Last Updated on
February 12, 2024

10 Push Notification Best Practices for Ecommerce

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Push notifications have emerged as a game-changer for e-commerce, offering the most direct channel for:

  • Promoting offers
  • Recovering abandoned carts
  • Building deep relationships with customers 

….. and much more!  

Here at MobiLoud we’ve built thousands of iOS and Android apps, all with unlimited push notifications included via our OneSignal integration. 

So we’ve seen firsthand how push can drive up important metrics across the board. 

Just like anything else though - notifications are a tool that must be used competently and thoughtfully. You can’t just spam them everywhere and expect them to work well for you. 

There’s a fine line between engaging and enraging. 

If you annoy your customers by sending the wrong notifications in the wrong way, it can even be worse than not using push at all. 

In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know for using push optimally, in a way that brings value to both your business and your customers. 

Mastering push notifications could potentially mean millions of dollars in revenue, so take the time to absorb these push notification best practices and think about how you could apply them to your own business.

Push Notification Tactics 101

If you want a refresher read about the basics of push notifications, and check out these push notification examples.

Now let's get into the best practices.

Firstly, the most important point. 

Every notification should have a specific purpose.

This may seem obvious to you, but to many businesses it sadly isn’t. It’s unfortunately common to blast out notifications (and messages through other channels) because you “should” and “can” do so, or out of some vague goal of staying “top of mind”. 

But staying top of mind should only be a byproduct of valuable engagement, not an end in itself. And just because you can do something it does not mean you necessarily should. 

Every message must have:

  1. A purpose (for you)
  2. Value (for the customer)

These two pillars inform the rest of the push notification best practices we’ll cover in the rest of this article. If you follow them every message will count, and you’ll reap the benefits of push fully. 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Integration with the customer journey
  • Abandoned cart notifications
  • Crafting effective messages
  • Optimal timing and frequency
  • Personalization 
  • Visual design 
  • Testing and tracking 
  • Adaptation and refinement
  • Legal and compliance 
  • Psychological triggers 

Read on and this one article will give you all the mental models you need to crush it with push. 

1. Integration with the Funnel

The best eCommerce brands in the world have a deep understanding of the customer journey and map all channels and touchpoints to it - including push.

Different types of push notifications make sense at different stages of the journey, and different stages of the funnel:

Image via Amazon

This is individual, and you need to think about how it will work for your brand. 

Here’s an example of how you could set it up:

  • Awareness Stage

At this initial stage, push notifications should aim to educate and inform. 

Showcase new lines or trending products. Keep messages light and engaging to welcome users to your brand and build that initial connection. 

  • Consideration Stage

Here, customers are often weighing up their options. 

It’s a good time to send push notifications that highlight product benefits, reviews and social proof, and comparisons with other products. 

This could also be a good time to promote content from your blog or videos that can influence their decision-making.

  • Decision Stage 

Once users are ready to make a purchase, push notifications that include exclusive discounts or limited-time offers can be the decisive factor that nudges them to checkout.

This is the time to hit them with your most powerful messages and conve them. 

This is also the time to send abandoned cart notifications if necessary to close the sale (more on this in the next paragraph). 

  • Retention / Loyalty Stage

After the purchase, don't stop there. 

You can use push notifications to improve CX here by notifying them about their order and shipping if appropriate. This will encourage repeat purchases by leaving a positive impression.

You can also use push to solicit feedback, offer post-purchase support, and promote cross sells and upsells. 

All of this sets you up to encourage repeat purchases and drive up that customer LTV. 

2. Use Abandoned Cart Notifications

A super important use case of push notifications is to recover abandoned carts.

This is another great example of mapping notifications to the customer journey. 

Photo by Elimende Inagella on Unsplash

Abandoned carts are a plague for eCommerce businesses. 

According to the Baymard institute over 70% of carts are abandoned. Think about how many Billions of dollars that represents. 

There are various drivers of cart abandonment, like:

  • Unexpected costs like high shipping fees or hidden taxes 
  • Buggy or complex checkout process 
  • Mandatory registration 
  • Slow or inconvenient shipping options 
  • Lack of trust in data or financial security

You should fix these if they’re a problem but you should also set up abandoned cart notifications. 

These notifications convert at around 8% according to PushEngage, so sending them to every single customer who abandons their cart is a no brainer!

There are a few general best practices when it comes to using push to recover abandoned carts.

  • Timeliness: send a notification reminding customers of their abandoned cart within an hour. A second message can follow if the first is ignored, but don’t spam. 
  • Personalization: each notification can reference the specific items left behind, making the message as relevant as possible - show them what they're missing out on!
  • Incentivization: occasionally including a special offer or discount with the abandoned cart notification can boost recovery rates. Only use this if it makes sense. 
  • Feedback Requests: sometimes, a cart is abandoned due to an issue on the site or during the checkout process. If you can’t recover the cart, at least you might be able to find out why it was abandoned and fix the issue.

Abandoned cart notifications are so important that we built our own dedicated feature for them. 

With MobiLoud apps most notification types are sent from your dashboard via our OneSignal integration. 

Our abandoned cart notification feature works differently, through local notifications. Everything happens on the users’ device. 

Our systems monitor the in-app carts of your customers continuously. 

When we detect pending items, and that the app is closed (in the background) - this triggers a timed notification sequence. 

The sequence uses CRO best practices and powerful copywriting to bring them back to the cart page within the app and prompt them to take the final step. Simple but powerful. 

This is all managed and controlled remotely by our team, but you can customize it too, adding your own branding and copy as you wish. 

It’s the best way to send abandoned cart notifications from a mobile app.

Read more about how MobiLoud works and how we can supercharge your mobile eCommerce game. 

3. Clear and Concise Messaging

With all writing clarity and concision is important but it’s even more important with push notifications. 

Think about it. iOS limits characters to around 150, while Android limits them to 450. 

There’s no room for fluff for that reason alone. 

People also flit around on their mobile devices and lose interest in a fraction of a second - so you need to instantly get your point across. If it’s overly wordy or confusing, your customers will ignore it. 

How is this achieved?

The golden rule is to get straight to the point. 

Keep the language simple and direct, which not only respects the customer's time but also makes engagement more likely. 

With ecommerce push notifications, every word counts, so choose them carefully to ensure that the core message is front and center.

A compelling Call-to-Action (CTA)

Part of clarity is telling the customer what they should do, so a strong call-to-action (CTA) is crucial. 

The best eCommerce brands use CTAs that are direct and unambiguous, prompting the customer to take immediate action. 

Whether it’s a discount, an announcement of a flash sale, an invitation for customers to check out a new product, the CTA is the element that drives conversion. 

Try to avoid generic phrases like "Click here," and instead opt for more action-oriented language such as "Shop Now" or "Grab Your Discount." 

This will improve CTR, and you should test different wording to see which works best. 

A consistent tone and voice

Make sure that the tone of the push notifications aligns with your brand’s voice. 

Whether the brand is playful, professional, or somewhere in between, maintaining this consistency across all channels, including push, is key. 

Use language, phrases, imagery and even emojis that match your brand's style. 

This approach doesn't just reinforce brand identity - it helps your notifications to stand out in a crowded lockscreen.

4. Optimizing Timing and Frequency

It’s crucial to really nail the timing and frequency. If you send messages at the wrong time - or at the wrong tempo - you’re leaving money on the table. 

Ideal Times for Engagement

When setting up your push campaigns, think hard about the ideal days of the week (and time of the day) to send them. 

Many of you will have customer-bases in the US, but it’s still important to adapt to which timezone they’re in. 

Much research suggests that push notifications perform well outside of standard business hours, and between 11am - 1pm on weekdays. 

This aligns with the times when individuals are relaxed and more likely to be browsing their phones.

Ultimately though you’ll need to rely on your own data and testing to:

  • Analyze user engagement data to identify peak times
  • Segment users based on time zones to ensure notifications are sent at optimal local times
  • Test different timing strategies to refine your approach

Optimizing Frequency to Avoid Overwhelming Users

Push notification frequency is a delicate balancing act. 

Too many notifications can annoy customers and cause opt-outs, but too few might result in missed opportunities for engagement. 

We recommend starting with a moderate frequency of promotional notifications (one per day) and monitoring opt-out and engagement rates. 

Of course notifications for abandoned carts and personalized updates are sent as and when appropriate. 

Getting more advanced - you can allow your customers to set their own optimal frequency.

The bottom line: experimenting with different frequencies and monitoring customer reactions is an ongoing process. 

Balancing frequency is not an exact science, but by paying close attention to user feedback and interaction data, you can find a sweet spot that works best for your ecommerce business.

5. Personalization 

Personalization can be the difference between an opt out and a welcomed message that is acted upon immediately. 

Segmenting your customers

Not all customers are alike. 

By segmenting them you can tailor your messages so that they’re more likely to hit. 

Here are a few ways you could segment them. You'll have to decide which are appropriate for your own business. 

  • Demographics: age, gender, and location provide a basic starting structure for segmentation
  • Purchase history: grouping users based on their past purchases can lead to highly relevant recommendations
  • Behavior: tracking how users interact with your site and apps can help to create segments based on engagement and interests
  • Customer lifecycle stage: knowing where each customer stands, from a first time buyer to a loyal customer, allows for messages that cater to that stage

Top eCommerce brands use segments like these to create specialized notifications for different groups, such as exclusive deals for my top spenders or a welcome discount for new users. 

By doing this, you’ll likely boost engagement rates and reduce the likelihood of opt-outs or ignored messages.

Depending on your setup and tech stack, you can get quite granular. 

Leveraging User Data to send hyper-relevant notifications

Every interaction a customer has with your site or native app is an opportunity to gather valuable data. 

You can leverage this information to make sure your ecommerce push notifications are not just broadcasted messages but relevant prompts that inspire action. 

Here's are a few starting points:

  • Browsing habits: track what users are looking at and for how long to predict future interests
  • User preferences: by allowing users to set preferences, I gather data to curate more personalized recommendations.
  • Search queries: depending on your site or app, you can see what a customer searches for and send notifications promoting relevant items 
  • Wish lists: whatever a customer adds to their wishlist, you can notify them when those items are back in stock, about to sell out, or go on sale 

One example that several brands use: a customer frequently checks out a particular category on your site, so you use this data to send notifications about new arrivals or sales within that category. 

This direct relevance increases the chances of converting notifications into sales. 

There are a few caveats with personalization. 

You should avoid over personalization which can come off as intrusive and even creepy. You should comply with all relevant regulations, and also give customers full transparency and control on how their data is used. 

If you do it right though, your customers should welcome personalized messages. That’s because the north star should always be to genuinely help the customer (while also helping your business). 

By constantly refining the data you collect and working it into your notification flows, you’ll make sure every message is as impactful as possible.

6. Visual and Interactive Elements

One of the great things about push notifications is the ability to use rich media like images, links, and even audio and video. 

Eye-Catching Graphics and Emojis

Many eCommerce brands have found that incorporating high quality images, graphics and emojis can capture a customer’s attention. 

Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

The key is to make sure that any images you use are not only attractive but also relevant to the high level message.

A few tips:

  • Choose high-contrast graphics that pop on various device screens
  • Use emojis to express emotions or highlight key deals, but don't overdo it

With eCommerce we all know how important a good image of the product is, so when you’re promoting items and offers - make sure you show them through push too. 

CTA Buttons

Interactive elements like buttons or sliders are great for enticing CTAs, and can even allow customers to take important steps without opening the app. 

There are a few options to test.

Buttons can be used in push notifications for:

  • Call-to-Action (CTA) Buttons: directing users to specific actions like "Shop Now," "View Sale," or "Add to Cart." 
  • Quick Responses: offer options like "Save for Later" or "Remind Me," which are particularly useful for cart abandonment notifications or for items that are back in stock.
  • Feedback Collection: use buttons like "Like" or "Dislike" for users to quickly provide feedback on the relevance of the product recommendations or notification content.
  • Navigation Shortcuts: buttons can serve as shortcuts to specific sections of the app or website, like "New Arrivals," "Wishlist," or "Order History."

Your customers want simple, one click options to get stuff done. Push notification buttons give them just that. 

Visual Elements (Icons, Images, Colors)

The visual “look” of your notifications helps them to be not only seen but also well-received. 

A few best practices:

  • Use brand-consistent icons and images that customers associate with your store
  • Use a branded color palette that has enough contrast to ensure legibility
  • Make sure visual elements don’t overshadow the message, but rather augment it

Test multiple designs to see which elements resonate best with your customers. 

 7. A/B Testing

As with many things, A/B testing is crucial.

A/B testing—or split testing—allows you to compare two versions of a message to see which performs better. 

Every A/B test should start with a goal for a metric you want to improve, which feeds into a hypothesis of the form “if we change x, then we will get y result”. 

Then, it’s a case of:

  • Drafting two distinct messages: there are different things you can test - headlines, body text, calls to action, and visuals
  • Testing one segment at a time: to maintain data integrity, test with a specific user segment
  • Using a significant sample size: make sure the audience size is large enough to yield statistically significant results
  • Timing it right: timing can affect the outcome, so run both versions concurrently 

It's vital to change only one element at a time to pinpoint what influences the performance.

Ideally you should always have tests running. 

Start small, aiming to optimize the low hanging fruit, and in time you can build up to sophisticated testing systems as needed. 

Most major push notification platforms will give you solid A/B testing options. For example OneSignal, which we integrate with, gives you a ton of testing tools straight out of the box.

Performance Metrics

Alongside testing, the next step is a thorough analysis of performance metrics. Here's are the key metrics that matter when it comes to push:

  1. Open Rate: tells you how compelling your notifications are at first glance
  2. Click-Through Rate (CTR): a direct measure of immediate interest
  3. Conversion Rate: the all-important % of customers who complete the desired action
  4. Retention: did the users who clicked on a notification continue to engage?
  5. Unsubscribe Rate: high opt-out rates from a message indicate that it could be too pushy or irrelevant

This is an individual choice and possibly a project for one of your analysts or marketing people. 

It is important for them to stay organized with spreadsheets and analytics software. 

More sophisticated still - many brands export push notification data into their own custom analytics platforms, or use tools like Python and Pandas to analyze the data in a more hands-on manner.  

The bottom line:

Intelligently use data to fine-tune your approach and send notifications that truly resonate with customers and drive results for your business. 

Each datapoint is a puzzle piece, eventually you’ll put them all together and leverage push to its full potential.

8. Iterative Improvement 

This is similar to the previous best practice, but more from the perspective of mindset. 

It’s crucial to adapt to customer behavior and feedback. 

Customers frequently leave clues, either through direct feedback or interaction with notifications themselves. You should make it a top priority to listen for these patterns and clues. 

Over time, you’ll be able to tailor your ecommerce push notifications to align with what makes your customers tick.  

A few examples we’ve mentioned previously:

  • Customizing content for different groups
  • Adjusting the timing of notifications 
  • Offering incentives tailored to behavior 

The key is to think of it as an ongoing process of improvement and iteration. 

Think of notifications as a personalized touchpoint for each customer, that over time gets better and better at connecting with them. 

Continuous Improvement Based on Analytics

Armed with data, you should adjust tactics and strategy in real-time by tweaking copy, design, and timing. 

Performance metrics are not just numbers; they're insights into user behavior and campaign effectiveness. They can guide the decisions you make for months and years to come

Through a continuous cycle of testing, analysis, and iteration, your strategy will become more refined and your results will improve incrementally.

9. Legal Compliance and Ethical Considerations

Compliance can be a minefield, and you should consult with an expert for your particular circumstance to know where you stand with push. 

Photo by Mari Helin on Unsplash

Here are a few things to consider…..

Privacy Laws (GDPR, CCPA)

Staying on the right side of privacy laws is crucial. 

For ecommerce businesses, this means complying with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). 

Some starting points for solid compliance:

  • Understand user consent: Before sending notifications, make sure you have explicit consent from your users. This isn't just a best practice; it's a legal requirement under GDPR for individuals within the EU, and similar principles apply under CCPA for California residents.
  • Provide clear information: When asking for consent, be transparent about what data you're collecting and how it will be used. Users should know what they're signing up for, and this straightforward approach will benefit your brand's trustworthiness.
  • Data protection: Safeguard personal data with robust security measures. Any breach can lead to heavy penalties, especially under GDPR, which can levy fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million (whichever is greater).
  • Respect user rights: Users have the right to access their data and request its deletion. Ensure you have processes in place to promptly honor these requests.

Opt-in/Opt-out 

Transparency is essential when it comes to opt-in and opt-out processes for push notifications. Here's how I ensure clarity and give users control:

  • Clear opt-in: explain what kind of push notifications they'll receive and how often
  • Easy opt-out: Just as users should be able to easily opt-in, the opt-out process must be straightforward
  • Preferences: offer users the option to customize their push notification experience. 

With MobiLoud apps, your app users will have access to a set of push preferences. They can explicitly state which notifications they’re interested in, and give you the permissions you need to fire away. 

Following these steps for transparent opt-in and opt-out processes not only ensures compliance with privacy laws but also fosters a positive relationship with customers, who appreciate the respect for their privacy and choices.

10. Urgency and Exclusivity

Using copywriting best practices will help your notifications to succeed. 

In the frenetic, overloaded world of the customer’s lockscreen two psychological principles that can work well are urgency and exclusivity. 

Getting noticed and triggering a quick response can be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity, so here are some ways to create urgency:

  • Countdown timers: tell customers they've a limited window to act
  • Flash sales notifications: Announce sales that last for a few hours or a day at most
  • Last-chance reminders: Send a notification when the offer's about to end

Crafting these urgent messages is an art form that requires a balance – it's important not to pressure users to the point where it becomes a turnoff.

Exclusive Deals to Encourage Immediate Action

Exclusive deals make customers feel special, like they're part of an elite group. 

This is an excellent technique for spurring action. Here are some examples:

  • Subscriber-only offers: create special discounts only for app users and promote them with push 
  • Early access to sales: give your push notification subscribers deals before they're available to the public
  • Personalized discounts: send tailored offers based on the customer's shopping history 

By blending urgency and exclusivity, you may well see engagement and conversion rates soar. 

Remember, the key to successful push notification best practices is to provide value immediately, not just sell products. 

If you give them what you want, and get them to do what you want - it’s win/win!

Get Started with Push Notifications Today

So there you have it - 10 important push notification best practices. 

Some are mandatory, like legal compliance and data analytics. Others, like urgency and customer journey mapping are recommended for experimentation. 

All best practices in business and marketing especially are a starting point. 

You start with the best practices, then over time learn how to specifically implement them for your unique situation or even when to bend them as needed. 

Send Push Notifications with MobiLoud

If you need to get set up with push notifications fast, we can help…. With that and a whole lot more. 

Our platform, MobiLoud, is for converting eCommerce web stores into high-end, conversion driving eCommerce apps for iOS and Android. 

Our apps preserve everything from your existing web store, combining what already works for the web with the best of native app UX.

That means that your existing team (and ours) can take care of the apps, and there’s no need to spend big bucks hiring native app developers or agencies. 

In fact we build the apps for you, completely. 

We also handle all ongoing updates and maintenance as part of our full service. The apps will hum along, making you money and growing your brand practically on autopilot. 

We’ve built thousands of apps, including for massive eCommerce brands with Billions in revenue.

Check out some of our app examples

MobiLoud apps are as good as Amazon’s, but come at a tiny fraction of the price tag and maintenance overhead!

We also give you all you need to send unlimited push notifications to unlimited customers through our custom integration with OneSignal. 

With our abandoned cart notification feature we handle all these powerful messages for you, so you should see an automatic drop in cart abandonment without needing to do anything. This alone could pay for the cost of the apps. 

You can implement all the best practices above and more, leveraging push notifications to drive your business to a new level. 

If you want to know more about our push features, and more about how MobiLoud can build you the ultimate mobile eCommerce channel in just weeks - get in touch. Our team of app experts are waiting to answer all your questions. 

Speak to a mobile app expert today.

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