3/28/2014

Top Push Notifications Worst Practices Part #1

Any ol' app will ping you the message of the question whether or not that specific app should be allowed to push notifications at you, and what a great service to let the player choose. Push notifications are a very effective tool. Did you know Clash of Clans players around the world log into Clash of Clans 10 times a day, on average.

Yep, 10 times a day they opt to log into the game because an army is done, a building has finished building or a similar event has happened - and while I do believe there actually are people who write down a Clash of Clans schedule to optimize their play, I wouldn't expect this from most players. So why do they 'remember' to log in ~10 times a day. You've guessed it. The game reminds them. Push Notifications are a brilliant and free marketing tool that surely will raise you're revenue significantly - if done right. But what is right and what is wrong?Most companies are not willing to show their marketing strategies which this very heavily falls under, but @David Hom linked me this article written a few months ago; PlayHaven's "Top 5 Push Notification Best Practices". Look it up, it is actually quite informative. Maybe even more than what you are about to read. But isn't everyone more interested in seeing people fail than read about how to win? 
We learn from the mistakes of others right? 


Inspired by this I wanted to do my own piece on Worst Practices for push notifications. 'Cause while they can be very effective marketing tools, they can surely work against the game if done poorly. Let's see how that may look.

Too many Notifications
Dragon City creators, Social Point, recently released a similar type breeding game called Monster Legends, which is quiet popular. Here is one of the reasons why they only managed to breach the Top 60 Grossing in the U.S. once during its Lifetime.



Two Notifications every fourth hour, resulting in six notifications while I was asleep. The amount of notifications is one thing, it being the same two every fourth hour is another. There is very little effect in constant reminding the player that my food is ready to collect, it does not make for a higher retention of DAU.

but..

Another thing about these notifications leads on to the second of the worst practices in push notifications.

Lying, Begging, Threatening.
The funny thing about the notifications above is that I had no eggs cracking. The game was lying to my face to get me back into the game. A terrible feeling of disappointment and despair when you slide open that game, and the reward promised to you by the video game is a lie.

Ofcourse I'm not one to hold a grudge against petite lies like these, so I do what most players would do. Never open the game again. Here we went from potential rise in revenue to lost costumer - and this would have happened many times if push notifications with an untrue content would annoy you every fourth hour.

The point is that the push notifications, like any other marketing tools need to show the company, in this case the game, in a positive light. Engagement is not evoked through pity or threat, much like you wouldn't respond well if e.g. a super market marketed itself through these means.

Monsters Legends is not the only example though. I won't go into too much detail, but rather let you decide if you think the following push notifications is Lying, Begging or Threatening.


All of the games mentioned here have at some point or are still very popular games, and among some of the heavy hitters when it comes to grossing apps. Obviously this means that failing your push notification won't mean no revenue - but think of a game that you've played where the push notifications really made sense. Were most of them event-based? Push notifications like 'Your Corn is Ready to be Harvested' or 'Your Troops are ready' are much more acceptable because they are generated through you, the player's, actions in the game. So focus on those. Nail the event-based and if possible stick to just that - and if you feel like you need more - don't just generate more push notifications - generate more events. 

What is your experience with poorly managed Push Notifications? Comment below or hint me some must play games with horrible PN. 


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