The Complete Guide to Using Push Notifications for Your E‑Commerce Business
Push notifications go where your customers go.
E-commerce is the present and future of retail, wholesale, and everything in between. On some level, it makes sense, as anybody who’s had to laboriously fill out an order form, file an invoice, write a check, and wait for it to arrive at the store via mail can tell you. Using modern information technology and communications to file, send, and pay for orders is simply a matter of efficiency for most businesses.
That’s why there are at least 110,000 e-commerce sites active on the internet and doing a meaningful degree of business. As behemoths like Amazon expand into even more industries, it’s going to open up more opportunities for smaller e-commerce companies, whether they sell directly to customers or other businesses. And as traditional big-box retailers like Wal-Mart push physical retail into a variety of different e-commerce-like directions from in-app ordering to pick up items to same-day delivery of essentials, it’s going to build out the infrastructure available to all e-commerce companies, as well. The day is not so far away when a franchise location for a store is also its delivery distribution center and its delivery pickup location. Even stores like Starbucks, which can hardly ship you a latte, have been revolutionized by apps that let customers order while they walk to the store, grab their coffee, and walk out.
Reach customers no matter where they are.
The other side of the coin for many businesses is that with so many businesses chasing so many opportunities, standing out in e-commerce is difficult, at best. The back end of e-commerce is relatively simple, and even the staidest industries have at this point computerized their order forms and payment systems. Selling online is no longer novel, no matter what business you’re in. To stand out in e-commerce, you need powerful marketing that lets you segment, personalize, and communicate one crisp, urgent idea to your customers, and that’s where web-based push notifications can make a business stand out.
What Are Push Notifications?
At their most basic, push notifications are small bits of data that are sent directly to customers and users on the platform of their choice. If you receive a text message, for example, the alert you see on your lock screen is technically a push notification. This data can be quite literally anything that fits into the character limit, and some notification systems support “rich” notifications that let you push out images and videos.
Web-based push notifications are slightly different, though, from the notifications you receive on your phone. First of all, they’re not automatic. Instead, users opt into receiving them by clicking “allow” on a small drop-down window that can appear on any page on your website. This makes them a much more focused marketing channel, as instead of pushing blindly, the way most apps on your phone do, you’re pushing to an audience who specifically wants to hear from you.
Whether B2B or B2C, push notifications are powerful tools for any business.
Secondly, they’re tied to your web browser, not your device. If you opt in to push notifications on Chrome, for example, any device you own, where you’re logged into Chrome, will get that notification. This means web-based notifications can reach tablets, phones, laptops, desktops, and any other device that both supports the browser and its notification system. This also rewards focus, concision, and thoughtful delivery. Push notifications are best for clear, urgent ideas that your customers absolutely need to know, right now, no matter where they are.
What this means is that browser-based notifications are targeted marketing tools right from the beginning, and as you form a stronger connection with your customers, you can segment them further still. So, how do you tap into that power to form that basis?
Push Notifications And E-commerce Marketing
To begin with, there’s the obvious advantage of being able to promote directly to the people who care about it the most. One of the biggest challenges of any marketing effort is ensuring that the majority of your audience is interested in your message, and web-based push puts that front and center. When first working on a push campaign, ask yourself what most appeals to your customers. What do they buy? When do they buy it? What buying patterns do they engage in?
No matter which platform, push notifications reach their customers.
To that end, your push campaigns should be built around the idea of exclusivity, that the customer is a member of an exclusive club. Deals and sales that you run should be available only to people who sign up for push notifications, and you can either run exclusive sales separate from your usual discount marketing strategy, or run them as an extra percentage or coupon on top of your sales. If you don’t run sales, instead make certain aspects of information part of the exclusivity; customers can be the first to know a release date and preorder a product, or they can be the first to know a major update is coming and plan accordingly. Remember, value is not just about money but also about time; if you can save a customer either with your browser-based push, your customer will be very, very happy.
As you get to know your customers better, you can begin to segment and take different approaches depending on their needs. If you pay close attention to companies like Amazon, you see that they do this in a number of different ways, the most basic being pairing items and following up to see if you’re interested. But that’s just one way to use push notifications in e-commerce:
- Offer sales on new accessories, subscriptions, and other items that enhance the products your customers buy.
- When an order is complete, ask for feedback, to ensure customers know they’re being heard.
- Push out information about different creative and unique ways your customers are using your product.
- Alert customers to abandoned carts and incomplete orders.
- And don’t forget to be industry- and customer-specific. Ask yourself what you sell, what your customers are interested in, and think of all the different ways they can intersect.
And as useful as push notifications are for sales, that’s not the only way they can be used to help your customers. They’re also powerful for keeping customers.
Push Notifications And Customer Retention
Another aspect of push notifications is they can be used for any urgent or compelling bit of information a customer needs to know. One of the most basic examples of this is shipping notifications; many customers want to know when their product is on the way, and push notifications are a handy way to give them that information quickly, simply, and directly. If you sell products with a subscription, customers can configure an alert to tell them when they need to renew. Or, if a customer has set up an ongoing order that’s automatically fulfilled, you can alert them that the order is about to go through, or that the invoice has cleared.
Reach any customer, anywhere.
Nor is that the only approach you can take to customer retention. For example, especially with industrial products or other content along those lines, documentation, and information is often key to keeping those products up and running. Pushing out crucial updates your customers need, such as links to new user manuals, product safety materials, and alerts that a new firmware upgrade or overall improvement is available is both useful to the customer and keeps you at the front of their mind for when they need other products.
Informational push is only limited by the information your customer needs. If you sell products that need regular care, you can set up push campaigns that let customers know maintenance milestones are coming due, with handy links to any supplies they might need to keep their purchase in top shape. If your businesses works on an appointment basis, you can use push as an appointment reminder or confirmation, complete with a handy link that lets your customer click and place the appointment in their calendar. If your business offers pick-up, you can use push to let your customers know their order is ready. Restaurants can push a sudden open table out to their biggest fans. Movie theaters can push changes in schedule. If there’s anything your best customers want to know, push is the best way to let them know it.
Be in the right place, with push notifications.
This even applies to potential customers. They can sign up for push alerts for webinars or product demonstrations, set price alerts for products they’re interested in, or anything else you know potential customers are most interested in. Ask yourself what they’ve found most engaging, and offer it in push form.
As you can see from the above, browser-based push notifications are powerful, flexible tools in e-commerce. And they’ll only become more important as e-commerce keeps growing, and even retailers built around physical locations and foot traffic are developing e-commerce tools to help them grow and change. The future of commerce is both highly connected and highly electronic, and meeting your customers where they want to be will be fundamental to any sort of e-commerce success. With push notifications, you can go where they are, tell them what they need to know, and bring them to your storefront, with just a few words and a link. Ready to tap into the power of push? Get a free trial of Pushnami!