How to Create Push Notifications Users Will Actually Like

This is a guest post by Carissa Lintao. Carissa is a content marketer at App Partner, a Brooklyn-based mobile agency. Her responsibilities include creating original pieces of content for App Partner’s Resource Center as well as managing the company’s social media presence. To date, App Partner has led and supported the launch of more than 200 unique mobile applications, generating tens of millions of downloads.

Can users fall in love ❤️ with Push Notifications?

Push notifications are a marketer’s best friend; it’s proven that push notifications uplift retention rates by 2x and boost engagement by 88%. But, they can also drive your users away if your strategy isn’t effective.

The number one reason why people uninstall mobile apps is annoying notifications, so the problem every marketer and app developer faces, is figuring out how to create notifications users want to receive.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to craft notifications your users won’t opt out of.

Push Notifications

Understanding the Types of Push Notifications

Before you get started, you need to learn the fundamentals of notifications first.

Sending a push notification is like tapping a user on the shoulder. A message pops up on their screen and you convey the bit of information you want to share. It’s a simple, effective way to engage users with your app.

There are two types of notifications, transactional and engagement.

Transactional notifications: Contain information a user expects to receive, such as a delivery confirmation or an event reminder.

Engagement notifications: Solely used for marketing purposes. An example would be notifying users of an upcoming sale.

Create Effective Messaging

The content in your push notifications needs to clearly communicate the value you’re providing. Keep your messaging in line with your company’s branding and strive to keep the content clear and concise.

There are three elements that make up an effective message: the call to action, personalization, and its level of intrigue.

Make it Actionable

“Good triggers (notifications) prompt action while vague or irrelevant messages annoy users. It’s important that a trigger cue a specific, simple behavior.” ー Behavioral designer, Nir Eyal

Push Notification Trigger

The push notification from Postmates (see above), makes it extremely easy for the user to redeem their gift. All the user needs to do is swipe to open the app, place an order at a restaurant of their choice, and the $50 is automatically applied to their purchase.

A simple call to action will increase the user’s ability. Meaning, the more simple a target behavior is, the easier it is to do.

Connect on a Personal Level

People crave personalized information simply because it’s more relevant. Why would someone want to receive generic push notifications that serves them no purpose?

From a psychological standpoint, your users will be more inclined to engage with notifications that are tailored to fit their needs. In fact, personalization is so powerful that it can boost open rates by up to 800%.

Open Rates with Personalization

The example below is an engagement notification from Netflix. Instead of sending the user, James, a generic update like, “House of Cards is now on Netflix,” the messaging is creative includes his name along with a witty statement.

Push Notification PersonalizationSpark Intrigue

Sending push notifications in the form of an intriguing question or comment, almost guarantees user engagement. The element of the unexpected, leaves users on the edge of their seat ー to find out what the notification is referring to, they need to swipe to find out.

Push Notification IntrigueNail the Timing

Push notifications need to be well-timed to be effective. Instead of sending notifications at random times, consider when the user would want to receive them. Timing should revolve around user preference and the urgency of the notification. But because every user and app is different, there is no “optimal time” to send notifications.

However, for engagement notifications you should make sure that every notification is sent during the time(s) most users engage with your app. Take into account time zones and user personas.

And for transactional notifications you should also ensure the message is sent at a specific time 一 not a moment too soon or late. See example below.

Push Notification Timing

Pro Tips for optimal push notification

Conclusion – best strategies for push notifications

Your end goal should be to create push notifications that don’t feel like an annoyance. Keep them purposeful and valuable to the user.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • The number one reason why people uninstall mobile apps is annoying push notifications.
  • There are three elements that make up an effective message: the call to action, personalization, and its level of intrigue.
  • Instead of sending notifications at random times, consider when the user would want to receive them.
  • A/B test consistently.

Are you using push notifications in your mobile app or game? Tell us more about it in the comments!

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