Push notifications. We’ve all grown tired of them at some point. Whether they’re coming from messaging apps, or games, or video streaming services; it doesn’t matter. According to a 2015 survey by Localytics, 50% of app users found push notifications annoying. However, when that survey was repeated in 2018, the results were quite different. Push notifications have grown smarter in the last few years as a response to consumer behavior.
App engagement has become more valuable than downloads. Time spent on an app or viewing a video, has become more valuable than total page or video views. Hence, push notifications have had to become more optimized for better engagement.
Here, video streaming apps are perhaps a goldmine to be invested in. We’re currently living in the golden age of video streaming. Netflix and Hulu are ruling the roost right now and Disney+ and Apple TV+ are both set to launch this November. With better push notifications for streaming applications and personalized recommendations, customer engagement can be maximized.
Push notifications are known for being notoriously annoying. Therefore, whenever they do need to be sent out, they should have something valuable in store.
Set Time Zones
Your users have lives. They shouldn’t receive a notification in the middle of the night to vex them out of sleep. Hence, notifications should be prioritized according to time zones.
In fact, customers should be shown notifications at times when they usually engage with your app. If they’re night owls, dropping a notification at 10 or 11pm shouldn’t be a bother. If they’re early risers that watch in the afternoon, at lunch, notifications between 12 and 2 pm are optimal.
That brings us to the next point.
Avoid Scheduled Notifications
You shouldn’t send out notifications in bulk. While that won’t necessarily annoy users, your notifications may get lost in the noise. Some users may be at work and ignore your notification entirely. Some may be in the middle of a drive and swipe it away.
Scheduled notifications don’t normally have a high yield rate. Primarily that’s because they don’t focus on the individual. A study from Leanplum has shown that notifications sent when user engagement is high yield open rates three times higher.
Promotional Pushes Should be Minimal
If you’re notifying a customer about a new episode of a TV show, make sure it’s one they regularly watch. If they stopped watching that show mid-way through the last season, it’s likely they got bored and you should think carefully about sending that notification.
However, if you’re promoting a popular show that most of your audience loves, then it’s OK to send that notification. If you’re bringing back something that was very popular and has nostalgic value, you should promote it. However, if a new film with a niche audience coming out on your platform, push notifications should be selective.
Other notifications like new promotional packages or value added services should be promoted across the board. However, follow ups to those promotions should be selective. The customers that respond immediately and those that don’t shouldn’t be prioritized equally.
This should be a no-brainer by now. Images and graphics resonate more than text. A study by Urban Airship showed that the inclusion of imagery (or rich push notifications) can improve open rates by 56%. If you see a hint of your favorite TV show or film, your brain lights up with joy. Streaming services should employ the same tactics. Right now the best model is that of Netflix. Let’s take a few examples from their playbook.
Netflix shows you different thumbnails for the same shows and films according to your viewing habits. If you’re in to comedy films, then a film thumbnail will also feature a comedic actor to gain your interest. If you’re a fan of a particular actress, say Jennifer Lawrence, then you’re probably more likely to respond positively to the artwork for a movie that contains Jennifer.
Push notifications need to be made more exciting for the user. It’s only logical to pull them in with what they love to watch.
Personalization Is Key
This harkens back to the improvement of visuals according to behavior. However, it’s more than just what customers love to watch. Personalization should take into account what customers love to download, and when they usually watch.
Moreover, personalization on a mobile or Connected TV device should mean more informal messages and conversational advertising. While this has been a tried and tested rule of advertising, it’s still valuable to emphasize talking to the customer like a friend rather than a salesman.
Optimize By Behavior and Preferences
Notifications need to be set according to the viewing habits of the customer. Due to the several profiles that streaming services offer on the same account, it can be made easier. Whatever profile a user chooses can be accessed for personal favorites and watch times.
Streaming services have come to include watch lists, favorites lists, likes, etc. These, along with language preferences, can be used to optimize for push notifications of favorite shows or films. Similar genres, similar casts, and content from similar directors or producers can be recommended on release.
Notification shouldn’t be pushed on users all at once. They should be allowed to opt-in for information they need. General notifications should be on by default, however, there should be very few of them. Allow your customers to choose which kinds of shows and films they want to be reminded of.
Ask for permission when you want to send them push notifications. Let them explore the app first though; otherwise they won’t know what they’re opting in to. For those that refuse notifications outright, you can use in-app messaging.
For example, if a customer demonstrated interest in titles related to the action genre, an in-app message should recommend more. This message should also include a link to the settings menu to activate notifications.
Finally, you should never stop testing notifications to improve. Even if you have a formula with steady yields, customer preferences hardly stay the same. Tastes change with months, let alone years. What is gospel now may be heresy tomorrow.
Push notifications can be a very powerful tool to improve engagement with your app. However, using them the wrong way can damage your relationship with the customer.