5 Ways Push Notifications Can Flop

Let’s say you’ve taken the leap and integrated push notifications into your app to help overcome churn. You’re excited and hopeful to keep your users engaged, but people aren’t clicking on your pushes! What gives?

Push notifications need to be done right to get the intended effect, but a lot of apps out there still go about them the wrong way. Here are five reasons why push notifications can fail, and how to avoid these common mistakes.


1. The Timing Is Bad
How would you like to be awoken at 3AM by a push notification letting you now that you can save 15% on your favorite products if you enter a promotional code? Would you be cheerful and happy for the opportunity to save, or would you be something other than happy to be woken up in the middle of the night?

Push notifications give you the ability to reach your users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That requires establishing and maintaining trust, and also meeting your users wherever they are. Just because it’s 10AM where you live doesn’t mean your users will get your notification at 10AM their time. Push notifications succeed not just because of their content but also because of their context, working when the notification itself is good and when the notification reaches the user at a time when they can pay attention. Put a little thought into engagement scenarios before putting out a notification and you’ll go a long way towards making your notifications land at the right place and time.


2. User Information Was Misused

Facebook and other social apps have been rolling out ‘memories’ features, highlighting impactful moments from the user’s timelines across the years. This can be a nice thing if the memories are good, but sometimes they aren’t – remember that photo of your house on fire that got a hundred reactions? How about when you posted to let the world know that your partner had passed, and that you needed space to grieve? Those memories aren’t the sort of thing most users want to have pushed to their phone without warning. Again, context is required, along with actively maintaining trust. Your users are entrusting you with their information, and they need to see that you are using it in a way that is not only relevant to them but that shows that you care.


3. The Message Was Careless In General

Would you be likely to click on a push notification that said “Read OuR Analysis of Premsident Trunp’s Latest STAteMEtn”? How about getting two notifications in a row saying “The Eagles have won the Super Bowl!! Read our breakdown” then “Correction: The Eagles have not won the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl will not happen for months and we regret the error”.

It’s simple, but it bears emphasis: make sure your push notifications are free from basic errors and spelling problems, or the only people who engage will be people who are curious if someone got fired.


4. The Pushes Are Repetitive

Maybe the user didn’t see the notification the first time. It happens! But if you’re going to send the exact same notification over and over again, people are guaranteed to get irritated and bored. Be sure to vary your pushes to deliver new and useful content each and every time – you want to make sure that your users expect something interesting whenever they hear a notification from your app.


5. The Pushes are Too Frequent

It can be nice to send someone flowers – it can be obnoxious to send someone flowers almost constantly, interrupting them every five minutes to give them yet another flower that they can’t hold on to because their house is already completely full of flowers.

Treat push notifications the same way. The best push notifications are those that contain new and relevant information at the right time, notifications that leave the user in a frame of mind to welcome the next one. Make sure to space them out, treating your end-user’s attention and time with the respect it deserves, and you’ll build lasting relationships that will deliver the best value you can find.