Why It’s Important to Start Using Push Notifications the Right Way

When you search for push notifications on Google you’re bombarded with a series of reports, research, and analysis. What started out as a harmless ‘ping’ and pop-up on your screen has developed into one of the most disputed features of mobile technology.

Although it’s true that push notifications can be an incredibly useful function for both app owners and users, it’s also true that they have been abused, resulting in nothing short of a frustrating, badly-timed and disruptive message when you least need it.

That’s why it’s important to understand the right way, and the wrong way, to use push notifications.

What are the benefits of push notifications?

If you’re the app owner there are no shortage of benefits for you when using push notifications, provided you use them wisely, of course…

Increased user engagement

Push messages and notifications can substantially influence users with research showing that they can increase app engagement by 171%. A well-timed push notification can persuade a user to use an app that they haven’t opened in a few days, or remind a user about an event or action that is required of them within an app.

Improve retention and longevity rates

Push notifications are an effective method of improving retention and longevity rates. 62% of push-enabled users returned to the app one month after downloading it. Only 27% of users returned to push-disabled apps in the same period.

After three months, 41% of push-enabled users were returning to their app. However, with push disabled, only 18% of users returned within that longer timeframe.

These statistics are impressive, and it’s not surprising. An effective push notification can get your content in front your audience and offer them instant access to news, updates or information that you want them to see.

But what about you’re the app user? Here are the top two reasons why users are happy to receive your notifications.

Truly relevant content, via control over what is ‘pushed’ in the user’s way

When users get a say on the kind of notifications they receive, they are much more receptive to them. For example, a user of a company’s internal communications app might only be interested to receive company updates related to their department but not about any other departments. Giving them the choice can be the difference between ignoring every notification or paying attention to at least some of them.

Timeliness and urgency

Push notifications are an automated way for users to receive news that is important to them straight to their device. Whether it’s breaking news, important updates, time-limited offers or just particular types of content that they would not want to miss out on – those notifications are appreciated.

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What is the right way to use push notifications?

There are a series of points to consider when creating a push notification for your app. Some might apply more to particular apps than others in certain cases, but as a whole the emphasis is on creating a ‘smart’ push notification. How do you achieve this?

Timing

Instant updates are not always the best choice for push notifications. Likewise, it’s not always the best solution to send multiple notifications in quick succession. There is a fine line between notifying someone and disrupting them from their daily tasks or routine.

Notifications at the wrong time may not only be ignored, but they’ll also greatly increase the likelihood that the user will delete your app. Creating further noise for users only increases the levels of frustration they have towards your app, and your brand.

The best time to send push notifications is at times that are historically high in activity, based on your analytics.

For example, for an internal communications app, you might want to send your push notifications between 9.00am and 12.00pm (these are the most active usage times for European users of apps built with Fliplet, according to our latest report.) For America, send them between 1.00pm and 4.00pm.

Importance

Categorising the content you want to push to users can help determine whether you should actually be sending a notification or not. Is it:

  • Critical
  • Important
  • Or potentially relevant, to the user?

A push notification is ideal for critical notifications. For example, your crisis management or emergency app can notify users about information they won’t be able to see on their desktops like PR issues or project delays. 

Clarity

The message that you attached to your push notification isn’t long, and you won’t have much room for maneuver. That said it still needs to be clear, informative and contain enough to let the user exactly what it is they’re going to get when they click on it.

Measurability

Using analytics to measure the performance of the push notification is important. Consider question like:

  • What did the user do?
  • Did they unsubscribe from notifications after you made a particular push?
  • Did they uninstall the app?
  • Have they returned to the app by clicking on a push notification within 30 days of installing it?

Audience

Personalisation is a crucial factor when considering what to include in your push notification. Notifications that are targeted at a set group of users for a specific reason are much more likely to get a higher click-through rate than random notifications.

Push notifications that are created with personalisation in mind can return 4x the user engagement.

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Why are push notifications losing their touch?

The issue with push notifications is that when you have over 30 apps on your device you will potentially be receiving over 50 notifications each day. There are concerns that push notifications are driving the age of digital disruption and that in many instances it is beneficial for users to turn off their push notifications entirely.

There’s a very simple, yet excellent, example that Alex Potrivaev, Intercom uses to describe the distraction factor caused by poorly constructed push notifications:

“My phone buzzed. I was somewhere in Iceland. More than ten miles from my car and any other human being. Holding a phone with a dying battery. I turned it on to check Google Maps.

“Spotify added 2 tracks to the playlist Afternoon Acoustic”. Perfect timing. A ping from Periscope: “@kayvon wants you to watch …”, two new emails in Mailbox, a new Twitter follower, a @channel ping on Slack. Nine notifications in total.”

Nine notifications and not one was of slight relevance at that moment in time. Not only that, they probably sucked the remaining battery life from the mobile phone.

This is the wrong way to use push notifications, and a prime reason why many users choose to delete their apps or turn off push notifications.

Using push notifications correctly: what are good examples of timely push notifications?

Here’s a list of the kinds of push notifications that you may wish to use:

Encourage an action

Get your users to interact with your app by encouraging an action. Here are some examples:

“We’re attending X Conference in your area, book a coffee and a chat with us!”

“New whitepaper on X topic – check it out”

“You haven’t updated your profile yet – Do it now to receive more relevant notifications”

“You just attended the Marketing Session – rate it now!” (for event apps)

Deliver information or content

Use push notifications to send relevant and timely information. This is specially effective if it’s information your users were waiting to receive. Here are some examples:

“Your favorite product is back in stock”

“Your January Legal Update is out now”

“You asked for X feature – and we’ve released it! Check it out”

Reminders

You may want to remind users that they still need to sign up for an event, register for a retreat, or something else. For example:

“You haven’t read your Legal Update for January yet – don’t miss out!”

“You haven’t checked your company’s app in 10 days: 12 new updates released since!”

“5 minute reminder: Marketing Session taking place in Eagle Room” (for event apps)

Emergency or urgency

In the case of an emergency, push notifications can alert users of where to go and what to do next.

“A power outage has been reported at the London office – tap for more details”

“Dawn Raid reported at ClientCo. – please contact John Doe”

“Weather alert for tomorrow – tap for more information”

Start using push notifications the right way with Fliplet

We hope our analysis has offered some insight as to how you should, and how you shouldn’t, approach the implementation of push notification. Enabling push on your app can be incredibly effective way of:

  • increasing click-through rates,
  • improving retention rates in the short and long term,
  • and reducing app deletion rates.

Check out our app gallery to see how some of our previous clients have used our platform to create apps for a variety of use cases.