App Push Best Practices: Create inspiration – and not interruptions

Ever received a push notification that led you to delete an app?

What about a push notification that genuinely added value to your life, alerting you of an interesting update or information or providing an important reminder?

Many people – myself included – have had both of these experiences with push notifications. This article will break down how to send the second kind of notification, every time. Read on to learn what app push means for your business, types of push notifications and how to use them to drive users back to your app time and time again.

What are push notifications?

Push notifications are those messages that pop up on your homescreen – messages sent by applications to users when they are not engaging with the app. The goal, of course, is to facilitate engagement. A good app push campaign can retain app users, increase app engagement and boost in-app sales. 

There are several categories of push notifications, including: 

  • Retention push notifications, which re-engage low-activity users.
      • Examples include abandoned cart, special re-engagement promotions and risk-of-churn notifications.
  • Update push notifications, which highlight new or interesting in-app features to drive engagement.
      • Examples include notification of updates, style changes or new ways to engage for users to check out.
  • Transactional push notifications, which provide requests or reminders of the necessary transactional information.
      • Examples include payment confirmation, information update requirements and payment reminders.
  • Repeating push notifications, which are set to send out at a continuous frequency.
      • Examples include weekly reminders and news notifications.
  • Promotional push notifications, which simply upsell and reinforce brand identity.
    • Examples include notification of flash sales or live events. 

Best practices

The key to a good app push campaign is that each notification must be relevant, well-timed, personalised and leave recipients with a clear next step. Follow the advice below to send users continuously into your app.

Prompt users to enable push notifications

Prompt users to enable push notifications at the right time and with the right message. Invite them to enable push notifications when they first download the app. Explain what they will get out of push notifications, and what they can expect from them – and keep those promises. Data is key to make sure you send a relevant message and catch users at the right moment.

Timing and frequency

It is important to get both the timing and frequency of your push notifications correct – otherwise, you may overburden users until they turn off push all together. Be sure to use relevant timing: nothing more annoying than receiving a reminder to complete an in-app lesson at 23:00 on a Saturday, or to log breakfast at dinnertime. 

Generally speaking, send timing on push notifications can either be immediate, time based or data-based. 

  • Immediate: All targeted users will receive this notification immediately upon send-out, no matter where they are in the world. This would be useful for time-sensitive information, such as a flash sale or ongoing live streamed event. 
  • Time-zone based: These are set to send out at the same time across time-zones – so all targeted users will, for example, receive a happy-hour notification from a restaurant app when the clock strikes 17:00 in their location. 
  • Data-based: These are sent out automatically at the right time for the user in question, based on the data you have about their usage habits.


Your push notifications should be attention grabbing – the goal is to make people drop what they are doing and engage with your app (or to remind them to do so later). Use colloquial language and emojis, or even rich media such as video or images, to draw them into your app.


This is key! A/B test, segment your audience, test and segment again. Collect data and use it to improve your messaging and your timing.