Definition of a Push Notification
A push notification is a type of message sent from an application to a device, most commonly used by mobile apps to deliver pertinent information to their mobile users. Push notifications appear as alert-style messages on the home screen or notification area of a user’s device. The user does not need to have the app open or running to receive a notification from that app. Push notifications are available through all operating systems: iOS, Android, and more.
It’s important to understand that push notifications are more than just another mobile messaging channel. Push notifications provide mobile apps with a unique opportunity to intimately engage and communicate with their users.
How Mobile Apps Should Use Push
Push notifications should be used to enhance the product experience and drive user engagement and revenue. To do this, push notifications need to convey information that users need or want to receive. There are two types of push notifications that every mobile app should be sending: transactional and engagement.
Transactional push notifications are used to deliver information that users need to receive at a specific time. For example, travel apps should use transactional push notifications to send a message about a flight update or gate change.
Engagement push notifications should be used to deliver information that drives users to complete key virtuous actions – for example, making a purchase or sharing on social. When crafted correctly, this type of push notification can have significant impact on user retention, engagement, and lifetime value. The important thing to consider is every user is different, and users should only receive engagement push notifications that are uniquely personalized and relevant to them.
Components of a Push Notification
1. Title: Indicates which app is sending the push notification.
2. Icon: Also indicates the app sending the push notification.
3. Text: Displays the copy of the push notification. The iOS banner display shows only the first 60 characters, and the Android banner display shows only the first 45 characters.
4. Swipe: Allows the user to take action immediately after they swipe. Swiping on a push notification directs the user into the app, in some cases into a specific or unique page in the app. The swipe function is available from the lock screen of the device. When the screen is unlocked, the user can engage by clicking or tapping on the notification.
How Push Notifications are Controlled
Push notifications sent through iOS are controlled from the notification center in the Settings section of the device. iOS users have a great deal of control when it comes to enabling or disabling push notifications, as they can be turned off or on by the user at any time. Additionally, before iOS apps can send push notifications to a specific user, they must ask and receive permission from that user.
Push notifications sent through Android are controlled from the App info section in the Settings section of the device. One key difference is that Android apps are not required to ask for permission before sending push notifications. In this case, the onus is on the user to opt out of receiving notifications from a specific app.
Push Notification Levers
Push notifications have become the primary tool for driving mobile engagement, and winning apps have learned to take advantage of the many levers they can pull to create and send push notifications that delight. These levers include:
User targeting and segmentation: which users should receive the push notification?
Content, copy and personalization: what should the push notification say? How can it be effectively personalized?
Timing: when should each user receive the push notification?
After the push: what happens after the push notification is received?