AI-powered language optimization for push notifications, and why it works

Jul 11, 2019
Jasper Pye

Since the advent of the smartphone, brands and marketers alike have been searching for a channel capable of delivering timely, relevant content directly to the world’s rapidly-expanding collection of mobile devices. As it turns out, such a marketing channel has been staring the marketing world straight in the face since way back in the heyday of the Blackberry.

That channel is push notifications.

The push notification was originally designed to update Blackberry users in real time whenever a new email arrived in their inbox, thus saving them the time and effort involved in manually checking their email account throughout the day. This seemingly small development in the human-mobile device interface not only made the Blackberry the device of choice for the world’s businesspeople, it also revolutionized the way mobile users interacted with their devices forever.

That tiny, helpful pop-up bubble in the corner of the Blackberry screen went on to become the very foundation of the way the world interacts with mobile devices today.

Push notifications are currently one of the fastest-growing channels in the digital marketing world – and for good reason. With over 5 billion unique mobile subscribers around the world as of this writing, and a wholesale transition away from the desktop and toward mobile currently taking place, finding a way to establish a beachhead on those mobile devices could prove to be an absolute marketing boon for the world’s brands.

Add in the tantalizing relevance/personalization potential on offer and the sky-high mobile app push notification opt-in rates currently being reported, and you’ve got a recipe for a marketing technology arms race the likes of which few have seen since the social network exploded onto the digital scene in the mid-2000s.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what makes an effective push notification marketing strategy in 2019, and how the modern world’s most talked-about technology can help.

What is push notification marketing?

Much like the Blackberry “new email” notifications of old, push notifications offer mobile device users a real-time alert that appears on their device homescreen anytime, anywhere. These notifications appear as pop-up “bubbles” and generally include a call-to-action (CTA) to take some further action.

On mobile devices, sending push notifications requires an “opt-in” where the mobile device user must give permission for each app to individually send such notifications. For web-based push notifications, browsers prompt users to make the decision to opt-in or not.

Once permission has been granted by a user opting in, brands can then send push notifications based on a number of user data points i.e. the user’s location, past purchase behavior, and the time of day (among many others!).

Marketing push notifications generally “alert” a device’s user to a specific discount/offer/promotion and invite them to take action, although brands have been PUSHing the envelope (see what we did there?) of late with a new offering known as “rich push” where images and other media may be included as a part of the notification.

What makes a push notification strategy work?

In the world of push notifications (at least for the moment), relevance and language are king and queen. Delivering the right message at the right time to the right person is the key to successful push notification marketing.

Mobile devices offer a great deal of useful user data to any brand hoping to deliver a timely, relevant message right at the moment when it can have the biggest potential to prompt a user to take action, thus driving revenue (which is the whole point, right?).

However, as Phrasee CEO Parry Malm likes to point out, focusing too narrowly on relevance has its pitfalls. A better strategy, he posits, is to “focus on not being irrelevant”. Avoiding irrelevance and concentrating on keeping user perception of your brand’s push messaging from sliding into the “spammy nuisance” category has a great deal of value in the push notification game.

Just because so much user data is available, however, doesn’t mean you always have to use it. Strategies perceived as invasive, dishonest, or manipulative will accomplish little more than turning off consumers and causing them to opt-out. That’s something every brand should be looking to avoid.

That’s why using on-brand, quality language in push notifications is so crucial. If your push notifications don’t offer value, and if they don’t reflect positively on your brand, you are likely wasting your time sending push notifications at all. Respecting the brand-consumer relationship and crafting your push notification language in a way that reflects this respect can make all the difference in the world.

Luckily, artificial intelligence technology can help any brand accomplish exactly that.

How can AI help?

Since they are so language-heavy, the quality of copywriting in push notifications has a particularly high impact on their performance. Even for email subject lines – digital marketing’s other language-first channel – the first thing a subscriber sees is invariably who sent it. Only then will a subscriber look at the subject line. Push notifications, on the other hand, put language at the center of attention.

That’s why AI language generation and optimization tools have had so much success in improving push notification performance. Any push notification marketing message has thousands – if not millions – of linguistic variables at play. With so many different ways to structure any push notification message available, finding just the right combination of linguistic elements ensures that each push message is presented in the way that delivers maximum revenue-driving potential.

This language importance shows on Phrasee’s incredible track record of 44% median uplift with push performance. We have seen that, at scale, optimizing the language of a push notification can have a significant positive impact on user interactions.

Pushing for a more lucrative mobile marketing future

Push notifications represent a powerful option for reaching and engaging modern consumers. The potential this channel has for revolutionizing the ways in which consumers interact with brands can scarcely be overestimated.

However, it behooves brands and marketers to tread lightly here. Utilize push in a way that feels invasive and doesn’t respect the privacy of those you are trying to reach, and they’ll close the door on you just as quickly as they opened it.

Testing and optimizing your brand’s approach to ensure a positive user experience is the only sensible way forward.

If you aren’t using every tool at your disposal (including AI) to make the most of your push notification footprint, you could be missing out on a golden marketing opportunity.

About the Author

Jasper Pye

One of the original members of Phrasee’s founding team, Jasper’s active involvement in the building of Phrasee’s beta product and his uncanny ability to complete every single task he was ever assigned on time made him a natural fit as Phrasee’s Product Lead. With extensive design experience specializing in UX and UI/product design, Jasper has been integral in ensuring Phrasee’s world-leading AI is accessible, easy-to-use, and simple to plug into each customer’s MarTech stack. With Jasper at the helm, Phrasee’s awesome product is in excellent hands!