Nothing will turn off a mobile user quicker than a bad experience, and with 30% of users opening apps only once, there is a lot of room for improvement. And as more and more brands and marketers are diving into how to make sure their mobile game is on point—and keep from users jumping ship—they are looking into new solutions that can elevate the experience and keep that romance alive.

In fact, according to a Next-Gen Retail report, more than 60% of users have a better opinion of your brand if their mobile experience is on point. Aside from general app design, a big component of mobile user experience is communicating with your users through in-app messages and push notifications.

In-app messages are a great way to reach users that are actively tapping through your app, but they don't extend to inactive users. This is where push notifications come in.

Push notifications are a critical tool for reaching users who are not currently using your app. Their unwritten rules of conduct can be tricky to navigate, but when crafted carefully they have the power to bring back, and even convert, passive users.

The best push notifications are personalized and triggered by a customer's actions. If a notification is targeted and gives your customers useful information, they are much more likely to engage and have a positive experience.

For marketers considering push notifications in their mobile marketing strategy, these tips for triggering hyper-personalized notifications will help build brand loyalty, as opposed to pushing users away.

1. Make use of location with iBeacon and geofence technology

Mobile apps are becoming an integral part of daily activity—from shopping and eating to navigating and exploring. iBeacon and geofence technologies make it possible for businesses to proactively engage with users who are on the go, with uses beyond sending coupons to users near or in a store.

For example, airline apps can use geofencing and push notifications to notify users of a gate change at the airport when users enter its premises. Sports equipment stores can identify users who have entered a stadium and send them a deal on baseball gear or football gear, depending on the season. The options are vast and nearly limitless...

Friendly reminder: Don't overuse iBeacons and geofences. When customers receive too many location-based notifications, they might delete your app and avoid your brick-and-mortar location. To measure actual uninstalls, run an A/B test with and without that push notification; this technique is proving effective.

2. Learn your users' time preferences

In addition to its content, the timing of a push notification can have quite a bit of impact on its reception by the user. Rationally or not, users get annoyed with push notifications that come at inopportune times, such as during an important meeting or in the middle of the night.

Because users' mobile devices are usually nearby, haptics associated with push notifications can be an irritating distraction. Unfortunately, your brand will be blamed for the disruption, even when human error causes your user to leave his or her phone on full volume during an important meeting.

To avoid mishaps, figure out what timing works for which users. If you send a push notification to all users at 8 AM PST, that's fairly reasonable for people in California but pretty early for users in Hawaii. Sending push notifications by time zone is usually a safer bet than sending them all at once. That way, no matter where users are in the world, they would receive the notification at 8 AM their time.

The ideal time for the majority of your users can be figured out using some trial and error, combined with A/B testing.

With sophisticated tools, you can even set your push notifications to be sent at the "optimal time" for each user—based on each user's individual history. The tools predict the likeliest time your user will interact with your app next, and they will send the notification close to that time. (Recent experiments at Leanplum with our clients have found that such optimal-time push notifications delivered 15% higher average revenue per user!)

3. Embrace segmented analytics

Look at various segments of users to see how and when they are using your mobile app. Make sure your push notifications reflect those varying habits.

For instance, March in Los Angeles is beach weather, and promotions for swimsuits are likely to be welcomed with open arms. If you try sending swimsuit promotions to Bostonians or New Yorkers in the middle of a blizzard... they will likely think you're laughing at them and you'll receive a less than warm reception for your message (especially if it wakes them up in the middle of the night!).

Your users also may have device-specific behaviors: They may use iPads in the evening and iPhones during the day. If you notice that pattern, it makes sense to send push notifications to iPads at a different time than on iPhones.

Carefully look at usage habits across different demographics and make sure every push campaign is carefully targeted, whether by content or timing.

Engaging and influencing your customers requires trial, error, and iteration, so A/B-test the timing and content of push notifications as well as the impact of sending a push notification versus not sending one at all. After the A/B tests are over, look at the campaign's impact on all variables to make sure you don't have any unwanted side-effects.

Push notification marketing has the power to influence behavior, but it needs to be used with care. Knowing your users and personalizing communication are the keys to success.



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Momchil Kyurkchiev

Momchil Kyurkchiev is the CEO and a co-founder of Leanplum, a venture-backed mobile-first marketing platform with offices in San Francisco, New York, London, and Bulgaria.

LinkedIn: Momchil Kyurkchiev

Twitter: @mkyurkchiev