What are Push Notifications and How do they work?

By Neeraj | Last Updated on May 11th, 2020 9:52 am | 7-min read
What are Push Notifications

As a mobile app owner, it is imperative that you are aware of what push notifications are and how to use them to connect better with your audience.

They can not only be a great marketing tool but one of the most important and effective communication channels for business app owners. In fact, almost every successful mobile app uses push notifications and it’s not just for transactions but also to re-engage with the customers.

What are Push Notifications

But really, what are push notifications?

What are Push Notifications?

In the most basic sense of the word, Push Notifications are small messages or alerts that are sent out to everyone who has the app installed on their device and have opted to receive such notifications.

Though businesses can send mobile push notifications to all their users whether they are using Android or iOS devices, but there is a huge difference between the two.

iOS push notifications follow the opt-in model, where brands or app owners can only send push notifications once the user deliberately agrees to receiving them. However, on Android, push notifications are enabled automatically but the customers can manually choose to opt-out of them.

Web Push Notifications

A web push notification is the small notification you receive in your mobile or desktop browser. Customers can opt-in to timely updates from their favorite sites and allow businesses to re-engage them with relevant information that is customized according to their preferences.

Things to know about Push Notifications

Push Notifications have made a lot of buzz in the marketing world, particularly when it comes to marketing through mobile apps. However, before you get all excited and sending out a barrage of mobile push notifications, let’s try and understand what it is all about!

Why use Push Notifications?

Before, getting into the process of integrating this cool feature in your app, it is important that we discuss all the advantages that come your way, when you send out push notifications.

  1. Users hold the power to Opt In/Opt Out
  2. Getting marketing messages incessantly can be quite annoying. The moment users know that they have the option and the power to opt out or opt in at will, they automatically feel comfortable about receiving these notifications.

  3. Higher user engagement
  4. Push notifications are a rich and interactive medium that keeps your users engaged, thus helping you retain them for longer. A user has your app on their device because they see some value in it. However, with a mobile push notification you are reminding them of that value, thus encouraging them to engage more with your app.

  5. Consumer behavior insights
  6. When you send out push notifications, you have the ability to garner some critical data and insights about customer behavior. Push notifications feature comes with an analytic tracking system that lets you track platforms, messages, devices, interaction times or any other events that rustle up high engagement.

  7. Cost effective
  8. It saves you a whole lot of money that you may have to spend on sending out communication. More importantly, it saves your customers’ money as well. Not everyone has an unlimited text plan, hence they may not want to pay for the incoming text. In this case, they are likely to opt out quickly. Push notifications cost you less and are free for your customers!

How do push notifications work?

All these benefits do sound brilliant, but it is important to understand how they actually work to help your marketing goals. To put it all quite simply, as soon as the app user taps on a mobile push notification, they are automatically redirected to the relevant page. Hence, the consumer’s attention would be entirely on the desired call to action, without any distraction.

Let’s take a deeper look at the basic actors that come together to send a push notification.

  • Operating system push notification service (OSPNS)
  • Every mobile system works on a different OS or operating system e.g. Apple and Android. You, as an app owner will have to choose the one that you want to use.

  • App publisher
  • The app publishers works with the OSPNS before uploading the app to the app stores.

  • Client app
  • Client app is the one that your app users have installed on their device where they will receive the push notifications. The client apps are dependent on the operating system in the device.

Types of Push Notifications [With Examples]

  1. Inactivity – Push Notifications

  2. Many app owners make the mistake of presuming that their inactive users are gone forever and by doing so they lose a huge sale opportunity. Your inactive users have already showed interest in your product or service, so you simply need to re-engage them. Send those inactive app users a push notification about new features, updates in services or products and tell them what they are missing out on, by not opening the app.

    Hey there! It been a while since your last purchase. We’d like to offer a special 20% discount on your next order.

  3. Abandoned Cart – Push Notifications

  4. Your customer may get distracted mid-checkout or decide to save some items in the cart for more discount. Nearly 70% of e-commerce shoppers abandon their carts before checking out. A customer leaves items in the cart due to multiple reasons. You can’t do much about your customers’ thought process, but you can encourage them to complete their purchase by sending a relevant push notification.

     “Hey there! You’ve left a few items in your cart. Complete your shopping while stock lasts!”

  5. Incomplete Action – Push Notifications

  6. If your customers leave anything incomplete in your app, either abandon the cart, incomplete profile information or something else, you can remind them that they were doing something. Send them a personalized push message mentioning in-completed action and tell them how completing that action will benefit them in future. You can personalize them as per your requirements.

    Hey there! Update your contact information to make sure you never miss our latest offerings and events.

  7. Product Launch – Push Notifications

  8. Launching a new product is the most exciting- and nerve-wracking- things to do in business. As a business owner, you’ve invested a lot of money, time and sleepless nights in developing or planning to show the world your newest product. Apart from creating email campaigns and organizing events, you must send catchy promotional push notifications about your new product to your existing app users.

    We’re excited to introduce to our newest products. Check it out right here: http://bit.ly/getcustomkreationnvv

  9. Festive Season – Push Notifications

  10. The holiday season gives you a chance to remind app users about their culture by associating it with your products or services. Festivities provide you a very good opportunity to reconnect with your existing and prospective customers. So, stay connected with your customers by sending them promotional notifications to upcoming holidays, like Christmas or Easter sales.

    Get festive!
    Our Christmas collection is stocked!

    You can make your promotions interesting by creating personalized push notification messages using segmentation. It will help the user connect with you more easily resulting in an action.

  11. Impress with Choices – Push Notifications

  12. Let your users decide for themselves. Create push notification giving your users a range of choices to choose from. This will give them a feeling of being authoritative and decisive therefore resulting in a boost of their confidence. And, when your users are confident about the product they’re have chosen, they’re more likely to purchase.

    Shoes or Sneakers: Choose What You Love!
    40% Off on entire footwear range.

  13. Blog update – Push Notifications

  14. The best marketing strategy aims to engage your existing customers is to send notification that give customers benefits and tips on how they can best use your products or service. You can also create and send a separate push notification for your app update.

    10 Tips on Taxi App
    New post on taxi app. Check out now!

    Don’t forget to include link in your push notification. It will help your customers to find it easily.

  15. Love and Affection – Push Notifications

  16. According to top marketers, customers react to emotions than anything else that you throw at them. Craft your notification in such a way that it reflects you care for them. For example- if there is rainy season or scorching summers, you suggest them how an umbrella can help them take care of themselves. Again, you need not to mention discount or other products in the notification. This marketing strategy is to stir the right emotion at the right time to encourage the desired response.

    It’s Going to Rain Cats and Dogs!
    Stay Dry! Choose from a variety of Umbrellas.

  17. Event Specific – Push Notifications
  18. If you’re like any small business owner, you should explore any and all ways to stay connected with your customer. One way is to use push to wish them on special events, like Birthday, Wedding Anniversary, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, etc. This will help you in building a long-term relationship with them.

    Happy Women’s Day
    You have got everything to take this world on.

    You can also craft push notification with some great deals that compliments the occasion.

  19. Ask Referrals – Push Notifications

  20. No matter which way you use it, referral is one of the most effective customer conversion channels available today. Create push notification offering your customers discount by inviting their family or friends to shop. It works in both ways – your customers get to avail the offer and you get a new customer.

    Get 10 Off on Your Cart!
    Refer a friend to avail this.

  21. Pre-Sale Reminder – Push Notifications

  22. The pre-sale reminders are one of the best marketing strategies to make your sale a big success. Ecommerce giants, like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. send pre-sale push notification to their app users to boost sales. Create compelling push notification and send it to all your app users while keeping them remind that something big is coming soon.

    Its almost here!
    Are you ready? Only a few hours left for the biggest sale of the season!

  23. Create a Ray of hope – Push Notifications

  24. This approach can the best option for ecommerce marketers to create a sense of hope amongst their users. Put some products on special offer or offer some limited-edition items on your store and ask your users to register at first to grab them. Since users have nothing to lose, lucky draws instill hope and pushes them to take action every time. Notifications like these maintain a high level of engagement throughout the process and helps app owners to build trust among their users.

    Special Christmas Gift Hampers for Grab!
    Register to be one the 50 lucky winners.

  25. Make Users Feel Appreciated – Push Notifications

  26. Every app owner should aim for creating the first touch point by sending out a welcome push notification to their users as soon as they become a part of the user base. As per your marketing plan, you should offer them some discount on their first purchase. This way they will feel special and valued.

    Welcome to Amazon
    Get 20% Off on your first purchase!

  27. Out-Of-Stock – Push Notifications

  28. Sometimes your hot selling items get out-of-stock and you customer keep searching for the same. As a professional marketer, you can turn your out-of-stock items into a promotion opportunity. Send a simple notification to your customer that your hot selling products are out-of-stock and products will be back in stock soon.

    Your favorite item is out-of-stock now and it will be back in stock soon.

  29. Back in Stock – Push Notifications

  30. Send notifications when a product viewed by the user is back in stock. With Back in Store Alerts, you can let those customers know that their viewed or requested products in now back in stock so they can purchase whenever they want.

    You asked we answered!
    Your favorite item is now back in stock!

  31. Price Drop – Push Notifications

  32. Notify users when product prices drop. Send alerts to users who have visited products but haven’t bought. Let them know whenever those products are available at the lowest prices. As an app owner, you can select which products you want to give a special discount to all your subscribers.

    Cause you deserve a gift
    Your favorite item is now available on 15% discount.

  33. Flash Sale – Push Notifications

  34. Send notifications about your flash sale to make your app users grab your discounts instantly. Easily run time-sensitive offers on your store and send notifications about it for a specific amount of time. It will add more value to your sale.

    Flash sale: 30 off!
    on all our collection

    This type of push notification is suitable for businesses of all types, including ecommerce store, food delivery, taxi and many more.

  35. Product Promotion – Push Notifications

  36. Just like the promotional email campaigns you send about your popular products; you need to create compelling push notifications that highlight particular product to directly reach your subscribers and increase its sales. Phrase your push like an add with catchy words. You should also point out the reasons why this product is worth a buy.

    Spice up these gloomy days with our Lunch Special running all week!
    Don’t miss to insert attractive picture of your promotional product.

  37. Engaging Existing Customer – Push Notifications

  38. Holding old customer has more returns than acquiring new ones. Use this opportunity by sending them personalized push notification who have purchased from your store at least once. Craft push notification with exclusive promotions that compel them to revisit your store.

    Printed rectangular bath rug from our collection!
    Curated just for you, our loyal customer.

  39. Deal of the Day – Push Notifications

  40. Deal of the day is one of the most used promotional ideas that every online business uses. Promote a single deal or create a deal of the day page and promote multiple products like Amazon and send push notification mentioning deal along with product image.

    Deal of the Day
    Flat 50% off on wall décor items. Valid for today only

  41. Free Shipping -Push Notifications

  42. According to best available data 44% of customers abandon their cart due to high shipping costs. One of the best ways to convert those into sales is by providing free shipping. Surprise your customers by sending them a free shipping notification.

    Free shipping!
    Enjoy free shipping on all products for the next 24 hours.

  43. Last Minute Reminder – Push Notifications

  44. A daily or hourly countdown to the end of an offer or sale will remind users and create an urgency for them to make a purchase. It is one of the most effective marketing strategies to improve your bottom line. Send a last-minute reminder before the sale ends.

    Last Day!
    Just a couple of hours left to get 30% flat off!

  45. Webinar – Push Notifications

  46. When you plan to host a webinar, you should send push notification to your existing app users to increase your webinar traffic. This way, your customers will also get a chance to interact with you. And a good product demonstration can make your business more successful.

    Free Demo
    Check the free demo before you purchase.

  47. Cross Sell – Push Notifications

  48. Tempt your customer to make a purchase complimenting the product in their cart or their recently purchased items with another product. Create personalized push notification for each customer based on their product purchase. This type of push notification will help you increase the sale of the product for which the notification is sent.

    Headphone For Mobile
    See the matching headphones for mobile you recently purchased. Best price guaranteed.

    This kind of push notification is often used to promote electronic items, apparel and fashion accessories.

  49. Product Review – Push Notifications

  50. In this age of digital world, every customer looks for a good number of reviews before making the final purchase. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and likely increase your overall sales. Create a push notification for a review campaign to collect reviews from customers and increase the chance of conversion.

    Did You Like Your Headphone
    Share review about headphone to get 10% off coupon.

  51. Social Share – Push Notifications

  52. Send a notification to your customer asking to share product experience on social media with their friends and families. This increases the social proof of your product in turn which can help to increase conversions.

    Let Your Friend Know!
    Share your recent ride experience on FB and get 10% off on the next ride.

  53. Service Feedback – Push Notifications

  54. Once your customer makes a purchase using your mobile app, ask them about their experience. This helps in improving your application performance and usability. Also, this will make your customer feel that you care about them.

    How Was Your Shopping Experience
    Share your shopping experience on your recent purchase to get 10% off coupon.

  55. Contest Campaign – Push Notifications

  56. When running a contest, giveaway, or other interactive marketing campaigns, you must notify to your app users. Attract high number of customers by offering them attractive offer. This way you can achieve your marketing goals.

    Chance to Get 100% OFF
    Participate now to get a chance to win 100% on the next ride.

  57. Testimonials – Push Notifications

  58. Establish your credibility by sending push notifications with a quote from a review left by any of your customer. This kind of notification can show how your products or services have helped them. You should always pick generic reviews which reflect how your products are services are useful.

    Every Ride is Perfect and Safe
    Mike Loves our taxi service.

  59. Tips & Tutorial – Push Notifications

  60. Let your users know how they can better use the features within your app by highlighting ones they haven’t used yet. You need to need to include tutorial link describing how they can easily and efficiently use your app.

    New Feature in Our App
    Check out now!

    Don’t forget to put a link in your push notification. It will help your customers to find it easily.

  61. Payment – Push Notifications

  62. Give your customers confidence that their money has been deposited or processed to prove your commitment to security and transparency with their money by sending them alert notification. As soon your customer made payment for their purchase send them notification that you’ve received a payment.

    Thank you for your payment.
    Your order has been placed successfully.

  63. Goal Hit- Push Notifications

  64. If you’re fitness app owner, you must send a notification as soon as your users hit a goal within the app. This could include unlocking a new level, status or a loyalty points checkpoint. This kind of push notification encourage your users to hit the next goal.

    5 days exercise goal reached – you crushed it!
    You’ve reached your daily goals.

  65. Thank You for Feedback – Push Notifications

  66. Customer review and suggestion about the experience they have with your service is useful data that you can use to optimize your business to meet their demands more efficiently. So, you need to send notification send thank you emails to those who share their feedback with you.

    Hey there!
    Thank you for sharing your thought! We really appreciate it since we’re always looking for ways to improve our customer service.

  67. Newsletter – Push Notifications

  68. Newsletter marketing is an advertising strategy whereby marketers inform their target audience about services and products through email. Send push notification to users on the latest newsletter you send out.

    Read our latest newsletter and get insights on latest trends.

  69. Purchase Update – Push Notifications

  70. Send a notification confirming your users when their purchase has been completed, processed, shipped or delivered. It is one of the best marketing strategies to win your customer confidence while keeping your customer updated with their order progress.

    Thank for your order!
    We will begin processing it soon.

  71. Surprise and Delight Them – Push Notifications

  72. Surprise your customers! Make them curious with a catchy headline. Give a little discount if you have to and make them visit your website and convert them into sale.

    Look What Fell!
    Book ride today and get 10% Off.

  73. Geo Fencing – Push Notifications

  74. Take your push notification marketing strategy to the next level by targeting your users with geofenced message. It’s easy and simple, just set geo fencing areas and whenever your app users enter into that  areas, it automatically triggers push notifications to promote special offers and drive more traffic. For example- an app for a restaurant could alert users within the defined area that there is a special offer going on food.

    Get 10% off on your next order at Domino’s Pizza (Palm Coast). Grab it since you’re so close to store.

  75. Geo-targeted – Push Notifications

  76. Geo-targeting helps businesses to target audience in particular geographic area. In geo-targeting, instead of delivering messages to every app user, app owners choose to target audience in an area where their sales are relatively high or low, as per their liking. This kind of push notification helps app owners to drive more conversions.

    Get Free Shipping!
    Offer is only for customers across the California.

  77. Risk of Churn -Push Notifications

  78. Send your users a push notification if they show behaviors of risk of churning. Encourage them to get back into the app with special discounts or promotions that are happening right now.

    Hey there!
    We’ve noticed you left a few in your cart. come back and complete your purchase now to get 30% off.

  79. Required Information Updates – Push Notifications

  80. Always get your users to keep their information up to date by sending gentle reminders for address update, or that their credit card is expiring soon or that their annual renewal is coming up.

    Please update your contact information. Help us to help you.

  81. New Feature Announcement – Push Notifications

  82. Your app teams work hard to add new functionality and new features in your app to delight users. So, as an app owner, it is essential for you to create a strategy to communicate improvements successfully and push notification is one the best ways to do it. Create effective push notification for new feature announcement and send it to your users from across all platforms. Don’t forget to add link giving detailed information about new updates.

    Our new, updated version of [product] is finally live!

  83. Praise Your Customers – Push Notifications

  84. Praise your customer choice and make them feel special. Tell them not everyone has good taste. Create an image in their mind on how they would look a product in their cart. This kind of push notification is basically suitable for online fashion store across the world.

    You Have An Amazing Choice!
    You will look stunning with these shorts and sneakers.

  85. Buy more, Save more – Push Notifications

  86. ‘Buy More, Save More’ is one of the best promotional activities to attract your app users to purchase from your store. However, this marketing strategies works well with giant online store like Amazon and Flipkart, but it is effective in driving sales for your store.

    Buy 3 For Half the Price!
    Selected collection only!

  87. Create a Sense of Achievement – Push Notifications

  88. Everyone loves feeling of winning something. You can tap this opportunity in building a long-lasting relation with your customers. Whenever your customers achieve a milestone send them a push notification appreciating that they’ve achieved a milestone. In return, you can reward them for their achievement as per your marketing strategy.

    You’ve unlocked our gold membership!
    500 pts will be credited to your account!

  89. Building Curiosity – Push Notifications

  90. One of the key methods to increase the open rates of your push notification is to build curiosity. Holding back some information drives users to take that one step – to click on it. You push notification must be crafted in such a way that compel them to participate in your campaigns.

    30% Off on Every Order!
    Special surprise for the first 50 orders.

  91. Group Offers – Push Notifications

  92. Amuse users with group offers and drive more sales. It is one of the best marketing strategies practiced by food business across the world. When you feel your sale is declining adopt this strategy to hold it back. You push notification for this offer must be effective with some discount and well-crafted to attract potential customers.

    Something for Your Whole Gang
    Enjoy special on a meal for 5!

  93. Contingency Plan – Push Notifications

  94. The more customers that you can keep and continue to sell to, the more likely you are to achieve your business goals. Customer retention should the prime of every ecommerce business to ensure their success in a long run. This way, you should send notification to your existing customer every now and then.

    Want to earn every time you spend?
    $5 Cashback, on a purchase of $50.

  95. Create A Sense of Urgency – Push Notifications

  96. Creating a sense of urgency can produce the most staggering results. If you’re running sales on your store for a short period of time, you should send push notification to all of app users. Your notification must present a real urgency by using word like ‘Shop Now’, ‘Buy Today’ etc. According to market experts, it has been observed that real urgency converts users faster than other marketing strategies as it makes users anxious.

    30% Off on All Backpacks
    Valid only for the next 30 minutes!

  97. Create Pressure – Push Notifications

  98. Create push notification that evokes fear to create pressure on your app users. when their reward points are about to expire you must send them notification encouraging them to take prompt action.

    Reward Points About to Expire!
    Redeem you points before it’s too late!

  99. Alarm users with quantitative numbers- Push Notifications

  100. According to the best available data, every year abandon carts make e-commerce marketers lose around 64.45% of sales. There are users who add their favorite items to their cart and forget about them. A gentle reminder can work like a charm here. Send a push notification reminding them that they’ve left something awesome in their cart. Notification like this encourages users to complete their purchase while helping app owner to reduce their loss to a great extent.

    Your Favorite Handbag is Now on Sale
    Only 10 pieces left! Hurry!

Push Notifications – Historical Timeline

2009 – it was in June, 2009 that Apple launched Apple Push Notification Service or APNs. This was the first push service.

2010 – less than a year later in May 2010, Google followed suite and launched Google Cloud to Device Messaging or C2DM.

2013 – exactly 3 years later, in May 2013, Google introduced ‘rich notifications’ which included images and action buttons. This was revolutionary as it allowed the app users to directly play media, open the app, or get relevant details.

2014 – more than a year later, in September 2014, Apple added interactive buttons in their push notifications which allowed iOS users to send their response directly to the app publisher.

How to add push notifications in your app?

Adding push notifications to your app with Appy Pie is just a drag and drop function. Follow the video tutorial below to integrate the push notifications feature in your app.

Push Notifications – Best Practices

Push notifications is a powerful marketing tool, however, with great power comes great responsibility. Hence, you must be responsible while wielding this tool.

  1. Ask for permission
  2. Flash a well worded permission message before you show them the device permission. In this message tell the user about the value of subscribing to push notifications. Empower the user with the choice to enable or disable the push notification. Simply bombarding device requests may put your app users off and they will be more inclined to disable it, closing off a valuable marketing channel for you.

  3. Don’t push it!
  4. They may be called push notifications, but if you try and force your way in, chances are you would be shunned. Write smart copies that have a human touch. In the limited space that you have, it may become challenging.

  5. Target it right
  6. Through audience segmentation, you can send targeted push notifications that reflect user preferences. This not only personalizes the notification you are sending out, but also helps you bring back visitors who may have gotten distracted before they could convert. Another great way to send targeted notifications is through geofencing and sending out location based push notifications.

  7. Take care of the timing
  8. Getting the right message at the right time can help you get positive attention and increase the chances of conversion. For example, social media apps are better off sending their push notifications immediately, but any promotional messaging must be sent when the app user is more likely to be open to receiving them.

  9. Offer value
  10. Sending push notifications just for the heck of it will do you more damage than good. There is already a lot of noise in the field of marketing and if you only add to it without any value, your app users are going to press the mute button, or even worse, simply uninstall your app! Make sure that each notification you send out, has a purpose and delivers discernible value to the customer.

You May Also Like:

Take a deeper dive into the digital ecosystem and start expanding your business with these helpful resources:

About The Author

A content developer at Appy Pie, Neeraj Shukla researches and writes about technology and automation. He has over 5 years of experience in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling. While he finds writing on technology and automation exciting, he is equally passionate about writing for politics and culture. An aspiring writer, he hopes to one day write and illustrate his own stories. When not working, you can find him watching crime documentaries or some randomly lame videos on YouTube.

App Builder
  • Shubham Agarwal

    Push Notification is a way for an app to notify you or send you an update that you can see without having to open the app. You’ve good blog topics.. I am getting addicted of reading your blogs!!

    • Great to hear such good words. Thanks Shubham for reading the blog, stay tuned more such awesome blogs.

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy. Accept Cookies Learn More Here.