Push Notifications

The average American checks their phone 344 times a day. Our phones are bombarded with messages daily, filling our screens with various alerts and information. But the real trick is to engage with the user and have them act on your message. This requires customer understanding and well-thought-out messages.

Effective push notifications boost user app engagement and increase retention rates thanks to their ability to send personalized and relevant messages that improve the user experience rather than diminish it. 

What Are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are messages that prompt an app user to take a desired action. Through push notifications, users are kept up to date on offers, relevant news alerts, and software updates.

Push notifications can communicate important pieces of information that drive a sense of urgency and interest, so users will follow up. The work management app Lattice reminds the user to open their app and write their weekly update. By receiving a push notification, the user finds value through an automatic reminder on a task they need to complete. For the app, it drives the user to open and interact with the app with the aim of building habitual use.

When Are Push Notifications Used?

Push notifications can be sent to users to drive many different actions, so it's important to keep in mind the objective of any push notification when deciding the content and the call to action (CTA).

  • Inform users about new features: For example, try a new search and filter feature to find products with more ease.
  • Alert users about a social activity: For example, accepting a friend request. 
  • Personalize product offers: For example, a 10% discount on their next food order from their favorite restaurant.
  • Remind users about tasks: For example, Google Calendar sends out push notifications to remind users about their upcoming meetings.
  • Drive customers to complete a cart purchase: For example, send a reminder that a food order hasn't been completed.

What Are the Benefits of Using Push Notifications?

Drive Conversions

Push notifications are messages that communicate new product offers or features that are personalized for the user.

This is because push notifications can be personalized to take into account past user behavior, purchases, or actions. By doing so, the message content is tailored to offer relevant and meaningful content that's valuable to the user. Push notifications are especially helpful for reminding users about abandoned cart purchases or actions.

Increase User Engagement

A study by OneSignal found that 44% of marketers agree that push notifications are the most effective tool to re-engage users. This is because users are more likely to engage with content that's based on their preferences and interests. For example, suppose a user is continuously engaging with cooking content on a social platform. In that case, it's more likely they'll engage with a push notification offering a course with Gordon Ramsey over a knitting course. Therefore, use push notifications to leverage user interest and get them to re-engage with your app's products and features.

Improve User Retention Rate

Push notifications are helpful reminders to users about the value an app provides, increasing the chances of them becoming regular active users. Studies have shown that push notifications that are sent on a weekly basis are likely to increase app retention rates by 440%. Simply put, keeping your app's value top of mind is likely to keep users returning to the app and relying on its features. There's a catch, though. Push notifications are helpful in improving retention rates as long as the messages are relevant and valuable to the user. If push notifications don't offer helpful alerts, they can quickly become noise, which makes users lose interest and even mute or delete your app.

Push Notification Examples

Now that you are familiar with the benefits of push notifications, let's review a few examples of how apps from different industries can include them in their user engagement strategies.

Health and Wellness

Telemedicine apps can increase patient engagement and satisfaction while streamlining the provider’s administrative process with push notifications. Use them to remind patients of upcoming appointments or alert them to complete a post-appointment feedback survey. Wellness apps can help users stay on track to achieve their health goals by sending notes of encouragement straight to their lock screen and reminders to log meals, complete step goals, and check in with their coaches.


It is essential to find a way to connect with mobile banking customers instantly when there’s fraudulent activity on their accounts. Push notifications enable fintech banking apps to alert customers of suspicious activity. Investment apps can leverage this feature to notify users of stock dips or when their accounts are performing exceptionally well.


For users to strike while the iron’s hot, dating apps can incorporate push notifications to instantly alert singles when they receive a new match. These apps can also send alerts to users’ lock screens when they are sent a message from one of their matches or if there’s been an update to the app.

Gaming and Events

Gaming apps can alert players of when their favorite streamer is going live. Similarly, virtual and live event apps can utilize these notifications to remind users of session start times.


eCommerce and marketplace apps can use push notifications to notify customers of an upcoming sale or limited-time offer. They can also encourage users to complete their purchase if an item has been sitting in their cart for a period of time.

Best Practices for Push Notifications

Add Value with Personalized Content

Push notifications that use personalized content can increase user engagement rates by 259%. Push notifications can be tailored by leveraging users' demographic and personal data as a starting point. This allows push notifications to catch the user's eye with direct messages that, for example, directly add the user's name. Push notifications can be further personalized when past app behavior and preferences are taken into account. For example, Uber Eats leverages past user purchase history to offer relevant promotions. The push notifications consider the user's name, past order, and time. So when a message is sent out, it'll be within an optimized timing window and similar to, "Hey John, get 50% off a food item from your favorite restaurant when you order your cappuccino this morning".

Think About Timing and Context

Take into consideration the cadence and context of push notifications, as this will affect how urgent it will be for the user to accept an offer or take action. Use push notifications to meet your users at the stage of their purchase or user journey. By doing so, you can use push notifications to guide users through relevant actions. For example, a hotel booking app might notice a user didn't complete a booking. Instead of offering a tour of the app's features, the most relevant push notification would be similar to, "Hey Sam, we noticed you didn't finish your Rome hotel booking. Are you looking for other options in Rome?" Timing and context are important, as sending irrelevant and continuous push notifications can quickly become excessive and annoying. In fact, almost 30% of app uninstalls are due to notifications that are perceived as annoying and irrelevant.

Incorporate Your Brand Voice and Personality

Infuse your push notifications with your brand's personality. You want the user to immediately understand who sent the message just by the tone. A study found that companies that use brand templates for push notifications can increase engagement rates by 17% compared to those that don't use standard brand templates. And a study by CleverTap found that simply by adding emojis to messages improves CTR by 9.6%.

Don't Forget to Do A/B Testing 

A/B testing push notifications improves message engagement by 15%. That leads to higher app usage but also gives you better insight into your customers' needs by revealing what product offers and messages attract the most interest. A/B testing can take into account different copy, product offers, time of day, or even which emojis to use. 

Keep It Clear and Concise

Phone screens display many notifications at one time, so it's important to immediately introduce the value of your push notification. Keep the messages short and sweet, so users can quickly understand what they will gain by clicking on the notification. This will decrease the chance of your push notification being dismissed. Keep in mind the main reason for sending the push notification since this should be the main message displayed. Avoid using jargon or technical words that users might not understand and instead opt for short and clear information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are push notifications only for phones?

No. You can also send push notifications that can be received on websites, desktops, smart watches, or tablets.

What is the difference between push notifications and in-app notifications?

Push notifications are sent when an app is closed to encourage the user to open and engage with an app’s features or services. In-app notifications, on the other hand, are received when a user is already interacting within an app. The goal is usually to guide them through the product offering.

What does it mean to enable push notifications?

To enable push notifications means that the users agree to receive communications regarding offers, reminders, marketing, etc. This is important as it filters out users who have an interest in purchases and service offerings, which makes the push notification more relevant and valuable.

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