Adding a Human Touch to Push Notifications

How to give push notifications that personal touch.

OneSignal's Commercial Account Executive, Thomas Maroufi, goes over how to add a human touch to push notifications. The transcript of the webinar can be found below.

Introduction to OneSignal


All right, we're going to get started now. Thank you all for joining.

Today, we're going to be discussing adding a human touch to push notifications. We're going to start with an agenda. First, I'm going to tell you a little bit about OneSignal and then we can dive right into segmentation. We'll talk about different filters, data tags and then how we can relate it specifically to a use case, so a couple of different marketing funnels that can be related to our drip campaigns and abandoned cart. And then from there, we'll have a Q and A session. So, if there's any specific questions that you do have, I would be happy to assist. So, we'll leave the email to our support line. So, if you have any questions on the technical side, we can help you from there.

So, to get started, let's talk a little bit about OneSignal. So, at OneSignal, we started as app developers who wanted to find a better way to send push notifications. Finding no good solution, we built OneSignal. We're located here in the San Francisco Bay area, sunny San Mateo, California. We currently work with 850,000 developers around the world, sending about 5 billion push notifications a day. We really attest this to having a platform that's very easy to use.

As some of you may know, implementation takes as little as ten minutes to get set up. And then we want to kind relate these webinars to how they can be used in the real world. So, I'm going to do my best to share some of the insight I've had from working at OneSignal over a year to show you how we can further build on your user base and further personalize the messages that you are sending out to them.

So, some of the things we're going to discuss, and this is the robust feature set that we have. These are just some of the features that we have on OneSignal that can be used. So, specifically today, we're going to be discussing data tags, segmentation, and overall message personalization.

So, data tags are simple key values that you can implement via a button press or a specific page visit that will show you once we get into the all users page.

Segmentation or filters basically allows you to order in groups your users based on a specific location, app activity, interests. There's a good amount of filters that can be used with segmentation. I'll show you a little bit more details on that on the next page.

Finally, personalization. You can actually personalize your messages. I think that's the best way to reach and target your audience. Everyone that receives a message that has maybe their first name address to them or specifically a topic that they're interested in is much more likely to engage with your notification rather than if you send one notification to your entire audience. Typically on a website, there's multiple different use cases, and one person interested in something specific on your site may not be interested in all the content you have to offer. So, if you personalize your message and you learn a little bit more about your user, you're much more likely to receive a higher engagement level.

So, I'm going to migrate to the platform directly. So, let me share my screen and I will show you. Okay. So, this is inside the platform. For those of you who do not know how to get to this page, all you do is from your OneSignal dashboard, you click on the specific app that you are interested in, so DEMO Main. And then we're going to go to Audience. And then we're going to go to All Users. This is where OneSignal aggregates all of your user data. So, we collect a lot of this by default, but there's also a good amount that you can pass through to us, either from your database or through specific integrations that you have set up.

So, from here, we'll be able to tell you if your users are subscribed, not subscribed, or have opted out. We'll also be able to tell you when they were last active on your website or your mobile app. When was their first session? What specific device they're using on? What are they subscribed on? An Android, Google Chrome, on a Mac, on a PC. How many sessions they've had on your unique website or app? What app version? What country they're in, which is correlated directly from their IP address. Time spent on the platform, so have they been on the platform for five minutes, five hours? What language they use on their unique device? So, is it English? Is it Spanish? Is it another language? We have all of that collected here and we provide that to you.

Data Tags


Each individual user that comes to OneSignal, we assign them what we call a player ID. That's the user ID that OneSignal refers to that unique user. You can then directly connect this to your database or an external user ID. So, specifically, if you have a database of users and they come in, they subscribe to notifications and they log in, we can essentially stamp that and correlate that with that user. So now we know, for example, "Hey, this is Joe." If we want to target Joe with a message, we know who to send it to, and that gives you the ability to start sending transactional notifications, transactional being, "Hey, your package is shipped. Hey, your package has arrived," something that's directly related to that specific user to send one to one messaging.

Going over to this section, which is the data tags part of the platform, from here, we actually let you personalize what you'd like to filter by. So, again, specifically based on any button press or page visit, you'll actually be able to tag those users and start learning more information about them. You can correlate this directly to a tag or a pixel or a cookie.

There are simple key values that you have integrated throughout your site with the OneSignal SDK on there. And then our SDK can pull this information out. So, for example, if we look at one of these, we have level: 3 three, Segment1. This is just one example. Segment1 is equal to true. Cart_item is equal to subscription. User_name is equal to John. Campaign_27 is equal to true. Cart_update, which another unique thing that you can use this for is a UNIX timestamp.

So, this is great for abandoned cart. If abandoned cart is on an ecommerce site that you guys have and specifically someone goes to add something to cart, we can actually stamp what time that is in addition to what the item is in the cart. So, for example, this is a timestamp that we have set up. We also have a time or a different data tag here that says cart_item is equal to sunglasses. That's just an example of a way that you can pass the data tag through to OneSignal. And then we can actually start segmenting by all this information.

So, if we click back and we go to segments, we'll land here. This is our list of all the predefined segments that we already have made. And then we can create even more segments here. So, just to show you what you can filter by, everything we saw on the previous page, you can also segment by that here in real-time. So, we can sort by first session, last session, session count, total duration amount spent, purchased item, language, device type, user tags. The great thing is you can also add by AND or OR so you can create these filters or segments of users as unique or as personalized as you want them to be.

So, if we go in and we look at a segment that we have predefined, and we can correlate this directly to, say we want to do one that is... let's see. This is a user tag so we can do cart_item is equal to sunglasses. So, in real-time, OneSignal is going to calculate how many users have that data tag. Here we see we have 23 users that have that data tag.

Now if we want to get a little bit more in-depth on this, we can add an AND or an OR filter. So, say we want to add an AND filter and we want to see people who have sunglasses in their cart. Let’s say their last session was greater than 24 hours ago. So, what that means is, this user added an item to their cart and now they've been inactive for over 24 hours. That's a perfect time to target them with the notification, saying, "Hey, you have sunglasses that are left in your cart. Click here to launch your cart." Once they do that, they'll be launched back to their cart and they'll be able to complete their checkout. This is just one way of targeting with an abandoned cart notification.

Another thing we were going to talk about before we get a little more in-depth into abandoned cart was a drip campaign, which is a common marketing funnel. So, a little bit about a drip campaign, a drip campaign is like a nurture campaign where if I'm a user and I come to your website and I subscribe to receive notifications, I look around, maybe it's a new site and I look at some news. And then after that, I close the browser and I go to a different website.


Let's say I don't come back to your website for a few days. We can target these users based on whatever parameters that you see fit. So, if we wanted to create that, we would be able to first create a segment of users that would fall under that category. So what we have here is inactive users and then I labeled it 'step 1'. So, this would be a great way of targeting users.

So, let's say I want to target users that their last session on our website was greater than 168 hours ago. We have 233 showing up here on our demo app. So, that would be 233 users that you can target on your own and saying, "Okay, hey, these guys have been inactive for this amount of time. I'm going to target them with a notification." So, we're going to label that here. It says, okay, they've been inactive for one week.

Let's create step two. We're just going to do a two-step drip campaign as an example. We would go into step two and we have, "Okay, these step two users, their last session is greater than 222 hours ago." So if we go in here, we have step one and step two, saved, and we have 233 and then 229. So we see that there is a variance, right? There's more users that were inactive within a week and then less users that were inactive longer than a week, which is good news. It means that there's multiple people being hitting that step.

Once the user clicks back on your notification and OneSignal's SDK sees that they've come back, they will no longer fall into this step. So, you can create a drip campaign that's a three-step, a four-step, a five-step. As users click back on your notification, they will fall out of that campaign automatically. Further, you can set this setup via automation and have this via an automatic recurring thing where it's like, "Hey, we see you've been inactive. Click here to receive our latest news. Click here to receive our latest emails on new product launches and releases." And then as users continue to fall inactive, they're automatically set back and they're put into a sequence through OneSignal of different steps that they have.

So, with that, you would be able to then create your message based on those certain contents that you want. We won't get too into that today, but just to show you what you would do, you would go into messages. We would have a template set up that is a drip campaign. So, for example, if we were to do 'Welcome 1, Welcome 2' and then maybe 'Welcome 3', and then we would set up via the automation function.

So, as you see here, we have 10 days inactive, 15 days inactive and 28 days inactive message. So, if we wanted to just see what the first step would look like, we can view this. So, we're going to target it to 10 days inactive and we have our segments set. You set your delivery. Whether you want to send it immediately, you want to use OneSignal's intelligent delivery or you want to optimize it by their time zone.

Once you have everything set, this is a listing for jobs. So, New Job Listing, Job matches found. This is a drip campaign. They won't really know the difference. They'll say, "Hey, I'm receiving a message that's being nurturing," and "Oh, I want to see what those new jobs are." They click and they're no longer within that drip campaign. That is a drip nurtured campaign summary that we have and we already have the message here to see.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

Now, I'm going to talk a little bit more about abandoned cart. Abandoned cart is a really great lever to having users come back and increasing the revenue back on your site. So, in the case that someone comes to your site, they're browsing, if they see something they like, they added to their cart, but maybe they're not set yet or maybe they're not sold and they want to go look elsewhere.

Other than maybe sending an email which goes directly to someone's inbox, there's not really a way to knock on the person's monitor if you would and say, "Hey, you were looking at this item and you never completed the purchase. Come back and complete that purchase." Using OneSignal, you can have that leverage to specifically go to their computer and say, "Hey, this item that you were looking at that was in your cart is still there. Click here to check out. Maybe it's an item that goes fast; while supplies last, get yours today, depending on what the use case is.

Right here, what we have created is a segment based on a UNIX timestamp. So, we have a button that was pressed of Add to Cart. After a certain amount of time, that UNIX timestamp shows, "Hey, this user falls into that category." We also have a user tag where the cart item is equal to sunglasses. If we go back to the automated messaging and we want to look at abandoned cart, we'll click and we'll view that message.



Here’s the segment of users we're going to send it to. We already have the template created, which we can see below. Again, you would set the delivery to either send immediately, use intelligent delivery or optimize by time zone. And then we're going to continue to deliver that message until you have a specified time where it's like, "Hey, after maybe two weeks, we will not send them anymore." Abandoned cart notifications will throw them into a nurture campaign and continue to keep in touch with them then.

It’s really important to keep touch points with your users so they know that you're still there. I specifically think it's good to have this dialogue with your users because if, for example, you don't reach out to them after a month and they're may be one month, two months, three months inactive, that is considered like a churn. If you use these tactics to keep pinging them, to keep in touch with them, the best practice is that they would come back and they'll see that they're relevant and will continue being on your site and you will retain them as a long-time user.

From there, I wanted to also show you a feature that I really like as part of OneSignal. If we go back to the All Users tab, we have a function called... It's not really a function, but we have the ability to personalize your messages. So, you can actually take an item or a piece of information that you have and insert it directly into the push notification. So, how we would do that is, within the carts here, you see that we have a username and we want to insert that as Jon. So, say we want to send a message to every unique user and refer to them by their username.

So, if we go into the messages tab and then we want to create a new push, we see right here we have, "Hi, username.” And then if the username is equal to that specific user, it will auto-populate. If there is nothing in there, we can auto default to friend. So, it still is something friendly. Maybe this is a net-new user that you don't have much info, you don't have their username, they haven't signed up for the site yet, so we can refer to them as a friend. We can use this push notification to actually funnel them to sign up for something.

So, if we click on this specifically, we have... And this is our outcomes and delivery statistics. But we have, "Hi, username," or default to "friend, we're excited to have you join us." We then here have an animated GIF that will go out depending on what OS is being sent to. So say, for example, it's being sent to a PC or Mac, Android, iOS, whatever the platform may be, we support it based on whatever the operating system supports. That being in short, if iOS supports GIFs, we will let you send GIFs to your users.

So, here we have the message, the defaults. This was sent to 238 recipients within our subscribed users. And anyone who had a username auto-populated into OneSignal, we sent that there. So, they would have received it with, "Hey, Jon, thanks for joining." "Hey, Joe." "Hey Thomas, we're excited to have you join us." This is a great way to send personalized messages. No matter what your use case is, personalization is important because, when you send your emails, when someone comes to your site if you have an email list, typically, they'll put in their email address and you'll obtain that. From that, you'll either obtain their first name or specifically like maybe what they're interested in.

We want to say the same thing goes with push, right? So, if someone subscribes to your website and they continue to browse to your website, you can use levers like data tags to obtain this information or you're already set up database. And once you have that information, you can insert that into the message contents, which makes it that much more personalized. If I receive a message that has my name on it, especially a push notification, I'm like, "Oh wow." These people are sending me a direct message. It's a direct line of communication. I'm that much more influence to clicking on that specific notification.

So, I know we gave a good amount of content today. Just to summarize, we talked about segmentation, talked about data tags, we talked about drip campaigns, we talked about abandoned cart notifications. So, from here, we're going to migrate back to our Q and A and take some questions from the room to see if we have anything that I can further clarify from a nontechnical perspective that I will be able to answer as best as I can. So, let me get over to the chat and I will see what questions we have.



Can we get the video after this webinar?

Yes, of course. So, we, as always, are going to post a URL to the specific webinar. I believe we'll even email it to everyone who RSVP to join. So, Thomas, yes, we will get you that webinar out.

What cloud platform is OneSignal running on?

I will be able to provide you that information as a follow-up. That's something I do want to confirm with our engineering team before I provide you that specific info. If you do want to email me that specifically, you can reach me at thomas.onesignal and I'll make sure I follow up with that.

Another question: Do you think push notifications is the new mail for smartphones?

Specifically myself, yes. With emails, there is a spam folder. There's multiple emails that user can receive, right? And specifically, if notifications are turned off for emails on the unique smartphone, they may not receive that right away or they might not see it at all. You also have another barrier to entry where once they receive your email, they'll see a preview of the content, like the title, the subject line, and then a little bit of the content. And then they have to click on that and then they have to click again to be redirected.

With push, it takes a lot of that out and there's a lot less traction. A push notification goes directly to one smartphone home screen or to their lock screen. All they have to do is see the content and the message. Upon clicking, they'll automatically be redirected to the app via deep link or to the webpage if it's via web push. So, to answer your question, yes, I do think it is the new and improved version of mail. We actually have some statistics that push runs 30 times better than emails do.

We have a question from Ritesh. Do we have to update the OneSignal SDK from sending personalized messages?

I don't believe you do. It's always best to have the most up to date SDK running. Specifically though, when sending personalized messages, you just want to make sure that you have data tags. So, either you have this data stored in a database or you are collecting it through OneSignal. And as you collect that information, you can leverage these data tags either in your segmentation or your message contents or both.

Frank: Can OneSignal use info from or be linked to something too many like chat?

You can use OneSignal to notify users, specifically of receiving maybe a new chat message or maybe redirected, "Hey, you have a new message from such and such." That's a use case that I have seen people use. We don't currently have a chat platform that's like out of the box that you can use, but you can definitely use OneSignal to deliver notifications of receiving a chat from your internal app or through your website.

Let's see. Can you tag unique users and send automatically transactional notifications? What are the limitations on iOS?

I'd ask that you reach out with a little bit more detail on your message via email. You can tag unique users and automatically send transactional notifications. Specifically with the transactional notifications, if you want to send them automatically, they'd probably be through the API based on specifics. So, if you wanted to, for example, send a message saying, "Hey, your package is shipped," that's something that you can use. This is more advanced where you can ping our API, your backend pings our API, "Hey, send this message, the package has been shipped." That's a way that you can use that transactionally via automation. So, it's not something you're doing manually.

We're going to take one more question. Let's see. From Sanjay: Can you talk about the ability to reach users across different channels? Does OneSignal have plans to develop capabilities for omnichannel user engagement?

It's a great question, Sanjay. Yes, we are planning to move to being an omnichannel approach. Currently, we have a web push, mobile push, in-app messaging. We have email integrations. So, we currently integrate directly with SendGrid, Mailgun or Mandrill. We are planning to further build this out so that you do have the ability to send an email through OneSignal to also send a web push notification of mobile push notification and in-app message and have all these different touch points with your users. We are also planning to build out SMS, which is on our roadmap.

Conservatively, I want to say it's something that you should see more information on in Q2 of this year. So, I would say around April-May, you'll probably get more information on this. And with that, you'll be able to also have SMS in our feature set and do everything through OneSignal. So, great question. Yes, we are really excited to further expand that and have the ability to have that omnichannel where we're targeting all of our different users.


Specifically, now we're going to sign off. I want to thank everyone for taking the time to join this webinar. I'm happy to answer all of your questions. If you do want to reach me directly, I'm going to put my email here in the chat. It's If you have any questions at all on the technical side and you need more technical guidance, here is the support email Please feel free to reach out. We're more than happy to assist you guys with your questions.

Our goal here at OneSignal is to make sure not only are you using your messages, but we want you all to succeed. We want you to be able to send personalized messages. We want you to grow your subscriber base. We want you to be able to retain all these users and we're here to help. So, anything that you need, please feel free to reach back out to myself or the support team. We thank you guys all for being part of the OneSignal community.

Thanks for taking the time guys. We'll see you next time.