receive special offers and news about sales. In other words, your best customers are greasing the skids to increased sales, if you handle your push notifications properly.

Another reason push notifications are enabled is because consumers want updates, such as shipping information. Again, this gives you a powerful channel through which you can build brand loyalty.

Clicking on tracking numbers is so 2012.

Be ‘Pushy’ Yet Smart

There are some guidelines and some best practices that you should observe when you make push notifications part of your digital marketing plans.

  1. Don’t overdo it. The main reason people do not enable push notifications is fear of overuse. This is what has ruined digital marketing tools from banner ads to emails. The way to stand out from the crowd is to be the one tall guy in a crowd of a thousand. Pick your spots. Of course, if you’re sending order tracking information, send whenever you have pertinent information, which brings us to our next point.
  2. Make your notifications relevant and valuable. There’s an oriental carpet seller I know who has been running a “going out of business sale” for the last seven years. In the phrase “special offer” the important word is “special.” Train your customers to know that when they receive a push notification from you, it deserves their consideration.
  3. Use your analytics. Tailor your offers and your content to segments of your customer base. Don’t think that “one size fits all.” This is as simple as recognizing time zones so you don’t bother people at inopportune times to as sophisticated as predicting buying behavior. Do you know who has abandoned shopping carts? If so, a coupon code might be in order. Also, allow your users to set preferences.

I like brand apps and push notifications because they give both the consumer and the business control. Apps can be installed and removed at any time as can enabling or disabling push notifications. The relationship requires genuine interest on the part of the consumer and genuine value and respect on the part of the business.

That’s the way it should be.

Images: ”Woman using her Mobile Phone in the street, night light


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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. As a small business expert, Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources, as well as providing small business advice. She has significant experience with the topic of small business marketing, and has spent several years exploring topics like copywriting, content marketing and social media. When she’s not publishing a weekly newsletter to educate small businesses on the vast importance of building up their web presence, she likes to keep her finger on the pulse of the latest small business products, services, apps and other reviews. She also keeps tabs on the foremost events for small business owners to attend. Megan spends much of her time building partnerships and establishing new relationships on behalf of With a strong suit for managing business partnerships and developing partner relations, she often cultivates topics around the partnerships she’s established by reviewing and highlighting what makes each business unique. She prides herself on keeping up with the diverse variety of services each business specializes in to spotlight new offerings. With her extensive repertoire, Megan regularly contributes to a growing number of publications, like,, Vistaprint, Yext, Infusionsoft, among many others. She can be reached at

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  • Thanks for sharing this info Megan. Your points are very true – don’t overdo it and make them relevant. I have received push notifications that I’ve cancelled as they have been too often plus others I like because they are relevant to what I do. And using the analytics will help find the right balance. Thanks again for a great post

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