Push notifications should be one of a developer's most important marketing tools.
Not only are they free, they go direct to your players' homescreen, allowing you to tell them what's going on in their game.
In that context, it's sad most developers treat push notifications as little more than spam; a situation that sees most gamers choosing to switch them off entirely
It doesn't have to be this way, however.
As Rick Evans, senior director of data services at PlayHaven, points out, there are some simple ways to make the most of push notifications.
1. Get your metrics right before you start pushing
What good is a good engagement strategy if you can't measure it?
It's important to know what metrics to track in order to optimize the performance of your campaigns. We advise game developers to track the following KPIs:
- Push Adoption: % of DAU (daily active users) that can receive a push. We see this typically in the range of 40%-60% of your DAU
- Push Reach: % of DAU that received a push. This percentage will vary based on how you target audience segments.
- Push Effectiveness: % of DAU that received a push before opening. This can be up to 50% of your DAU for a well-designed, event driven game.
2. Target the right audience
Gone are the days of a 'spray and pray' push notification engagement strategy.
Your players have unique characteristics that differentiate them from one another. If you've tested any engagement campaign, you know that what resonates for some players can fall completely flat for others.
This is why targeting defined segments with targeted messages is more important than ever. Treat your players like individuals - send them messages that are relevant for them; for example: what's their geography; what stage are they in your game; when was the last time they played your game?
3. Timezones - they're your best friend
Use local user time zones to ensure you're not sending a message in the middle of the night or during dinner.
Your players can be all around the world and trust me, a push notification at 3am when your player is in a deep sleep is not the best strategy to get them playing your game.
4. Deliver a meaningful and engaging experience
Once a push is sent, take players somewhere useful in the game or point them to a reward or virtual goods promotion. Give them a reason to keep looking out for your push notifications.
Remember, you're trying to establish a relationship with your players, and relationships begin with trust.
Your player needs to trust that the message within your push notification is valuable and will be valuable each time they receive one. So, be generous - offer rewards, level ups or other perks that will benefit your players when they come back.
One tip to avoid players opting-out: Don't ask them to opt-in before they understand the value of your game!
5. Track, analyze, adapt
Once you hit 'Send' and your notifications are pushed out to your players, the fun is just beginning.
Watch how your players respond after each push campaign to inform how often to send pushes then set internal frequency caps accordingly to help manage and avoid burnout.
Also, don't just look at the number of users who click on pushes to measure campaign success. Many users will see pushes, but act on them several minutes or a few hours later.
It's important then to look at time between the push sent to the user and the user's first game session. If you can get 10% of your DAUs starting their first daily session within 1 hour of a push, that's a pretty good campaign.
You can also look at how push drives user reactivation. If you can drive 5% of DAU from users who quit your game, but returned as the result of a push campaign, again, you're on the right track.
You can find out more about PlayHaven's push notification services via its website.