Push message best practices

Push message best practices

April 12, 2019

Push messages and -notifications can be a powerful marketing asset. So much so, that many seem hesitant to use this feature. This feeling is partially justified, as push messages might be felt as annoying by a large portion of mobile phone users. However, the core problem is bad quality, and bad quality is avoidable.

First, a small disclaimer: If you want a plethora of best practices and examples, read KC Karnes’ blog post “Push Notification Best Practices: 35 Tips for Dramatically Better Messages”. This post is a summary of Karnes’ blog post, with a focus on the best practices applicable to sports teams. 

Before looking at the push content, let’s take a look at the framework that should be the base of any message. The push message should be relevant, timely and personal. Otherwise, the user will ignore the message, or worse yet, be annoyed by the message. A relevant, timely and personal message will get the user’s attention, but we want the user to engage him- or herself. Therefore, the last ingredient of the ‘best push message’ recipe is ‘actionable’. Prompt the user to complete a desired action.

Best practices

Make the content personalised. Yes, personalised content is such an important factor that it deserves to be mentioned twice. You want that emotional connection to be established between your brand and the user, and nothing is more emotional than being personal. Making a user feel like an insider is another way to tap into their emotions, and if you want to avoid a robotic feel, use a conversational tone in your messages.


For a sports team, push messages can be seen as the one tool to promote events and offers. React to what is happening at your event, e.g. by messaging a change in prices. The user is most likely interested in your offers and events, because he or she has downloaded your app in the first place. Therefore, information surrounding an event or similar is appreciated. One way to nudge your fan in a desired direction is to ask them a question and give them the ball.

Whatever the content of your message is, remember to include a call to action. We want the user to react and act, not ignore and forget the message. Therefore, a useful tool is creating a sense of urgency. A situation, where a user thinks he or she is not in a hurry to act, is one to avoid. If the user has an option to postpone his or her actions, it becomes increasingly more likely that the message will be ignored. Also, if you want to further highlight the call to action, especially if it's somewhere in the middle of the text, you have my permission to use selective capital letters. Capitalised call to actions are more easily noticed if the message is merely skimmed through.

Be brave - the future is now

Remember, the majority of your mobile users are most likely young people. Young people are accustomed to things like emojis, videos and emotional texts - don't be afraid to use these. A picture is worth a thousand words, so throw that emoji in there to tell more in a concise manner. Emojis are also great to message a certain mindset to the user.

Emotional texts can challenge the user, be absurd, be playful or even contain a joke or a pun. Which type of emotions you try to target depends on your brand and what message you aim to deliver, but emotional texts are already widely used and appreciated. The message needs to be short, so with an emotional flavor you are more likely to get the user's attention.

Finally, rich media. People are more comfortable watching a video than reading a text, and use of rich media, actually, is possible in push messages. This is a powerful way to build your brand, especially due to the fact that few are yet to take advantage of this feature.

Tette Niinimäki
Tette Niinimäki

CMO of Prometheus One