EP 40: Taking Push Notification Marketing to the Next Level with Felix Suellwold of PushOwl

Episode Summary:


In “Taking Push Notification Marketing to the Next Level,” Jeremy sits down and talks with with Felix Suellwold, Head of Partnerships at PushOwl, about the newest and best ways to use Push Notifications to drive revenue for your business. We dive into best practices and some of the new features that PushOwl will release soon!

Get PushOwl for your business.

Find out more about the team at www.MessengerMastermind.co.


Episode Highlights:

  1. 4:00 What are some of the biggest wins that big brands are using on PushOwl right now?
  2. 6:46 Pro-Tip! How the most successful brands use emojis on PushOwl to increase their CTRs
  3. 9:58 What upcoming PushOwl features will take your Web Push program to the next level?
  4. 12:47 How can PushOwl help a business spend less and get more returning customers?
  5. 15:05 FEATURE ALERT: A/B Testing feature on PushOwl to improve CTRs
  6. 18:39 Another big new PushOwl feature: highly customizable browser prompts
  7. 24:30 The MOST IMPORTANT thing to do for Black Friday-Cyber Monday


Resources Mentioned:

  1. Web Push Notifications – PushOwl

Episode Transcript:

Jeremy Horowitz: Welcome, welcome to another week’s episode of the messenger Mastermind podcast. As always, I’m your host, Jeremy Horowitz, and today we’ve lined up a really special guest, Felix Suellwold, the Head of Partnerships from PushOwl. If you’re not familiar with PushOwl, check out our episode on push notifications and evergreen automations—Episode 27— where we really break down the beginnings of how to get started for an eCommerce company in the Shopify brand in the Push Space.


And today, let’s just jump right in. Felix, how’re you doing?


Felix Suellwold: I’m doing great. Thanks, Jeremy, for having me on the Mastermind show.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, really excited to have you—I know we’ve been talking about really cool ways that Merchants that can get involving push notifications and kind of how they can really build out a robust program for a while now so really happy to finally have you on the show.


Does it give everyone a quick background, can you quickly just tell, like, how did PushOwl get started? How did you get involved in the brand, and kind of what is the story of how PushOwl came to be?


Felix Suellwold: The story of PushOwl and how it came to be is really our founder, Shashank. I think you also met him at Shopify Unite in Toronto, right?


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, great guy.



Felix Suellwold: Yeah, he was so he was working with Microsoft—Microsoft being actually working on the App Store. So yeah, he was familiar with the Apps, he was familiar with the tech space, but just needed to leave the corporate world and he was then—I think it was 2015.


He was just looking into different ways to start his own company. And 2015 actually was also when Google Chrome started with web push, so it’s a pretty recent technology, but he didn’t stop with that. He went in to affiliate marketing, messenger marketing and then eventually learned about web push and that there was something going on because he had that background from the messenger, the App space.


I think that’s why he was really able to create a very meaningful product and then 2017 was when he got into Shopify, got into, like, focus Shopify eCommerce. And that’s also when PushOwl saw success with the user base and yeah, we always were really close to the merchants who closed in the Shopify Ecosystem.


And I think this also way we were able to build a product that has the features you require to get successful without any of the fuss.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yes. Definitely. I think for everyone who has listened to our original episode, something that we really highlight on—and one of the reasons why we found some more success with the tool—is how simple and how straightforward it is to set up and especially to set up the kind of evergreen “set and forget” automations within PushOwl, where it doesn’t take a ton of time, it doesn’t take a lot of technical knowledge, but you can get going very, very quickly and really starting to drive success.


And so from our previous conversations, I know that there are a lot of bigger brands on the platform. So, what would you say are the biggest wins that some of your bigger brands are using across a bunch of different accounts?


Felix Suellwold: Yeah, if you’re looking to our merchants like those that are really successful with push notification. It comes back around also to the basics. For example, the abandoned cart reminder—as you were just mentioning at the beginning: that’s really an easy automation to set up. You can let it run.


It runs in the background. It’s automatic and it just recovers all these events and carts you earlier were not able to recover because you didn’t have an email address or you didn’t have a phone number. So that’s where web push just adds huge value to the bottom line of any Merchant’s business.


And another thing: it’s just very frequently used for—like where web push is used for—just sending out promotions. You know, you have coupon codes and you want to distribute them and the fast fashion stores, for example, cosmetic brands—they use web push as an additional marketing channel to reach out to the audience to re-engage them to upsell to them. So these are really the basics that that all successful push operations are using.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, I think that’s such a powerful piece of it: not just the automations— which I think if anyone hasn’t done this already is an absolute must—but the second piece of it which is if you want to really send out promotions where you’re not necessarily hitting the entire list and you’re not necessarily releasing something site-wide, but you want to just kind of boost sales and get people back in the door.


I think that it’s really, really successful and it’s also so quick. Right? Someone receives that push notification, they’re instantly on their phone, they click on it, they open the message, it drops them directly into the store— and with another feature that you all have that I love.


You can copy the discount codes into the link so that by the time that they actually get back to the store the—you set it all properly on the back end—the discount code is automatically applied at checkout and it really just drives those quick purchases, which I agree for companies that have those much more impulse purchases, it could really have a meaningful lift in a very lightweight manner where it doesn’t require a lot of time to set up, doesn’t require a lot of planning, but you can really get something out the door and it’ll be super successful.


Felix Suellwold: Yeah, you can be the busiest person in the world and you can still have a meaningful strategy set up for PushOwl.


It’s that efficient.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, definitely. The other piece that I love is just emojis, emojis, emojis. I think emojis are a big, big win. Especially with the restricted character limit and everything else in a push notification. You really have to hit something home quickly. I think that that’s another thing that I’ve seen a lot of the more successful brands that we work with do really well is they either use emojis to replace words or they find really creative ways to use emojis in it and just capture someone’s attention really quickly.


Felix Suellwold: You know what I saw the other day with emojis—I thought it was really smart—I was surprised. I didn’t think I would like—somebody was using the emojis on the buttons as well. So, because you know, you have your headline texts, but you can also use them on the button so they were just copying all the emojis and I think it was like bikinis or swimming trunks or something like that.


It was a really good idea because you just grab more attention which automatically increases your CTR.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, definitely. I think actually that’s another good point that I don’t necessarily see everyone do but if you really want to take her push program to the next level is adding in buttons.


So, just to quickly breakdown on the back end and on the user experience: so, when someone clicks the main message, you can have a primary link direct them to wherever you want on your website, but PushOwl allows you to add multiple buttons—I think it’s two, right?


Felix Suellwold: Yeah, right.


Jeremy Horowitz: You got two buttons.  Where, just like a CTA on an email or multiple links in another marketing channel. You can direct people to different parts of your site. And so, right, if you have a promotion where you want to drive someone to a specific page first, but then you also maybe want to drive them to a piece of content or to a specific product, you can have all three destinations. And you can use the buttons to creatively give people those options and it’s a great user experience point where if someone doesn’t necessarily want to go to the direct page you give them additional options.


What we actually do most of the time for our brands and our clients is have one of the buttons direct to the same place as the primary link does so we essentially just copy and paste the primary link.


What we find is that people will engage with the button because it’s a little bit more of a clear Call-to-Action. And it just gives you more text flexibility in that original post to have more information in the post and then save that call to action for the button.


Felix Suellwold: Right. You can also make the CTA the button and the coupon code you’re already using but just because it has this, like, CTA appearance, it’s just visually pretty strong. And you can also bring the people to your social media—to your Instagram page with the second button, for example, so there’s some very nice use cases.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, definitely. It definitely gives you some options of how you want to use that specific message to propel any specific initiative that you have and I think it’s a good little hack that if—you kind of need to know how to use the tool a little bit, but once you get familiar with it—and it’s really simple from the backend perspective to set up—it’s something that we recommend you do every single time just because it gives you another opportunity to drive incremental value out of each touch point with your customer.


And so, Felix, kind of along those lines—I know that you all have been spending a lot of time since we talked back at Shopify Unite about all the awesome features you guys have been kind of head-down working on.


And so, if I’m a Shopify Brand, and I’ve been building up my push programs and I’m have the automations configured, I’m sending out campaigns, what are those new features that you all have been working on that I can really start leveraging to take my program to the next level.


Felix Suellwold: So we spent a lot of time in the recent weeks on just building more segments for our Enterprise Merchants because we see, like, once you have a relevant size—once you have big Enterprise Merchants—you have like a hundred thousand subscribers or more and you sending push notifications like multiple times a week, you really need to make sure that you are not sending these generic messages, but you adjust your messaging.


So, therefore, segments of, like, buyers/non-buyers is a very simple one, or sending more modifications to the new subscribers and with a capacity of custom segments for the interpersonal—we work, for example, on locations.


So, just like being able to talk to subscribers in a certain zip code, zip code cluster, certain distance, or just the basic ones: cities, regions, countries. So just by addressing your subscribers by mentioning the city name or if you, for example, are in sports and you’re doing a specific jersey or specific promotion with that specific sports club, then it’s really important that you, you know, you don’t send this out to everyone, but just the ones where it’s really relevant.


So, these kind of segmentations we currently work with our enterprise merchants. So, we work that out with them.


Jeremy Horowitz: That’s awesome. Yeah, I think segmentation was always definitely one of my biggest feature requests because you never want to send the same message to everybody—anytime that you can segment, make it more personalized: obviously, the more effective they’re going to be, the higher the open rates are going to be.


What are some use cases that you’ve seen or some really effective segments that a lot of the Enterprise clients have been gravitating towards?


Felix Suellwold: So, a lot of Enterprise clients like to use all the segments that basically help them to run Win-Back Campaigns.


So, they want to understand—they want to have that segment where they have people that haven’t purchased in 30 days and 60 days, but did one purchase. And they know that they have to bring these customers through a funnel. They basically want them to have two, three purchases before they become a very loyal customer.


So, they basically get these segmentations that then okay, this this person is about to churn. Basically, I want to win them back. And then we bring these segments into their dashboard. And then they craft campaigns, they craft either certain deals, certain coupons, or certain content around these Win-Back Campaigns to get the people—like, to push the customer through the funnel and make them a loyal customer.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah. I think that that is an amazing point, and actually, that flow in general—in any marketing channel: push notifications, emails, SMS—I think a lot of merchants either don’t have set up or having invested a lot in and it’s actually one of those pivotal moments in an experience that really can make or break a business.


So, if you think about all of the money that you’ve dumped into acquiring these customers and getting them to buy one time, getting them to buy a second time and fighting that kind of one-and-done problem that I see a lot of businesses face—and I think a lot of businesses struggle with how to work around that—is key to the long-term success of your business.


And yeah, I mean, using a tool like PushOwl—the cost to send one push notification is not close to as expensive as the cost of a Facebook Ad or a Google Ad. And I think it’s super, super important to leverage that channel to really figure out how to bring those customers back and especially from a profit perspective.


Like, when you think about how much profit each customer brings in. Using a less expensive marketing channel to drive a second purchase—even with a discount— would be a high leverage point for your business that will really have a big impact. And so I think that’s an awesome win.


Felix Suellwold: Yes. I was just going to say that: customer acquisition cost is steadily on the rise, right? And right now, we really benefit from that discussion from people just discussing acquisition coming, really like, getting deep into retention marketing and trying to understand, “Okay, which channels, which communication channels do I have available?”


And that’s when people really see the benefit of web push. I think I would even say it’s stronger than we talking about.


Jeremy Horowitz: Wow, that is a bold claim. I would love to see if you guys ever put out a report on that data of how effective those are—I’ll have to have you back on the podcast because I love those types of things. Because, also those advertising costs are only going to continue to increase—so if you can bring that customer into a channel that you own like push notifications, it’s just so, so important.


So, Win-Back Campaigns are a big win of new segmentation. Are there any other kind of like big wins that you’re seeing across the board with customers using the new tool?


Felix Suellwold: So, something I think actually also requested that we were looking into A/B Testing for the campaigns, right? Obviously before you could send the campaign another week later—you send another campaign you kind of look into the CTR. But what we do now, we’re running kind of a Beta with of our Merchants is just having these as segments. So, like self-populating. A/B segments where you can like actually have proper AB tests and send out a campaign to A segments and a campaign to B segments.


And then you see okay, which one had a better CTR? How much revenue did these campaigns actually bring me, and by that you get just deeper Data Insights into your audience, which then obviously helps you in your automations, in your other campaigns, in just how you phrase and what kind of creatives you choose when communicating to your subscribers.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think A/B Testing is probably one of the greatest leverage points and marketing team has to improve their process. I’m a big believer in A/B Testing everything. When I was at Klaviyo Boston, I sat in on the Chubbies talk about how they A/B Test four different variants for their subject lines, which I guess is multivariate testing.


If you aren’t testing everything right now and you have access to this A/B Testing feature, test emojis  versus no- emojis test different versions of subject, sorry, banner lines test different headlines, test different images, test images versus no images, like anything that you can think of—test all of them because there’s so many learnings that you can find in there, there are so many assumptions that you can correct by doing that process, like, one of the greatest insights from the Chubbies’ things was they were like, “We don’t care if it’s on brand or not. We care if it gets an email open.” And I think you need to think about it the exact same way if you’re a Shopify company with push notifications.


Like, does this drive someone to view the notification and go to my site? And the crazy thing that you’ll learn from there is that I think there’s always these moments where you’re like, “Oh I was so convinced that I was going to be right in that we have this idea and this belief about our customer!”


And then you throw it one test and it just kind of almost disproves that and it’s very eye-opening because it really opens up your possibility and your, like, realm of what you can do. And, to me, it’s like one of the most exciting moments because then you’re like, “Woah. Well, if we thought we couldn’t do all these things but now we might be able to, we can get way more creative.” And I think that’s the really important piece to all of it.


Felix Suellwold: The data just speaks for itself, right? Like, you can cut a lot of discussions short by just testing. Hey, it’s just testing. You know?


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, definitely. And, I mean, I think at a certain point everyone’s going to be surrounded by a really intelligent team full of really hardworking people and at the end of the day, everyone can probably, like, convince each other of a great idea.


Whereas again, yeah, if you just test it and let the data speak for itself. It’s a great feedback loop to inform those conversations that then can ripple out into other parts of the marketing stack or other parts of the organization, and those always kind of lead to some of the biggest wins not just in one specific channel or one specific effort, but really across the business. And I know you guys had one more big feature that you have coming up that I think a lot of merchants are going to be excited about so you want to jump into that one?


Felix Suellwold: Yes. So, we also are right now working with a couple of merchants on this, and that is the browser prompt, right? Like, where do you want to show it? And previously we obviously have our features like, to delay the browser prompt, show additional context with the overlay, and you remember this which also helps.


But what we did now is we built a little backend feature where we can help the merchants to say, “Okay, let’s don’t show this on your blog. Let’s show this disconnection page, but not on that collection page.” So, the browser prompt is obviously with web push. It’s some of the focus elements. It’s part of the browser. You cannot change it. But now, you have more control over how you’re gonna present it to your store visitors.


And I think that’s also very important aspect of testing because a lot of times, like, the highest impact actually on opt-ins is how well known is your brand’s, what’s the landing page experience, how does it feel like for a store visitor? They don’t have too much context when they click allow so you can test on this like, “What’s the best page to show it on?  What’s the best delay time? Et cetera.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, I think this is going to be one of the least sexy but most important features that we talk about today, because I think—so, something that I got a lot of pushback on whenever I was trying to get any new channel—and I think this is going to be a little bit of a challenge as we really explode into Owned Channels where now you guys are capturing people’s email and phone numbers, push access, as well as messenger access—is on-site.


How do you really think through a thoughtful user experience where you don’t inundate and don’t overwhelm a customer, and provide a really great user experience where—right, like, as the merchant you want all four and if not more tactics. But you can’t have a pop-up that captures their email, then a pop of the captures their phone number, then a pop-up that captures their messenger, and another pop-up that captures their push notification.


And so I think by allowing the merchants and giving them the access to really pick and choose how all of those systems work and how they all work together will be really, really effective.


I mean, the greatest wins that we’ve seen are condensing email and phone capture into one pop up, and then having the push notification pop-up show up separately. Yeah, we call it our two-for-one method where, essentially, we capture someone to email the exact same way that you normally would and then offer them an additional discount on the thank you page of the email collection to get their phone number as well.


But, right, if you have all those things on welcome and the push notification opt-in on welcome as well, it’s a lot, especially on mobile devices, which is where the majority of the traffic that at least we work with and we see come from. This is a lot, but now that you have the ability to either show it on certain pages or show it in specific ways that in coordination with your pop up to capture the customers’ other contact info.


To me, that’s actually like one of those things that probably a lot of people won’t want to— like, it’s not the big thing that they’re going to bring up to their boss or talk about at a keynote, but is actually so, so important because it’s those little touches that really make or break a customer experience on-site.


Felix Suellwold: Yeah, I think so too. And I think, I mean, you need to own as many of these communication channels as possible.


So, like, not collecting the opt-in, it’s just not really a solution. But, optimizing and having the customer experience like taking a look at it, opt in that, I think that is important.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, definitely. And I think the other reason why you guys are rolling out testing is going to be so important is that it’s another thing to test. It’s another thing to find out.


Every company—the importance of each channel, relatively—is going to be really impactful to their business, and no two companies are going to be the same. But, allowing you to test it and really figuring out, “Which channel do we prioritize capturing first? How do we think about introducing the customer through each Owned Channel to our brand?” is super, super important, and that kind of coordination in that thought process is really important to test out, because I mean, obviously email’s the Old Reliable. It’s been around for twenty years, a lot of companies rely on it, but it’s also not growing.


And so, as you think about moving into these new channels like push notifications, right. and investing more in them and getting more advanced, really thinking through what is that optimal user experience around that and how do we introduce someone to our company and then continue that relationship over time with them—is super, super important, and I think the more testing you have, the more you can think through, and the more options you can present to customers and that over time will kind of grow and continue to grow into something new and better, which again will just create a better customer experience, deliver more value and then grow revenue for the channel.


So, really excited that you all have rolled that out as well.


Are there any other big updates that you all have, or is there anything else that you think is really important for a merchant to know and kind of be prepared for?


Felix Suellwold: I mean, right now, we are just super excited for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And that’s something we’re really looking forward to—where our like, traditionally, you know Merchants really utilize web push very well and use it to just promote the heck out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah. Definitely. I think we are definitely getting to that point of the year where everyone really needs to bunker down and get their plan mapped out.


So, Felix, my last question for ya: if I’m a merchant, and there was only one thing and push notification that I need to do to be prepared for BFCM weekend, what would it be?


Felix Suellwold: Let me actually start with, like, a non-web push thing. Right, like you need, like, what you need to figure out is the relationship building.


So, I mean, even though I just said, you know, the merchants really can use web push to push out these coupons, or to use our Flash Sale feature to, like, reach the maximum of people.


More importantly is that you don’t start web push just for these four days. It’s a week-long process to up-front establish this connection with your subscriber, so as to familiarize them with the web push. They need to associate your brand with these push notifications. So, instead of just like wildly sending out these 70% coupons make sure that you have a strategy that the weeks before, you send them push notifications that add value, or have a promotion, or are maybe like kind of teasers for the Black Friday that’s about to come. So, I think it’s not really a one-one tip, but it’s like a strategy you should be establishing right now to be ready for Black Friday.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, something that we strongly, strongly push is building hype for products and promotion launches. And yeah, I couldn’t agree more that delivering that value up front, building that hype will really go a long way so that when you are in that moment where you do need to make a sale, that prime is pumped—the pump is primed.


Sorry. And, everyone’s really just ready and is compelled to buy from you in that moment. And, I mean, this weekend is what we trained for all year. Like this is it. This is the time to make those sales.


Felix Suellwold: Right. And I think a good way to, like, get your subscribers used to push notifications and make it really natural is if merchants integrate with Shopify Flow.


Have ever used Flow before, Jeremy?


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah. I’ve played around with it a little bit. I think it’s a really powerful tool that is—it would be nice if it was a little bit easier to figure out exactly how to use it.


Felix Suellwold: Yeah, so I mean, for the listeners, so it’s like an “If-Then” tool basically, so you can have certain trigger certain actions.


And if you use Flow together with PushOwl, what you can do is you can have, as an action, send a push notification to an individual subscriber, to individual user—so you can build a lot of very interesting things with Flow, be it Shopify actions like an order, or like a fulfillment, or you can also connect with other apps that you can connect with your loyalty app.


And then as soon as it’s your birthday, or you’re moving up a tier, or moving down a tier, you are sending push notifications. So, you have these relevant, timely notifications coming right to your screen device. And I think that’s a good way to get your customers used to web push, and you see they realize. “Oh, this is adding value. This is helping me.” And this way, you can familiarize them very well with that channel once it comes to sending promotions.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah. That sounds awesome. That sounds, like, also—I mean, I would fall down a rabbit hole, because it sounds like you can do about ninety different things in there. But yeah, yeah, I agree.


Felix Suellwold: Yeah, you could make a call-in show with that.


Jeremy Horowitz: I think this was a good, really interesting even more advanced strategy of really thinking through creatively.


What are the messages that maybe apps like your Rewards and Loyalty program aren’t sending messages out to your subscribers for, and now through Shopify Flow and PushOwl, you can start to send those notifications that you want?


I know in the past when I’ve worked with brands for Rewards and Loyalty programs there are a lot of different and creative things that you can do as far as double points days, or higher rewards for buying specific products that aren’t necessarily that easy to facilitate through just directly the tool itself, but—just as you said, if you kind of create those triggers within Shopify Flow, you can use PushOwl on the front end to deliver those messages back to your customers.


And again, it’s so simple and so lightweight for them that it’s basically a click and unlocking their phone screen to get them to take the actions that you want. Yeah, I think that there’s a really deep set of opportunities for the people who want to get creative with that process.


Felix Suellwold: Yeah, and like the example you were just giving—right, double the points. I think that’s what a lot of merchants are going to do during a BFCM. So, they want to promote—they don’t necessarily want to promote the product—but they want to promote that double points, so that PushOwl comes in very handy again to kind of nudge the customers into these impulse buys.


Jeremy Horowitz: Yeah, definitely. Because at the end of the day, more impulse buys means more revenue and more bottom line.


So, really appreciate the time Felix. If someone wants to learn more about PushOwl, or what you all have going on right now, where they where can they find you all?


Felix Suellwold: So you can always find it on Shopify App Store. If you just look for web push notifications, you will find our app. And then you can obviously always reach out to me, Felix@PushOwl.com—I’m very excited to, you know, discuss with you the Enterprise features, discover with you Shopify Flow and how it can help your brand, and then, of course, PushOwl.com is where you can get all the info, chat with our customer support. I think these are the easiest Avenues to reach others.


Jeremy Horowitz: Awesome. Well, I really appreciate the time. It was great talking and catching up, and I hope you have a good one.


Felix Suellwold: Thanks, Jeremy. It was great being on the show. Looking forward to the next one.