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How to use push notifications to increase user engagement

Luca Filigheddu

Push notifications are an effective tool for keeping users engaged and increasing traffic to websites in digital publishing. However, it is important to use them in a balanced way so that they are not intrusive and do not cause the opposite effect of driving away potential readers.

To increase the effectiveness of push notifications, it is important to tailor messages to the user’s interests: this can be done by collecting behavioral and preference data from the user so that the user receives only relevant notifications.

In addition, it is important to send pushes in a consistent and timely manner, without sending too many messages in a short period of time, to avoid annoying the user to the point of prompting them to turn off notifications.

Finally, you can use this medium to promote premium content and sales initiatives, such as discounts on editorial products or subscriptions.


Push notifications on editorial portals, some risk and many benefits

Push notifications on editorial sites offer several benefits but also some risks: it is important to use them in a balanced and personalized way to maximize the benefits and minimize the risk of disruption and negative user perception. 

Among the benefits, there are certainly: 

  • increased engagement, because push notifications can increase interaction and even traffic to websites, as users are informed in a timely manner about new content or editorial offers;
  • the personalization of messages, based on user preferences, in order to provide a more relevant and engaging experience;
  • increased conversions, as push messages are useful for promoting premium content and sales initiatives, such as discounts or subscriptions, increasing direct conversions and monetization of portals.

Among the risks, if not managed properly, we highlight: 

  • the intrusive effect, i.e., sending communications too frequently or in an irrelevant way, to the point of becoming intrusive and annoying to the user, leading them to turn them off;
  • the impact on battery and device performance, as push notifications can consume the reader’s device battery and slow down system performance, creating a negative experience;
  • the possible security risks, as sometimes this tool is used to spread malware or phishing, compromising the security of the user’s device. And even those who use them entirely cleanly must always be sure that they are using only consensual data, in a manner that is entirely compliant with privacy regulations.

Not just news: in what contexts is it useful to use push notifications?

Push notifications are useful in a variety of contexts where it is important to keep users interactive and inform them about new content or opportunities in a timely manner.

Here are some examples:

  • in the editorial world, push notifications can be used to inform the user about new articles, updates and breaking news or editorial offers. In this way, the user can stay informed about the latest news and content, and potentially return to the website to read further;
  • in e-commerce, push notifications can be leveraged to send the user discounts, promotions, and info on new products available. In this way, the user can be incentivized to buy again and benefit from discounts;
  • in the context of online services, these messages are useful for notifying the user about deadlines, news or updates related to an online service. For example, a video streaming service may send push notifications to inform the user about new movies or TV series available;
  • in mobile apps, push messages are used to inform the user about new features, updates, or special promos related to the app. For example, a health app may send push notifications to remind the user to take a medicine or to book a recurring checkup.

Segmented push notifications: different messages for different audiences

Using “segmented” push notifications in the publishing world means sending messages targeted to a specific audience, selected based on certain criteria.

In practice, instead of sending a push notification to all users, you can choose to send it only to a portion of them who meet certain requirements: for example, only to subscribers or only to those who have downloaded the latest publication, or only to those who have expressed interest in a certain kind of content (video or other particular format).

As per the best practice of any digital marketing activity, in fact, dividing customers into homogeneous audiences succeeds in improving the effectiveness of campaigns and increasing user engagement with content.