YouTube creators are constantly looking for effective ways to engage their loyal fans directly, outside of the YouTube ecosystem. Mobile apps, and specifically push notifications sent through those mobile apps, are one highly efficient way to gain an audience’s attention.

But notifications can be a sensitive subject. Done right, they can lead to notable spikes in usage and engagement. Done wrong, they can lead to annoyed fans uninstalling your application.

Creating And Distributing Content Is Not Enough

For mobile video apps in particular, however, notifications are practically required. Video is all about content, and in the content business the name of the game is viewers. Publishers don’t put the time, money, and effort into creating great content if they’re not interested in getting the views.

But creating the content and distributing it through YouTube, other online video sharing sites, editorial publications, and even mobile applications is not enough. Letting people know that new content is available is a key strategic need and one that cannot be ignored. That’s where  push notifications come into play.

Push Notifications Work

All the video apps built on any worthwhile mobile platform will have notification features built in and turned on by default. Users can opt to turn these push notifications off, but an examination of the data we’ve collected at Beachfront Media shows that with the right fanbase and the right implementation, few choose to do so.

For our applications designed to reach a broad audience with a wide variety of content, about one-third of users who download the app choose to keep the push notifications turned on. But in the case of video apps that focus on a specific genre of programming, initiative, series, or individual with a passionate fanbase, nearly 80% of alls users keep their push notifications in the on position.

Further analysis of the data we’ve collected at Beachfront Media shows notifications simply work. On average, daily video views on mobile devices increase two to three times their normal rates the day after a push notification is sent. What’s even more interesting is that this spike lasts for several days, meaning users not only watch the new video that was just added, but also watch “re-runs” or older videos once engaged again with the app. Anecdotally, we’ve heard from publishers that mobile notifications drive not only mobile views, but also browser views for fans who want to watch the content again on a bigger screen.

These types of results obviously depend on how the push notifications are handled. In terms of frequency, push notifications should be sent only when you want to alert users about a significant and relevant event or video. For many, this will happen once a week. For video applications in the sports or news categories, it could be as much as once or more a day. Knowing the limits of how much you can push is more about relevancy than any set period of time.

Other Ways In Which Being Pushy Is A Good Thing 

The typical rule of thumb for YouTube channels and their mobile extensions is consistency, consistency, and consistency. Creators must regularly and frequently post new content to keep fans engaged. But the proper user of push notifications can turn this rule on its head.

Epic Rap Battles of History uploads new videos far less frequently than your average incredibly successful YouTube channel. Instead, the series relies on larger-than-life content and a solid mobile notification strategy that’s far more engaging than what what any creator could expect from a standard YouTube subscription. As a result, ERB has some of the most-viewed YouTube videos in the world, consistently cracks eight-figure view counts with nearly all of its new releases, and peforms far better than channels that add new content much more frequently.

Done right, notifications are not spam, or intrusive, or annoying. They’re a service. You have fans passionate about your content. Telling them that you’ve created more for them is a welcome message. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Frank Sinton is the Founder and CEO of Beachfront Media, a video technology company that enables the distribution and monetization of video across all screens. Beachfront’s Builder platform enables any YouTube channel to create & monetize an App for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Connected TV.  For More information, you can visit or follow along on Twitter at @beachfrontmedia or @fsinton.

Want to hear Frank Sinton and other online video professionals talk about the importance of mobile in today’s online video landscape? Be sure to grab your tickets to Mobile—Online Video’s Next Frontier on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at Busby’s East in Los Angeles, CA while they’re still available.

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