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Push Notifications 101: a booming performance channel

Published: September, 2023
Last updated: : September, 2023
You've likely received a pop-up notification on your electronic device even when you weren't actively using an app or browsing a website. These are push notifications – a handy tool for staying up to date with your favorite apps, websites, and brands. Push notification ads – on the other hand, are a great tool for advertisers to keep their customers informed about their updates, important events, and special discounts. With an open rate that is 50% higher than that of emails, this communication channel is strengthening its position in the omnichannel marketing mix. 

“New YouTube video recommendation, an upcoming sale at your local drug store, or alert about updates in your smartphone’s operating system – this all can be push notifications”

In this article, we'll explore what are push notifications, how they work, and how businesses leverage push ads to engage with audiences and grow their performance.

What is a Push Notification?

Push notification is a short pop-up message on a computer or mobile screen. Such alerts have a native-like appearance and are sent to users to inform them about services, promotions, news, and updates. While push notifications have been around for almost two decades, push ads started gaining momentum only a couple of years ago, and their popularity continues to snowball.“Push notification is a short pop-up message that appears on a computer or mobile screen”
Typically, push ads consist of all the components mentioned above. They can also include logos, emojis (improve reaction rates by up to 20%), and other elements. However, we have to remember that push notifications look different across different operating systems, such as Google Android and Apple OS. For instance, on mobile devices, push ads are usually displayed as text messages that need to be expanded for the image to show. So, when composing a push ad, keep all these nuances in mind!Since push ads typically have a limited number of symbols, they require more creativity to fit all the important information into them. A rule of thumb for push notifications: keep the description simple and straight to the point, and make the visuals (when used) catchy and easy to understand. This is not a communication channel that benefits from ambiguity and subtle undertones. Push notification advertising is a consent-based model where publishers and app owners ask users for permission before sending push notifications. This is done through a system-generated pop-up message that asks users if they want to allow or block notifications. For mobile apps, the permission prompt typically appears when opening the app for the first time, and for web push notifications, it appears when visiting a website that supports them. It's imperative to obtain user consent and comply with regulations like GDPR, and users should have a clear understanding of what they are consenting to when opting in to receive push notifications. 

Push Notifications: Types and Variations

There are two main ways of receiving push notifications: in-app and web. In-app push notifications are messages within a mobile app. They are similar to regular push notifications, but instead of appearing on the device's lock screen or notification tray, they are displayed within the app itself. Such push notifications deliver relevant, timely messages while users interact with the app. ➡️ For example, an e-commerce app could use in-app push notifications to alert users to a sale or recommend products based on their browsing history.Web push notifications are messages that appear on a user's desktop or mobile device, delivered through their web browser. Web push notifications are similar to mobile push notifications but don't require an app installed on the user's device. Instead, they are sent to users who have opted in to receive notifications from a website. These push notifications are great for engaging website visitors and bringing them back. ➡️ For example, websites might use web push notifications to alert subscribers to breaking news or promote upcoming articles.Now, based on the end goal, push ads can be: 
  • Promotional: These notifications advertise sales, discounts, or new products. E-commerce and retail apps use them to drive traffic.
  • Transactional: These notifications are triggered by specific actions by the user, like confirming a purchase or updating shipping info. Users get important information about their transactions from them.
  • Reminder: These notifications let users know when an event, deadline, or appointment is coming up. For example, a fitness app might remind users to log their day's workout.
  • News and information: These notifications provide breaking news or updates on significant events. Apps like news, weather, and social media use this type of push notification.
  • Location-based: These notifications pop up when someone enters a specific place. They can give users relevant information or promotions based on their location.
  • Re-engagement: These notifications are used to bring back users who haven't logged in for a while. An app that delivers food might send a notification with a discount for users who haven't ordered in a while.
  • Personalized: These notifications are customized to user interests, preferences, or behavior. They can be used to provide recommendations, updates, and reminders for a specific user.
These are just a couple of examples. But really, the possibilities for push ads are only limited by your imagination and the platform's rules. 

Benefits vs. Commonly Mentioned Obstacles

There is a lot of data arguing in favor of push ads. They are 100% viewable, their open rate is 50% higher than emails, and their CTR is higher than banner ads. Overall, push notification ads look native, have a high opening, engagement, and conversion rate, and are relatively cheap compared to other marketing channels. Sure, there are some limitations to this ad format, but with proper setting and targeting, they become challenges rather than disadvantages. 


📈 High viewability & engagement: Push notifications are attention-grabbing and can generate higher click-through rates than other forms of advertising. Even if users do not interact with the push ad and swipe it away, they still look at it. Bonus: push ads are immune to ad blockers & ad blindness. ⏱️ Real-time delivery: Push notifications are delivered instantly, making them effective for time-sensitive promotions. And 40% of people are said to interact with the app within an hour of getting a notification. 🧔 Personalization: Push ads can be personalized based on user behavior, increasing conversions and engagement. Plus, push notification subscribers are always real people (no bot traffic) who have consented to receive these messages at some point in their online journey. ⏪ Increased retention: Push ads keep users engaged with an app or website, increasing the chances of them returning again and again.💰 Low cost: Compared to many other marketing channels, push notification ads are one of the most cost-effective in terms of value. For example, Nashpush offers starter packages at just $9 and $3 per every 1000 subscribers. Which is an absolute bargain, given the outcome of push ads.

Commonly Mentioned Obstacles:

Distracting: Push notifications can be annoying if they're too frequent or not relevant. On the one hand, users can indeed get bombarded with countless reminders, lighting up their phones or popping up on their desktops; on the other, users have voluntarily subscribed to these push notifications and are free to change their notification settings at any time. So, with proper timing and frequency capping, push notifications won't be considered annoying or distracting.Opt-in required: Push notifications are only available to opt-in users, which limits the potential audience. True; however, push notifications can be perfectly targeted to work with the audience they have available.Limited message length: Push notifications have a limited message length, so you can't convey complex messages. True, but push ads are not a channel to convey complex messages in general.Platform restrictions: Push notifications are limited on some platforms, for example, iOS, which could restrict their effectiveness. Well, this brings us back to the 'opt-in required' point – push ads work great with available audiences. 

3 Practical Tips: 

  1. Best push notification send-out day – Tuesday. Once people have eased into the new working week and are ready to digest new information. Don't forget to consider the time zone... sending a push notification at 2 am probably isn't the best idea. 
  2. Do not abuse the frequency. Research found that users receiving more than two push notifications daily from a particular app were more likely to uninstall it.
  3. Always do A/B testing, as it has been shown to increase CTR by almost 10%!

Key Takeaways

To summarize, 'what is push advertising?': this is a growing marketing channel that is becoming more and more popular each year. Currently, it has a lot of advantages and plenty of data to prove its performance. If you are thinking of ways to strengthen your brand’s presence among users, this is a no-brainer. And it makes sense to do it now before the competition becomes too fierce. One thing you should consider, however, is your technological partner. Nashpush is a fast & user-friendly interface for push notifications with a proven reputation, so if you have any questions or want to start a push ad campaign, you know what to do.