How to Design a User-Centric Push Notifications Strategy

Jul 23, 2020 11:11:26 AM | How to Design a User-Centric Push Notifications Strategy

Instead of tailoring notifications to provide unique user value, brands often send irrelevant, generalized notifications. This article discusses the importance of user-centric push notifications in a


When users download an app for the first time, they receive several prompts to accept multiple permissions. The types of requests a user receives will vary depending on the nature of the app. Still, arguably the most crucial agreement a user can accept is to opt-in to mobile app push notifications. Successful products implement user-centric push notifications to shape the customer journey by being thoughtful and strategic in reaching out to users. Push notifications create meaningful interactions that brands can use to increase mobile app engagement and retention.   


Customer engagement company Airship recently revealed that in March 2020, direct open rates for mobile app push notifications reached their absolute highest in more than four years, with an overall increase of 22 percent. As we adapt to our new normal, the pandemic has made mobile customer engagement absolutely critical for every business as customers seek in-the-moment information.


However, not all brands leverage push notifications to their advantage. Instead of tailoring notifications to provide unique user value, brands will often send generalized notifications that can be irrelevant and unnecessary. Over time, receiving unimportant notifications can become an annoyance and can ultimately result in either a user opting out of push notifications or deleting the app altogether. 


This article will discuss the importance of user-centric push notifications in a brand’s mobile app development strategy and outline several best practices for creating an effective push notification experience.


Why are User-Centric Push Notifications Important?

While user acquisition is an important metric to gauge mobile growth, user engagement and retention are more crucial to your long-term success. Maximizing engagement rates helps convert one-time users into long-term customers, which, in turn, helps increase the average lifetime value of your mobile app. With reports suggesting that 25 percent of users abandon apps after only one interaction, brands need to identify strategic opportunities to communicate directly with users. 


You are designing notifications that are useful and relevant present the opportunity to demonstrate the value of your product and re-engage users who have dropped out of the conversion funnel. 

Best Practices for Designing User-Centric Push Notifications

Purposeful push notifications are the building blocks of any great mobile marketing strategy, but creating the perfect notification isn’t as simple as it may seem. Here are five best practices to keep in mind when designing user-centric push notifications.


Utilize Dynamic Content

Dynamic content is interchangeable message content using known user information and behavior data. This information can be from a user’s profile or data from app-use patterns. An excellent example of an app that successfully uses dynamic content to create user-centric push notifications is the Netflix App. Based on user streaming habits, Netflix sends push notifications to let users know when new seasons of their favorite shows are available. Dynamic push notifications often include the user’s name for added personalization. According to Localytics, brands that use dynamic content in their push notifications have seen an open rate of 8.8 percent compared to messages without dynamic content, which have an open rate of 3.1 percent.  


Utilize Location-Data

Some apps leverage device capabilities such as location, to target specific users with tailored messages for real-time updates and links to personalized content. A prime example of location-based marketing is any mobile app that uses geofencing for targeting users. Geofencing provides the user with highly relevant content that serves a specific purpose. Localytics even reports that location-based notifications converted nearly three times as frequently as regular push notifications weekly.


Implement User Segmentation 

Not every notification you plan to send will be relevant to every single user. Segmenting your audience gives you the ability to ensure the information they receive is valuable to them. You can group users based interests, behaviors, location, and user involvement (a beginner or a power user, for example). Welcome notifications are great for someone who has just downloaded an app but isn’t relevant to someone who is a regular user.


Timing Matters

No matter how important your message is, if push notifications don’t reach users at the right time, the effectiveness of that message significantly drops. For example, notifications regarding upcoming appointments or tasks on a to-do list may receive higher engagement at the start of the day. They are more relevant than a notification regarding a software update. 


It is essential to gather data on user behavior and use those analytics to identify when your users are likely to act on your notifications. For example, track responses based on time, and trigger notifications around that time. If a customer shows higher engagement with a message in the mornings, hold off notifications until just the right moment at the local morning time.


Test, Test, and Test Again

A/B testing is a crucial component of your user-centric push notification strategy. It is important to continually develop ideas about what type of content will improve your push notifications. Experiment with wording, length, and timing, as well as segmentation and frequency of notifications. 


Here are some key questions you should answer throughout your testing to track the effectiveness of your notifications. 


  • Does the wording, format, and frequency of notifications result in the completion of a goal?
  • Did the notification result in users re-engaging with the app? 
  • How much time elapsed between the sending of the notification, and the user’s interaction with the app?
  • How much time is spent between the user interacting with the notification and the user leaving the app?


Final Thoughts

It’s essential to remember that every aspect of your app needs to add value to your user, including notifications. While tolerance for notifications, their content, and frequency may vary, following the practices listed above, you ensure you are doing everything possible to provide your users with the most value. The importance of user-centric push notifications lies in the ability to provide users with a more personalized experience that gives users a reason to engage with your app, ultimately increasing the average lifetime value of your app and generating more revenue.

Lohit Sharma

Written By: Lohit Sharma