Next Level Push Notifications: The Value of Mixing User Research in with your CRM

Alexandra Furman
4 min readFeb 27, 2017


Customer relationship managment is a powerful tool. Most big mobile CRM products can help you collect data on your users app store behavior, location, and all the aspects necessary to hash out thorough personas.

Another huge perk of a good CRM tool for mobile, is the ability to customize push notifications to these unique user groups of yours, and measure the click through rates of different pushes. The last app marketing manager I worked with used Appboy as a primary tool for this. It was extremely useful to know how, for example, the time of day affected the open rate of a push. Or how a certain value proposition, like a push for a sale on Nike sneakers, had success with one user segment over another. It made it easy to make and test hypotheses; “sale notifications have a greater open rate with our younger segment”, or “pushes for new home and living products have a greater open rate with older millennials”. When your push notifications perform, so do your sale and engagement KPI’s.

Customer profile by Appboy

So, with all the valuable insights and data that come along with a mobile CRM tool, why would you waste time and resources conducting qualitative user research on push notifications? A big, often unanswered question many companies with CRM tools have is “Why?”.

Why does a value proposition work for certain people and how can we leverage that? “Why is the older half of my target demographic so interested in new home and living products over fashion products, while the younger half is interested in fashion sales?” If you can get in contact with 5 users or test participants that fit your older demographic, during an already scheduled usability test, or for a spontaneous phone interview, you can simply ask them. First, you want to see if this participant does in fact support the numbers by letting them tell you which value proposition they find most interesting, or allowing them to order value propositions in a list. You can then follow that up with a more pointed prompt to help you answer your test question: “Why are you interested in new home and living products?” Perhaps they explain that they have just moved into their first apartment. Perhaps they explain that they have an endless list of weddings and housewarmings to attend. Why does this matter? If you find yourself hearing the same answers over and over, there is your content to test for the next push to that segment. Telling a story and giving context to your value proposition allows your users to relate it to their own lives.

Why does pushing at a specific time of day perform for certain content or user segments? “Why do our sales notifications perform better at night and content pushes perform better first thing in the morning?”. Put a prompt for it on your next qualitative test plan. Maybe your test participants explain that they read articles every morning to wake up and start their day. Maybe they shop at night while watching TV. This gives you a springboard for new, more personal push ideas.

Why does certain language and tone in a push work while other copy doesn’t? “Why are my younger users more likely to open a push notification with emojis?”. Again, validate and ask questions. Human to human. Maybe your young participant shares an experience with another dating app, where they used her new favourite black heart emoji in a reengagement push, and she thought it was cool. Another participant tells you that seeing a push notification with an emoji makes the brand seem friendlier, but one is enough. Who knows what your younger audience thinks is cool these days, but if they’re your market, you better be doing your best to leverage it.

Usability testing and user interviews are full of one-off insights and little bits of gold. If you can validate these ideas across a few users and form it into a catchy push, it’s worth throwing back into your CRM tool to measure quantitatively. It’s low risk and has not only the potential to up your open rates, it also holds the potential to establish a more personal connection between your users and your brand.

Happy pushing!

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Alexandra Furman

Living, learning & creating. User researcher from Vancouver.