Proof of Concept

How to evaluate software solutions to meet your goals.

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Selecting the Right Solution

Before implementing any software solution, businesses want data to understand if a service and its provider are the right fit for their organizational goals. A Proof of Concept (PoC) allows businesses to validate the performance of a solution without getting too far into the weeds.

With OneSignal, businesses want to know how they can test push notifications & in-app messaging before investing more time and resources into a full blown implementation. We get asked by prospective customers a handful of times each week for our recommendation for a PoC.

In this guide, we tell you what to expect when conducting a PoC, outline key considerations, and provide you with recommendations that will help you as you embark on the process.

Tracey Chang
OneSignal’s push notifications have been instrumental in helping us to reach our goals. They are quick to implement and use. We use push notifications throughout our user’s journey.
Tracey Chang

VP of Digital Marketing

While the benefits of mobile and web push notifications are well-documented, larger organizations typically want to test their way into new technologies - especially when their customer touchpoints are impacted, or engineering resources are necessary to integrate the full solution.

Conducting a PoC with OneSignal helps to determine the return on investment (ROI) of push notifications and in-app messaging. OneSignal's free plan offers a wide number of features that will be adequate for the purposes of your PoC.


Analytics track message outcomes

Defining KPIs

The first step in the PoC process is identifying the most important metrics to your business that will be influenced by push. How would your company define success for this PoC? Here are a few examples:

  • The percentage of opt-in users by channel, if applicable.
  • The engagement of the users who’ve subscribed to and receive notifications. Engagement should be determined by your business’s economic model.
  • Whether push notifications drove sustained engagement growth.

Comparing Build vs. Buy

If your company is thinking about building push notification functionality internally, there are many things you should consider before doing so. Upfront development, ongoing maintenance costs, and bandwidth considerations are all obstacles that must be conquered before a company can send a single push notification.

If your business is primarily going to send transactional messages with little user segmentation and you have robust engineering resources, building this functionality may be a viable option.

Even so, buying a push notification system can be more affordable due to the complexities surrounding building the system and ensuring that your messages get sent to the right audiences. Here is an extensive analysis of the costs and considerations of Build vs. Buy.


Assessing Current Technical Tools

It’s important to keep in mind what tools your team is using today. A push notification service will be more valuable if it can ingest existing user data and easily export data to a customer data platform and analytics tools.

Companies want to increase their consumer touchpoints and make each of them as valuable as possible. To accomplish this they need great tools that integrate seamlessly.

Identify the key tools necessary to ensure you are not creating a new data silo while getting an accurate evaluation of the service you are testing. Complexity should be minimized to ensure the POC remains a simple, low-lift endeavor for your team.

Here are examples of key technical tools to consider:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, Customer Data Platforms (CDP), or an internal database
  • Analytics tools
  • Content Management Systems (CMS)

Use Case Prioritization

Identify the most important ways you want to successfully move a user metric. These will vary based on your business, so select ones that have the biggest opportunities to demonstrate value.

The following are some key examples by industry:

  • E-commerce: Order tracking, cart abandonment, promotions, price drops
  • Media & Entertainment: Re-engagement, event updates, subscription, loyalty
  • Social & Gaming: Activity, social proof
Mike Rome
OneSignal's tech and documentation has allowed us to move fast and realize value quickly. Minimal engineering support is required to execute tactics that create a lot of value for our business - personalization & segmentation, to A/B testing, and beyond.
Mike Rome

Chief Marketing Officer


PoC Setup

A PoC can demonstrate whether a solution has business value in 15 days. If you want to expand to 30 days, that’s adequate.

What’s more important is seeing how users who opt-in to messages versus those that don’t perform when using the tool. The performance of the business metric being evaluated prior to test, during the test, and following the tools being dormant should be considered as well.


Selecting Your Sample

The PoC setup process is crucial for outcomes. You will want establish the test in an environment with a large enough audience to determine the value. Statistical significance can be defined by the organization.

The easiest approach is to select an application or website to get enough subscribers to make the POC worthwhile. The rule of thumb is that you will be able to get 50% of mobile application users to subscribe to start but no more than 5% of web site visitors.

To get to these percentages of opt-in, it will take several weeks or months. For a PoC, you only need to get a statistically significant number of users opted in to test your business value; approximately a few thousand.


Customize Notification Prompts

Always use a custom prompt that provides users with context of what they're subscribing to. Providing greater detail helps users understand what they’ll be signing up for and why, which sets you up for success.

Segmentation get started quickly

Leverage Segmentation Tools

Segments allows you to target specific audiences based on different attributes. You could either go with simple segmentation like sending more messages to frequent visitors and fewer to less active subscribers, or more complex segmentation like segmenting based on user activity, location or interests.

The more personalized and relevant a message is, the higher the engagement rate. Here are more specific tips on how to segment your audience in OneSignal.

Ryan Hoover
Browser notifications are an extremely effective way to bring people back. We use them to tell our community the moment a notable product launches and when users are mentioned in comments.
Ryan Hoover



Your Proof of Concept

With just a little planning, a PoC can steer your business on the right path to selecting the best software solution to meet its needs.

Ready to conduct your own PoC? Try OneSignal for free here.

If you’d like more information, contact our sales team.

Integrating your app or website with OneSignal is simple and fast - it only takes 15 minutes. Our documentation offers detailed instructions.