You can call them push notifications or news or sales notifications. But today they have become an important part of the news and marketing environment. They pop up on your mobile screens through the day, informing you of news breaks or egging you to buy products.
Depending upon the operating system of your mobile phone, you see them as banners or as a pop-up alerts. Apple even has set up a Notification Centre that you can access by swiping down from top of the screen. When you do so, you get to see all the notifications arranged in a chronological order. In the case of Android devices, you get to see all the unread notifications on your locked screen.
You also have the option of switching off the push notifications or controlling what you want to see. There is little doubt that they offer you much more choice than SMS messages.
Advantages of push notifications
No wonder the popularity of push notifications is growing by leaps and bounds. More and more businesses are switching to push notifications as the best way to connect with potential and existing customers, readers or viewers. They bring the following advantages to the table:
# 1. Direct communication: Publishers can use notifications to communicate directly with users. They can use them to send news alerts, traffic reports, weather updates, sports scores or they can use them to communicate promotion and sales offers.
# 2. Legitimate messaging: They can’t be treated as spam because the notifications are sent to only those users who have downloaded the apps.
# 3. Ready access: Users get to see the notifications whenever they open their mobile phone.
# 4. Location based: They can be pushed to user screens when the mobile phone owner is in the vicinity of a shopping mall or trade centre, increasing the effectiveness of the notification.
# 5. Choice of display: Users can allow push notifications to appear on locked screens or limit the display in the app only. This way they are not swamped by scores of push notificaitons.
You have to thank Apple for coming up with the idea of notifications. It launched the Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) in June 2009. A year later Google launched the Google Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) service.
The next big development happened in May 2013, when Google came up with rich notifications. These notifications became an immediate rage because they had action buttons, and users could use these buttons to make phone calls, play songs etc. In September 2014, Apple too introduced interactive buttons.
How are push notifications created
Each app comes with a message composer. The publisher can use this interface to create a push notification or copy a notification that has been created using Microsoft Word.
The next step is to define the audience. The notification can be pushed to all users who have downloaded the app or it can go to well-defined groups. The choice rests with the app publisher.
The publisher also has the option of deciding the release time. The notification can be pushed soon after its creation or it can be scheduled for a later release.
Most app developers also provide for reporting user action. The publishers can log into these reports to learn the action taken by the app user. They can then use this learning to develop better push notifications.
How to use push notifications
It is important that publishers don’t swamp the users with push notifications. Because if they do so, the end result will only be one: either the users will switch off the notifications or delete the app itself.
The publishers need to use this tool sparingly. They must push out only those messages that add value. The notifications can be about news happenings that add to user’s general awareness; or they can be about sales offers that a user can cherish.
For push notifications to be effective, it is important that the publisher creates compelling messages. The notifications should not beat about the bush; they should use few words; and most important, they must carry a call to action.