The ability to send push notifications is one of the defining benefits of a native app, in contrast to a responsively designed web site. Push notifications inform, alert, and engage users on a 24/7 basis, whether or not the end user is actually using the app. By bengaging your users with push notifications, in combination with highly targeted in-app banners, you’ll realize dramatically increased loyalty and app usage.
Push notifications provide an immediate mode of communication with users and reach all users who have opted in to receive them, whether or not they are using the app at that time. Push notifications often include a link directing users to a specific screen within the app that provides detailed information or actionable next steps.
According to Localytics, on average, 52% of users will opt-in to push notifications.[i] And, those users who opt-in have a three times higher retention rate, and 88% more app launches,[ii] illustrating the importance of sending notifications to keep users engaged.
Push notifications can be sent to all opt-in users of your app, or targeted to segmented groups based on their selected Location or Persona, or even specific user characteristics like graduation year or school affiliation. This ensures that the notice only goes to relevant users.
In-app banners are a complementary form of mobile app alert, which may only be displayed directly within the app, and typically at the top of screens. Although they are only seen if an app is in use, they do not require an “opt in” process, and can be used contextually and only on specific pages within your app.
Like push notifications, the use of in-app banners increases user loyalty and engagement. According to Localytics, apps that send in-app messages show two to three and a half times higher user retention and 27% more app launches than apps[iii] that do not.
Because banners can be placed contextually, and only the users currently engaging the app see them, they offer an excellent opportunity to communicate hyper-relevant, actionable content like a delayed shuttle bus or an event location change
On college campuses, where students may infrequently read email but are deeply connected to their smartphones, push notifications and banners provide an immediate and relevant way to communicate with students using your campus app.
Here are ten in-app banner and push notification best practices to engage students and visitors on your campus:
- Communicate emergencies, severe weather alerts, or campus closings.
- Share exciting announcements or news, such as a new student body president, or a big win during the NCAA finals. For example, Del Mar College sent a push notification announcing the winners of a recent fundraising tournament. The notification then drove users to the Events module within the app, where the winners were listed.
- Notify users of upcoming deadlines—for financial aid applications or intent to graduate forms.
- Alert students to any issues on campus. Georgetown University alerts users when their shuttles are running behind schedule.
- Give other key reminders. Living at UMass, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, sent push notifications in the days prior to fall Move-In with important reminders, like bringing photo IDs and special passes.
- Onboard app users. Periodically send users a message to highlight different features in the app, so they learn how the app fits in to their student experience.
- Announce new features in your app to all users. The College of William & Mary uses banners to alert students to new features within their app, such as a New Student Orientation module, or the ability to use My Favorites to customize the app.
- Make contextual announcements through banners targeted on specific screens, such as the day’s dining specials on the Dining screen only.
- Deep link to other modules. For example, a student can receive a notification that an event location has been moved, and with the tap of a button on their app, quickly find the new location and even a map or bus route to get there.
- Remember: Don’t let your push notifications become overly intrusive. Well-timed push notifications engage users and promote app usage and loyalty. Users will appreciate them and actually look forward to them. However, an excess of push notifications, or sending push notifications that are irrelevant to the users, may become bothersome and result in users opting-out.
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