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Publishers, you’re focusing on the wrong metric for push notifications


There are well-documented ways to improve the click-through rates of push notifications. But, what they all lack is a way to determine the actual value being added.

Although high amounts of click-throughs or ‘tap-throughs’ may result in short-term bursts of traffic and ad revenue, without a way to measure long-term push notification value, publishers walk a tightrope between engaging their audience and spamming them.

An effective strategy requires a new metric to measure the net gain in readership created by push notifications, not just the click-through rate.

Introducing SLTV

Publisher platform, Marfeel recently conducted a conducted a study into 5 million web-based push notifications, sent across 500,000 subscribers.

In their white paper, Increasing publisher readership through Marfeel’s push notification framework, Marfeel coined a new metric to measure and test different push notification strategies.

SLTV, or Subscriber Lifetime Value, provides an all-encompassing view of added readership and value generated by publishers’ strategies. It gives publishers the power to see the long term value of their notifications, and measure the effects of changes to their systems.

SLTV accounts for the average rate of engagement from push notifications. This is then combined with the active unsubscribe rate and factored against the click-through rate of messages before, finally,  the number of clicks generated, per user, per day. This gives us a benchmark to compare entire strategies.

To stress-test and experiment with push notification strategies and the SLTV framework, Marfeel’s tech team analyzed over 5 million push notifications to see how traffic, engagement, and ad revenue could be maximized. By assessing the following strategies, they were able to increase SLTV by up to 40%.

The experiments:

Test your message intensity

Every subscriber has a tipping point at which messages become too frequent and it drives them to unsubscribe. However, more messages result in more clicks. Measuring using SLTV, rather than just the number of clicks, isolates the exact frequency of messages that generate the highest increase in readership, pushing the optimum number of messages to between 4 – 8 per day.

There is an optimum delivery time for push notifications

Marfeel then tested two factors: which time of day was most effective for all readers to receive notifications, and if readers were more responsive to notifications sent based on the time they last opened a notification.

The results showed that sending push notifications after working hours, in free time, led to the largest increase in SLTV, with 9 pm shown to be the optimum time to increase readership from push.

Adding images is mandatory

Adding images, compared with no image, led to an increase in over 10% in SLTV. Adding an image is one of the most effective single factors publishers can implement to increase readership and value from push notifications.

Personalize your content

In order to personalize based on reader behavior, Marfeel created an automated recommendation engine that created a popularity score for all articles and sent the most popular articles to audience segments that were defined as the least engaged. In addition, the engine would match the reader’s last-clicked article to similar content for their next push notification.

These experiments demonstrated that article popularity is deeply linked to the likelihood of people clicking the push notification. An optimized strategy would send notifications for the most popular article to the widest possible audience segment to increase SLTV.  

The combination of these factors, plus the results of numerous other experiments, have shown that a framework can be applied to optimize push notifications taking their finite lifespan into consideration.

You can see the formula used to measure SLTV, as well as the data from the experiments conducted in the full white paper, available here.

Jon Fletcher, Content Editor, Marfeel

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash