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Push Notifications And How They Can Help Your App


By Snigdha | Last Updated on March 13th, 2018 7:52 am

App Builder Appy Pie, January 22: There are times when a great app also fails to do well especially in the matters of engaging the users. Or in some cases your efforts might get you quite a big number of downloads, but your user retention is still an issue. In such a scenario, one of the two may be the case – either there is a need for you to optimize certain user flows, or you may be missing out on important and crucial opportunities to engage the users of your app.

Push notifications can prove to be a fabulous way to draw engagement for your app, especially when used in the right way. However, one of the biggest challenges for the creators of the apps is to get the users to opt in to the push notification to begin with. It is because there is so much additional noise in the world of digital information that the users or participants in this world are automatically a little wary about who they would like to focus their attention on. However, if a user has agreed to opt in for the push notifications there is a good chance that they are reading it.

What Exactly Is A Push Notification?

For all this talk about Push Notifications, do we really understand what it is? It is, quite simply put, a notification or a message that pops up on the screen of any mobile device. The app publishers can deploy these messages at a time of their choosing, and the users do not have to be using the app or for that matter be even using their device and still receive them. There are numerous things and a world of scope when it comes to the things that can be accomplished with push notifications that can range from anywhere between showing the current weather conditions, to getting a user to take an action like downloading a discount coupon, to letting a user know about any event like a flash sale.

Though the Push Notifications look like SMS text messages and mobile alerts, but these notifications reach only those who have your app installed on their devices. Whether it is iOS, Android, Windows, Fire OS, or Blackberry, each of the platforms have their own support for push notifications.

What Do We Use Push Notifications For?

Push Notifications provide a whole lot of ease and value to app users. As an example, the users can get the following advantages:

  1. Updates like generic news items or sports scores are all displayed on their screens even when the screens are locked.
  2. Getting all the utility messages like traffic, weather, and ski snow reports.
  3. Getting the relevant critical information like flight check in, language and connection information.

The push notifications may be used by the app publishers to speak directly to a user. This way the publishers can avoid getting filtered out by spam filters or the possibility of lying forgotten in a user’s inbox and they boast of a click rate that is many times more than that of a traditional email. Push notifications come in real handy as it can remind users to use an app, even when the app is closed. The push notifications may also be used to drive the following actions:

  1. To increase the sale, push notification may be employed to promote the products, new launches, or any other kind of offers.
  2. Push notifications may be employed to enhance the customer experience.
  3. Push notifications help convert unknown app users to known consumers.
  4. They also help send transactional receipts immediately.
  5. They can also be employed to drive the users to other marketing channels for example the different social media channels at the users’ disposal.

How Do They Work?

A push notification has the potential to link customers to a specific page on your mobile app, and this eliminates the need for starting a new conversation. What happens here is that the moment a user taps on the push notification they would be redirected to land on the linked page. What happens here is that the consumer would have their entire attention on the call to action of your choice and not be distracted by anything else. Delving a little deeper, we would like to talk about the most basic actors that come together to send the push notification are:

  1. Operating system push notification service (OSPNS)
    Each of the mobile operating systems including iOS, Windows, Fire OS, and Android have their own service to help the app publishers send out push notifications.
  2. App publisher
    The app publisher then enables their app with an OSPNS, and then the app is published on to the app store.
  3. Client app
    The client app is an OS specific app that receives the incoming notifications, that is installed on a user’s device.

How To Add Push Notifications To An App?

So, you are all set to use the push notification on your app and discover the benefits that it brings for you and the growth of your app. Here’s a step by step process of adding the push notifications to an app.

  1. The app publisher completes the process of registration with the help of Operating System Push Notification Service.
  2. Next, it is the job of the OS service to provide an application programming interface or API to the publisher. It is this API that is one of the best ways to communicate with the service.
  3. At this point the app publisher adds the software development kit or SDK to the app. This SDK that we are talking about here is a code library specific to the OS’ push notification service.
  4. Finally, the app is uploaded to the app store by the app publisher!

User Activation

The understanding of the push notifications should not just be limited to what you must do to set it up, but also how the user activation is carried out.

  1. Much like anything else to do with mobile app users, this begins with the users visiting the app store, downloading and then installing your app.
  2. As the user opens the app for the first time, the unique identifiers for both, the app and the device, are registered with the operating system push notification service
  3. After this, these unique identifiers are passed on from the OSPNS on to the app. These unique identifiers are also sent to the app publisher.
  4. Once these registration details including the unique identifiers reach the app publisher, which they receive and then store them away.

Sending The Push Notifications Out

Sending out the push notifications is probably the last leg of the whole process and entails the following series of steps.

  1. Using a message composer user interface, a manual message is composed by the app publisher. Alternatively, the app publisher may also choose to set up an automated message to be sent via the API
  2. The target audience, for whom the push notifications are to be sent out are also decided and defined by the app publisher.
  3. The timeline or the scheduling of the app is also worked out by the app publisher because while some push notifications might need to be sent out immediately, there might be some that would work better when scheduled to be sent out at a more opportune moment.

How Segmented Push Notifications May Help?

Push notifications essentially work as a tool to promote your app and retain the users. Like any other promotional tool or marketing technique, this too functions a lot better when sent out as per segments. In order to be able to do this right, it is important that you try and understand what are the different kinds of push notifications that exist already and the ways to help you find and decide the ideal tool for your app, on the basis of the end goal or purpose. You must decide whether you want to send out push notifications with all-encompassing messages or messages which are more or less based on the behavioural traits that incorporate rich messaging integration.

There are numerous online portals that provide great overviews helping the app publishers independently judge and choose the right kind of push notification tool based on role, active users per month, objectives and industry. There are some notification tools that suit the developers a little better as they help them track and squash bugs, while still many others that are tailored to become effective communication tools for the app publishers based on the user actions.

Quite like the emails, there are certain aspects of push notifications that make a difference. For example, studies have established that among millennials there is a 5.8% click rate average on notifications as compared to a 3.5% weekend CTR average.

Developing A Strategy

Push notifications may form the much-coveted direct path of communication with users for the app publisher. The ability to communicate with users is a privilege for the app publishers and should be treated as such instead of being treated as a right. The app publishers should make good use of this privilege and offer value through the push notifications, failing to do this would result in either your notifications being ignored completely or being turned off, and in some severe cases, it might also lead to a user uninstalling your app as well.

However, using the push notifications strategically can be an effective way to remind your users about the app. The number and timing of the push notifications needs to be carefully determined and decided, because too frequent and ill-timed push notifications are bound to annoy the users. On the other hand, too few notifications might fail to engage them and both these circumstances might eventually lead to your app being deleted.

We have listed hereunder a list of five effective strategies for sending out apt push notifications.

1. Procure Maximum Opt-Ins

The old adage “First Impression Is The Last Impression” stands true especially for the marketing attempts. In this competitive day and age, you rarely get a chance to make a second impression! A typical user who has a less than exemplary first experience with a mobile app would not think twice about deleting your app. Hence the onboarding experience of your mobile app needs to be well thought and a strong strategy needs to be employed in building it. Even before you sit down to figure out the content of your push notifications, you need to get your users to opt-in for your push notifications.

The official opt-in message on iOS is not customizable but that shouldn’t stop you from creating your own splash screen and connect with the users on a personal level. Use this opportunity to put out a catchy and charming message, employing your best argument to let the users know why they must opt-in to your push notifications. If this convinces them to opt-in for your push notifications, prompt them to confirm the opt-in. if their response is not exactly positive, wait a bit before sending out another prompt

2. Leverage Personalisation

It has been established through research that push notifications that are personalised in an optimised manner are four times more likely to be opened as compared to all those generic push notifications you might have lined up. Ideally the most effective way to do this would be to use segmentation and customize messages to individual users. This gives you the opportunity to build different content strategies depending on the kind of profile you are trying to target.

On the basis of the install and post-install activity, you would be able to determine the user life cycle and the different phases that your users would be able to determine the different phases your users are going through when navigating the app. It is on the basis of which phase your users are in that you may use segmentation to personalize your messages to send out. For this segmentation user demographics (like their age, gender, location etc), preferences, or recent browsing history are critical. It is this data that will eventually help you write strong customized messages which would make your customers feel special and appreciated and the chances of them revisiting your app are definitely enhanced through this.

3. Use Limited Time Offers

One of the most effective strategies to keep your users engaged is to prompt them with limited period offers. For this the process begins with you chalking out what is it that brings value to your users and what are the things that’d make them want to open your app again. Once that is done, it is time to define the correct balance and the right tone. Determine what dose would be just right and take factors like your offer, the target users and the objectives into account while drafting these things out, it is important that you clearly communicate the limited period offers through the push notifications, instead of it becoming just another one of those random push notifications.

4. Ask For App Updates

A great way to use your push notifications is by letting your users know of any new updates on your app. There are a lot of users who do not have their auto-updates turned on, which means that they are not able to use the fabulous new features that have come out in the recent times, making the experience of your app better. You have worked hard on it and it needs to be seen by those who would benefit from it the most. Use this opportunity to create a customized push notification that would showcase the benefits of the new updates on your app.

5. Let Them Know That They Were Missed

It is not uncommon for some of the most engaged users to abruptly stop using the app and abandon it entirely. This happens mostly when your loyal user exhibits infidelity to go and engage with another app similar to yours! This situation though, can be salvaged by sending out a personalized message to the dormant users, letting them know that you missed them, and reminding them about what they are missing out on.

What Turns Users Off Push Notifications?

In this context when we compare the iOS to Android platform, the acceptance of push notifications varies widely between the two. As per recent studies, the Android users have a robust 60% uptake of push notifications as compared to much lower (40%) uptake for iOS. This might be a result of the way push notifications are handled by the two platforms. The iOS platform requires the users to opt-in through a prompt that appears upon opening the app for the first time, whereas the Android platform grants permission in bulk at app download. However, through their recent “Android N” upgrade they have made it easier for the users to opt out if they want. This is accomplished simply by long pressing the message, then choosing to silence or block the push notifications.

But what is it that makes us opt-out of push notifications, why do we shy away from it? What is it that we are scared of? What is it that deters us from opting-in?

  1. Receiving too many irrelevant push notifications.
  2. The number of push notifications is so much that they eventually become the much dreaded “noise”.
  3. The benefits of accepting the push notifications seem vague or non-existent.
  4. Complete lack of interest in receiving any kind of notifications.
  5. It is more of a habit that prevents them from allowing any notification.

Encouraging The Users To Allow Push Notifications

Now that we have studied, what is it that makes an average user stay away from Push Notifications, the next logical step is to figure out how to get them interested and accept or allow the push notifications.

1. Time Is Of The Absolute Essence

Any user is less likely to accept the push notification, if it pops up the moment they have opened the app and still aren’t sure of its value to them. Hence, instead of throwing in a prompt right at the beginning, take some time to allow them to understand the value of the app and get them interested. Offer a tutorial, let them explore the app and then time the prompt in at a time when they are the most engaged and invested in it.

2. Convey The Value & Benefits Offered Through Push Notifications

It has come to light through numerous valuable surveys that most of the time, when the prompt comes up on the users’ screen asking them for permission to send them push notifications, they do not convey the value they plan to offer through them. A user who is aware of the kind of value they are going to receive by allowing a push notification, is more likely to allow it than one who is clueless.

3. Abuse It & Lose It!

Even after you have got the users’ permission, exercise caution and make sure that you use the service wisely. If you end up sending too many messages or messages that are irrelevant, the chances of people opting out, or uninstalling your app go higher. Respect the opportunity you have at your disposal and do not abuse it.

Benefits Of Using Mobile App Push Notifications


1. The Two-Way Advantages of Opt In/Opt Out

This feature has a two-way advantage for the user and the app publisher. Though it is the users who control the push notifications, the app publishers draw their benefit from the permission feature. They can be sure that those who have opted for the push notifications would not be annoyed by quality push messages and would rather welcome it as a way to stay connected.

2. Increase In The Traffic

Push notifications help keep the users engaged on the topics mentioned in the notification, but one of the most treasured advantages here is that there is a definite rise in the returns you see from your app. Push notifications can be as innovative as you’d like them to be, for example special discounts when the user is in a certain geographical area, by way of geographical alerts.

3. Insights On Consumer Behaviour

Apps offer you an insight into what the consumer likes doing. Push notifications have the ability to get crucial and precious data as they have an analytic tracking system for messages, interaction times, devices, platforms and for situations that create the most engagement.

4. Encourage User Engagement

The app that you make for your organization offers you a direct line of communication to the customers. People prefer keeping only those apps on their phones that offer them some kind of a value. However, when the user gets some value and a reminder of the benefit of the app to them, the chances of them interacting with your app is a lot higher.

5. User Friendly

By construct, push notifications are targeted, friendly, and relevant to the user – hence easy to use, and easy to manage. This is exactly why push notifications become quite a strong marketing tool for any occasion.

Conversion Rates Metrics

Just sending out push notifications is not the end of the story, what follows is a deep analysis to measure just how powerful segmented notifications can be. As per research, only 15% of users who clicked on a generic push message ended up converting, compared to a whopping 54% of users who clicked on a segmented push notification. The conversion however, varies for each developer according to what they are offering through their app. Hence, there is a need to standardize the parameters that you need to measure to ensure that your app is on the right track. Listed hereunder are the tell-tale signs that can be considered to determine the impact of sending out push notifications.

  1. Open Rate & Click-Through Rate On Push Notifications
  2. The Number Of Notifications That Were Delivered
  3. Whether The User Launched The App After Receiving The Push Notification
  4. The Time That Was Spent On The App After Certain Notifications
  5. Number Of Sales Or Revenue
  6. Re-Engagement After The Delivery Of Push Notification

Concluding Note

Push Marketing is one of those promotional or marketing tools that are not given their due regard. Well crafted and impeccably timed push notifications can help you and your business grow while reducing your churn. Push notifications that are used cleverly and thoughtfully have the potential to change the way the users see and use your app. This blog post should give you a deeper understanding of their value, worth, and potential in bringing you more and more business.

About The Author
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The Content Manager at Appy Pie, Snigdha has had a passion for writing since she can remember and feels lucky for making it her career. With a total experience of 11 years, she has dedicated the last 6 years to hard-core content writing and management. She actively writes about all things related to Social Media & more. In her spare time, she would either love to read curled up on the couch or take a bag of necessities (including a good book) and drive off into the sunset.

  • Williyam

    Great Informative Article on Push Notifications..

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