Using the Four C’s of Effective Writing in Your Push Notifications
Relevant, well-written push notifications can transform user engagement in an instant. Yet, writing a push notification is no easy task; it requires thoughtful calculation. You have only about 100 characters and a few seconds to speak to your audience—not to mention competition from other apps for a user’s attention, time and interest.
So how can you make your push notifications better?
It starts with segmenting your audience. Broadcast messages—or generic messages broadcast to your entire audience—might work for breaking news; but when you have a loyalty or e-commerce app, your messages must be personal. This post is about writing effective messaging, so I don’t want to go in to much detail on the data, but as you start to craft personalized messages, it’s incredibly important. The more you understand about your users—their behaviors, interests, and preferences—the more personal and engaging your push notifications can be.
Next, when you’re ready to write, think about what you want to accomplish. Some messages encourage a user to take a specific action—like completing a purchase or onboarding task—while others are designed to keep users active, deliver relevant content, or share timely information. Once you understand what you want the message to accomplish, you can begin writing.
A good marketing message is often simple, but is carefully designed to drive a specific action or make an impression. And interestingly, brands that stick to copywriting fundamentals are often most successful. Robert Bly, one of the most prolific copywriters in the US, developed a system—the 4Cs of Effective Writing—and this is one of the most straightforward places to start. Effective marketing messages, Bly suggests, are:
- Clear: Clarity is vital for copywriting and likewise for your push notifications. Your users are active, busy people, and they don’t have the time to decipher vague or uninteresting messages. Make sure your push notifications are direct and to the point. Netflix employs this to a tee; based on users’ favorite shows, they deliver clear-as-day messaging: “House of Cards Season 2 is now on Netflix.” Bam! It’s simple, direct, action-inducing, and extremely effective.
- Concise: Message length is another critical element to creating engaging push notification content. Here, you’re not only limited by the platform, but also by what users are willing to read. Android tends to allow messages between 40 and 60 characters, while iOS allows messages up to 120. Even so, you don’t have to max out the character limit. Be as concise as possible, without diluting or being vague. Your users skim messages in a few seconds. If the writing is drawn out, you’ll lose them.
- Compelling: Push notifications are used to drive action. And the key to driving action is providing relevant information. How? Be creative. Give your user a reason to open the app, and don’t be afraid to show your brand’s personality and voice in the process. Authenticity counts. But personalization is another piece here. Personalized messages are persuasive. Think about how you can appeal to key segments of your audience. Then, create messages that provide promotions, offers, or news that are true to your brand’s core and voice.
- Credible: Readers are skeptical of copywriting, Bly writes, because they think they’re being sold to. One (somewhat counterintuitive) way to counteract this is by publishing a greater volume of content. With push notifications, that doesn’t mean over-messaging your users. Instead, it means varying your messaging. When users see the same messages over and over, you lose credibility. This is a broadcast message, delivered by a machine, they think. Vary the length, the content, and the way that you deliver the message—your users will notice.
Push notifications might be 100 characters or less, but that doesn’t make them easy to write. You only have your users’ attention for a short window. And with that few seconds you can either inspire action or miss an opportunity. Lucky for you, with access to good data and careful use of the 4C’s, you are well on your way to mutually beneficial mobile customer engagement.