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How Push Notifications Can Boost Your Online Sales

Do you know how many times a day a person checks his or her smartphone? According to research, the average person checks their smartphone 85 times a day, and they do so to see the latest news on social medias, to search for information or to check whether they have received calls or messages. There’s often a push notification waiting for them on their screen.

But let’s move one step at a time. In 2015, for the first time ever, mobile search has surpassed desktop. And there has been an increase of 1525% in mobile data usage between 2010 and 2015. People are getting more and more used to solving their everyday issues on their mobile devices. They look to their phones to find information wherever they are, to be connected with their social network at any time and to discover new products and to purchase. This is a habit that is growing stronger and rapidly. 204 million dollars were spent on these devices in 2014 and transactions are forecasted to reach 626 million in 2018. For those who have an e-commerce business, a mobile presence is strategic and creating an app can be the right strategic move. According to statistics, people prefer to surf directly from an app. Apps account for 89% of mobile media time while browser only accounts for 11% of mobile use

Many companies that have an e-commerce business do not consider the importance of this data and think the creation of an app is an investment beyond their interest and available budget. But a quick search on the web would allow them to discover that there is an alternative. There are online systems that can create apps in just a few minutes, at a far lower costs than a tailor-made app created by developers and with all its complete functions. These alternatives also include the possibility to build a tool that has a very important function: the push notification.

Capture attention with push notifications.

In order for a mobile application to be effective, it is not enough to convince the users to download it. You must also entice users to access your app regularly otherwise the contents will remain unseen. Look at the data: Only 20% of users return to use the app the first day after they downloaded it and after 30 days, less than 5% are of those that downloaded the app are actually using it.

The best way to keep users' attention are push notifications. These are those little alerts that are  sent periodically from an app on the smartphones of users who have downloaded it. This is the best tool for marketers who need to increase users’ engagement, considering that push notification open rates range from 47% to 80%, while open rates are only around 20% for email.

Why are push notifications so engaging?

Messages sent via push notifications are effective because they are not generic communications. Every day people receive a large number of emails and text messages with offers and promotions that are not directly addressed to them. These messages do not take into account their buying habits and the right time to promote a product. They are impersonal, while consumers on smartphones expect a personalized communication that is made especially for them.

Push notifications exactly meet this need, because they convey a relevant message to the user: they can offer a discount after a purchase, while the person is in the vicinity of the shop or they can promote the product preferred by the customer, offering an effective and personalized advantage.

Use push notifications to boost sales.

When an app is downloaded, the user is asked whether to allow push notifications or not. Even though we are living in an era where people are inundated with advertising communications, 46% opt-in to receive push notifications when it comes to an app related to an e-commerce business. The reason so many opt in is because they expect to receive discounts and offers. These are people who are highly likely to buy, and it’s no surprise that push notification conversion rates reach 50%, as opposed to 15% of those from traditional messages.

Push notifications are a powerful tool to increase sales in an e-commerce business, but they are not a magical tool. You must be strategic in how you deploy these communications. 

Push Notification for e-commerce business: a quick user guide

#1: Remember to remember

People are always in a hurry, distracted by so many communications and often engaged in doing several things at once. Only a small percentage of them will remember that they have received a promotion. To combat this, Fab, an online shop of prêt-à-porter designer products, sends a push notification as soon as they start promoting one or more categories of products. People are enticed to go immediately to the website and to take advantage of the discounts before the products are sold out or the promotion ends. Of course you must limit the frequency of these messages, depending on your sector and target. Sending a notification a day during the promotion period may be fine, but one every hour can be annoying and will likely cause a negative effect.

#2: Analyze and measure

Push notifications are effective if they are relevant to the target audience but you need to have a clear idea of the profile of the people who use your app. To maximize the results, you need to analyze and measure the ROI of your activities. After sending a push notification promoting a specific item to a certain type of target, the increase in traffic and sales should be checked as to ascertain that the outcome of the initiative is indeed what you had hoped for. Apps enable e-commerce businesses to detect a lot of data about users that use them including geographical location and the specific times they access the app the most. By studying this data, you can determine what times are optimal to be sending push notifications.

#3: Connect communication channels

Push notifications can be used not only to direct to the app, but also to bring traffic to your website or social media properties. All you have to do is add a link in the message. This way, all online channels of the company will be known and you will expand the knowledge of your products and facilitate the sharing of promotions and initiatives. Urban Outfitters has used push notifications to carry out a promotion on Twitter. When someone tweeted with the hashtag #UOLastCall they would receive a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $100.

#4: Stand out from the usual messages

To increase push notification open rates even more, the text of your messages needs to be attention grabbing and say something that users do not expect. Instead of promoting an offer or recalling a discount, My Fitness Pal sent a push notification with this text “Hmm. Seems like these reminders aren’t helpful. We’re going to turn them off."  This is certainly a bold move, but it also effective. Most people are intrigued by this message and react by opening the notification and reading the rest of the text inside. 

#5: Be in the know

Another way to make a push notification text more creative and relevant is to take advantage of its immediacy to refer to an episode that recently happened or is happening, engaging users in something that has just been part of their experience. TableList, an app for booking parties and events, sent this notification at the end of the year: “Facebook botched that whole “year in review” thing. Good thing you can start this year right with Tablelist!”

Conversion is not the only thing that matters

With these tips you can start to prepare a good push notification strategy for your e-commerce business and to evaluate the initial results. If they are not what you expected, analyze the data and adjust. Remember that the purchase conversion rate is not the only parameter to use to evaluate the success of a campaign. Push notification can help increase your sales, but they are above all a channel of communication with people that is enriched day by day. Your push notifications can create a story about your brand and who you are. They can also serve to remind people of your presence or simply put a smile on your customers face. Maybe that smile now could mean they recommend you to a friend later. 

This post was written by E-junkie Guest Blogger Silvio Porcellana who is the CEO and Founder of From his retreat in the Monferrato Hills in North West Italy, he bootstraps companies, writes about web and mobile marketing and helps customers succeed online. Tweet him here.