Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

Best Practices for Teaming Up Push Notifications and Email Marketing

We’ve all had the experience. We do a little online research for a product or service we may be interested in. All of a sudden, we have ads streaming in on our social media feeds. They are irritating, repetitive, and we have to spend time “hiding” the posts and are then asked for our reasons for doing so.

These things are the result of being “watched.” Yes, our behaviors are tracked, and that information is then tracked by marketers, using big data analytics, in order to generate leads. It’s all the result of amazing new technologies.

But there are better ways for marketers to target their customers and potential customers. And it is far less random and certainly far less irritating to consumers. It’s called push notifications.

And when push notifications are teamed up with email marketing, this marriage can be powerful indeed.

Mobile pushes and a web push

Revisiting Push Notifications

Remember push notifications are not like “cold call” marketing. It is not the result of being tracked and then presented with ads that a consumer has not requested.

Push notifications are the result of an actual visit to a website. During that visit, whether purchases are made or not, that visitor has checked a box agreeing to receive notifications from the company – sales, new products or services, etc. These leads are warm-to-hot, not cold. They are the result of interest on the part of a consumer.

And the technology today allows those push notifications to be delivered in a variety of ways – on PCs or mobile devices, whether the consumer is actually browsing or not.

The point of push notifications is obvious. A company does not even have to ask for an email address. They can engage customers in a number of ways:

  • They can let them know about new products of services.
  • They can announce special sales with deadlines and establish urgency.
  • They can remind customers of an existing cart and prompt them to complete the purchase.
  • They can help to drive repeat business through discount offers.

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Now About Those Email Campaigns

Emails are often used for the same purposes as push notifications. But a business must capture an email address from visitors and customers, in order to add them to their lists. The problem is, while email campaigns can be really effective when done right, the truth is that a lot of target customers simply delete those marketing emails that fill up their inboxes. Reasons for this may vary, but the most common ones are lack of personalization, subject lines that do not entice, too many from the same company, and wrong time of day or night. You have to know your audience, email lists must be segmented to where leads are in their sales journey, and they must, above all, be mobile friendly.

If you wanted to provide the same message as the push notification above, you might develop an email message, with the subject line: “Hey Tom, have we got a surprise for you- the hottest single for download!”

This is a simple example of how you can combine push notifications and your email campaigns. There are ways to make this “marriage” really work for your marketing and actually realize a much higher customer response. Let’s take a look at best practices for doing just that, as well how to avoid common mistakes.

Unlimited pushes for up to 25,000 contacts

1. Note the Similarities/Differences.

Push notifications, while the most recent method for marketers to “connect” with leads and customers, have much in common with email campaigns. In fact, they can be seen as “emails on steroids.” Both have a message to get across; both must compose the content to engage as much as possible, and both are asking a consumer to take action.

And today, both must be designed for optimum mobile use. It’s not that they should not be compatible with PC use, but most consumers now use their mobile devices far more than laptops or desktops.

One big difference, of course, is the length of the message. With email, there is no limit, except you know better than to ramble on and on. Readers just don’t have the time. But a push notification must be very precise, and provide key information and a CTA.

2. Cross-Segmentation (or Pollination).

If you have a substantial email list, then you have probably already segmented your subscribers, based upon criteria that you have set up. While points in your sales funnel are common segmentations, there are others. If you sell a variety of products, for example, you may segment based upon what customers have previously purchased, geographic locations, those who have not visited your site or made a purchase for a specific period of time, and even those leads/customers whose native language is not English. You can use the same criteria for your push segments, as well. In both of these platforms, segmentation can be automated.

Now you will be ready to cross-segment. The goal is to move your email subscribers into your push notification campaign and your push notification subscribers into your email campaigns.

Begin with your current customers. They are probably the most likely to “cross-pollinate.” The next email can include a CTA to sign up for notifications as an easier way to receive news about products, discounts, etc. You can even offer a perk for doing so. You then do the same for that segment of your push notification audience to sign up for your emails. As you get new visitors to your site, or as cold leads turn into warmer ones, continue to do the same.

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3. Speak in One Voice for Triggered Campaigns.

Whether you have subscribers to both email and push notifications or to only one of these, your marketing campaigns must have the same messages in both platforms (in fact in all of your channels) and for similar segments. One of the biggest mistakes is to use push and email for generic marketing that has no specific purpose. If you are offering special holiday savings to specific segments, then they should receive the same message from your pushes and emails.

Obviously, the way to do this is to design your campaign first and spend solid time developing how that campaign will be messaged on each channel for each segment. This takes time, some creativity, and ultimate development that will be responsive to any device screen. If you have a foreign-speaking audience, then you will want to be certain to use a professional agency, such as The Word Point, to ensure that your message is verbally and culturally appropriate.

Let’s suppose you have segments on both channels that have just opted in to one or the other. Part of your campaign is to offer an immediate discount to motivate a purchase. Your push notification might read, “Welcome! Enjoy a 15% discount on your first purchase. Click here and use code Enew.” Your email should have the same message, and the 15% discount should be in the subject line. The same goes for the geolocation segment. You are not going to offer a 15% discount on winter boots to subscribers in Arizona. Generic welcomes, such as, “Check out our current savings” will be ignored.

Email + web push

4. Send Messages at the Right Times

There’s an old adage that “timing is everything.” And timing means time of year, time zone, days of the week, and even hours of each day. This will take some research, of course, but there’s a lot out there about specific audiences, when they are online, and when they most often check their emails or simply have their devices on and will receive your pushes.

These times will not be the same in all instances, so use the research and some common sense. For example, if your business is paints and stains, you will not be sending push notifications or emails about exterior paints to subscribers who live in the Northeast during winter months. You will not be sending a push at 4:00 a.m. in a specific time zone. And the same discount message may not be sent via push and email at the same time of day. In terms of timing, pushes and email notifications are not interchangeable.

5. Don’t Harass on Either Channel

Too much of a “good thing” will be a huge turnoff to your push and email subscribers. Again, these two are not interchangeable, and if you appear to be harassing on either channel, your users will opt out. There is some research out there about an appropriate number of messages on both channels, but in the end, you have to do the analytics yourself. You can use any number of tools that will report on “opens” and responses to CTA’s. This will allow you to adjust your messaging accordingly.

Complement is the Operative Word

Your push notifications and your emails are not the same. But they should complement one another in the key ways that have been covered above. Your goal is maximum response and, ultimately purchases. Use these tips to coordinate push and email campaigns, and you will see results.


Author Bio: Erica Sunarjo got her start as a freelance writer for a number of online companies – e-commerce and writing services, including Best Writers Online. Since then, she has branched out to copywriting for multichannel marketing campaigns for clients from a variety of sectors and has become an expert on creative and successful campaigns. In her spare time, she works with animal rescue organizations and keeps up her musical talent as a keyboardist with a local band.

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Iuliia Nesterenko

Technical Writer

A technical (but still very creative) writer at eSputnik with a strong focus on design, current digital marketing trends, and new solutions for email automation.

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