Push Notifications: The Future, or Their End

For many smartphone users, nothing beats the feeling of powering up to find voicemails, text messages, and missed calls from friends and family sending their…

For many smartphone users, nothing beats the feeling of powering up to find voicemails, text messages, and missed calls from friends and family sending their love or sharing some exciting news. Even better, at times, are notifications from social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where friends share thoughts on photos and posts.

Push notifications come in three varieties: sound, on-screen alert, or badge, and they allow users to launch applications from their locked screens. Ideally, they’re a great way for app developers to stay in touch with users of the apps and help keep the app in the mind of users, encouraging them to launch it. To simplify the integration, Apple released the Apple Push Notification Service (APNs). The APNs is a service that allows devices to be constantly connected to Apple's push notification server.

However, the one thing that often steals away the excitement is the realization that some notifications are, in fact, useless information developers include to draw users into an app. The ease of installation has led to the abuse of the service on the developer end — particularly as we become more dependent upon more apps. With nearly unlimited flexibility in terms of what can spark notifications — news, events, alerts, contests, offers, updates, and on and on — the mere download of an app can spark an endless flow of information that doesn’t actually improve the users experience.

What users are calling for, in return, is a set of standards for all notifications. Below, you’ll find an introductory look at a purpose-driven future for push notifications.

Establish Controls

Create a control panel that would enable users to customize the time to receive the notifications. This is will allow apps to avoid interrupting the user when they are engaged in other activities, removing that unwelcome guest at the dinner table.

Respect User Preferences

Giving the users freedom to control how they interact with the app is a brilliant idea. The more a user can customize their interaction, the more excited they are likely to be when using the app. For instance, a news app can have the user pick what kind of news to receive, whether political, business, or breaking news, and even the frequency of notifications.

Focus on Relevance

The messages should be relevant to an app’s user first, and then address the sales targets of the creators. For instance, what the user has purchased already, what they have downloaded, and what they have shared. Push notifications should also be driven and triggered by the information already known about the user. Using location information, as well as CRM (customer relationship management) data, can also help put the message in context. Such location-based information can also improve the users current situation for instance, like pushing daily specials and coupons.

Maintain Brand Standards

Communication channeled through push notifications should be based on the same style the brand uses online and on emails. It is also vital that that the notifications push users to relevant content such as videos directly related to the text in the notification.

Use Developer Data

App creators should keep track of their push notification so, over time, they can tell which notifications resonate best with users and which do not. Many developers have this data, but many don’t use it. They should, because it can be beneficial in improving future notifications.

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