How to A/B Test Your Push Notifications More Effectively?

Team MessageFlow
8 min
November 10, 2023

When looking at the broader business communication context, where every character and image holds immense significance, Push Notifications emerge as one of the heralds of your brand's narrative. Crafting an impactful first impression demands not just creativity, but a strategic approach. As we take a closer look at the nuances of split testing, we aim to help you transform Pushes from mere messages into potent catalysts for conversion. Let’s discuss how you can make Push Notifications more effective with A/B testing. 

Keep on reading if you’re looking for answers to questions such as:

  • How can I improve my Push Notification performance?

  • How can I improve my Push strategy?

A brief introduction to A/B testing

A/B testing, often referred to as split testing, is a messaging optimization method aimed at refining the effectiveness of your Push Notifications. The concept is elegantly simple: by presenting variations of your message to a select audience, you gain insights into which creative elements wield the most influence on user actions. 

While the overarching goal remains universal – to enhance conversions – business-specific objectives may vary. Whether it's prompting app installs, boosting purchases, securing subscriptions, soliciting valuable feedback, or fostering engagement with your content, A/B testing serves to drive your Push Notifications towards optimal performance. 

Push Notification A/B testing framework and messaging strategies

Getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to Push Notifications A/B testing requires a well-defined framework that goes beyond uncontrolled experimentation. In this section, we'll give you the ABCs for developing a comprehensive approach to split testing Pushes. 

Forming a hypothesis

Your Push Notification A/B testing journey starts with the seemingly abstract yet crucial step of forming a hypothesis. While the term might sound vague, its essence lies in establishing clear objectives and defining the parameters of your experimentation. 

What are you trying to achieve, and what knowledge do you seek to gather from the testing process? 

Pay attention to who your target audience is. Factors such as age, gender, education level, and interests all come into play. Drill deep into the nuances that make your audience tick to discover the threads that connect your brand with their preferences.

As your hypothesis takes shape, keep an eye on your overarching goal. Are you looking to generate traffic, capture leads, or drive conversions? This fundamental question will affect the tone and substance of your creative process which is supposed to resonate with the audience on a personal level.

With all these insights at your disposal, proceed to construct your as yet unconfirmed hypothesis. Send one version of the notification to half of your recipients and another to the remaining half, setting the stage for a close observation of how each variant performs. This initial step sets the tone for a data-driven exploration and improvement down the line.

Determining specific variables of push messages

Determining the specific variables within the A/B testing framework is often considered to be the toughest part of the process. On top of that, you need to decipher which elements carry the most weight in your unique context, since they all won't hold the same value. In this section, we'll cover the aspects of your Push Notifications that can and should be tweaked within your A/B testing process, as they will ultimately define the success of your Push campaign.

General wording of the message

While you're A/B testing, the language you use takes center stage. Explore variations in message copy, from titles to sentence structure and tone of voice. Each iteration carries the potential to connect differently with your audience, providing insights into the linguistic nuances that actually drive engagement and conversion.

CTA and correlated action buttons

The call to action is the essence of your Push Notification. Test different CTAs and their related action buttons. Small changes in phrasing or design can have a profound impact on user response, guiding them seamlessly toward the desired action. 

push notification CTA buttons

Level of formality

Strike the delicate balance between formality and humor as you experiment with the tone of your Push Notifications. Assess how the level of formality influences audience perception and engagement. Whether it's a dash of humor or a more formal approach, discover the optimal tone that hits the right keys with your audience.

Appeal to emotions

Dip into the intricacies of crafting compelling messages by experimenting with concepts such as value, urgency, intrigue, uniqueness, or opportunity. Explore how each of these factors contributes to the overall appeal and persuasiveness of your message, guiding users towards taking action with a blend of incentives and curiosity.

Include imagery

Try out different sizes, product icons, and header images to tap into the visual alchemy that grips your audience. Assess how varying visual elements impact user attention and perception. From the subtle nuances of product representation to the bold strokes of header design, find the visual language that speaks to your Push Notification subscribers on a deep level. 

push notification with image

A splash of emojis 💦

Don't underestimate the impact these tiny characters can have on user engagement. From conveying a sense of urgency to injecting playfulness, emojis can turn out to be the secret ingredient making the difference when it comes to the efficiency of your Push Notifications.

push notification with emoji

Timing is of the essence for user engagement

You may be wondering what's the best time to send Push Notifications, but in reality, this is one of the things you'll only get right using A/B testing. Experiment with different parts of the day and week to figure out the best time for getting the most engagement. Discovering peoples' activity patterns will let you optimize the messages time-wise, making sure they arrive precisely when your user is most receptive.

Segmentation for precise targeting of variants

Design your Push Notifications with a strong focus on targeting specific audience segments. By understanding the unique preferences and behaviors within each group, you crack open the power of personalization. From demographics to user behavior, segmentation allows you to tailor messages that address your diverse audience in detail.

Split test campaign analysis

As you're coming to a close on your A/B testing efforts, the spotlight shifts to a new critical stage: campaign analysis. Now is the moment to evaluate the performance metrics that will unveil the true impact of your experimentation. 

So, what can you learn from the various metrics?

1. Click rate

Measures immediate engagement by revealing the percentage of recipients who clicked on the Push Notification.

2. View rate

Reflects initial visibility and appeal, showing the percentage of recipients who viewed the Push Notification.

3. Conversions

Quantifies the success of the campaign, indicating the number of desired actions (e.g., app installs, purchases) triggered by the Push Notification.

4. Open rate

Gauges interest and visibility by revealing the percentage of recipients who opened the Push Notification.

5. Bounce rate

Highlights potential issues with targeting or delivery, showing the percentage of Push Notifications that failed to reach recipients.

6. Retention rate

Measures the long-term impact by assessing how well Push Notifications contribute to user retention over time.

7. Time-to-interact

Indicates immediacy and impact, revealing the speed at which users engage with Push Notifications after receiving them.

Best practices to A/B test Push Notifications campaigns

At this point, you're equipped with the insights to either launch your first A/B testing campaign or refine existing messaging strategies. That said, to increase your chances of success even further, let's have a look at the best practices that will yield optimal outcomes. These insights serve as the guiding principles, improving your path towards sending impactful, conversion-driven Push Notifications.

Push testing guidelines

1. Test one variable at a time

Isolate the impact of individual changes by testing one variable at a time. This methodical approach allows for clearer insights into the specific elements influencing Push Notification performance.

2. Skillfully analyze results

In-depth analysis of the testing results is key. Revisit your hypothesis and assess how results align. This retrospective examination provides a deeper understanding of the nuances influencing user responses.

3. Consider the sample size

Audience size matters in A/B testing. Ensure your sample size is statistically significant to draw reliable conclusions. A well-calibrated sample size enhances the accuracy and reliability of your findings.

4. Iterate

A/B testing is a continuous process. Iteration is your ally. Rinse and repeat experiments to accumulate insights over time. This ongoing refinement is the secret to achieving progressively better results and optimizing your Push Notification strategy long-term.

Here's a comparison of how two Pushes with the same discount can look like:

push notification discount image
push notification discount image with numbers

Optimize rich Push Notifications for different mobile platforms 

Our discussion wouldn't be complete without touching on rich Push Notifications, those containing imagery, in the context of the two main mobile operating systems. This type is particularly important, as it tends to have a 25% higher engagement rate than regular Pushes. 

While the core functionality remains the same, there are subtle differences. Let's compare two platforms, Android and iOS, to see how you can improve your Push Notifications.

Rich Push Notifications on Android

Since Android 8.0, users have gained the ability to manage their preferences through notification channels in the app's "Settings" page. This grants them the flexibility to curate their notification experience, choosing to receive specific types of rich formats. The power extends to how users want to be alerted as well, allowing for personalized sound selections or a discreet slide into the status bar.

Rich Push Notifications on iOS

iOS users, operating on iOS 10 or newer, enjoy nuanced control over notification preferences. With the “Focus” mode, they can decide when they receive notifications, creating a personalized experience. However, for teams running Push Notification marketing, this means the timing of delivery might not always synchronize with the intended moment.

See below for more stats comparing the two major mobile platforms:

Medium opt-in rate on Android - 81%
Medium opt-in rate on iOS - 51%

Android push notification reaction rate – 4.6%
iOS push notification reaction rate – 3.4%

Android average push notification CTR – 4.6%
iOS average notification CTR – 3.4%


Final words on Push Notification testing

If you're into Push Notifications or any type of messaging, split testing is a game-changer. It sweeps away the guesswork, letting you focus on what actually boosts conversion rate. Testing and tweaking are ongoing efforts, so don't expect to nail it on the first go.

When you're analyzing results, connect the dots with your initial hypothesis. Did your outcomes align with your expectations, and did they translate into real business gains? It’s not just about recording the data, but about how each insight pushes your brand toward tangible benefits.

Ready to start testing for real?

We’re here to help you get going, providing a tool that allows for recording events from any source and offers advanced user tracking on your website, mobile app, or external systems. What makes us exceptional is the analytical edge we bring to the table. 

As you send out Pushes, MessageFlow equips you with the analytics needed to gather insights and validate your hypotheses. It's the essential toolkit for decoding the interaction between your messages and user responses, bringing clarity to your path of success. Get in touch at and start testing to get better results.

Choose the perfect one-stop-shop for your omnichannel communication

Get a demo
Let's keep in touch!

Stay ahead of the curve with our newsletter, and be the first to know about the latest technological advancements and innovations!

Thank you for subscribing!

© 2024 | All rights reserved. | We use cookies.