What Is Push Notification? An Overview of This Important Technology
By Emil Kristensen CMO
@ Sleeknote

Push notifications have become a vital technology in our daily lives. They keep us informed, up-to-date and connected with the information and brands we care about. Whether we’re checking our email, social media, news apps or even ordering food, push notifications make sure we never miss important updates and alerts. But what exactly is push notification, and how does it work? In this article, we’ll explore the basics of push notification technology, its evolution, different types and benefits, and best practices for implementing it effectively for businesses.

Understanding the Basics of Push Notification

Push notification is a way of sending alerts and messages to an individual or a group of people through a mobile app, website or browser. Unlike SMS which is sent directly to your phone, push notifications use a network connection and require an app to receive and display them. Push notifications can be sent for a variety of reasons, including news updates, in-app messages, promotions, and reminders. They can be personalized and targeted to specific users based on their preferences, behaviors and geolocation.

The Evolution of Push Notification: A Brief History

Push notification technology has come a long way since its inception in the early 2000s. Originally, push notifications were used to alert users of incoming emails and instant messages. However, with the advent of smartphones, push notifications expanded to include other apps and services such as social media, news, and even games. Today, push notifications are ubiquitous, and many app developers and businesses rely on them to keep users engaged and informed.

The Different Types of Push Notifications Available Today

Push notifications can vary in content and delivery method, depending on the purpose and context of the message. Here are some of the most common types of push notifications:

  • Transactional Notifications: These notifications are triggered by a user’s action, such as a purchase or a password reset.
  • Promotional Notifications: These notifications are used to promote a new product, sale or discount.
  • Informational Notifications: These notifications are used to provide useful information, such as weather updates, news stories or traffic alerts.
  • Reminder Notifications: These notifications are used to remind users of an upcoming appointment, event, or task.
  • Re-Engagement Notifications: These notifications are used to encourage inactive users to use an app and re-engage with its features.

How Do Push Notifications Work?

Push notifications use a combination of backend servers, network protocols, and app development frameworks to deliver messages to users. Here’s a simplified overview of how they work:

  1. The app developer integrates push notification functionality into the app and registers it with a push notification service provider, such as Apple Push Notification Service (APNS) or Google Cloud Messaging (GCM).
  2. The push notification service provider generates a unique device token for each user’s device and stores it in a database.
  3. When the app sends a push notification, the push notification service provider identifies the user’s device token and sends the message to the device through a network connection, using a specific protocol (such as HTTP/2 or WebSockets).
  4. The device’s operating system receives the push notification and displays it to the user, along with a sound or vibration, depending on the device’s settings and the type of notification.
  5. The user can then interact with the notification, by tapping on it or swiping it away, depending on the app’s functionality.

The Benefits of Using Push Notification for Your Business

Push notifications can offer several benefits to businesses that use them effectively:

  • Increased Engagement: Push notifications can help keep users engaged with your app and brand, by providing timely and relevant information and promotions.
  • Improved Customer Relationship: By sending personalized and targeted notifications, businesses can build stronger relationships with their customers and improve satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Increased Revenue: By promoting offers and discounts through push notifications, businesses can increase sales and revenue.
  • Increased Retention: Push notifications can help prevent app abandonment and retain users, by re-engaging inactive users and reminding them of the value of the app.
  • Analytics and Insights: By tracking push notification engagement, businesses can gain valuable insights into user preferences, behaviors, and response rates, and fine-tune their marketing strategies accordingly.

How to Effectively Implement Push Notifications for Maximum Impact

To get the most out of push notifications, businesses need to plan and execute their strategies carefully. Here are some best practices for creating effective push notification campaigns:

  • Know Your Audience: Understand who your target audience is, what their preferences and behaviors are, and tailor your notifications to their needs and interests.
  • Segment Your Audience: Segment your users into groups based on demographics, behaviors, or characteristics, and send personalized notifications to each group.
  • Use Clear and Compelling Messaging: Use short, catchy, and informative messages that convey the value and urgency of the notification.
  • Timing is Key: Send notifications at the right time and frequency, depending on the context and purpose of the message.
  • Provide Value: Make sure your notifications provide real value to the user, such as useful information, exclusive offers, or new features.

Best Practices for Creating Effective Push Notification Campaigns

Creating an effective push notification campaign requires careful planning and execution. Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Set Goals: Define clear and measurable goals for your campaign, such as increasing app engagement or driving sales.
  • Choose the Right Type of Notification: Choose the type of notification that best fits your goals and audience, and craft a message that resonates with them.
  • Test and Optimize: A/B test your notifications to see which ones perform better, and optimize your campaigns based on the results.
  • Track and Analyze: Use analytics tools to track the performance of your notifications, and gain insights into user behavior and preferences.
  • Respond to Feedback: Listen to user feedback and respond to their concerns and suggestions, to improve the effectiveness and relevance of your notifications.

How to Measure the Success of Your Push Notification Strategy

Measuring the success of a push notification strategy requires analyzing various metrics and KPIs, such as:

  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of users who engaged with the notification and took the desired action (such as clicking a link or making a purchase).
  • Click-Through Rate: The percentage of users who clicked on the notification and landed on the app or website.
  • Retention Rate: The percentage of users who continued to use the app after receiving the notification.
  • Uninstall Rate: The percentage of users who uninstalled the app after receiving the notification.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Push Notifications

While push notifications can be a powerful tool for businesses, they can also be a turnoff and cause users to uninstall an app if used improperly. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Overwhelming Notifications: Sending too many notifications too frequently can be annoying and overwhelming to users, and lead them to disable notifications or uninstall the app.
  • Irrelevant Notifications: Sending notifications that are not relevant to the user’s interests or behaviors can make them feel spammed and uninterested in your app or brand.
  • Unclear Messaging: Sending notifications with vague, confusing or unclear messaging can lead to confusion and frustration among users, and negatively impact the user experience.
  • Incorrect Timing: Sending notifications at the wrong time or frequency can make them appear irrelevant or outdated, and reduce user engagement and retention.
  • Not Using Personalization: Not using personalization can reduce the effectiveness of notifications, as users are more likely to engage with notifications that are tailored to their preferences and behaviors.

The Future of Push Notification: Trends and Predictions

As technology continues to evolve, so too does push notification technology. Here are some trends and predictions for the future of push notifications:

  • More Personalization: Push notifications will become even more personalized and tailored to individual user’s preferences and behaviors, using technologies such as AI and machine learning.
  • More Interactive: Push notifications will become more interactive and allow users to perform actions directly within the notification, without having to open the app.
  • More Contextual: Push notifications will become more contextual, based on the user’s geolocation, time of day, and other environmental factors.
  • More Privacy-Focused: Push notifications will become more privacy-focused, with tighter regulations around data collection and storage, and a focus on transparency and user consent.
  • Better Integration: Push notifications will become better integrated with other technologies, such as wearables, voice assistants, and smart home devices.

In conclusion, push notifications are an important and dynamic technology that businesses can leverage to engage and retain users, drive sales and revenue, and gain valuable insights into user behavior and preferences. By following best practices and avoiding common pitfalls, businesses can use push notifications effectively and stay ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of mobile technology.