Push notifications: Best practices

Laurent Gerniers 29-10-2019 How-To

How many push notifications can you send to your users?

What is a push notification?

A push notification on iOS and Android is a message you send to the device of a user that knows you, that has your app installed.
The goal of sending a push notification is always to get your user back to your app. You inform your user about something that should trigger him to open the app and to use it again. 

Twixl allows you to send a text notification and optionally a link to specific content within your app (deep linking).  The text notification will just inform and trigger the user.
You can do this when you publish a new issue in your app. It is more a reminder than a specific call to action. A linked push notification is also a text message but it includes a link to specific content item or service you are promoting within your app. It opens the app and gets the user directly to the article you referred to.

Marketers love push notifications, for them it is a tool to provoke engagement. It’s like a button you push to be more successful. Unfortunately you can’t keep on pushing the button, as you risk losing your users, or having them switch off notifications, or possibly the notifications may be ignored even if they are valuable.

Push notifications are considered as a high engagement communication tool. It is a medium your users accept to use that allows you to be closer to them. They allow you into their comfort zone. They trust you. Therefore you must be aware that sending messages too frequently or sending irrelevant messages can leave them annoyed, or even worse can push them away.

Getting push notifications accepted

Let’s first make a distinction between App store apps and apps that are published in an enterprise environment.

App store apps will usually target a broad audience. Most of the time you have a customer/supplier relationship and the customer is king.

Respect comes first, retention second.

AppleWatch notification

First your customer needs to accept to receive push notifications. So give your users the time to get to know you before you ask them if you can send them push notifications. They first need to value your offer. If you ask them at the first launch of the app, it is more likely that they will refuse.

On iOS you need the consent of the user, on Android you don’t. At any time, however, can the user still decide to disable push for your app, both on iOS and Android.

The approach with Enterprise apps is different. Here there is a professional context and you can perfectly explain upfront to the user, when you invite him to install the app, to activate push notifications because it will help him to be aware of what’s new in the app, whenever updates are published, etc.

If an app is published on corporate devices, often the devices will be managed by the IT department, which will be able to configure the settings the way they want to.

Although the acceptance of push notifications is less an issue in an enterprise environment it is important to inform the user upfront to make sure he understands why you are using push notifications.

In an enterprise environment you know your user so you can also send him an email or use other channels to inform him about the expected usage of the app.

Here a push notification will be more informative than a call to action. For app store apps it will be the opposite.

Only deliver relevant, important information.

A new issue is available; the main subject of your latest issue is …; we have a scoop. This is relevant!

“Take a look at your horoscope” is not relevant.

The message needs to be interesting for a majority of your readers. A reminder about the availability of a new issue is fine even if you always publish at the same time of the week. A timely notification is much appreciated! A message about content that only a few readers may be interested in is not.

Measure what is popular. Whenever you bring something new about a popular item or subject, you can send a push notification.

If you have a news app, it is obvious you can send different push notifications during the day in relation to the main news topics of that day. But if you have a monthly magazine you can’t send 3 push notifications per day. Perhaps 2 or 3 per week and that’s it. You could draw a parallel between how often an average user opens your app per week and the number of push notifications you could send him.

But also important in an enterprise environment, it is important to make sure not to overload your users with information. If you provide a message from time to time, the user will know it is important, if you constantly send messages, he will not be able to identify what’s important.

A push notification is not a communication platform, it is only an information channel. Only inform when there is a real need or advantage for the user. There’s a thin line between what’s informative and what may become annoying, be careful you don’t lose the interest of your user. With push notifications less is more effective.

When should you send a push notification?

When is your app most read/used?
Is this on a Saturday morning? Is this in the evening? Remind your users at that time.
Make sure your user has the time to read your notification and also to take the action you encourage him to take.
A push notification requires an immediate action so there is no use to send it upfront.
You can do this with an email, but not with a push notification. Few people will look at old notifications.

Enterprise app users are supposed to use the app during the day. For the professional user it is probably inconvenient to receive a notification while he is in the middle of something, when he is focused on doing his work.
Send your notifications early in the morning or at the end of the day.

With Twixl you can schedule your push notifications. You can prepare your push notification and send it at a pre-defined moment. Note that this moment is independent of the time zone, which means you cannot send the same push notification at e.g. 8 am in each time zone separately.
If you are working in different time zones and in different languages you could evaluate to use different apps.
Another approach is to always send your notification at the same moment, possibly during the night so that the user will see them first thing in the morning. This way your notification will be more like a reminder than a call to action, but at least you are top of mind again.

Should you combine different channels?

If you are using entitlement in your app, you will have more contact details about your users than you have from unentitled users. This lets you do more than just send push notifications, but also to use other channels like email, or even provide personalized data on a web site.

Using push notifications you want to inform your user about something important. It makes sense to do this through different channels. Your user will accept this as long as long as you do not repeat the message over and over again and as long as the message remains relevant.

Out of sight, out of mind

You might think that push notifications are too much work for only a small result or that the risk to lose users is too big.

We think that if you use this tool cautiously it can only be a gain for you and your users/readers.

Sending a push notification is not only about the message, it reminds your users you’re there. You want to be top of mind, show that you’re active and up to date, and that can only be positive.

Communication with your users in general, outside of the app, is as important as your offer within the app. With Twixl Publisher 10, you can integrate your Twixl app with a marketing automation platform and link actions in relation to the profile of your user. We open our platform to integrate with other tools but we will also continue to offer built-in solutions to enhance your communication with your users.

When should you send a push notification?

When is your app most read/used?
Is this on a Saturday morning? Is this in the evening? Remind your users at that time.
Make sure your user has the time to read your notification and also to take the action you encourage him to take.
A push notification requires an immediate action so there is no use to send it upfront.
You can do this with an email, but not with a push notification. Few people will look at old notifications.

Enterprise app users are supposed to use the app during the day. For the professional user it is probably inconvenient to receive a notification while he is in the middle of something, when he is focused on doing his work.
Send your notifications early in the morning or at the end of the day.

PhoneInHand

With Twixl you can schedule your push notifications. You can prepare your push notification and send it at a pre-defined moment. Note that this moment is independent of the time zone, which means you cannot send the same push notification at e.g. 8 am in each time zone separately.
If you are working in different time zones and in different languages you could evaluate to use different apps.
Another approach is to always send your notification at the same moment, possibly during the night so that the user will see them first thing in the morning. This way your notification will be more like a reminder than a call to action, but at least you are top of mind again.

Should you combine different channels?

If you are using entitlement in your app, you will have more contact details about your users than you have from unentitled users. This lets you do more than just send push notifications, but also to use other channels like email, or even provide personalized data on a web site.

Using push notifications you want to inform your user about something important. It makes sense to do this through different channels. Your user will accept this as long as long as you do not repeat the message over and over again and as long as the message remains relevant.

Out of sight, out of mind

You might think that push notifications are too much work for only a small result or that the risk to lose users is too big.

We think that if you use this tool cautiously it can only be a gain for you and your users/readers.

Sending a push notification is not only about the message, it reminds your users you’re there. You want to be top of mind, show that you’re active and up to date, and that can only be positive.

Communication with your users in general, outside of the app, is as important as your offer within the app. With Twixl Publisher 10, you can integrate your Twixl app with a marketing automation platform and link actions in relation to the profile of your user. We open our platform to integrate with other tools but we will also continue to offer built-in solutions to enhance your communication with your users.