How to pick the best Shopify App for push notifications
Push notifications allow you to send messages to users when they visit your website. This could include sending out a coupon code, letting customers know about a sale, or just informing them about a new product.
A good Shopify push notification app is like a Swiss army knife. It should have a wide range of functionalities above and beyond its core purpose.
When searching for the best Shopify push notification app for your store, you need to look into:
- the number of channels this app supports: could email and SMS be useful to have as well, either now or in the future?
- the message types it offers: do you need automated abandoned cart pushes, sales-driving promo campaigns, or invitations to generate social proof? There are a wide range of message types to consider.
- the methods for growing subscribers: how will your store visitors sign up for push notifications, and does the app offer the right tools to drive more opt-ins?
- the reporting tools provided: will you be able to accurately monitor the effectiveness of your campaigns, so that you can make adjustments to maximise ROI?
And then of course there are issues like customer support and pricing to factor in.
In this blog, we dive deep into all these aspects for 6 of the most popular push notification apps – PushOwl, Aimtell, iZooto, Push Monkey, Smart Push Marketing (SMP) and Firepush – to help you choose the tool that best fits the needs of your Shopify store.
Key push notification app features for new Shopify stores
When you are just starting out, you will need to focus on growing subscribers, as volume is important to any working remarketing campaign. So look carefully at the subscriber growth tools.
You will want to test different strategies and learn which message types work best for your customers. If the app has limitations in the range of message types, you will be left with too generic a solution. So pick an app that offers a wide range of message types, especially automated messages that a small team can easily set up.
Naturally, pricing matters, so find an app that offers a free plan with a good range of features.
Finally, don’t forget that there’s a good chance the app you choose now is the one you will still be using 5 years down the line (switching apps is a hassle after all). So, while multiple channels and smart reporting tools may not seem important now, they may come in handy in the future.
Key push notification app features for growing Shopify stores
When integrating a push notification app into an already growing Shopify store, you know that volume will be increasing soon. And more volume means more costs, so going for an app with flexible pricing will be beneficial from the get-go.
You will also want to experiment with different message types, so you can then optimize your remarketing strategy. Plus, you may be focused on multiple areas of your marketing funnel – awareness, engagement, conversion, customer loyalty – at the same time, so having a range of message types to deploy can be a real benefit. So pick an app offering a wide range of manual and automated message types.
As each case is unique, eventually you will find yourself in need of tailored advice, and that’s where customer support steps in. So look for apps that provide a dedicated strategy manager. Unfortunately, not all apps do, which may mean you are left to learn from your own (sometimes costly) mistakes.
Key push notification app features for Shopify Plus stores
Ultimately, you will want a push notification app that integrates with all the additional functionality of Shopify Plus, like Shopify Flow and Script Editor.
Omnichannel is also critical. You should be looking to boost sales and engage your audience through email, Messenger, SMS and Web push notifications. So find an app that offers omnichannel marketing.
Dealing with a lot of volume, you will want to get your questions answered ASAP. Make sure the app has 24/7 support available, plus strategy managers and integration engineers.
Maximising your ROI will also be critical at this stage. So pick an app with advanced reporting tools so you can accurately assess the full impact of your push notification campaigns.
The best push notification app: for pricing
Why pricing matters
Marketing automation is not the most expensive service in the world, but you still want to be getting a full range of services at the best possible price. So let’s take a look at several popular apps in terms of their approach to pricing.
Starter plan – $49.99/month for 10,000 push subscribers
Plus plan – $99/month for 50,000 push subscribers
Pro plan – $199/month for 10,0000 push subscribers
Enterprise plan – $299/month for unlimited push subscribers
Aimtell can be an attractive option for merchants with a substantial database of subscribers, but the entry barrier is very high for newcomers. Besides, while Aimtell provides broad options for subscriber targeting, ultimately it lacks an omnichannel approach.
Smart Push Marketing
Basic plan – $9.99 month for 1,000 push subscribers
Business plan – $29.99/month for 10,000 push subscribers
Advanced plan – $79.99/month for 25,000 push subscribers
Plus plan – $149.99/month for 50,000 push subscribers
Smart Push Marketing is definitely not the most expensive app out there, but the pricing does not cover 24/7 support (it only offers support via email), and the merchant gets access to only one marketing channel.
Like many others, Push Monkey bills based on the number of subscribers. The pricing ranges from $19 for 2,000 subscribers all the way up to $328 for 10,0000 subscribers, which is significantly more than what competitors are charging.
Starter plan – PushOwl doesn’t offer one.https://getfirepush.com/aimtell-alternative/
Business plan – $19/month for 10,000 impressions.
Enterprise plan – Custom
Note that although the price offered by PushOwl is rather competitive, the cost covers only Web push notifications.
The pricing for iZooto differs from competitors in a way that it does not have an entry-level plan.
The cheapest basic plan (Rise) will cost you $85/month and will allow you to target up to 30,000 subscribers. The cheapest Grow plan will cost you $250/month for the same number of subscribers, but a wider range of functions. The price of both plans goes up when you add more subscribers. Ultimately, iZooto is a great option for the publishing sector with mass audiences (no wonder it is used by the likes of Conde Nast and Bloomberg Quint) but doesn’t suit most Shopify ecommerce stores.
Firepush offers its pricing for the number of push notifications and emails sent out. In addition, as one of the key features of Firepush is SMS marketing, there is separate pricing for SMS marketing which varies depending on the destination country.
The pricing for push notifications with Firepush looks like this:
$19/month for 10,000 web pushes
$57/month for 30,000 web pushes
Custom plans are available for high-volume merchants. These custom plans include email and SMS marketing as well as push notification.
How do the different pricing plans compare?
The most popular pricing model is charging the merchant per subscriber, with the price increasing drastically once the volume gets higher. While some apps like PushOwl are affordable for beginners, others like Aimtell have a rather steep price for even their cheapest plan.
But the biggest drawback of most remarketing tools out there is the fact that they only offer a single channel. If you wish to add email or SMS to the mix, you will ultimately have to search for additional tools, each with additional pricing.
If your goal is to have web push notifications, email and SMS functionality interlinked, then Firepush seems like the tool to go for.
Marketer’s tip: Why using multiple channels matters
Effective remarketing is not only about reaching users at the right time with the right kind of message. It’s also about building a connection, rewarding loyalty and increasing the life-time value of your customers. Communicating with the user via several channels – SMS, Web push notifications, newsletters, FB Messenger – helps to do just that.
As it happens, the channels complement one another. You’ll probably find newsletters more versatile and suitable for promoting new items. SMS, a channel that has an industry-average open rate of 98%, is best utilized for bulk Black Friday or Cyber Monday campaigns. Web push notifications sit somewhere in between the two and serve well for retrieving abandoned carts, announcing price drops and flash sales.
Most of the Web push notification tools out there are really good at one thing. That’s right, providing Web push notifications. Here’s a breakdown of what various apps are offering in terms of channels:
- PushOwl – Web push notifications only.
- Push Monkey– Web push notifications only.
- Aimtell– Web push notifications only.
- Smart Push Marketing – Web push notifications only.
- iZooto – The core functionality is web push notifications, but they also offer Facebook Messenger as a channel.
- Firepush – Web push notifications, SMS and email.
As we can see, most platforms have a clear focus on one core feature. iZooto differs from them in that it also provides tools to convert visitors into Facebook Messenger contacts. So does Firepush, which also includes two other channels that are highly valuable – email and SMS. Having all of your channels under one roof means you will be able to coordinate various marketing efforts easily. This helps to avoid spamming your users, and ultimately gives you all the tools to figure out which marketing mix works best for you.
The best push notification app: for message types
Why message types matter
The beauty of push notification remarketing platforms is the ability to tailor messages that cover multiple goals.
You may not be aware that both automated and manual push notification messages are available. And the type of store you run may have a big impact on which message types you use most. You may want to use promo messages and welcome messages in your early years, but switch more to abandoned cart messages and delivery updates when things like conversion and customer loyalty become more important.
Here are some of the most important types of push notification messages you can use:
Welcome messages. These can be used not only to greet the new subscriber, but also to provide them with a personalized offer.
Abandoned cart messages. Automated reminders can be sent out to customers that have been virtual window shopping. An incentive in the form of discount or free shipping can encourage them to complete the purchase, and a countdown timer can be handy for reinforcing a sense of urgency.
Promotional messages. There are multiple ways one can attract new sales, including bulk discounts, flash sales and expiring offers. Push notifications with countdown timers will add extra drive to your promo messages.
Delivery update messages. A good way to foster trust is keeping your customers updated on the delivery process.
Back-in-stock messages. Letting the customer know when you have the item they were looking for is not just good tone, it also helps drive back sales.
Price drop messages. These messages can help to keep a connection with price-sensitive clients.
Ask for review campaigns. Collecting and displaying customer reviews is one of the main elements of building trust.
Win back customer messages. As increasing life-time value should be a priority for all merchants, contacting regulars who haven’t shopped in a while is a common strategy.
Let’s take a look at how remarketing tools differ in terms of message types that they provide:
Aimtell offers a selection of message types that cover all the stages of funnel abandonment. They also provide price drop, back-in-stock messages, as well as messages related to the shipping process. Aimtell currently doesn’t provide pushes that ask for reviews or messages that relate to payment status.
Smart Push Marketing
SMP has a wide selection of messages aimed at abandoned cart recovery. As with the previously mentioned tools, they do not have the option to ask customers for reviews.
Push Monkey has a very limited range, only offering abandoned cart pushes and manual promotional pushes.
PushOwl provides a wide range of message types, including welcome pushes, abandoned cart campaigns, price drop messages, back-in-stock pushes and more. Their tool does lack messages that inform the customer about their payment status.
iZooto fairs slightly better, offering manual push notifications (for promotions or sharing content), along with 4 automated push types: welcome messages, abandoned cart messages, product view retargeting messages and collection view retargeting. But it does not offer delivery, price drop or back in stock messages.
Out of all the apps reviewed, Firepush is the only to offer all the message types listed above. It also has one message type that no other app offers – push notifications with discount codes and timers. These are ideal for running a flash sale, or for seasonal sales like Black Friday.
And because it provides multiple channels, Firepush also offers more versatility, as email and SMS are more suitable for certain types of messages. For example, due to its personal nature, SMS serves as the preferred medium to win back customers, while email can be used to nurture long-term customers.
The best push notification app: for subscriber growth
Why subscriber growth tools matters
Every subscriber matters. Shopify stores that successfully implement push notification remarketing strategies can earn as much as $12 in revenue per subscriber. Of course, one of the most important factors in growing your subscriber list is ensuring that your pushes provide real value to your users. So make sure you offer exclusive discounts, let them know first about new product launches, and present personalised offers based on their preferences.
But there are technical issues that also affect how easy it is to grow your list of subscribers. One of the key advantages of push notifications over other channels is that sign up is quick and simple – users don’t need to provide their phone number or email address in order to subscribe. Nevertheless, encouraging site visitors to subscribe can still be tough. And one of the key factors is how you present them with the opportunity to sign up.
I’m sure you’ve seen the standard browser prompts for allowing push notifications, like this.
Image Source: angularuniversity
These prompts are already outdated, mainly due to changes in the way browsers allow push notification opt-ins. Chrome and Firefox recently introduced “quieter” opt-ins which affect how and when browser prompts are shown to users. The best response to these changes is to set up a 2 step opt-in (which we will discuss in more detail).
So why are browser prompts going out of fashion, and why are browsers like Chrome and Firefox limiting their visibility? It’s because they have some major drawbacks.
- They feel intrusive to users, especially when triggered at the beginning of a browsing session.
- They are visually unappealing.
- Perhaps most importantly, they present users with a very limited choice – either accept notifications or block them. But let’s imagine that a site visitor doesn’t want to accept notifications right now because they’ve just arrived at your store for the first time and they haven’t made up their mind about you yet. So they hit “block”. Then they browse your store and like what they see – an offer to subscribe now would be positively received. But they have already blocked notifications, so the chance is gone forever.
So it’s critical that your Shopify push notification app offers alternative ways to subscribe than just browser prompts. The most common forms are:
Sign up boxes: Rather than popups, these subscription boxes form part of your page, just like an email subscription box. They include clear call to actions, and you can add additional text to emphasise the benefits users will get from them.
Flyout widgets: These are a more sophisticated option, and are highly effective. Rather than a large box, with flyout widgets a small icon is displayed. When clicked on, an invitation to subscribe opens up.
Embed button: Here, instead of a whole box, a small button is embedded into your site. They are discrete and can be customised to fit your store’s design. You can alter the call to action to emphasise a specific value they will get from subscription (like receiving price drop alerts). These are perfect for product pages.
Marketer’s tip: 2 step opt-in
2 step or double opt-ins are a really smart move. This is where users are asked to confirm twice that they want to receive push notifications from you. It seems like an extra step that would cause fewer people to subscribe (more on that in a minute), so how is this actually a good idea? Here are a couple of key reasons.
- Personal data best practice: Consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive regarding sharing their personal data, and how this data might then be used. And regulations on how you collect data are also getting tougher, particularly in Europe with the recent GDPR standards. While double-opt in is not a GDPR requirement, it is a great way to show you are handling your data collection properly. But most importantly, it reassures your customers that you respect their data and are following the proper steps.
- Better quality leads: Remember what we just said about getting fewer subscribers. Well, that’s actually a good thing. At least it is if the subscribers you lose are people who didn’t want to be subscribers in the first place. Don’t forget, it can be easy with pop-ups to click the wrong button. By double-checking that someone really wants to subscribe, you ensure you only send out push notifications to people who have a realistic chance of converting. It’s true that push notifications are an inexpensive channel – but you still don’t want to be wasting money sending notifications to people who aren’t interested.
By comparison, Aimtell has a very limited range of options for signing up push subscribers. Even with Aimtell’s paid plans, you won’t get flyout widgets, embed buttons or sign-up boxes. This could be really limiting in terms of building up your subscriber base. What’s more, you only get 2-step opt-in with paid plans, and not with Aimtell’s free plan.
Smart Push Marketing
The situation with SPM is virtually the same. Whatever plan you sign up to, whether free or paid, you’ll have to do without flyout widgets, sign-up boxes and embed buttons. This will only leave you with clunky browser prompts. SPM does at least include 2 step opt-in with both its free and paid plans.
With Push Monkey, you will have to rely on browser prompts, although it does at least allow you to customise when they pop-up. Push Monkey doesn’t offer flyout widgets, sign-up boxes or embed buttons, and there’s also no double opt-in available.
2 step opt-in comes with PushOwl’s paid and free plans. The free plan also includes flyout widgets for your opt-ins. If you shell out for the paid plan you also get embed buttons. But PushOwl does not include sign-up boxes in any of its plans.
iZooto offers browser prompt and sign-up boxes with all of their paid packages. They also offer flyout widgets with a few different design options, such as headers, sidebars, bells and sticky bars. Embed buttons are not available, and there is also no 2 step opt-in available.
Firepush offers 2 step opt-in with both its free and paid packages, enabling you to build a high quality subscriber based. And in terms of opt in types, it has the whole package – flyout widgets, sign-up boxes, and embed buttons. The first two are available with Firepush’s free plan, while embed buttons come additionally with paid plans.
The best push notification app: for reporting
Why reporting tools matter
Reporting may not be the first thing you consider when thinking about a push notification app for your Shopify store. But it’s important. You need to be able to keep track of how your different push notification campaigns are performing in order to both maximise ROI and bring in more revenue.
And this means more than simply looking at open rates. Good apps will include reporting tools that tell you how many of those who click a push notification go on to convert into a sale. They can even tell you how much revenue you’re generating in relation to how much you’re spending on pushes – this is known as ROI, and can get up to $10 for every $1 spent on pushes.
Aimtell does provide more advanced reporting tools – but only if you’re ready to pay for them, as only basic reporting tools are available with the free plan. With paid plans you get data on click through rate, ROI and revenue generation as well.
Smart Push Marketing
With SPM, you will have to settle for the basics in terms of reporting. SPM provides no reporting on conversions, revenue generation, ROI or click through rate. You will get basic data such as subscriber numbers, clicks and impressions, but that’s it.
Push Monkey provides basic information on subscriber numbers and clicks, plus some useful additional information. You can monitor the overall value of your abandoned and rescued carts, and see which of your products and markets are performing best in terms of subscriber growth. There is no data provided on click through rate, conversions or ROI.
With PushOwl you’ll get details of the number of subscribers you have, plus impressions and clicks. It also has some more advanced tools for monitoring revenue growth from your pushes, although it does not calculate ROI for you.
iZooto provides a somewhat more detailed picture. Its reporting tools allow you to monitor clicks and impressions, and also see click through rate and audience reach. However, it still lacks critical data on conversion rates, revenue generation and ROI.
With both free and paid plans Firepush offers the full spectrum of reporting tools that you will need to ensure your campaigns are as effective as possible. Along with basic data on subscriber numbers, clicks and impressions, you can also see the impact these campaigns are having. Firepush reports allow you to monitor click through rate, conversion rate, the number of orders generated, the amount of revenue generated, and the return on investment you are getting from each of your push notification campaigns.
The best push notification app: for customer support
Why customer support matters
Customer support is always going to matter when looking for an app for your Shopify store. And with push notification apps this is especially true. That’s because there are many factors to consider that will impact the success of your push notification campaigns:
- Which automated push notifications should you set up for your store?
- What’s the best way to set up and execute your push notification campaigns?
- What timings work best for abandoned cart pushes?
- What’s the right cadence to use in terms of push notification frequency?
- How do your push notifications integrate with your other remarketing activities on other channels?
And the list goes on.
Instead of figuring out the answers to these questions yourself – which can take a lot of time and also cost you in lost earnings – you should be looking for an app that will provide support and advice to ensure your push notifications work well from day one.
Support by phone and email
All of the apps mentioned in this comparison provide support by email and phone.
24/7 chat support
With time differences a potential factor (the customer support team for the app you select may not be based in the country you are operating in), choosing an app which has limited working hours for customer support could be a problem.
Both Firepush and PushOwl provide 24/7 support via chat, so you can get assistance straightaway, wherever you’re located and whatever the hour.
Dedicated Strategy Manager
These are members of the app’s support team who are there to provide you with detailed advice on how to best use push notifications. If this is a new channel for you, choose an app which includes a strategy manager who can get your strategy set up, and then provide you with regular tips on how to improve your campaigns once they are running.
Firepush and PushOwl provide Dedicated Strategy Managers with their paid plans.
With some of the more complex opt-ins and message types, integrating push notifications into both your site and your overall marketing mix can be a challenge. Pick an app that will provide an Integration Engineer to support you in getting set up.
Firepush and PushOwl provide Integration Engineers with their paid plans.
This article originally appeared in the FirePush blog and has been published here with permission.