Images and Videos in Push Notifications
A recent study found that the average person spends about 3 hours and 15 minutes of the day on their phone. Pair this with an additional 2 hours on your laptop and you’re looking at over 5 hours of time spent on screens a day. A digital marketer’s dream.
These days, getting in front of the eyes of consumers is only half the battle. Of course, great you’re there in the first place, but how do you actually get them to click into and engage with your ads, content, or promotions? Or even better, get them to convert.
Rich media is used more and more in push notifications to grab the attention of consumers. These include different types of pictures or videos.
We’re going to explore the use of images and videos in push notifications in a little bit more depth, including what these images and videos are, why they work, and how to best use them.
If you’re not too familiar with what a push notification is, I would suggest having a read of this article which gives a great overview of the topic.
Types of Videos & Images Used.
Icons – These are small images displayed beside a notification’s main title and message. In general, companies use this to display their logo.
Hero Image – This is the image of your product or promotion that you want to take centre stage. More times than not it is where the eye of the potential or already existing customer is drawn towards. These generally make the notification more attractive or interesting.
Videos/Gif – In its simplest form, a GIF is a short animated image that gives a bit more life to the notification than just a standard image. A GIF or video would be used instead of a Hero Image.
Using a gif in a web push notification
How are they making a difference?
The visual aspect of a notification might seem fairly insignificant to some. Many might not even take much notice of a picture or image and simply click the small “x” button to get rid of it as soon as they see the notification pop up on their screen.
However, we’ve seen that a notification that includes an image can increase your open rate by 56%. This is a significant difference compared to those that just consist of text. It’s also very handy information to take note of when setting up cart recovery campaigns.
Use of an image in a cart recovery campaign
A contributing factor to the boost in these rates comes down to how the human brain works. Humans are what are known as “visual beings”. It is said that 90% of the information that our brain absorbs comes from visual cues. A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say.
Unfortunately, it would be foolish to suggest that any notification including a video or image that gets sent to someone will automatically have an increased click-through rate. The impact of videos and images and their use does depend on the industry you are part of. And although numbers do indicate that click-through rates should increase, it’s important to take that with a pinch of salt.
Studies have displayed some interesting numbers on the impact of sending push notifications with a hero image, particularly on click-through rates.
We’ll start with the industries that experienced positive effects of including an image in their push messages. The use of images for deal sites gave them a 62% increase in their CTR. The highest of all industries in the study. This was followed by the entertainment industry (34% increase), and publishing sites (30%). One would probably have imagined that these types of sites would have had a positive experience with the use of images in their notifications.
The financial services industry took the biggest hit out of all industries to their CTR, with a 45% decrease. Education came not so far behind them with their CTR decreasing by 37% after the incorporation of a hero image to their notifications. The reason for the decline is that these services are fairly serious and there is a clear message they want to communicate here. The inclusion of an image or video in these messages may undermine this.
Two industries that would historically make good use of rich notifications are eCommerce and travel. It’s hard to think that you’d click through a notification and make a purchase without actually seeing the product or place. However, it’s important to approach your use of images/videos here with caution. This is where A/B testing comes into play and can be very important in order to direct you in the right direction.
Non-product-related, eye-catching images should do the trick when it comes to most industries and their notifications. But take for example eCommerce, where “aspirational selling” comes to mind when thinking of how to engage a potential customer in this industry. There needs to be an air of helping the customer to visualise themselves with the product. A general image won’t suffice here and the more specific the product photo the better. No one will buy the shoes if they can’t see them.
Product image used in eCommerce web push notification
The techy stuff
It was Apple who first introduced a push notification service in 2009. Google followed suit fairly promptly after and released their own, similar service in 2010. But it wasn’t until 2013 that Google introduced what they labeled a “rich notification”. These are notifications where images and videos could be included. Before this, we just had regular old push messages with text and nothing more.
Which devices and browsers support rich notifications?
Currently, when it comes to mobile push notifications, both Android and iOS users will be able to see images and videos in the notifications they receive.
However, this isn’t the case when it comes to web push notifications. Depending on the browser or device you’re using, you might get the same text in the notification, but the image that someone else gets in theirs may not be seen by you.
Firstly for those still using Internet Explorer, web push is not supported on it at all. So don’t go expecting notifications any time soon. When using a Mac device, you will receive push notifications with only the text displayed. Regardless of what browser you are currently using on your Mac device, images and videos are not supported for these notifications. The same goes for the Firefox browser on both Windows and Android devices. You will, however, be able to see icons on all devices, if they are part of the message.
Basically, it’s Chrome that does more or less all of the heavy lifting when it comes to supporting images and videos. So they’ll be your go-to browser for good quality use of rich web push notifications.
Best Practices (Assembling the perfect rich push message)
Below are some key tips and pointers for you in putting together the best possible push notifications, improving CTR and engagement.
In general, images will appear bigger or smaller depending on the browser or device they are displayed on. Now there is no one size fits all solution, but images should be at least 300px for width and height and should not exceed 2000px.
The central focus of the image used in your notification should be as far away from the border as possible. This is so that the attention of the viewer remains solely on what you are trying to promote. For example, if you are sending a notification to promote a sale on shoes, then the product should be in the middle of the image.
Text on an image
If you decide to incorporate text in your image it is advisable that you place it in the middle of your image, or as far away from the borders as possible. In this case, the text would be the primary focus of the image as it will be one of the first things that the viewer sees.
Hosting your own videos for your notifications rather than using videos from Youtube or other platforms gives you far more control over the content and the accessibility of it. It also gives you more freedom of customisation. Using other platforms over your own hosting would mean that the user wouldn’t go through to your app, but to the video platform instead.
Campaign Specific Images
Many companies use the same image across multiple campaigns. This is generally done as a way to emphasize their brand. However using different, campaign-specific images has been proven to yield higher ROI in the long run. Users eventually tire of the same old image popping up on their screen. So, mixing up images for campaigns would be the better option here.
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