How Push Notifications Impact Loyalty and Retention

When you’re building an app, or any online platform for that matter, getting people to stay onboard is key. It will cost up to 700% more to attract a new user than it will to keep an existing user engaged. This means that if you want your business to grow, you need to keep people happy after you first entice them.


It’s all about fostering customer loyalty through understanding the subtle art of retention. So, how does it all work?


What is user retention?

If you want to keep someone on your platform for the days, weeks, and months that follow their initial signup, that’s retention. It’s about having people coming back over and over again so that they form the bedrock of the loyal following that every brand’s needs.


When you hear that Facebook is ‘sticky’ this means it’s very common for users to be active on their platform every single day. This is an example of a global service that’s doing a great job when it comes to retention.


What does successful retention look like?

Good question! There’s more to retention than meets the eye, and clearly, you need to start quantifying things. If you go into it with the idea that you’re going to get everyone to stay forever, then you’re already heading off in the wrong direction.


Retention, when it’s done the right way, will allow you to combat the most common drop-off points in participation. We’ll come to these in a little more detail later on. But for now, they’re those times after a new user joins when they’re most likely to stop coming to you. It could be at 7 days, 14 days, 30 days; it’s a number that’s going to be specific to your business. Once you improve your retention, the size of these drop-off events will greatly decrease.


Timing is everything, so focus on it

Timing your push notifications so that they coincide with these drop-offs is really crucial. Think about it; if you’re sending a happy user a dozen notifications then you’re just getting in the way. And if you wait a week to try and entice an inactive user, you’ve most likely missed the chance to get them back onboard.


It’s all about getting the timing right, and pitching your push notifications so that they pop up within 24 hours of a drop-off event. The only way to know when they typically occur is by measuring the behavior of existing users.


“As a business, we’re always analyzing what our customers are doing, and how they’re interacting with us. When I first introduced this approach, there were plenty of naysayers who thought I should be acting right away, rather than standing back and watching. But without that core data, you’re just guessing” — says Pat Fredshaw, Head of the Content Department at Essay Supply.


Be smart and segment your users

Not everyone is going to drop off for the same reasons — people are different, and have a whole host of various different demands on their time. Creating customer profiles is the best way to get into the minds of your users, and you should always aim to tie them in with the long-term interaction data we’ve already mentioned. That way you can start to target specific categories with tailored notifications.


Examples would be users who failed to finish the signup process, those with items sat idle in their carts, and once active users who seem to have disappeared overnight.


“Segmentation is such an important tool that it’s always surprising to me how few businesses actually realize it. Treat people as individuals, and they’re far more likely to be responsive to what you have to say” — says Veronica Wright, CEO at CV writing service.


Understand why people came to you in the first place

The secret to retaining your customers is to know why they’re your customers in the first place. There will be the occasional customer who signed up in error, but the vast majority of people initially came to you with a specific purpose in mind. If you don’t know what that purpose was, then how are you ever going to get them back onboard?


Take a step back, and think about the core offering of your business. What makes you unique? This will more than likely be the reason people came to you, so you need to highlight it in your push notifications. The mistake far too many businesses make is listing dozens of new features to try and entice people. Stick to what caught the attention of the user in the first place, and you’ll have far more success.


Realize the difference between being attentive, and spamming

Being attentive is vitally important, but spamming is the last thing you want to end up doing. Becoming obsessive about the need to re-board every single dormant user is a really bad approach to take. If you aim for it, you’ll end up sending far too many notifications, and people will just switch off.


“Push notifications are a great tool, but they should be seen as subtle prompts and nudges. If they read like instructions, people won’t engage with you” — says Karl Long, Head of Strategy at Resumes Expert.


Completion prompts really do work

One of the best ways to create loyalty is to remember that you’re there to make the user’s life that little bit easier. If you see they’ve left a purchase or an activity is half done, don’t start pushing them that day. All that will do is overwhelm them. Wait 36 hours, and then pop up with a gentle prompt asking if they need a hand. It’s these little bits of assistance that will make all the difference to the quality of the user experience.


“We’re always focusing on making the customer’s life easier. It’s about showing them new ways we can help, rather than obsessively trying to contact as many people as possible. If a user finds you helpful, they’ll stay with you for years” — says Lucy Constable, Head of Recruitment at Canada Writers.


Final Thoughts

Having a successful prompting strategy is a great way to foster brand loyalty through increased retention, but you need to go about it the right way. Learn how to write an engaging push notification, time it perfectly, and segment your user base as much as possible. If you do that, then you’ll be able to keep a far great percentage of your users happy over the long-term.


Written by Guest Writer: Chris Mercer

Christopher Mercer is a blogger and founder of Citatior. Web developer by day and writer by night, Chris enjoys the ever-changing world of web content. His in-depth articles have been featured in a variety of online publications.