5 Easy Steps to Creating a Powerful Push Campaign

I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors about push notifications: that they’re spammy, un-engaging, and a nuisance to app users.

The rumors are true – that is, if you’re bombarding your users with irrelevant, constant and broadcast-to-all messages.

But like all good marketing, push notifications only work when they’re valuable to the end user. When a user has opted-in to receive push messages from your app, it means they are saying “yes” to receiving real-time alerts on offers, content and information relevant to their interests and needs.

We’ve found that 52% of people enable push on their smartphones, and that push has the ability to drive 88% more app launches and 3x higher retention. But broadcast push messages only have a 15% conversion rate, whereas segmented messages have a whopping 54% conversion rate.

The key to providing value through push is to create and run targeted campaigns based on user behavior, attributes and preferences.

In this post, we walk you through the five steps you can take to delight your users with personalized and powerful push messages.

1. Know Where Your Users Came From

Not all users are the same, and sometimes, how and where they found your app can help inform what they’re hoping to get out of their mobile experience with your brand. Did they find you via a mobile ad highlighting your app’s daily deals? Where they referred by a friend who uses it to book services locally? If there was context around their download, you want to be aware of it. Track the original source of your user, plus the success of each acquisition campaign, using an attribution-tracking tool that can show you:

  • Original source/ad partner
  • Original campaign
  • Number of new users
  • Campaign revenue
  • LTV of acquired users

2. Create a Target Audience by Segmenting Users

Remember those success metrics from earlier? They depend on this equation: analytics + marketing = engagement. In order to identify and run push campaigns that will be valuable to your users, you should be using a closed-loop marketing tool that integrates your app data with the ability to create and launch app messaging campaigns.

Using a tool with this functionality equips you with one push must-have: the ability to define a custom audience for each campaign you run. You can send multiple push notifications to different audiences, based on their interests, and what kind of message each audience wants to receive.

Say you’re a sports media app, and you want to notify Steelers fans with the final score after every game. That requires segmenting your users by certain attributes, which could include:

  • Male users
  • Ages 20-45
  • Users who are self-identified Steelers fans
  • Users who check game scores 2x times per week during the regular season
  • Users who have shared at least one news article from your app

Let’s connect this to Step #1: if you are running an ad campaign to acquire new users that centers on the value prop of staying up-to-date with game action and final scores, any users who converted on that ad are expecting, well, exactly the value you advertised.

The attributes you choose to segment by will differ as your goals and campaigns evolve, and there are various options of segments available depending on which combination of attributes you highlight.

3. Customize Your Offer

The right content is everything. It has to be applicable, interesting, and clearly communicated.

Because of their nature, push messages are great for time-sensitive and location specific information – such as sale ending today, flash sale, geo-targeted messages, breaking news, emergency alerts; anything that is compelling enough to pull a user back to the app or important enough to elicit an interruption. But really, the best push notifications are those that offer the most value to your user.

For the segment of users outlined in Step #2, you might want to send them push alerts whenever new Steelers game scores come out, or news about the team is published. You could send them notifications when season tickets go on sale, or invite them to local events you’re hosting.


The right offer is completely dependent on your app type, and how you’re trying to engage users, but using segmentation as the foundation will help you hone in on winning campaigns that users actually click on.

4. Use Compelling Copy

Getting a user to open and convert on a push message isn’t just about the content; it’s about the copy. Does it use a distinct brand voice, or humor? Is it short and sweet, or creative and clever? These are the elements you can experiment with to see what resonates with your users.

Ultimately, you want to be able to clearly communicate the value proposition in your push message in order to have a shot at an app open.

However, there are definitive, data-backed best practices for push messages that perform, which you can use to up your efforts. For example, we’ve found that push notifications that clock in at 10 or fewer words have the highest click rate (8.8%), and that messages that make a statement – as opposed to asking a question – are more successful. Using promotional language also boosts open rates.

5. Track & Report Your Results

All of your push campaigns should be tracked with these standard metrics:

  • Impressions
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion rate

But the best app marketing is judged based on ROI and user lifetime (LTV) over time. Jumping to immediate conclusions, disregarding audience segments, and giving up on certain campaigns because they don’t yield immediate results is a mistake. While it’s easy to get caught up in user engagement data that tracks the occurrence of specific events in your app, LTV is arguably the definitive metric when it comes to getting a broad-level view of your app’s success and improvement over time. The more you see LTV increase, the more successful your app is

Two Advanced Considerations for Push

Is this an automated campaign? If yes, what are the qualifiers to become part of it?

You can customize your push campaign to trigger based on certain in-app events and to include specific audience attributes. For example, if your user has completed an in-app checkout, you can use that event to trigger a survey asking about their experience.

With your segments in place, you can use automation to “auto enroll” new users as they meet certain criteria. This means that those new users will automatically receive the in-app or push message that they have qualified for – ensuring that you never miss a new opportunity to convert more users.

Not only does automation make your marketing smarter, but it also makes it more efficient, saving you time and resources. The more eyes your messaging reaches, the better, so automation is a great tactic for extending the life of your content and engaging new users as they start interacting with your app.

Are you running any A/B or multivariate testing?

A/B testing your mobile app used to be a complicated process involving engineering time and app store re-submissions. But not all app improvements are made in the UX or UI. Now, you can A/B test in-app messages in the same way you do landing pages or emails. By using A/B testing, you will know what works best within your campaigns by comparing multiple, varied offers and defining the elements that resonate most with your users.

Want to learn more about creating push notifications that your users will love? Download How to Create Truly Awesome Push & In-App Messaging Content.

Bryn is Head of Content at Localytics. A journalist-turned-marketer, she is an expert in mobile, inbound marketing and social media. You can follow her on Twitter @BrynAdler