How to Write a Persuasive Push Notification

Reading Time: 4 minutes

You can always capture your readers’ attention by telling a story that fires up their imagination. But what if a tight character limit and an even more tight time span are imposed on you? This is a dilemma every marketer faces when it comes to crafting a crisp push notification.

The title and the copy play a big role in deciding how effective a notification is. Different platforms have different character limits but all of them fall in the range of 40-120 characters. Writing persuasive copy becomes that much more important since you have to squeeze your message into a small package while still retaining its effectiveness.

1. Use a clear, action-oriented message

Using a clear, action-oriented message
The emphasis here is on both ‘clear’ and ‘action-oriented’. Writing a vague push notification which does not provide a direct benefit to the user only adds it to the long list of messages that are read once and forgotten the next second. To differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack, practice writing messages that persuade the user to take action – provide a clear benefit.

Look at the above notifications. The first notification provides the information that a sale is taking place right now at E-kart. Other pieces of information that I can gather from this notification: the sale is for a limited time and it is held annually. The emphasis here is on the word “Sale” since it is mentioned three times: in the title, in the text as well as in the image which accompanies the message.

In contrast, the second notification is for the same offer but written in a different way. The emphasis is now on “50% off”, an aspect of the sale which is more easily understood, and is a motivating benefit to the user. Additionally, the copy is more action-oriented. The first notification merely informed the user that a sale is going on. The second one one strongly encourages the user to start shopping.

2. Be crisp in your messages

Being crisp in your messages


As I mentioned earlier, character limits for push notifications generally fall in the range of 40-120 characters. Thus, it is very important for push notification copywriters to practice writing crisp, concise messages which nevertheless capture the essence they are trying to communicate. This usually means identifying the one most important aspect – the hook of your offer/communication which your users would like to know and would induce them to click on the message.

One very common mistake that I see push notification copywriters making is that they try to write a summary inside the push notification. Because of the character constraints, this usually means that they are not able to do a very good job of it. The best copywriters try to identify what will make the user interested in the page behind the notification, and create the copy based on that insight.

For example, if you’ve ever seen Game of Thrones, you’ll know that the show has a tendency to kill off important characters at the most unexpected moments. Whereas the first notification tries to give a summary of the episode in the notification copy (and is predictably cut off because of the character restrictions), the second notification correctly identifies that what readers would be most interested in is if anyone dies in this episode, and they use this insight to create a deliciously persuasive copy which a Game of Thrones fan can’t resist clicking.

3. Use scarcity to create urgency and FOMO

Using Scarcity to Create Urgency

In the words of Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, we are more motivated by the idea of potential loss than of potential gain. This means that if we find that an opportunity is closing or is only good for a limited time, our desire for it increases. This is also known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

Push notification copywriters should use this principle in notification copy, whenever they find it applicable. For example, in the above image, the copywriter has put emphasis on the fact that a discount is being offered for the next 2 days only. This creates an urgency in the mind of users by making it known that, if they register for this event after 2 days, they’ll have to pay a bigger amount. This discount is scarce by virtue of being for a short time only, and thus more desirable.

4. Use social proof

Using Social Proof

Social Proof is one of the most effective psychological tricks to create and augment desire for your product. The reason I’m saying this is because this principle has been proven to be effective in creating buzz time and time again. For example, IBM’s marketing slogan in the 80s, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM”, is one of the most powerful marketing phrases ever created. This is a great example of social proof, where the company used the tendency of people to go along with what others generally do.

In push notifications, social proof can be used to increase click rate. For example, in the above image, the copywriter has very cleverly included a social proof element in the notification message by saying that “20000 fans are currently watching via this link”. This makes it known that this particular live streaming channel is a popular one and, if you want to watch the match on a decent stream, go with something that 20000 other people have already endorsed.

One last thing: whenever you are writing the title and message text for a push notification, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the purpose of the copy is to get subscribers to click. For that, your copy needs to, above all, provide some value to the subscriber. People will only click on the notification if they find it valuable.

That’s it! I hope you got some great tips to optimize your notifications by improving the copy and making it more persuasive.


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