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How to Send Effective Web Push Notifications

Web push is a fantastic communication channel, and an effective way to engage with your buyers in real-time.

Where email is still largely at the mercy of a customer’s delay in opening and reading each message, web push allows marketers to deliver campaigns exactly when a customer needs them, in a way that creates urgency and encourages more in-the-moment engagement. But the real-time advantage is accompanied by an increased danger of irrelevance. Because browser push notifications are inherently more invasive than email (and even more so than mobile push, to an extent), customers are going to be far less forgiving of the quality of the messages they receive. And it only takes one bad message for your customer to hit “disable” in their browser settings.

To this point, it would make sense for retailers to err on the side of caution and be overly conservative when sending push messages. Consider this web push message (with the brand name removed!) we received from an accessories/jewelry retailer, after we’d created an account and accepted the brand’s invitation to receive real-time web push messages:

This was the first message we’d received from the brand, and it seemed to start off our brand-user relationship on the right foot by thanking us for enabling push and pointing us to a time-sensitive sale. But despite demonstrating an ability to collect and respond to data about our unique behaviors and shopping preferences (they sent browse abandonment and cart abandonment campaigns to our email), the brand didn’t send any further messages beyond the initial “welcome push.” While it’s entirely possible that the brand didn’t want to risk inundating us with too many messages, they missed several big opportunities to send us targeted web push notifications based on what they knew about us.

The key to sending effective web push messages is to do so economically – don’t send so many that your customer is turned off, but use what you’ve learned about each unique user to personalize and contextualize each push message to directly speak to your user’s needs. With this retailer, we’d browsed an item in the “Clothing & More” category on your ecommerce site, and had left a necklace in a shopping cart for nearly a week before returning back to it – rather than sending us a passive email and hoping we eventually opened it, the brand could have used this information to reach out in real-time, while our interest was still at a peak and when we were most likely to respond to the message.

So how can retailers make sure they’re delivering push notifications that provide value to their customers while driving results?

Personalize messages with real-time keyword triggers

Sending a canned web push message to all your customers may only speak to a small percentage of your shoppers, and may be seen as irrelevant to many others – but if you can inform each message with keyword triggers from your customer’s unique browsing behavior, you can take your messages one step further with targeted personalization. It’s the difference between “New Products!” sent to all shoppers, and “New arrivals in Tops/Blouses!” sent to customers who have previously browsed shirts. Using more personalized, targeted messaging is an easy way to increase open rates and ultimately drive more engagement

Selectively promote time-sensitive sales and inventory changes

When we eventually bought the necklace we’d abandoned, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the price was reduced by 30% thanks to a site-wide sale. When marketers have visibility into the products that their customers are looking at and engaging with, they can tailor their sales announcements and inventory alerts to match those specific behaviors: imagine if the brand had sent me a notification with a message like “An item you were looking at is currently on sale!” – it’s a much more effective way to engage with your customer, and increase conversion rates in your online store.

Invite customers to revisit abandoned merchandise

When done correctly, leveraging web push to reference items that customers have left in shopping carts is a great way to create urgency in cart abandonment – especially if you can speak to the specific items that a customer has abandoned, while introducing a ticking clock with language like “Hurry back!” or “Quick!” to encourage customers to complete their purchases as soon as possible. And all the better if you can use web push to identify – and then solve – whatever point of friction prevented the purchase: if it’s a cost issue, consider offering a coupon in the message, if it’s a product issue, consider making relevant recommendations.

Personalizing your push notification campaigns is critical to not only remaining relevant to your customer’s needs and interests, but to ensuring that shoppers don’t decide to disable push – because once that’s happened, it will be tough to convince your shoppers to reinstall push, and tougher still to develop a strong brand-user relationship. Online retailers need to capitalize on all marketing channels to pinpoint how and when their customers are most likely to make a purchase. And when you can speak to each customer’s unique browsing behaviors, you position yourself to meet their needs at every step in their shopping journey and increase more frequent engagement.

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