Tag: push notification service

3 Ways to Optimize Agency Push Campaigns

optimize push campaign on a phone

Push campaigns and push notifications always play a crucial role when it comes to app engagement and monetization. If you’re a mobile app agency delivering push campaigns for clients, a well optimized push campaign, that utilizes highly personalized, timely and relevant push messaging, can help to bring dormant users back into your client’s app. It can also help to stimulate deeper levels of engagement with users who are already frequently using the app and casual app users can be prompted to make a purchase. We recently explored the steps you should take to create your first successful agency push campaign and how to grow recurring revenue using push. In this post, we’ll be exploring how to optimize push campaigns.

When you’re delivering targeted push campaigns for your app clients, there’s nothing worse than deploying the wrong messages to the wrong users. Providing context and value in a timely way, with the right degree of cadence and frequency, is absolutely key – but getting to this point can be  tricky. The only way to accelerate your progress, and deliver better results for your clients in the long-term, is to get serious with the data and campaign analytics.

Push messaging is also the best way to engage and monetize users while also preventing them from  abandoning and deleting the app. If you’re already running a push campaign for your agency clients, it’s time to start thinking about how you can leverage the power of your campaign analytics to deliver better results.

If you’re looking to optimize your push campaigns, here are some of the things you should consider:

1) Work out how to increase push opt-in rates

All mobile app users are familiar with the message that appears when an app is first downloaded requesting opt-in to future push messaging campaigns. The reality is that most users will elect not to opt-in to your clients push campaign. App users will spend time downloading many apps, but will only opt-in to a small percentage of push campaigns in order to avoid promotional message overload. You need to work with your app client to understand how you can get permission to access the user’s home screen. The best way to do this is to ask for permission at exactly the right time and avoid making it too easy for app users to opt-out. You need to provide a clear call-to-action and provide a value statement in terms of what the app user can expect to gain as a consequence of an opt-in. This is all about trust and convincing the app user that you will not deploy push messaging that is irrelevant, overly frequent and overly intrusive.

When it comes to increasing push opt-in rates, the best way to get started is to benchmark your current performance. The rate at which users opt-in to push campaigns will vary massively depending upon the type of app you’ve developed for your client. But the key is to understand your current level of performance using your analytics package and develop a performance improvement program. You can get started by working out the total number of downloads your app has received and dividing this number by the total volume of app users who have opted in. This will provide a clear picture of the ratio of app users that opt-in to push messaging versus the total number of downloads. What you;re trying to achieve is to increase the number of users who opt-in relative to the overall number of downloads. If your clients app currently receives a 20% opt-in rate, think carefully about how you can increase the number to 30%, 40% or even as high as 50%.

You should also think about providing a clear time frame in which you expect this to happen and work towards that goal. Remember, it’s essential that you manage the expectations of your app client and constantly strive to under-promise and over-deliver. The only way you can create a realistic level of expectation is to benchmark current performance and implement a series of measures that will help your client work towards their push opt-in goals.

For example, if you tell your client you can increase opt-in rates from 20% to 50% within a 3 month time frame, you’ll need to have a fixed idea of the actions you plan to use in order to make this happen. If you’re unsure, or not confident you can hit the numbers, go back to the drawing board and create a series of targets that are sensible. You’ll need to focus on timing, using a clear call-to-action at opt-in level and a clear statement of why the app user should opt-in.

Test different messaging techniques in terms of creative copy and make sure you get the timing right. You should check the analytics to test the performance of each variation and triple down on the tactics that consistently deliver a higher percentage of opt-in’s relative to the overall number of app downloads.

2) Create user segments and strive to improve relevancy

For most mobile agencies, managing push notifications for app clients can be a tricky business. There is always one sure fire way to get push messaging campaigns wrong, and that’s to adopt a blanket bomb approach whereby you deploy a one-size-fits-all message to an entire audience. The reality is, that within any push audience, the same message will not be applicable to all users. The way to overcome this is to segment your app clients push audience into different groups based on behavioral and spending characteristics.

One easy way to get started with audience segmentation, is to break down your audience according to who have made a purchase (assuming monetization is your goal) and app users who are yet to buy. If you have assets that can be used to stimulate engagement for app users who are early in the buying cycle (such as a whitepaper, questionnaire or downloadable report), you can even create a three phase approach whereby users can be organized into early buying cycle, mid buying cycle and late buying cycle.

Again, if monetization is what your app client wants, you can start by focusing on users who have already made a purchase and send push messages that promote in app purchases. You can further segment the app users who have paid already into bands, from light spenders, to mid-tier spending users, all the way up to the ‘whales’ (these are the small percentage of users that create the vast majority of revenue from within your customers app). Using your push analytics, you can target the whales with high-ticket promotional offers and provide more cost effective alternatives for app users who are deemed to be more price sensitive.

If app users have lapsed in terms of engagement, you can ping them a push message offering them a free trial or a special discount. You can also think about analyzing which of your users have the most social connections and incentivize them to share with their network of friends.

There are a million different ways to segment your app client’s audience. But the key is to use your analytics package to focus on adopting the tactics that you can prove will consistently deliver results. The aim of the game is to push app users through the buying cycle, from people who have never made a purchase all the way through to the big spenders. Again, if you’re currently adopting a one-size fits all approach, you’ll need to benchmark the existing performance of your efforts, create a plan in terms of your goals and establish a timeframe in which you can achieve targets for your app client. It’s important to have regular meetings with your app client to explore the analytics, explain your rationale in terms of how you can improve the performance and produce regular reports that outline how your agency is performing relative to the agreed plan of action.

3) Focus on the right data points

When it comes to push campaign analysis and ongoing push campaign optimization, it’s better to do the right thing badly than the wrong thing well. In other words, you can do an OK job of analyzing the right data points and get results, but if you’re focused on the wrong things, you’ll never succeed on behalf of your clients – no matter how hard you try. Sometimes, the right data points to analyze are not always the most obvious ones. It’s easy to look at the wrong metrics and focus on doing the wrong things. Very often, app open rates will feel like the right thing to analyze, but might not adequately reflect the end goal of your clients campaign. Unless the end goal of the campaign is to reinvigorate lapsed or dormant app users, then this is not the KPI you should be focused on.

So in order to focus on the right data points, you need to understand what success loptimize push campaigns for app performanceooks like on behalf of your app client. You should involve your app client at the very start of the push messaging campaign and work out exactly what they want to achieve. This will depend upon their own commercial goals and objectives.

Once you have a clear understanding of what your app client wishes to achieve, you should develop a smart set of goals that you can work towards. You should track, via reporting, on an ongoing basis the success of the push campaign relative to the original objectives. If you’re over performing, you can raise the bar and increase the targets (this is a sure fire way to consistently delight your app clients), or if things aren’t going according to plan, you need to ensure that the clients expectations are too high, or that you’re simply not doing the right things in order to help them hit their goals.

If the goal is to increase sales revenue, it’s absolutely essential that you learn to track sales conversions. If the goal of the campaign is to stimulate social virility, you need to triple down on the number of app download invites sent versus the number of invites accepted. Working out what to analyze doesn’t need to be a permanent fix either, you can always change the focus of your analysis as the campaign develops and in conjunction with your customers commercial goals (these may also change over time).

The key is to be flexible, create a sensible starting point based on your app clients requirements, and analyze and adapt the campaign over time, according to what works and the overarching strategic objectives. Use your analytics to chart where you are in reality, relative to your goals and app KPI’s. Once you have an understanding of how your clients push campaign is performing relative to the campaign goals, you can develop a strategic roadmap that enables you to continuously optimize your push campaigns.

Why Optimize Push Campaigns?

If you’re a mobile agency developing apps for clients, you’ll already be aware of the value of implementing a well crafted push campaign to decrease opt-out rates, increase app engagement and stimulate monetization. Launching your first push campaign can feel like a daunting process, but this can be a key driver when it comes to developing recurring revenue for your company. But getting push messaging campaigns right involves serious commitment to the data and analytics in order to optimize the performance of each app on behalf of your customers.

Remember, their success equals success for your agency – so it’s essential that you’re providing the right advice at the right times. You’ll need to focus on how to increase opt-in rates (depending on your client’s objectives), how to improve push messaging relevance through audience segmentation AND develop a plan that only factors in the most important areas of data analysis.

Creating agency push notification campaigns in 7 easy steps

Push Notification Campaigns

Creating effective and compelling Push Notification Campaigns has never been more important. It’s a huge challenge for App Publishers to build a strong and highly engaged user base for their app. And you, as their mobile app adviser, are in the perfect position to help them with this challenge. This blog shows 7 steps to help you build awesome push notification campaigns for your clients and a highly engaged user base for their app.

App Stores are now reaching saturation in terms of the numbers of apps that are available. With millions of apps now available to download, and hundreds of thousands of new apps being launched every month, keeping app users engaged with your client’s apps has never been harder. As a mobile agency you have a great opportunity to help optimize the performance of your client’s apps, after launch, so users aren’t tempted away. You need to think about new ways to retain app users and continually re-engage the existing audience, if you are to deliver a positive Return on the Investment for the money your clients have spent with you. It’s also the best way to build a long and strong customer relationship.

Push Notification CampaignsAs this graph from recent blog by Clearbridge Mobile illustrates, it’s getting harder and harder to retain loyal users. The key challenge for any app owner is to find every way possible to drive up App Engagement or ,as they call it here, App Stickiness.  As an app development agency, app engagement is a key consideration in terms of how you deliver more value for clients. One of the best ways to achieve this goal, is to develop a push campaign for your client’s app project. Today we’re exploring how to start your first push notification campaign.

What are Push Notification Campaigns?

Push notification campaigns are a great way to help your mobile app agency deliver increased value for clients. In their simplest form, push messages are short notifications that can be programmed to appear on the app users home screen, whether the app is on the home screen or back-grounded on the device.

Push messages can be delivered in two different ways. Firstly, programmed to appear based on the app user’s behavior or specific information they have asked to receive: they have unpurchased items in their shopping cart, they haven’t fore-grounded the app in a while or a requested alert, like a bad weather warning.  The second delivery method is segmented push notification campaigns. These are typically where someone decides to send a message to all or just a select group of app users – say offering a coupon discount for their service or a re-engagement campaign giving an incentive to app users who haven’t used the service in a while.

From here this blog focuses mostly on segmented push notification campaigns. This is one of the best services you can offer your clients to get their app on retainer with you. The closer you stay to your clients, once their app is launched, the more chance you have of picking up follow on work from them. And the more retainer income you can build for your business, the easier it is to plan and manage. It’s the classic Win/Win. Your clients win, because you are helping them with one of their biggest challenges – growing  frequency of app use and building a highly engaged user base. You win by building a better business. A business built on a strong recurring revenue from clients. And, as a result, a business that’s worth many times more, should you come to sell.

1) Adopt a data driven philosophy

Delivering successful push notification campaigns for your app clients can be tricky. In today’s lightning paced mobile world, the key to success lies in the data. Your client’s push notification campaigns chances of success will depend on your ability as mobile agency to form a distinct set of campaign KPI’s, Your main goal is to focus on deploying tactics to deliver those KPI’s and your ability to refine these techniques over time, based on the data and analytics. If you’re not obsessing over the numbers, chances are your clients push messaging campaign (and the app itself) will be doomed to fail.

You can analyze app open rates, but this will only provide part of the overall picture. If you’re deploying a sales promotion for your client, or a discount code, you need to actually understand the impact the campaign is having on sales. Using the right analytics and best fit push messaging solution will provide all of the data you need. This means you need to think about creating certain conversion points within your app in order to measure the influence of your push campaign on sales activity. You should send a report, at least once per month, to present to your app clients and demonstrate on an ongoing basis how you intend to bolster future push messaging performance.

2) Segment your audience

The world of mobile app marketing is a seriously competitive place. The only way to execute successful push notification campaigns is to establish a highly focused approach when communicating with app users. Using a standardized, one size fits all mode of delivery will likely result in the failure of the campaign. The only way to solve this problem is to use a push messaging platform that enables you to segment your audience based on previous push interactions, personal characteristics and buyer behavior. Think very carefully about how you can organize each of your push messaging users into distinct buckets. Each segment should share similar traits and characteristics which will in turn help you to develop a more personalized approach. Understanding who your app users are will help you to deliver push messages that cause them to interact with your client’s app, convert and generate new revenue streams (or boost existing ones).

If you’re client is selling a particular product, think about targeting previous customers who have already displayed tangible buying signals with a new, yet highly relevant offer. Your client’s app users will appreciate the attention to detail and will give you a higher probability of achieving a conversion or sale. If you want to target app users who are early in the buying cycle and who have not yet completed a purchase, think about sending them discount codes and other incentives to complete their first transaction. Push messaging is all about building trust with app users and understanding the tactics and techniques that will increase their probability of a sale. You can go much deeper than this approach in terms of segmentation, but generally speaking, segmenting your first push messaging campaign into users who have not already bought, and users who have made a purchase, will enable you to develop a sensible approach when executing your campaign.

3) Develop KPI’s & a strong call to action

Before you even think about executing your first agency campaign, you need to start with the end in mind. We’ve already discussed the importance of using conversion points to measure the effectiveness of your push notification campaigns, but first you’ll need to think about developing a strong call to action that actively enables your app client to hit their KPI’s. Choosing the correct KPI’s is also vitally important. You’ll need a set of numeric goals that you can measure over time to demonstrate that you’re doing a good job in return for your monthly retainer. Measuring open rates, abandonment rates and contribution to sales/inquiries will give you a rough starting point. Once you’ve established what you’re trying to do, you need to think of a compelling call to action that encourages app users to convert.

Push messaging is all about context and timing. If you want to create a compelling call to action, you’ll need to think about these factors very carefully. So if you’re working with an app client to deploy a push campaign around a specific promotion or deal, you need to clearly explain to the app user what they need to do in order to receive the discount or special offer. You’ll also need to consider the actual sales process itself, and make sure there are no hiccups in your app UI that prevent users from making a purchase or accessing a specific offer. Think carefully about how you articulate (in a concise manner) what the app user needs to do and what the next steps in the process are. Create a sense of urgency (only available for the next 24 hours), convey your actual value proposition (get 50% off if you order now) and then deliver the right call to action (Swipe left to take advantage of this incredible offer!).

You’ll need to think about the character limit and formatting style for each push message and work carefully within the associated constraints. If you deliver content that is relevant to the right segment of your push audience, with the right call to action, you’ll greatly increase your chances of delivering a successful campaign for your client. Make sure, when you setup your campaign (especially if you’re using deep links), to direct app users to the right landing page. If you’ve offered them a specific deal for a specific product or service, make sure that the app user is delivered to the right page. Failure to get this right will send abandonment rates through the roof and is unlikely to impress your client. Be clear, use compelling and actionable messaging, and make sure the app user is delivered to the right landing page.

4) Make sure you get frequency and timing right

When is the best time to deploy push notification campaigns? Answer: not in the middle of the night when your client’s app users are liable to be sleeping. How often should you deploy push messaging campaigns on behalf of your client? Answer: enough so as to provide an engaging experience likely to stimulate sales activity, but not so much that you turn them off and they delete the app. Essentially, frequency and timing are two of the most vital factors to consider when planning a push messaging campaign. When you send push messages to app users, the message will often be accompanied by (depending on the user’s individual phone settings) a vibration or ringtone. This is a very easy way of ensuring app users delete your client’s app or opt out of future campaigns. If you’re deploying messages across multiple international locations, you’ll need a solution that ensures each user does not receive a message at the wrong time. Consider time differences across territories and work out how this impacts your plans. You should also consider seasonality, time of year and holidays so that you can avoid inappropriate messages being delivered at the wrong times, and increase your probability of a conversion or sale by using seasonal messaging. Creating offers for Halloween, summer holidays or the festive season can be an awesome way to grab the app user’s attention.

Considering frequency of push deployment is also critical for success. Overloading the app user with too many messages in any given time frame will result in app deletions and future campaign opt-outs. How to define frequency is a separate consideration and will depend entirely upon the type of business your app client is operating. If it’s a news app, users might expect to receive 5 or 6 messages in one day. If this works for your client’s campaign, then great, keep doing it. If it proves (based on the data and analytics) to upset your users, then stop doing it. This means applying some common sense and a painstakingly pragmatic approach to push. However, if your app client’s business is retail, it’s unlikely the end app user will expect to see half a dozen messages each day. When it comes to the hard sell, less is generally more. The reality is, if at any stage you’re unsure about the frequency of deployment, the chances are you’re already verging on push overload. Think about this very carefully and apply the right amount of throttle control at the right times.

5) Provide an easy way to opt-in and opt-out

Providing an opt-out clause is absolutely essential if you’re to maintain the trust of each app user. There’s nothing worse than bombarding app users with content that don’t add any real value to their experience with your client’s brand or business. Any decent push messaging platform with come with a solution that enables app users to opt-out with ease (assuming they’ve had a bad experience) so you should consider the right platform carefully (we’ll come onto this part later).

There are essentially two key points during the app onboarding process at which you should provide an opt-in message. The app user will be asked if they’d like to opt-in to future push messages when they first download the app. They’ll also be notified with an opt-in message the first time they download the app. The key aspect to consider with a push opt-in, is how to build trust with your user. The best way to build trust is to be honest, open and transparent with your messaging. If you want to increase opt-in rates, you’ll need to convey why push messages will add value to their app experience. The first step in the process is to create a set of realistic expectations in the app users mind, the second step is to ensure that you consistently deliver against these expectations.

6) Rigorous split testing

Good mobile app marketing, much like any other marketing activity, is all about pragmatism, rigorous process and discipline. We’ve already highlighted the importance of adopting a data driven mindset, and developing a decent split testing process requires serious attention to detail and commitment to analytics. When refining your push campaign, you’ll need to focus on interpreting the data, rather than making decisions based on subjective, anecdotal evidence. If you’ve never run a split test before, the process is relatively simple. You start off with a campaign hypothesis. This means developing a targeted approach for a specific audience segment, with two variations, and working out which variation of your hypothesis works best. The first version of your message is referred to as the ‘control’ and each adapted version of your original message is referred to as a ‘variation’. You can test which messaging techniques and tactics work best by analyzing the data and understanding which variations of your approach are liable to result in conversions and sales for your client.

7) Use the right push notification campaign provider

Finding the right provider for your push notification campaigns is essential. There are a whole bunch of push platforms you can choose from, and selecting the right provider will mean researching which platform is most likely to fill the marketing objectives of your client. Each platform will possess a unique feature set so it’s worth trialing each platform and judging it on its own merits to see what works for you. The best way to do this is to draw up a mobile marketing plan for your client and discuss each platform in turn based on the value that it can add to your campaign.

Here at Kumulos, we’re working with mobile app agencies across the world helping them deliver highly targeted push campaigns that add value to their clients and app users. If you’re interested in what we have to offer, then check this out.

Conclusion

So there you have it, if you’re a mobile app agency looking to execute push notification campaigns for your clients, you’ll now understand how to create your first messaging campaign in seven easy steps and how to make sure that you drive app user engagement. It all comes down to having a data-driven mentality, segmenting your client’s app audience based on buying behaviors and characteristics, developing clear KPI’s and a compelling call to action. You’ll also need to consider the frequency and timing of message deployment, provide a simple opt-in/opt-out mechanism, adopt a disciplined split testing process and find the right push notification provider.

 

Push notification service – 5 easy steps to grow recurring revenue

Push Notification Service

 

In this post, we’ll explore how to get going with one of the easiest recurring revenue offerings — a push notification service for your customer’s mobile apps.

One of the biggest concerns any mobile app publisher will have is “Will my app be a success?”. And while success comes in many forms, ultimately it’s about app user engagement — getting more people using the app, more often. There’s nothing more frustrating for a client, (and for you I guess) than investing time and cash, in an app, and it becoming a “static” statistic — one the 83% of apps that become zombie apps.

As an agency, you have a great opportunity to help your clients and manage this concern. It’s your job, after all, to make sure the app you give them is a great app. In the eyes of the client greatness comes in two parts. First, an app that does the job it’s set out to do. Second, an app with a community of highly engaged users delivering the business results your client needs to get a return on investment. Many Mobile App Development Agencies focus hard on the first part, with little attention paid to helping build highly engaged users.

But you’re different. Right? You stay with your clients through the life of the app, so your clients get a better outcome from their sizable investment with you. That’s why big companies the length and breadth of the land work with you, year after year. They stay with you because you continue to offer them value, by continually helping their app perform better and better. That’s why you are special, that’s why YOU are different.

So in this blog we’ll show you one way to do this with a Push Notification Service. This is a great place to start building services that tackle that second stage of “greatness”, customer engagement, AND a perfect service to start building agency recurring revenue. A Push Notification Service lets you stay with your customers through the life of their app; working with them to building highly engaged user community for their app. Your customers win. They get a better app. You win. You build recurring revenue services that will give you a better business. A business that’s built on strong foundations of recurring revenue. A business that’s worth 8–10 times more when you come to sell.

Why are Recurring Revenue Services Important?

At Kumulos we get the chance to talk to and work with some of the largest and most successful mobile app development agencies in the world. One thing struck us a while back. Big mobile app development agencies generate a large share of client income from recurring revenue services. The question is: Do they do this because they are big? Or have they grown big because they do this? Well, we asked them. And they told us, every one of them, that building a monthly recurring revenue base for their business was the single most important ingredient in allowing them to succeed. They said it gave them the breathing space to innovate and grow, by taking the edge off meeting monthly expenses, like payroll. They said it took stress out of the decision to scale, removing some of the anxiety that they’d over-stretch themselves.

When we asked them to think back about the challenges they said the biggest problem was knowing how to get started: which services to pick, how to package them up and how to price. So to help you get started, in this blog we’ve picked a Push Notification Service. Its one of the easiest places to start and can offer real impact on the successful outcome of your clients app.

What is a push notification service and how does it help my agency grow?

A Push Notification Service is a series of campaigns driven by your mobile app agency to increase user engagement within your customer’s apps. The types of campaign you build will depend on what the objectives of the app are and where you need to make the biggest improvement, so you focus resources on the areas that will have the biggest impact on the outcome your client needs from their app.

Push Notifications are a great way to remind your client’s app users that you’re thinking of them. Push campaigns for your client’s app users should act as a discreet nudge, rather than being overly sales focused or intrusive. They are there to draw wandering app users back into the app by offering them information or something that they find useful. Push messages should also be timely, well personalized (you can do this by segmenting your audience into different groups) and highly engaging, without each message being perceived as an annoyance.

Why your customers value them so much is because they drive engagement within their user base. Users that are in the app regularly and have been in the app recently going to be highly engaged with the app. The more engaged users the better the app will perform.

So here are 5 ways you can create your first agency push notification service:

1. Start small and scale up

If you’re new to running push notification campaigns for your clients, the best thing to do is to start small, scale up gradually and use a Build/Test/Learn/Optimize approach. Many App Agencies start by working with an existing customer who has a decent sized user base, but has struggled to get that user base to engage.

Understanding the client and their app users is going to be important here, so you can build the right sort of campaign for them. Once you crack this with one client it’s relatively easy to then wrap this up in a service and offer it to the rest of your clients or to new prospects apps that you’d like to work with. Showing new customers how you can drive success for them is a sure-fire way to win that next mobile app project from them.

2. Cover all of the major push bases

This part is obviously very important. You can’t deliver great push campaigns for your clients until you have the basics covered. The good news is that there are some great quick wins when it comes to creating your first push notification service for clients.

You need to have a high percentage of your app users with Push Notifications enabled. These won’t be enabled by default by the app. They are an opt-in feature. It goes without saying that there’s little point sinking effort into running push campaigns if very few of the current app users have push messages enabled. How the app invites users to accept push messages is really important. Make sure it’s clear why this service will be valuable to them and make sure that there is a critical feature in the app that needs push enabled. A quick win here is to look carefully at the app onboarding process and see how you can improve the percentage of new app downloads that activate push within the app. Next is to see how many existing users you can get push enabled for. If there’s a new feature coming out that needs push, this is a great opportunity.

Creating user segments is a huge selling point when suggesting a push notification service to new and existing clients. The days of effective mass-marketing techniques are long gone and it’s essential that you adopt a tailored approach for each customer you work with. ‘Blanket bomb’ push messaging is grossly ineffective and leads to high push notification opt-out rates. It’s important to work with each app you develop to identify clear user segments based on behavioral traits and characteristics of their users. The segments you pick will in part be driven by the nature of the app and what your client needs to achieve. The trick is then using the right messaging to target each individual user segment.

Great push messages always possess a clear call to action (CTA). Once app users have opted in, they expect mobile marketing messages to be delivered in a highly targeted and contextually relevant manner. Avoid fluffy language in your messages and make sure that whatever action you’re asking the app user to perform, that it’s clear, concise, and most importantly, liable to deliver value for your app client. Convey urgency in your messaging and make it clear what your client is offering.

Timing is essential. Make sure you always use the right time zone and avoid waking app users up in the middle of the night. This is one sure fire way to generate eye watering opt-out rates. Using holidays or special events can also be a great way to ensure that your messages are perceived in a contextually considerate way. Timing is essential, but frequency of deployment is also crucial. Be very careful when it comes to defining push frequency. Over communicating is almost as bad as no communication at all. So strike the right balance between frequency and the relevance of the message to that target segment.

So having covered the basics of your first client push campaign, it’s time to start thinking about how you test and manage on an ongoing basis. Use split testing to create and analyze different variations of each message and test varying message lengths and styles to suit your client’s audience.

3. Prove that you can deliver great value

Proving that you can deliver great value is all about having the right reporting and analytics tools in place for the app, at the get go. This also means always starting with the end in mind and define with your client what the key measures of success and performance indicators will be. This might tie into engagement such as the ratio of daily active users to monthly active users, number of downloads with push enabled or monetization of push notification offers. What is success, of course, depends on your customer’s priorities for their app. So make sure you agree a clear set of KPI’s based on the technical and commercial priorities.

We’ve touched on this earlier, but it’s important so worth mentioning again. You’ll need to focus on increasing opt-in rates and minimizing the number of app users that opt-out and abandon your campaign. This is not just something that you can do once and forget about, it’s about constantly finding new ways to optimize the performance of your app clients push campaigns. An area where you can constantly provide value to your clients and a service that should be baked into your Push Notification Service Offering. To prove your value, make sure you produce reports monthly and that you are offering insight and recommendations on how things can be improved, rather than just giving clients the raw data. That said, there is a place for just communicating raw information. See the section on pricing below.

Make sure you Test, Test, Test. If certain tactics (perhaps altering frequency of deployment and style of messaging) prove to be successful, then you know where to double down your efforts. Similarly, if certain push techniques aren’t working and causing high app abandonment rates, dial them back. This is common sense of course, but it’s easy to lose sight of this, so worth stressing.

4. Roll out your services

Once you’ve proved a Push Notification Service can be successful for your first customer, you can start to consider how your market them to your existing customer base and to new customers. The trick here is to leverage the success of your first client campaign to convey value to other clients. Again, this will all come down to analytics and concise reporting that gives prospective push notification service customers an insight into why this is essential to drive success for your clients app. You need to convey that you’re focused on the right push notification KPI’s and develop marketing programs for your agency that enable you to scale up your push notification service. This may be as simple as baking this service into your sales process and customer on-boarding, to making sure that all new customers know this is just part of your standard offering. It may be targeting existing customers to get them to adopt this or it may also be a very lucrative way to target existing apps built by our competition. Competition that most likely is only focused on the build phase of the app.

Often one of the best ways to achieve this is by having a dedication optimization account manager. Generally speaking, app developers are not always best positioned to deliver optimization and push services to clients, and it’s tough to make the leap and hire someone in the hope that someone will buy. Kumulos may be able to help you here. We support App Agencies who want to offer these services, but don’t have the in-house skills right now. We offer Kick Start App Optimization Services that helps you get going. We act as your optimization back office and then transition this to you once you’re ready.

5. Get your pricing right

Most Agencies want their Push Notification Service to make them money, so it’s important that you have it priced correctly. If you don’t already have a push notification system in place that enables you to deliver these services, there are a bunch of different platforms that you can choose. Find a decent platform that fulfils your app client’s goals and make sure that you’re able to access the right analytics to measure KPI’s. Ideally try and use a platform that enables you to package up these KPI’s into a weekly or monthly report that outlines the success of each campaign and makes recommendations in terms of what you plan to do in order to enhance campaign performance.

A good way to structure your offer is to have a number (three seems to work best) service packages and offer tiered pricing. This gives you two advantages. First it allows you to sell progressive services, services that you can upsell when the client is ready to take a more strategic service for you. It also lets you show that’s you can “right fit” the service for each client. A tailored service rather than a one size fits all.

First Tier – Reactive Push Notification Service

This is as you’d guess simply reporting on the key metrics of push within the app. Things like percentage of downloads that have push enabled, the number of push notifications sent, the number opened, the number of unsubscribes. This is a good entry level service, just to let your customers see how things are performing. It’s a fully automated service, so you’d sell it at low price to get the customer used to paying you monthly.

Second Tier – Proactive Push Notification Service

As you’d guess it’s a bit more involved and your customer pay more for it. It covers the same metrics as the reactive push notification service, but offers insight and commentary into what should be done to drive the numbers in the right direction. Improvements to the app onboarding to drive up notification opt-ins, changes to messages to drive down opt-out rates and more. This is a great way to flag up work your customer needs done. Work that you would do for an additional fee.

Third Tier – Managed Push Notification Service

This is where you run everything for them. All the campaigns, all the messaging. Everything. You agree the KPI’s and targets up front and you commit to delivering that for them. To do this you really need to have a good understanding of the customer and their target audience, so most App Agencies progress to this having first delivered Reactive, then Proactive Push Notification Services. Of course, this is the highest cost and highest margin service you can offer and an awesome way to really get close and stay close to the client.

The critical thing here is to consider the cost of deploying your push notification services in terms of systems and labor. You’ll find that it will be pretty labor-intensive at first to build highly effective and highly engaging campaigns. So make sure you allow for this in the price you agree with your customers. Also make sure that your app customers are committed to you with a monthly retainer. This lets you plan with more confidence and know it’s worthwhile sinking that effort in up front, safe in the knowledge that you are building a long relationship with the client and, of course, a long term revenue stream for your App Agency.

Final words on building a Push Notification Service

So, one of the key ingredients for building a successful (and valuable) mobile app business is an underpin of monthly recurring revenue. It takes the edge of your monthly running costs and makes sure that money keeps coming in, no matter how busy you are. There are many services that you can offer, but the best ones are those most closely aligned to the needs and desired outcomes of your clients. A Push Notification Service isn’t right for every client or every app. But for those that need a highly engaged user community this is the easiest way to deliver services that customers will pay monthly for. It’s also easy to build clear KPI’s for your work so you can easily demonstrate your value add.

Here at Kumulos, we’re fanatical about helping mobile app agencies grow and we have some awesome features to help you achieve these goals. If you’re a mobile agency looking to increase monthly recurring revenue streams, check out Kumulos today and sign-up for free.

Best Alternative to Parse Push Notification

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Parse Push Notification Service is ending. With the surprise announcement that Facebook is closing the shutters completely on Parse, there are a lot of mobile app developers who use Parse Push Notification left with the headache of what to do next. But as you’ll know, its OK, you have some time, the service wont be withdrawn until the end of January 2017. But the sad part is that the Parse Push service wont be open-sourced like other parts of Parse. So you’ll be forced to find an alternative to Parse Push.

So no point in hanging about.

What’s the Best Alternative for Parse Push?

You have two routes you can go. Take on a free standing push notification service and integrate that with the server-side of your app project or pick a provider that offers you a push service that is already integrated within a backend. The route that right for you will depend on many things including how comfortable you are with the overhead of building and maintaining the integration between your push service and your mBaaS platform. Also whether you will actually need some of the specialist features that come with the free standing systems and whether they are worth paying extra for those features.

So here’s a short summary of the best alternatives to Parse Push Notifications. Its not designed to be an exhaustive list. There are dozens of services out there, each having their own merits and no doubt de-merits. But maybe this will help you short-list what to use once the Parse Push Notification service finally shuts down.

Kumulos Push

Kumulos Push is the only Push Notification Service that is purpose built for Mobile App Development Companies. As such it has a range of features that are specifically designed to help make App Developers lives easier, and help them get more apps that they build on monthly retainer. It doesn’t aim to be as full featured as the specialist stand-alone systems. Kumulos offers a push notification service that strikes a good balance between ease of use, functionality and price. It gives you the choice of using their push platform stand alone with an existing mobile backend platform, or already integrated within the Kumulos mBaaS platform. Either option also lets you give your mobile app clients access to their own push notification dashboard that allows them to run their own push campaigns and measure the results.

There is also the option of an automated monthly report. This is typically offered by Mobile App Development Agencies to their clients as a service on monthly retainer.

Pricing

This is one place that Kumulos Push scores highly. Fixed monthly pricing fits well with mobile app developers offering Push Notification as a Service to their customers. Kumulos starts from as little as $50.00 per month which gives you an unlimited number of notifications each month, there is also a 30 Day Free Trial available.

Carnival

Carnival is definitely worth a look if you are looking for a system well featured system to run complex push notification campaigns.  It  seem to offer a well balanced push notification services catering for the needs of developers and the marketing team that will be running the push notification campaigns. Too often push notification services are bias towards developers needs, so its good to see Carnival getting the balance right.

Their push notification services offers rich messaging, granular audience segmentation, message automation that includes timezone (and language) settings and narrow geo-fencing targeting and user behavior analytics that can be automated and sent directly to your inbox.

I’d say they definitely have to be up there when considering an alternative to Parse Push.

Pricing

This looks to be a closely guarded secret so best to email them if you want a demo or to find out if your project can afford them.

Streethawk

StreetHawks Push Notification Services have  good platform coverage iOS, Andriod, Phonegap, Xamarin, Corona, Telerik, Titanium. They say, and it seems to make sense, that if apps don’t use deferred deep linking properly it can lose 70% of its users day 3 from the first install. So StreetHawk put a lot of emphasis on this within their “Growth Offering”. But their real strength comes in their “Engage” offering. It offers impressive features around segmentation and life-cycle management, highly configurable push notification services and rich in app content. Their iBeacon and geo-fencing functionality is also worth a close look. Possibilities here to keep app users engaged makes StreekHawk a very interesting push notification platform.
StreetHawk lets you focus effort on the most valuable app users with some interesting “viral analytics” and some pretty cool engagement automation tools.
Churn within any app is inevitable, but if you can use push to help reduce churn, particularly among your most valuable app users, or use it to increase use frequency of less engaged app users then its value will be immense. StreetHawk has real strengths here.

Pricing

StreetHawk’s push notification pricing is one of the more complicated plan structures out there. They set their pricing out based on what you are trying to achieve. Best just to browse streethawks price page for yourself to see if its for you.

Urban Airship

Urban Airship’s goes beyond what you’d typically describe as  a Push Notification Service. It positions itself as a mobile engagement platform offering an impressive array of features including of course push notification, but also a very user friendly message center, fine grain segmentation configuration and location technology including beacons, geo-fencing, location history and location targeting.
This makes Urban Airship a pretty powerful in app marketing automation platform that allows highly targeted (if done right highly relevant) real time customer experience. Also the message configuration settings help prevent spamming the app user with too many push notes.
The analytics package is pretty impressive too. It can give a real insight into what activities, push, in app messages or whatever, are driving the desired behavour. Knowledge is power after all, but its how you use it that counts, of course.

Pricing

In terms of plan pricing, Urban Airship keep their Push Notification Services a secret. That’s rarely a good sign.  If you need to know the price, you probably can’t afford it.

Push Woosh

Push Woosh positions its push notification services more at the development community.  Its the classic stick to what they are good at software provider that you could argue is less likely to do a Parse Push on you.

Its highly configurable, with loads of great features, but not that friendly out the box, compared with other push notification services. But it comes with a big user community amongst mobile app developers so your not going to be short of programmers to help you out.
With a technical solution you won’t be surprised to hear that there is a huge list of platforms and formats that Push Woosh works with – it covers 19 platforms in all. By far the most comprehensive of any Push Notification Service platform. Android, Blackberry 5-7, 10, Windows Phone & 8, Nokia Asha, Amazon, OS X, Chrome, Safari, WordPress, Cordova (phonegap), unity, Adobe Air, Marmalade, Corona, Appcelerator Titanium, Xamarin, PhoneGap build and Trigger.io

Pricing

Pricing looks decent also with a good free tier, albeit only allowing very limited functionality. But at $49 a month used well it should more than cover its cost.
Alternative to Parse Push- PushWoosh pricing

Catapush

Catapush’s push notification services feels a bit raw around the edged but could be an interesting option for the smaller mobile app projects. It offers a narrower platform choice than some of the more established players with SDK’s for just Android and iOS. It has a RESTful API. That said it does offer some interesting features. For example delivery status tracking and failover to SMS when the app user has lost data connectivity. This gives the option to send an SMS using the standard protocol even if the app isn’t currently installed on the phone. Pretty useful if you’re trying to win back lost app users. That said, not sure how this fits with permission based push notes and how invasive this would feel to the user, so best used sparingly.

As for analytics,  this isn’t integrated but accessed through an API. The stats appear to be very centered around note delivery, so less useful to analyse and drive more granular campaigns.

Pricing

There’s no free in-use tier with Catapush’s Push Notification Service. Pricing is in Euros for this Italian based company, there is no US $ pricing.  Entry price is €29/month (plus purchase tax) for up to 2,500 subscribers. For that you get to send an unlimited number of push messages.

You’ll need to ask them about pricing for the SMS service.

Xtify

Always tempting to discount push notification services once their bought by a tech monolith. Xtify was absorbed by IBM (Push.io was bought out by Oracle and merged with their Marketing Cloud offering a while back also). What you lose in access and engagement with the software company you gain in security and the fact that if you go for Xtify (or Push.io) you can be pretty sure the push notification services will be around in a few years. Well you’d like to think so, wouldnt you. But the lesson learnt from FaceBook and Parse Push is that maybe a broadliner like IBM may lose interest in Xtify. So some caution is needed, perhaps.

Xtify offers the standard set of SDK’s, and one of the few offering it for Blackberry. It allows you to target either simple or rich text html push notifications. It also offers a “persistent” notification inbox, which is pretty neat. So messages stay visible until they are read or deleted. It also offers a scheduler that can be configured on timezone and location. Its also one of the few that lets you integrate with any existing CRM data, so gives a more complete view of customers full contact history regardless of medium.

Pricing

So its from IBM so its not going to be the cheapest option for push notification services. Its not easy to find out pricing, which probably tells you what you need to know in terms of cost.

Quick Blox

Quick Blox gives you coverage of iOS, Android, Javascript, Blackberry as well as for WordPress, Phonegap and php platforms. It also offers a Restful API.
It offers the choice of a shared cloud or dedicated instance. The cloud instance is pretty fast to get going. It offers simple drag and drop configuration to get the SDK into your app code as well as copy past credentials from the QuickBlox dashboard.

Pricing

Its free tier gives you 20,000 monthly active users and unlimited numbers of push notes. That said it throttles those to 20 per second. So could be OK for retail location based apps maybe where instant volume isn’t critical, but for a high volume app where you’re wanting to push out large numbers of push notes all at once it can get pricey. You could be looking at pricing in the range of $49/month to $219 per month for the shared cloud option. Up to $2,399/month if you need more than 500,000 monthly users.

Appoxee

Appoxee is now integrated within the Teradata Marketing Applications offering. Its push notification service is part of a comprehensive range of mobile marketing tools which includes Campaign Builder, Push Messages, In-App Messages, Personalization,  as well a smart algorithm that learns the best time to send the push note based on past user engagement.
They offer SKD’s for the usual platforms iOS, Android and offer an iOS Thin Push option.
It offers some interesting in-App plugins, including an Inbox/newsfeed option that behaves as if its an inbox within the app. Messages will be more persistent and less likely to get missed with this plugin.

Pricing

They offer 3 plan types, Starter, Pro and Enterprise. The Starter plan is pretty limited in what it gives you, with a pretty basic push and in app messaging service. Automation, custom inbox, personalization and deep linking are only available if you take the Pro Plan. Where as the algorithm that learns when is the best time to send,  is only on the top tier Enterprise plan.

Check out their website for more price information.

More Reading on Push Notification Services

This blog from Waracle has another great review of push notification services that’s worth a look.

It’s all well and good having a great push notification service running in your app, but if your not clear about how you use it, its going to do little for you. This is a good read if your looking to improve app engagement from your push notification services.