Push Notifications Explained
What are push notifications?
A push notification is a message that pops up on a mobile device. App publishers can send them at any time; users don’t have to be in the app or using their devices to receive them. They can do a lot of things; for example, they can show the latest sports scores, get a user to take an action, such as downloading a coupon, or let a user know about an event, such as a flash sale.
Push notifications look like SMS text messages and mobile alerts, but they only reach users who have installed your app. Each mobile platform has support for push notifications — iOS, Android, Fire OS, Windows and BlackBerry all have their own services.
Why are they used?
Push notifications provide convenience and value to app users. For example, users can receive:
- Sports scores and news right on their lock screen
- Utility messages like traffic, weather and ski snow reports
- Flight check in, change, and connection information
For app publishers, push notifications are a way to speak directly to a user. They don’t get caught in spam filters, or forgotten in an inbox — click-through rates can be twice as high as email. They can also remind users to use an app, whether the app is open or not. They can also be used to drive actions, such as:
- Promoting products or offers to increase sales
- Improving customer experience
- Converting unknown app users to known customers
- Sending transactional receipts right away
- Driving users to other marketing channels, such as social networks
June 2009: Apple launches Apple Push Notification Service (APNs), the first push service.
May 2010: Google released its own service, Google Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM).
May 2013: Google introduces “rich notifications”. Rich notifications can contain images, as well as action buttons. Action buttons let users take immediate action from a notification. For example, the user can play a song, open the app, or see more information.
September 2014: Apple added interactive buttons. These buttons allow users to send a response right away to the app publisher. Shortly after, Apple extended push notifications to the Apple Watch.