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  • Writer's pictureDoug Pittman

What is a Push Notification & How Can Apps Maximize Push Notification Benefits?

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

There is one thing that all mobile apps need to capitalize on – push notifications.

You probably have an idea of what a push notification is on a basic level, but do you know what a push notification means for an app? It means marketing advantage and increased revenue and engagement. Push notifications are a strong marketing tool for a mobile app because they open communication with users. All it takes is a bit of strategy and reliable messaging software.

This guide is meant to help new apps, growing apps and all the apps in between learn the proper way to implement push notifications into marketing practice. As an industry expert, I will break down the complex strategies into an easy to understand language and elaborate on the common push notification questions. Let’s get the best mobile app advantage as possible.

The difference between push notifications and text messages

Push notifications and text messages are similar in some ways but have very different intentions. Both of these messages go directly to the user’s phone and look similar on their lock screen. That is about where the similarities end.

Text Length – Push notifications are set at a lower character limit than text messages. This allows an entire thought expressed without a user ever having to open the message all the way. Text messages have an option to be longer because the user is more apt to open the message to read the entire thing. So, it’s important to learn how to deliver a message in the fewest words possible.

Open Destination – When a text message or push notification appears on a screen, a simple swipe will result in the same action – the opening of an app. Text messages take the user to the entire message within their chosen messaging app, while push notifications open in the app that sent the message.

Cost for Users – If your app sends SMS messages as a promotional technique, you may have a strategy that needs to be rethought. Depending on the user’s phone plan, they may have to pay to receive SMS messages. Push notifications are completely free for users to receive.

Association – People are always getting messages from random numbers, and the last thing you want is your brand to be associated with spam. Not to mention it’s illegal to text a mobile phone without permission despite having their number already.

Push notifications have a higher success rate, as customers know exactly what app is sending the message before even reading it. Push notifications are also associated with promotions and sales, so users are more likely to read and engage with them.

Over half of app users state they feel push notifications are annoying, but not everyone has that opinion. 26% of app users like push notifications because they enjoy hearing more about their interests. An additional 20% of users say that push notifications enhance their in-app experience.

How do you reach those users that are tired of annoying messages? Provide relevancy within the notifications, and only send them when you have something of value to say. Use user data to send notifications tailored to interests, locations, behavior, and in-app activity.

Send push notifications based on the user’s location

We already know not to send too many push notifications, but it’s also important to send notifications that match your user’s specifications. Sending notifications based on location is an incredibly popular strategy.

The biggest brands are utilizing geofencing technology paired with push notifications to leverage sales from customers who downloaded their mobile app. Here is how that happens.

Use in-app location permissions to get access to their location data and monitor it for relevant locations to your brand. Then trigger messages to those users when they enter the geofenced locations that fit both the user and your app’s goals.

Let’s give an example:

A local pub geofences the local business park and parking garage. The pub sends messages to everyone with location permissions turned on who leaves the parking garage between 4 pm and 5 pm with a promotion for happy hour. The push looks something like this:

It is a very effective push notification campaign because it reaches users at a relevant time and place. The person has this app installed on their phone, so they’re obviously interested in the pub’s offerings. Their location is right down the street from the pub, and they are right in time for happy hour at 5pm.

Sending this message to someone who lives in another state or who works late is not as effective as they are not able to utilize the promotions. Keep the message clear, and segment delivery to those that matter.

Push notifications enhance the user experience

Push notifications are more than just a marketing strategy. Use push notifications to enhance customer experience. Think about the purpose of your app and how your customers will be using it. How can a push notification make their experience even better?

For example, let’s take a look at a company like UberEats. Their app is a major success, and its messages that build the experience for their customers that make it happen. They use push notifications to make things easier for people using their app. Here’s an example of one of their messages.

This message confirms that the food they requested was picked up and is on its way. This reassures impatient customers and is a promotional tool cleverly guised as a customer enhancement.

Discover ways to implement this strategy into your app as well in order to enhance the user experience.

Increase engagement, acquisition, and retention

Push notifications have higher open rates than other forms of marketing such as SMS messages or emails. Let’s compare email marketing with mobile push notifications.

Emails have a lower open rate as most people receive so many emails in a day that they are not able to engage with them all. An email is often equated with spam, while push notifications are known more for deals. Since push notifications are less frequent, app users are more likely to be interested in engaging with them. This only increases when you provide the value of location relevancy, segmentation, and user experience.

Personalized push notifications increase engagement. Customers who are highly engaged will continue using your app and providing loyalty to your brand. As a result, you’ll see an increase in revenue.

Another consideration is the app users who have yet to spend money in your app. Convert these people into customers by sending them a quality push promotion. Promo codes and discounts off of their first purchase are the incentives that get customers engaged.

Personalization matters

One of the largest mistakes made is continually sending broadcast messages to your customer base a whole. Customers are individuals and like to feel as such. Personalize the experience to fit audiences on a more defined level.

It is much easier than expected to personalize a push campaign. Apps have access to user profiles filled with first-party data perfect to segment promotional campaigns. For example, if you’re a retailer with a mobile app, you can use a customer’s past purchase behaviors to send them a push about the products they already enjoy and are more likely to buy.

Keep the user’s device in mind

Not all devices are equal when it comes to push notifications. Android users enable push notifications at a higher percentage than Apple users, and we are going to take a look at the difference in click-through rates between these platforms.

The lock screen and notification centers are different between iOS and Android devices. A push notification disappears from iOS devices after the user unlocks the phone, even if they don’t open the app to read the notification. Android devices have notifications that stay on the lock screen until they take action. If a user does not open the notification, they would have to manually remove it.


Is using push notifications mandatory? No.

Should you be using push notifications? Definitely.

Push notifications can help your app and your business. It’s definitely better to use push notifications over text messages to contact your customers. Just remember to segment delivery, personalize content, and monitor how often you send your customers notifications. Make sure you keep the user’s device in mind when you’re sending these out.

Does your app schedule push notifications? Are you engaging and retaining customers effectively? Get started today.



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