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5 Push Notification Strategies That Can Help You Re-engage Lost Users

December 13, 2016

So you’ve built yourself a shiny new app. It’s taken months of careful planning, countless late nights, meeting marathons galore and all too many tough decisions to get it just right.

You release the app. It gets a lot of traction early on, with a huge number of downloads. Things are looking promising.

Three days later, you’ve lost 77% of that first group.


Don’t worry. Push notifications can help you get your users back. They serve as a gentle nudge to accomplish two objectives:

  1. To remind your users of something they could have forgotten; and
  2. To bring something to their attention that they may not be aware of.

While push notifications may seem like an easy answer to customer churn, their implementation is not that simple. To get users to retain your app, you need to make it part of their established smartphone ecosystem. Apps don’t exist in a vacuum and every user will already have dozens of other apps that they use each day or each week. The shortcuts are organized on their phones; their behavior has trained them to open them at certain times or in certain situations. Your goal is to slot your app into those behavioral patterns so it becomes something they regularly use.

To help with inserting yourself into your users’ daily lives, here are a few strategies you can use to make the most of push notifications and grab your users’ increasingly dwindling attention.

  • Behavioral Recommendations

The first few days each user downloads your app are the most critical. This is the time that you are top-of-mind and the more you can get them to engage with your app, the higher your chances of their retained engagement.

When you’re trying to make your app integral to someone’s smartphone routine, it’s important to show them how useful it can be. Recommendations are a simple way of doing this. Based on what services they have used, you can provide them with suggestions of other things they may find useful or enjoyable.

For instance, a music app can recommend similar artists, a restaurant app can find similar cuisine options that correspond well with their order history, and a video streaming app can suggest other videos they may enjoy.

These recommendations serve three purposes: showing the client how helpful the app can be, engaging the client in your services again and expanding their knowledge of what the app can do.

  • Time-based Triggers

The main advantage push notifications provide over emails is the greater personalization you can achieve with your delivery. While an email blast to all of your clients at the same time may work for some products, it can be problematic for others.

For example, sending out a national email about breakfast deals may reach some customers as they wake up, but in other time zones the customers will still be asleep. This leaves too much time for people to forget about the offer. By comparison, sending out a push notification offering breakfast deals based on each phone’s local time ensures the offer is received just as people are waking up and has a much greater chance of being utilized.

You can even go one step further and combine the time-based triggers with behavioral recommendations, as discussed above. Learning the times that clients regularly use the app is important data if it can be matched with how they are using the app.

  • Geo-location Tools

Combining users’ digital and physical experiences can be incredibly powerful for brick-and-mortar stores, providing a more intimate and immediate experience than mobile users are generally used to.

Notifications can be triggered from users entering a physical range around the store. These can let them know about special deals and flash sales that might not be advertised elsewhere, providing the thrill of a secret bargain that has not been widely advertised. Or they can simply provide a coupon, valid for a short time only, to encourage the user to enter the store.

Again, if you can combine it with other analytics such as time and behavior, you may be able to offer an incredibly personalized service. Offering a discount on coffee if someone walks past your shop at the same time every morning, or sending a special lunch offer if they visit the same food court every day becomes a strong contextual sales technique.

  • Shopping Cart Reminders

90% of mobile shoppers abandon their carts. There are a number of reasons for this, but sometimes it is simply because they forgot.

Your app can then send them a notification saying “Hey, your cart is still waiting. Don’t forget to finish the purchase!”. The notification can take them to their cart, straight to the checkout page, and either to the last item they were viewing or to suggested items based on what other users have bought with similar products in their cart.

Granted, you aren’t going to get everyone who has abandoned their cart, but 90% failure means there is ample room to finalize more sales.

  • Hyper-personalized Deals

The most complicated of all the strategies, and one that merges elements of each of the above 4 as well, is to be able to offer exclusive deals to select customers based on their behavioral habits. What they view, when they view it, where they are and what stops them from following through and buying it can all be aggregated to help you figure out what to offer them.

If you know that a client keeps looking at a certain product while they’re on the way to work, you can leverage this time that they’re likely to be engaged with the app. If that product, or a similar one, goes on sale, send them a notification at that time.

If someone regularly looks for apartments for sale on their lunch break, let them know if they just walked past one that is available. If someone seems to be trying to plan an overseas holiday, offer them alternative routes or discount fares that might suit them better.

Formulate a Strategy – Right Place, Right Time.

You know the recipe for failure? A good idea with a bad strategy. Using push notifications may seem like a no-brainer, but if you don’t take into account factors like location, time and user demographics, then you are certainly setting yourself up for failure.

In order to boost your engagement rates, it is recommended that you spend sometime early on to devise a push notification strategy that is unique to your target market and buyer persona.

Don’t let your users slip through the cracks! You’ve spent all that time getting your app just right — now it’s time to get those push notifications right, too.

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