Last modified November 22, 2014 by Gordon Glauser

Push Notification Best Practices

This article provides suggestions about how to optimize your push notifications. It covers best practices for the following:

  • General design guidelines.
  • Targeting users.
  • Using sounds.
  • Selecting campaign goals to track and report on.
  • A/B testing your push notifications.

General Guidelines

The following are general guidelines for designing push notifications:

  • Plan the timing of your request permission wisely; it is well known that in order to improve the acceptance of a push notification permission request, it’s best asked when the user is feeling good about your app. This is less likely to be immediately upon opening it for the first time.
  • Avoid over-exposing users to too many push notifications within a short timeframe.
  • Segment and target specific users as effectively as possible.
  • Use one clear call to action per push notification; avoid using a single push notification to encourage the user to perform multiple actions.

Push Notification Targeting

The following are general guidelines for targeting push notifications:

  • Be conservative when considering the percentage of overall users to reach. Avoid over-messaging users, especially new users of your product.
  • Take advantage of the segmentation options that Swrve offers:
    • Target specific push notifications at high payers, but target those high payers much less frequently than non-payers.
    • Target sales or promotions at non-payers; for example, promote an 80%-off sale to non-payers to motivate them to make their first purchase.
    • Target users who are at a particular level to encourage them to cross to the next level; for example, if you know that retention is higher if users get past that particular level.

Using Sounds

The following are general guidelines for configuring sounds for your push notifications:

  • If you want your messages to be as non-intrusive as possible, configure your push notification so that no sound is played. When the user is free to engage with their phone, they will find the alert and may be more likely to launch your app from the alert.
  • If you want to attract the attention of the user by means of a standard sound, use the default sound of their device (as configured by the user).
  • If you want to clearly identify your app, play a custom sound. The BBC News alerts do this to great effect, using their clearly recognizable news jingle. If your app has a distinguishable soundtrack, then a snippet of this may be suitable as an alert sound.

For more information about configuring sounds for push notifications, see Intro to Push Notifications.


Campaign Goals

This section details general guidelines for selecting custom campaign goals to measure and report on for your push notifications. The table below outlines example goals you can select to measure downstream engagement or purchase events.

Message Summary Primary Goal Secondary Goal
Purchase of in-app currency. Purchasing in-app currency. Spending in-app currency.
Promoting a new feature, for example, saving content to favorites. Saving content as a favorite. Accessing content in favorites.
Promoting a time bound event. User attended event. Anything related to the event.
Tip for helping users complete registration. User followed tip. User completed registration.
Encouraging users to register with their social media details. User completed registration. User shared status on social media.

A/B Testing of Push Notifications

The following are general guidelines for A/B testing your push notifications:

  • The push notification wizard enables you to include up to 10 variations of your push notification content for A/B testing purposes. In order to be confident of the conversion rates of each variant, you need to be sure each variant is exposed to as many users as possible. Therefore, if you plan to run a test with a large number of variants, ensure you are targeting a large audience.
  • Swrve recommends each variant tests a specific aspect of the push notification; for example, changing the notification text or trying no sound versus sound. If your app is configured with deeplinks, you can also test key/value payloads; for example, directing users that accept the push notification to a new feature or the app store. For more information, see Creating Push Notifications.

Next Steps