How to A/B Test Push Notifications to Level Up your Mobile Marketing Game
Written by
Pradyut Hande

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How to A/B Test Push Notifications to Level Up your Mobile Marketing Game

Published : November 27, 2018 | Updated : May 20, 2024

When it comes to your mobile marketing strategy, push notifications constitute your go-to weapon of choice.

But, gone are the days of batch-and-blast campaigns, targeted at your entire user base, that rely on a suspect hit-and-miss approach. An approach often based on ambiguity and assumption.

And, the last thing you want to do as a mobile marketer is to leave anything to chance. Embracing a comprehensive data-driven approach to test what campaign message works on which user segments is critical to ensuring that you effectively scale user engagement and retention.

This is precisely where Smartech’s Mobile A/B Testing feature comes into the picture.

What is Mobile A/B Testing?

Mobile A/B Testing is the calibrated process of comparing two or more variants of a push notification – for a particular campaign – to determine a better performing variant based on key metrics. These include open rates, CTRs, and/or conversions.

Each variant is targeted at a percentage of your entire user base – defined by you – and the winning variant is then sent to the remaining relevant user base.

For instance, if you happen to be a food delivery app, looking to promote a period of heavy discounts this festive and holiday season to your target user base of 1,00,000 active users, you would need to test at least 2 variants of a push notification campaign you plan to send.

The simplest way to go about this is by dividing your entire user base by half, bringing that number to 50,000. Go right ahead and divide this randomly selected user segment by two again. Test both your push notification variants on this segment of 25,000 each. Based on the user engagement and conversion rates, you’ll be able to determine a winning campaign which can then be sent to the remaining 75,000 users.

Sounds simple enough?

It really is!

5 Hacks to Serve User Retention on the Table for Food Delivery Apps

How do you setup a mobile A/B test?

Instead of working on assumptions, we recommend you follow our 4-step testing process to produce optimal results on each of your carefully brewed push notification campaigns!

Step 1: Establish your messaging hypothesis

Depending upon the type of push notification campaign you want to craft and run – promotional, informational, or transactional – you would have a gut feeling as to what messaging would work best for specific user segments.

Should you focus on plain text copy or complement that with rich elements such as large images, videos, or GIFs? Should your messaging tone be humorous or serious? Should you incorporate emojis or exclude them?

You also need to clearly identify the conversion event you want to accomplish through this campaign.

Do you want to nudge your users to transact more by placing a first time order? Or, do you want to cross-sell a related product?

Step 2: Test your messaging hypothesis

Once you’ve set your hypothesis, begin creating multiple variants to test the same. In fact, with Smartech, you can take your experimentation a notch higher by testing upto 3 variants of the same push notification!

Identify the different user segments – as a percentage of your relevant user base – that you want to target these variants at in order to identify a winning variant. Also, set a time limit within which you want to run this test, depending upon your campaign objectives.

Mind you, all of this can be done effortlessly on the Smartech platform itself with a few clicks!

Pro Tip: While testing your hypothesis, you need to test for only one factor at a time so you get more clarity on what your uplift can actually be attributed to.

For instance, if you’re testing degree of personalisation with the use of emojis at the same time, you will find it hard to identify which variable resulted in better performance

Step 3: Embrace the power of data-driven insights

Allow Smartech’s data-rich insights to corroborate or reject your initial hypothesis based on the performance reports of your tested variants. Smartech eventually helps you trigger the winning variant automatically.

Did your campaign with emojis perform better, in terms of conversions? Well, that’s precisely the one that your relevant audiences are the targeted with, maximising your mobile marketing ROI.

Step 4: Understand user behaviour better and optimise for future campaigns

Remember that the performance of each push notification campaign teaches you something about different user segments. A deeper understanding of your users’ click and in-app behaviour helps you optimise your future data-backed campaigns.

What factors can you run mobile A/B tests for?

Let’s now look at the various factors that you can tweak and test for in your push notification campaigns to arrive at a winning variant:

Degree of Personalisation:

As a mobile marketer, hyper-personalising your push notifications is critical to conversion success. In fact, personalising the content of your push notifications can elevate open rates by 4X as compared to generic copy.

While you can personalise your push notifications by addressing your users by their first names, you need to take it up a level by adding a higher degree of personalisation. This would include message content based on your users’ other demographic, geolocation, and historical in-app behaviour.

All of this is made incredibly easy with Smartech’s Unified Customer View that provides a 360-degree understanding of your individual user personas.

Experiment with the degree of personalisation in your variants to identify what resonates best with your test audiences.

Message Copy and Tone:

Gauge whether your test audiences respond better to short and crisp copy or slightly longer sentences with greater details.

Do you grab your test audience’s attention with playful or emotional messaging? Are they nudged towards higher app relaunches and conversions using messages that play with puns and sarcasm or messages that create a sense of urgency?

The experiments you can run are endless and give you immense flexibility to better understand your users’ psychology, laying the foundation for better user segmentation and engagement in the future.

Remember to keep your campaign objectives central to your testing experiments, always.


You’re wondering how the use of emojis can actually positively influence user action!

You’ be surprised! The use of emojis play the role of immediately grabbing your users’ limited attention span, boosting push notification open rates by almost 85%!

This is precisely why you might want to experiment with emojis in your messages. Play around with relevant emojis to gradually hit upon the ones that work best for specific campaigns.

This will help you easily recreate a successful template in the future as well.

Also Read: Emoji Marketing: Breaking the Monotone of your Mobile Push Notification Campaigns

Rich Elements:

Push notifications when enriched with rich elements such as large images, GIFs, video, or audio can increase open rates by over 55%.

The ball is in your court to decide what rich elements you might want to include in your push notification variants to be targeted at specific test audiences.

Do your users respond better to an image or a GIF? Delving deeper, do they respond better to a particular image over another one?

Remember that while rich elements make your push notifications more visually appealing and immersive in nature, these elements should be used only when absolutely essential and not come off as being too gimmicky.

Also Read – How Smartech’s industry-leading Push Amplification feature allows you to boost delivery rates and CTRs by 20%!

Experiment, Pivot, Optimise!

So you see how important experimentation in terms of mobile A/B testing is to your mobile marketing efforts.

Smartech helps you accomplish all this and a lot more, allowing you to focus more on strategy, as our AI-powered platform empowers you to craft and deliver hyper-personalised high-conversion push notification campaigns at scale.

To learn more, schedule a demo today!

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Written By: Pradyut Hande