What Is a Push Notification? (+8 real-life examples)

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    Home / UX / What Is a Push Notification? (+8 real-life examples)

    Do you also forget a lot? Not like turning off the stove or locking the door when leaving the house, but viewing back the amazing websites you've found. 

    Sometimes I leave my e-mail address so that they could send newsletters, etc. But then again they get lost in the inbox or I feel lazy to read long emails... 

    Luckily, marketers realized that there were a lot of people like me and they came up with a new strategy: Push Notifications! 

    And I gathered information about this new marketing strategy for you. 

    Without wasting much time, let's get started! 🏃‍♀️

    What Is a Push Notification? 

    Push notification is a message directly sent to customers/users' devices by a company/app through notification/cloud messaging services. To receive a push message, recipients don't have to be active on the app/website of the company. They act as a direct communication channel between companies and their customers. You can keep your customers posted about the status of their order(s), convey information about your new features, or offer special deals. 

    Its structure is very similar to an ad copy: it has a catchy title, a message body, and a call to action button (CTA).

    And pictures! Cliche but true: A picture is worth a thousand words. 

    Notifications with photos, gifs, and emojis, a.k.a rich notifications, get 60% higher CTR than those without visuals. 


    Push Notification Types 

    Push notifications can be classified as follows 👇

    • Web Push Notifications 

    Web notifications are sent through web browsers. If a user accepts to get notifications from your website, the notification appears on their home screen.

    They work on both mobiles and computers. 

    The main purpose of this type of push notification is to increase conversion rates by engaging with potential customers and reminding your company. 

    web notification example
    • Desktop Push Notifications 

    These notifications are messages from applications you've already installed on your desktop. 

    The main aim here is to keep customer engagement. 

    desktop notification example
    • Mobile Application Push Notification 

    Mobile notifications are like desktop notifications, they are sent by the apps you've downloaded - but this time on your mobile device, not desktop, of course

    The aim of mobile push notifications varies depending on the application. They can inform you about breaking news and real-time updates on sports scores, offer a special discount, or make a restaurant recommendation based on your location.

    P.S. Wearable technologies such as smart watches can receive push notifications once they're synchronized with mobile phones. 

    History of Push Notifications 

    Although push notifications are the new marketing stars, they're quite new in our lives. 

    We met them in June 2009, when Apple launched Apple Push Notification Service (APNs)

    Almost a year later, in May 2010, they became a part of the lives of Android users: Google launched Google Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM). Then, Blackberry and Microsoft Windows Phone 7 added support for push notifications. 

    Until 2013, only installed apps could send push messages to users. Yet, in 2013, with the release of Mac OS X 10.9 (“Mavericks”), Apple added support for website notifications too. 

    Two years later, in 2015, Chrome launched support for website notifications

    In the following years, both operating systems (Android and IOS) focused on improving the usability and security of their notification systems. 

    Nowadays, companies can send more personalized messages by creating customer segments, and users can opt when to get what kind of notifications

    Why should you use push notifications?

    Push messages do not get lost in inboxes or spam folders, they directly reach your users/customers.

    Also, you can use them to;

    #1: Increase the productivity of your marketing campaigns 

    Surveys show that push campaigns and notifications have higher click-through rates than emails.

    While the average open rate for an email is 20% with 6% CTR, when it comes to app push notifications, the open rates increase up to 30% with 13% CTR. 

    Also, if you personalize your notifications by user segmentation and send time-bound notifications (notifications that are sent automatically at a certain time), you can improve your reaction rates by up to 40%.

    #2: Increase the engagement rates of your app/website 

    We install many apps but forget to use them. 

    We visit many websites and actually like them but then forget to visit again. 

    Studies on the relation between mobile app push notifications and news consumption show that people tend to visit news apps more when they get news updates via notification channels.

    Also, e-commerce websites increase their engagement rates by creating a sense of urgency - a.k.a FOMO with their notifications and drive traffic. 

    #3: Increase conversion rates on abandoned carts 

    A high percentage of users tend to add products to their baskets and leave them there. We all do that, the boss calls, the bell rings, the dog needs to go out... 

    Something important comes up, and we abandon carts. But it doesn't mean we don't want/need them anymore, right? 

    According to case studies, you can recover 8% of abandoned carts with reminders! 

    Push Notifications vs. SMS - what to use, when?

    Companies have different needs, so they employ different marketing strategies. 

    But when it comes to marketing channels, they don't have much choice. They can communicate with users through e-mail, SMS text messages, or push notifications. 

    Well, they can always give a call too, but it's not the most popular method nowadays. 

    We said e-mails have low open rates when it comes to marketing, so it means we are alone with SMS and push services. 

    Here are the advantages & disadvantages of SMS and push services 👇 


    People check and read their SMS messages regularly. 

    Statistics show that SMS messages have a 98% open rate! And 90% of them are read within seconds. 

    Push notifications are deleted easily. Though most of the time, you can still check them within apps or notification centers, people tend to swipe them without reading attentively. 

    SMS gives more flexibility. 

    You can use 160 characters in a single SMS text - most modern phones and networks support longer texts by segmentation. 

    But push messages must be short and catchy, by their nature. 

    So you should prefer SMS if you want to give many links and additional information. 

    It can be costly 💸💸

    The pricing for SMS campaigns is generally based on the number of SMS messages sent. So the marketing cost rises constantly, as new customers are added to the receiver list. 

    SMS opt-in process is more detailed therefore, exhaustive 

    In order to send SMS messages, you need to get your users' phone numbers and their consent to being contacted electronically. 

    People give their e-mails or opt-in notification services more easily than their mobile phone numbers. 

    Push Notifications 

    They are faster and more practical. 

    Push notifications forward you directly to the mentioned page. You see a short message on your notification panel, click on it, and then ta-da, you have arrived at your destination. 

    But when the message comes as an SMS text, most of the time, you don't even see the whole message on the notification panel. First, you go to your SMS app, read the message, find the link, and then go to the website 🥱 

    Push services are compatible with other technologies 

    You can integrate your notification services with GPS technologies and send more customized messages to your users. 

    User segmentation is good, but not enough. 

    Think you were a car rental agency and you have different branch offices across the country. Wouldn't it be beautiful to provide recommendations on places to visit according to their location? Or maybe your closest office where they can deliver the car? 

    Internet connection is a must 

    Push notifications cannot be delivered without an internet connection.

    So if it's an urgent or important message, sending it as a notification might be risky. 

    If not sent carefully, they can be annoying and invasive 

    No one wants to be spammed by threads of notifications. 

    The number of push messages sent and the timing of these messages should be well adjusted. Otherwise, users will opt out, and your efforts will be in vain. 

    In short,

    Use SMS if you want to

    Use push notifications if you want to 

    👉Convey long text messages and additional information

    👉Make sure your message will be delivered and seen in time 

    👉 Send important messages such as confirmation messages for bookings, etc.

    👉Send special offers 

    👉 Remind your app/website and drive fast traffic 

    👉 Inform about new features on your website/app and recommend content 

    8 Examples of Great - and Awful - Push Notifications

    Push notifications work well, but only when they're used well too.

    Here are the 5 great examples of push notifications 💯

    1. Amazon 

    I don't think there are many people that a little creativity can't make smile - especially these days when we're spammed with duplicate ad messages and emails.

    When Amazon realizes this situation, it customizes its notifications according to products.

    push-notifcation example Amazon

    2. QuizUp

    Everybody likes a little joke, especially if it's cleverly constructed.

    We talked about reminder notifications that are sent when a user doesn't log into their account for a long time or leaves their cart abandoned.

    QuizUp has found a fun way to remind itself. 

    push-notifcation example Quizup

    3. Ikonick 

    Ikonick sells canvas and art prints ready to hang your walls. And they use push messages to inform their customers about special discounts. 

    Also, in order to increase engagement rates of their website, they offer discount coupons as CTA buttons. 

    push-notifcation example Ikonick

    4. Myntra 

    Myntra is an Indan fashion e-commerce company. They sell various products from clothing and accessories to lifestyle products. 

    While sending push notifications, they show sincerity and bond with their users.

    You cannot win your users' trust and commitment if you send ordinary ad notifications. You need to show that you care and think about your users in your tone. 

    push-notifcation example Myntra

    5. Simon Circles 

    Push notifications do not have to be purchase reminders and special offers. 

    They can be for fun too. 

    Sometimes the app that resonates best with users and makes them feel close wins. 

    push-notifcation example simon circles

    But life is not only full of fun, beauty, and perfection. Neither push notifications...  

    But we can learn from others' mistakes and not make the same ones ;)

    Here are the 3 awful examples of push notifications 😢

    1. NY Times 

    Push messages increase the daily visit rates of your app and in some cases, people learn from these notifications too. 

    But not everything is worth being notified about instantly, right NY Times?

    push-notifcation example ny times

    2. Poshmark

    Poshmark is a social commerce marketplace where you can sell and buy new/second-hand clothes, shoes, and home decor. 

    As one of the main motivations of users to be fashionable, Poshmark wants to use it for their own benefits. 

    But they pushed too much... 

    push-notifcation example poshmark

    3. Guardian 

    Timing is crucial, especially if you want your users/customers to stay with you. 

    Time-bound notifications help you send messages at the right time, The Guardian learned it the hard way.

    push-notifcation example guardian


    Push notifications help companies communicate directly with customers, even when they're not active on the company website. 

    Also, if they're used efficiently with the right user segmentation and personalization, they can increase your CTR and conversion rates.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the difference between push and SMS notifications?

    SMS messages can include several links and long explanatory texts up to 160 characters. But push notifications are short and catchy texts. Also, while internet access is not necessary for an SMS message to be delivered, it is a must for push notifications.

    Should I allow push notifications?

    Push notifications inform you about updates, new content, special offers, or your order’s status. If you want to be reminded about your abandoned carts, new features of an app, or a task you forgot to complete on a website, then yes, you should.  Also, you can customize your notification settings and choose the specific types of notifications you want to get. Or, you can set limits for the number of notifications you get daily. Don’t worry, opting-out is just easy as opting-in.

    Where do push notifications come from?

    Companies send push notifications through operating systems’ push notification services. Each operating system (IOS, Android, Windows, Fire OS, BlackBerry) has its own notification service. As registration with OS and data processing might be complex, some companies prefer to hire vendors.

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