How To Master Mobile App Push Notifications

Mobile engagement is on the rise, and customers are using their phones and tablets to interact with your app, read your email communications, browse your website, and more so than ever before, to take the big leap to purchase your products and/or services.

With more consumers browsing and buying online with their mobile devices, reducing friction during these processes has become a major objective for smart marketers. Offering a dedicated mobile app, which delivers content directly to your customers’ phones and tablets and can generate in-app transactions (such as purchases, downloads or account management) or guide your customer back to your website, is a critical step toward achieving this goal.

Just having an app isn’t enough, however. While app retention has been improving, about one in five apps gets downloaded, but never opened or activated on the mobile device. So, the big question is, how can you increase the chance that your app will become a go-to resource for your users? This is where the “push” notification comes into play, which can improve engagement with your app and help increase conversions by nearly 10 percent. Follow these 10 steps to get you started with mobile app push notifications.


Apps can provide a lot more customer support services than just help them find your nearest store location or store hours. Consumers today are more au fait using their mobile devices for a variety of services, and mobile gives you the power to get back to inquiries and issues quickly and efficiently, making customer support more responsive.

So, decide what you’re trying to get customers to do in your app. Is your goal to get them to engage with your content, to purchase a product, or something entirely different again? How often do you want them coming back to your app? Answering these key questions beforehand will help you develop your overall push notification strategy.


You can only realize your app’s full potential if you take the time to integrate it with your marketing database. By providing the app with behaviors you’re capturing into a central marketing database, you can use them across the board to initiate personalized content and interactions across your emails, website, call centers etc… Similarly, you can use data from these other channels to tailor the content in your mobile app.


With customers already bombarded by a smorgasbord of marketing communications, you must be quick to show your app users what add-on benefits they’ll get for giving you permission to send them push notifications. Getting the all clear from them to do this is key. Although no U.S. or international laws regulate push notifications, Apple requires every iOS app to ask for permission before sending notifications upon install.

Apps in the Google Play store for Android devices don’t have that same opt-in requirement. However, both Android and iOS apps must permit users to turn off push, either within the device settings or in the app itself.

This makes it crucial for you to make a strong case to accept push messages on your app download page. The standard iOS opt-in message is functional, but it’s better to provide more reasons to opt in via a dedicated push pop- up right before the official ask. Provide information on the types of push notifications you’ll send, the value they’ll get by opting in, and how often customers might expect to receive them. Be sure to add a little flare and creativity to the copy, and visuals can really help make your request stand out from the crowded mobile app space, and result in increased opt-ins.

While the app is the best forum to make the case for accepting push notifications, sending a dedicated email conveying the value you offer them for their acceptance of your push notifications can also be a smart way to supplement your in-app efforts. Use the extra real estate to convey additional information about how these alerts can benefit and enhance the user’s experience.


Push messages are generally accompanied by sound or phone vibrations, so always remember timing should never be ignored. You don’t want to incur the anger of your app users by sending out push notifications to them and interrupting their sleep at 3 a.m. Include local push timing in your strategy to alleviate this issue and ensure that your user segments get messages at one appropriate time of day (say, 9 a.m.) regardless of location. Also, think about customizing your messages based on the seasonal time of year (holidays) to make the brand more relevant to the individual.


Most mobile users have dozens of apps installed. With apps overload, push notification frequency can get overwhelming. Applications with the highest frequency of irrelevant push notifications are often the first to get uninstalled.

The solution is easy: Just don’t overdo it. For service alerts, such as “your order is ready to pick up” or “learn how our new security updates protect your account,” notifications can be increased, but for advertising or promotional purposes, less is usually more.

If you have multiple types of push notifications from a single app, make sure your user can edit their push settings for each type of notification. This means they will only receive personally relevant information at any given time.


Once you have your push notification programs up and running, you are ready to progress beyond generic broadcast notifications that go to every app user. “Narrowcast notifications” use specific defined criteria to send messages aimed at a targeted or segmented subgroup of app users. The criteria you use to segment can range widely, including mobile app interactions, customer demographics and purchase behaviors.

For example, let’s say an Online Casino has collected data regarding its customers’ activity playing “Slots Game A.” When it launches a new, similar product, “Slots Game B”, the Online Casino could then send a push notification to all users who had shown interest in playing “Slots Game A” alerting them that they can now play a new, similar game, “Slots Game B”.


Just as an email triggered by a person’s unique behavior or demographic data can increase engagement, so can automated, personalized push notifications driven by a user’s actions or attributes. Consider sending 1:1 push notifications triggered by:

Date/event: Appointment, reservation or payment reminders Behavior: Cart/browse abandonment reminders, package pick-up notices Location: Check-in requests or recommendations and promotions based on the phone’s location, including iBeacon notices Profile: Combine data in a preference center or user profile with any of the above behaviors to increase personalization For most marketers, a push-marketing program that incorporates general broadcast, narrowcast and 1:1 push notifications will provide you with all the types of tools you need to maximize message reach and relevance. So, seek out more ways to work these individualized notifications into your overall messaging strategy.


Unlike “simple” text alerts, which appear on the mobile phone or tablet lock screen (the screen recipients see before they unlock their devices), “rich” messages use colors, graphics and images and appear in an in-app inbox.

The mobile app inbox offers the benefit of permitting you to communicate with app users without annoying them by interrupting their regular flow of activities or having to compete for inbox space with other brands. With more visual options at your fingertips, it also gives you the opportunity to provide a more immersive customer experience. Furthermore, you can (and should) use data to individualize these messages.


Using scoring can help you better segment your customers and provide more relevant push notifications. For example, if you have an engagement scoring model or inactivity scoring model that indicates how immersed a customer is with your brand, based on this score, you can take the insight and generate targeted push notifications to turn an engaged customer into a brand advocate, or reactivate a lapsed customer whose inactive score falls below a certain level.

Mobile devices also provide you with the exciting capacity to run loyalty campaigns or bring some gamification to your brand, and integrate a related scoring model with your push notification program, which can open up some amazing, and fun potential. For example, users whose score reaches a certain threshold might receive a triggered notification alerting them to rewards they’ve earned.


The in-app inbox offers marketers new opportunities over and above what you can do with the traditional email inbox. One of the most interesting is the ability to send time-constrained offers and single-use promotion codes to targeted users. For example, you could send out an aggressive 40 percent discount coupon to a specific set of customers (e.g. best customers, those who recently made a big purchase, inactives, etc.).

Then, as soon as you reach a designated threshold where a certain number of these coupons have been redeemed, you can pull the offer back out of the inbox. This tool can help you drive strong engagement via a powerful offer while ensuring that you don’t give away more margin than you can afford.


Consumers are engaging with, and are more comfortable with mobile apps more than ever before, with U.S. Android and iPhone users age 18 and over spending 65 percent more time each month using apps than they did just two years ago.¹ These mobile users are often looking to purchase — 55 percent of consumers using mobile to research want to buy within the hour, and 83 percent would like to purchase within a day.² Weaving more sophisticated push notifications into your messaging mix can help ensure you engage these mobile users via their smartphones, tablets and wearables with the right content at the perfect moment.

If you want to learn more about Mobile Marketing and incorporating push notifications into your strategy, Digital Fuel can help you. Read more about our Mobile Marketing skills and services at and then when you’re ready, CLICK HERE TO GET IN TOUCH.


1 Nielsen, “Smartphones: So Many Apps, So Much Time,” July 1, 2014

2 Nielsen and Google, “Mobile Path to Purchase: Five Key Findings,” Nov. 2013

Author: Digital Fuel

Words by the Digital Fuel team members