Mobile push notification tips: 5 copywriting hacks for standout messages

James Haslam

Jun 11, 2019

This guest post from Clevertap details the top 5 copywriting tips for push notifications. Read more below.

With the average mobile app losing 73% of new users within 48 hours of download, retention is the true growth engine for mobile apps. And push notifications are an essential piece of the user retention puzzle. These updates, reminders, and special offers are like little hooks drawing users back into your app.

It’s been proven that push notifications boost 90-day retention rates by 23% compared to users who disable them. Push notifications are an effective tool for:

  • Improving brand familiarity and engagement
  • Converting inactive users into habitual ones
  • Enhancing the user experience
  • Promoting products and special offers

... But only if you use them right.

Writing effective push notifications is a real challenge. You have to be creative enough to stand out among the dozens of notifications users receive — and persuasive enough to convince them to act. All in about 150 characters.

These best practices, picked up over the course of sending 40 billion+ push notifications, are your ticket to writing messages that delight and retain mobile users.

Copywriting Tips for Mobile App Push Notifications that Convert

Make It Actionable

Every​ notification you send must have a clear purpose behind it. They should help users feel good, discover something new, learn important information, or accomplish something faster, better, easier.

Even so, people need to be told exactly what to do. You could have the most well-written, visually appealing push notification ever created. But without a persuasive call to action, your efforts will be wasted.

So how do you write an effective push notification CTA?

Approach it as an invitation, not a command. Use colorful verbs that elicit a positive emotion or sense of enthusiasm. And keep the mobile medium in mind. “Check out today’s deals!” is a fine CTA, but “Designer deals at your fingertips” is even better.

You must also consider the user segment: bargain shoppers are more likely to respond to “Get Your Discount Code,” while luxury shoppers will be drawn to “Treat yourself!”

Personalize everything

Why would THIS user be interested in your message? What behaviors or attributes do they have that make your push campaign relevant?

Every aspect of the push notification should be personalized: not only copy, but delivery time, message frequency, user location, level of in-app activity, product or content types, and more.

This is where ​segmentation​ becomes an essential part of your push notification strategy. By grouping users based on who they are and what they do (or don’t do) in your app, you can tailor your push copy to specific people and goals to send messages that resonate and prompt users to act.

Consider a call to value

A call to value operates on the same principle as a CTA — getting the user to take action — but instead of telling them what to ​do,​ it tells them what they’ll ​get​.

Here’s a typical push notification with the CTA in bold:

“Advance showings for Avengers: Endgame now on sale! ​Buy your tickets now​.“

Here’s the same CTA written as a call to value:

“​See Avengers: Endgame spoiler free!​ Advance showings start midnight Wednesday.”

The difference might seem subtle, but each approach has a place at different stages in your relationship with users.

You might focus on calls to value when your goal is primarily to prove your app’s usefulness to a new user. Toward the end of a campaign, or once a user has developed habits around your app, use on a more direct call-to-action.

Use the first person

Mobile is a highly personal medium. So get personal! Use the first person point-of-view to make push notifications feel like a one-on-one message.

Instead of “Listen to the latest releases from your favorite artists, [FIRSTNAME]”, try “We curated a ‘90s hip hop playlist just for you, [FIRSTNAME]”

Using “we” positions your app as a friend rather than a faceless company — which can make it easier for users to connect with — and feel affinity for — your brand.

Be concise

Lock screens don’t offer a lot of real estate, so keep your copy concise and your message direct.

Push notifications with 20-90 characters ​see the highest click-through rates. If this feels too limiting, remember you can always enhance your message with images, rich media, and emojis.

Make every character count with these ​push notification power words​, which are linked to higher open rates across retail, delivery, travel, entertainment, and media apps:

● “New” (because humans are hardwired to seek out novelty)

● “Save” (because who doesn’t love feeling like a savvy shopper?)

● “Limited” (because Ooh! This offer won’t be around forever)

● “Exclusive” (because we all want to feel special)

Compose the Perfect Push Notification in Minutes

When tracking, testing, and optimizing push notification copy, look beyond open rates. Getting people to open your app is only the first step — what are they doing once they’re in? Are they taking the action you want? Are they coming back to your app?

Your user base changes every day (literally!) and what works today may not work tomorrow. What’s effective for one user segment probably won’t be for another.

Keep testing and trying new strategies to discover what works for ​your​ unique, evolving user base.

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