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Do you want to find new ways to interact with your existing customers? One of the best ways to keep in touch with customers in real time – and keep them informed of relevant information including events and sales – is to use push notifications. It used to be that push notifications were exclusively used by mobile app developers, but that has changed. You can now use them even if you don’t have a mobile app by tying them to your website.
What Are Push Notifications?
In case you are unfamiliar with push notifications, let’s start with a simple definition. A push notification is an automated notification that gets sent to people who have opted in to receive notifications on your website. The notifications are sent in real time, even if the customer isn’t on your website. In other words, the notification “pushes” through, even at times when a user might seem to be inaccessible.
Some mobile apps opt users in to receive push notifications automatically. However, if you want to use push notifications on your website, you will ask customers to opt in to them the same way you might ask them to opt into your email list.
How Do Customers Opt In for Push Notifications?
The process for opting in to receive push notifications should be a relatively simple one. If you have ever opted in on a site and been asked which topics you want to hear about, you have signed up for push notifications. You have a couple of options when it comes to getting customers to opt in:
- You can provide customers with a list of potential topics when they first opt in and let them select the types of notifications they want to receive.
- You can allow customers to opt in to push notifications on an as-needed basis. Online retailer Zulily does this by letting customers elect to be advised when a particular brand goes on sale. They receive a notification before the brand becomes available, and they can click on the URL in the notification to be taken directly to the sales page for the brand in question.
There are benefits to both options. The first option gives users a sense of control when they are opting in. There are times when giving out your email address can feel like a leap of faith. You can’t be sure what content you’ll be getting. When you let subscribers choose which notifications they receive, you will most likely end up with a lower unsubscribe rate than you might have if you sent everybody everything.
The second option has slightly different benefits because it is even more targeted than the first. When you enable specific push notifications that are geared toward people who are ready to buy from you, you can be reasonably certain that you will get a good return on your investment. That’s because the notifications that are sent with this type of opt-in are very specific. You know that your customer likes a particular brand, and you offer them an easy way to ensure that they don’t miss out on sales or special offers of that brand.
It’s important to note that some websites do feature an opt-in that’s just a pop-up window saying “Website would like to send you push notifications” with no additional information included. While that might be simpler than asking people to choose topics, it’s also not as personal and far more likely to result in people unsubscribing than a targeted opt-in.
Tips for Using Push Notifications
Now that you have a clear idea of what push notifications are and how they work, let’s talk about some of the specific ways you can use them to improve your marketing and increase your sales.
1. Personalized shopping notifications are a very good idea for any local business that wants to attract new customers. There are many different ways you can use this type of notification. For example:
- A restaurant might allow customers to opt in to receive notification of seasonal items or even menu changes. The notification might include a URL that would take the customer to a description of the item in question – or even to the reservations page so they can pick a time to come in and try what you’re offering.
- An apparel store might ask customers to choose their favorite brands or items and then send push notifications based on their preferences. Do you have a customer who loves Kate Spade bags? You can let her known when you’ve received the latest styles, and thus increase the chances that she will come into the store to check them out – and buy one.
- Service providers such as realtors can use push notifications to help customers track available property in a particular area, or within a particular price range. You could even set your push notifications up so clients can track properties with specific features, such as in-ground swimming pools or a certain square footage.
These are just a few examples. Note that all of these are personalized options that cater to an individual customer’s taste and preferences. The most effective push notifications are those that are tailored to the people who receive them.
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2. Promotional push notifications are one of the best ways to get the word out about a sale or special event. After all, if you’re going to have a sale, you want to be sure that you get a good turnout for it – and the same is true if you’re hosting a special event like a party, fashion show, or seminar. Here are some ways you might use push notifications to promote your company:
- Sometimes stores decide to have a sale on short notice. Instead of paying a ton for advertising that your customers might not even see, try sending a push notification instead. You can let them know when the sale is happening, what will be on sale, and how much they can expect to save.
- Are you appearing at a local event such as a fair or fundraiser? You can let your regular customers – who might not normally attend such an event – know, and increase the chances that your appearance will be a successful one.
- Do you have a new product? Push notifications are a great way to get the word out about a new product line or individual product – or even about a new service that you’re offering. Personalized service is becoming increasingly important for local retailers who need to compete with Amazon and other huge online stores. If you’re adding a personal shopping service or something else that might entice customers to come into your store, send them a push notification to let them know about it.
- You can also use push notifications to send out coupons and promotional codes. Everybody loves a discount, and you can let customers opt-in to receive coupons on a regular basis.
3. Again, these are a few basic ideas, but you can use the same technique to promote any aspect of your business that is out of the ordinary, such as a change in your hours or an expansion of your services.
- Transactional push notifications are notifications that are specifically tailored to individual customers based on their buying history with you. Here are some examples of ways that you can use transactional push notifications.
- You can use push notifications to automatically send customers a receipt for a purchase. You can even combine the receipt with a promotional push notification that offers the customer a discount or coupon if they return and make a purchase within a specified period of time.
- You might use a push notification to suggest additional items that go with an item that a customer recently bought. For example, say that your customer bought shoes from you, and a matching bag is also available. You could send them a push notification to let them know that you have the bag in your store.
Both of these options add value and convenience for customers, and they are a good way to use transactional push notifications effectively.
The bottom line is that push notifications are an extremely effective way to interact with customers in a manner that makes them feel valued. Because personalization is so easy, you can deliver a level of customer service that just isn’t possible with traditional marketing – and that can increase customer loyalty and drive up your repeat business.