Push notifications - How to use them efficiently

Posted on Nov 10th 2020 by Miira Vehviläinen
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Have you ever wondered the core reason of push notifications? You see them, you may click on them, or in many cases, you may turn them completely off. App users might not even think how essential these push notifications are to the company and seek for their own comfort and do not give second chances to the notifications. However, these push notifications are like magic to companies - they can reach out to you without you even opening the app!

Since some people, including me, don’t prefer push notifications, they might turn them off after a while. But in some cases, they don’t even turn them on in the first place. Personally, I don’t even have push notifications on for Snapchat or Instagram - and I bet I am not the only one. In 2016, over 50% of app users found push notifications annoying - however, the other half found them helpful.  This obviously experienced changes over the years but in 2020 the distribution was the same again and half of the people said that due to the annoyance of push notifications, they turned them off completely. This shows the diversity of users.


Even though apps find them magical, since they can reach out to users without them even opening the app, that might actually be the core of the problem. People don’t want to be disturbed unless it is going to benefit them and really be helpful.  I am going to go through points which you should be taking into consideration before launching any push notifications.

When

Take into consideration the timing of the notification. According to a study made by Hengam, the best time for push notifications is in the afternoon.  One problem that occurs, if a push notification is launched the same time everywhere around the world, is that obviously some people are asleep when that notification is sent. And yes, they might get that notification when they wake up, but who does have time in the morning before work to check a notification? This might take some extra effort, but making push notifications appear according to the timezone, is worth it. 

Another important factor to think about, is when to ask for permission to send push notifications. There are multiple options here and most often apps tend to ask it right after users have downloaded the app and are opening it for the first time. However, you could also consider timings such as ”every time the user opens the app if they have not allowed them yet", or ”every time the user perpetrates certain functions”. 

What

Be clear and make sure that the user knows what you are aiming for with the notification. The message you are sending needs to be dynamic and confident. In addition, think about the length of the notification. Short and dynamic is a good goal to keep. Get creative! You don’t have to follow the same path that everyone else does - stand out!

How

Personalise. If you’ve collected data, for example their name, use it in the notifications. Anything you can use to pay the users' attention and make them feel like the notification is just for them, is worth using. In addition, don’t forget the power of A/B testing and other ASO tools. You can test every aspect; the timing, the message content and the delivery method. Take advantage of this. 

How much

Don’t overuse push notifications. Personally, if I get one very needed notification and all of a sudden more notifications start to pop up, I would consider deleting the whole app and seeing what its competitors have to offer. Obviously, this depends on the nature of the app. For example, Instagram and Snapchat have real-time notifications for whenever someone sends you something, but if this is not a function in your app, don’t try to overload the user with unnecessary notifications. 


You can also come up with a schedule; maybe send notifications once a week or only when a user hasn’t opened the app for a long time. Then the notifications could be used as a reminder of not forgetting that the app exists - since some people tend to have a lot of apps just lying around. You have to find the right amount for your app and don’t only follow the statistics. Make them unique.

Miira Vehviläinen
Miira Vehviläinen

ASO Specialist

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