Growth

10 Ways Push Notifications Can Increase Retention

Jenny20Weller
Jenny Weller
21 May 21
11 min read
woman looking at phone during workout

Americans check their phones 96 times a day, up 20% from the previous two years. Members are spending more time than ever on their mobile phones. With so many people attached to their smartphones, you have an opportunity to not only connect, but retain your members. 

Push notifications are a simple yet effective way to communicate with your members. You can utilize push notifications in several different ways to increase class attendance, improve engagement, and boost the overall member experience. Make your retention rates soar by implementing the best push notification strategy for your business. In this article, we discuss 10 ways you can use push notifications to increase member retention. 

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A Quick Introduction to How Push Notifications Work 

A push notification is a short message or alert that pops up on a user’s device when someone has installed your app and agreed to receive your push notifications. You can use them as a way to keep customers updated, encourage class bookings, and send class reminders. Mobile application publishers can send users push notifications at any time. The user doesn’t need to be signed in or even on your app to receive an alert. Push notifications can be displayed on the lock screen and found in the notification center for iPhone users. 

Mobile push notifications are specifically for phone and tablet users, while web push notifications are for desktop or laptop users. Browsers such as Chrome and Firefox have pop-up push notifications that notify users with certain messages. Not every mobile device supports web push notifications. For example, Android users don’t get web push messages when using Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. 

App push notifications look similar to an SMS text message but are only sent to users who install your app and opt-in to receive messages. You can send push notifications on various mobile devices like Apple, Android devices, Blackberry, and Windows. 

The notifications were first introduced in 2009 for iOS devices. Other major phone platforms soon rolled out push notifications following this. Depending on the phone operating system, the push notification can look a little different and have different character limits. But, in general, your alert message contains the following:

  • Title (ideal limit of 39 characters) 
  • Small icon 
  • Body of text (ideally 10 words or fewer) 
  • Time received 
  • Mobile app name 

How Can Push Notifications Increase Member Retention 

You can use mobile push notifications as a marketing and retention tool. Push notifications give you the opportunity to update members immediately and stay in contact. You can alert customers on any cancellations and updates as they happen. Send class reminders and motivate members.

Unlike messages, which can sometimes get lost in between chat windows, your alerts will be on the device your members use the most. Push notifications can be a valuable tool for retaining members and keeping class attendance high. You can strategically send push messages to drive value, sales, and retention. 

You can use push notifications in several ways to increase retention. For example, if a member missed their spin class, you can send a timely and gentle reminder with a friendly notification that you “miss them and can’t wait to see them next time”. By sending a class reminder 30 minutes before, you could increase class attendance and retention by driving value. 

Push notifications are an effective tool in mobile marketing. But it’s important that your overall in-app experience is of a high standard. Push notifications are used as part of your overall retention and marketing strategy, rather than a standalone tool. 

4 Tips to Improve Your Push Notification Strategy 

Push notifications rely on real-time triggers to send immediate alerts with dynamic content. They are a cost-effective form of communication and compared to SMS messages, are relatively inexpensive. So, it’s an ideal channel for sending messages to a huge list of app users. However, you can’t just roll out push notifications and expect a good uptick of response and action. Here are four best practices to follow to improve your push notification strategy and make the most of your alerts. 

Define Your Target Audience  

If you want to increase your open rate and maximize your push notifications, you need to define your target audience. Through target audience segmentation, you can deliver targeted push messaging. To split up your audience base, look at defining factors like purchase history, age, favorite class, and attendance. 

Timing is Everything 

When is the best time to send a push notification? Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect answer to this question. The best time to send your alert comes down to your purpose and the relevancy of your content. For example, a class reminder should be sent 30 minutes before the session begins. But, if you push marketing messages too often, you run the risk of over messaging your membership base. Whenever you send a message, it should add value and improve the customer experience. 

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Keep it Short and Sweet 

While there is no exact magic formula for writing a push notification, the general consensus is the shorter, the better. Writing a captivating push notification is similar to creating an engaging fitness email subject line. It needs to be short, sweet, clear, and persuasive. Although different platforms have varying character limits, the ideal length is 10 words or fewer. The number of words on the screen will vary depending on the type of device, so this is another reason to keep your alerts short and concise. 

Always Add Value 

Your messages should always be relevant to the participant and add value. Brands who have the most success are the ones who have acquired enough customer data so that they can send super relevant messages and valuable content. This goes beyond just addressing the customer with their first name. You want to use data to send notifications that add value to the customer experience, instead of potentially damaging the relationship and causing the user to uninstall your app. 

10 Push Notification Ideas to Increase Retention 

Push notifications can help you to continue to build relationships with members outside of the gym. Relationships are based on creating personal and human connections. By delivering relevant and valuable messages, you can increase retention and improve the user experience. Here are 10 push notifications ideas to boost your retention rate. 

1. Offer Promotions 

Push notifications can be a great sales tool for marketers. You can send promotional offers and upsell to existing members. What’s important is that you send offers that are relevant and add value. For example, if a member had previously purchased a block of classes from you and you were running a sale on bulk class passes, this would be a relevant promotional offer. Not only does it increase sales, but also member retention. The key to success is strategically sending offers and discounts to encourage customers to participate without being too pushy or over sending multiple offers. 

2. Encourage Class Booking 

You can encourage both active and inactive members to book a class. For an active user, a good push notification would be notifying them of a star guest fitness instructor for their most booked class. On the other hand, to encourage inactive members to book, you can send regular updates on new classes, virtual streaming, and on-demand fitness options. You can send motivational messages and try to pique their interest and take action. There are many reasons why members become inactive. Communication is key to retaining members. 

3. Celebrate Milestones 

Celebrating milestones and achievements is a fantastic way to motivate members and show them their progress. You can celebrate a range of milestones including member anniversary, weight loss, number of classes attended, and beating a personal best. These types of push notifications are triggered by a certain behavior or action. That means, the message is entirely relevant to the current situation and makes the member feel good about themselves. When training, it’s easy to become complacent when you don’t see progress every day. By celebrating milestones, you can keep motivation levels high and retain members for longer. 

4. Make it Personal 

Whatever message you’re sending, make it personal. Impersonal and irrelevant messages will quickly cause members to opt out of your communication. Although some notifications are general such as a facility update or new COVID-19 protocols, the majority of content should be personalized. For example, you should only send your post-natal yoga class updates to the relevant target audience. When signing up for your services, often members have a favorite class or specific goal they are looking to achieve. Use their members history and the data you have available to keep it relevant and personalize the content. 

5. Share Link to Relevant and Valuable Content 

If you have a video for beginners or a blog on easy healthy eating swaps, send it to a recently onboarded member. That content is entirely relevant to someone just starting their fitness journey. It can answer some questions and get them started on their progress. Push notifications are a great way to send users to valuable and relevant content. You can include a short message and hyperlink in your message to provoke a specific action from your customers. As always, relevancy is absolutely key to good conversion rates and user engagement. 

6. Fitness Challenges

You can integrate push notifications into your fitness challenge communication strategy. Fitness challenges can supercharge your retention and create a friendly sense of competition between members. They are easy to organize and offer a great incentive for members to move, hit their goals, and compete against friends. You can use push notifications to inform members about upcoming fitness challenges. Send reminders to input any challenge data and find out where they stand in the challenge. Fitness challenges can be as simple or complex as you like from hydration challenges to an eight-week program. 

7. Weekly Weigh-In Reminder 

Staying motivated and being held accountable are two essential factors in retaining members. One way to increase both of these is a weekly weigh-in. When members are doing well, they feel motivated. On the other hand, when users have had a bad week, it can hold them accountable. You have a couple of options for your push notifications here. One is to remind users to enter their weekly weigh-in data if they have forgotten. The other is to send a congratulatory or motivational message after. Even if they have put on weight, it’s an opportunity to link to a valuable piece of content so that they can crush the next week.  

8. Upcoming Class Reminders 

Automation for class reminders is a great way to increase group fitness attendance and boost retention. It’s easy to forget about classes, especially when you book in advance. When you send class reminders, it has two benefits. Firstly, it reminds members they booked a class in the first place, so they are more likely to show up. Secondly, it gives members a chance to cancel if they can no longer attend and opens up the class to more bookings. Class reminders are essential to any fitness business.  

9. New Service Announcement 

Do you have a new class running? Or have you upgraded your gym equipment and installed something brand new and innovative? Either way, push notifications work well for announcing new services and offerings. Keep it short, sweet, and concise. New classes and guest fitness instructors mix up your training variety and can help to re-engage members who have become a little inactive. 

10. Ask for Feedback 

No one knows your customers more than they do. Knowing what your members think and want are key to constant improvement. You can send quick surveys or ask members to rate your app with one button and even leave a comment. The best way to ask for feedback is after certain behaviors. For example, ask what they thought of a workout after completing a class. You can use feedback to improve multiple parts of your business, marketing, and member experience. 

In Summary 

By refining your push notifications and tailoring messages to your target audience, you can improve your overall push notification strategy. Experiment with times and frequency to pinpoint where you can improve. That way, you can put your efforts into messages that have the most success. Push notifications can help to strengthen customer relationships, boost the member experience, and increase retention. 

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