You’ve poured your heart and soul into creating a fantastic app, but let’s face it: in today’s app-filled world, grabbing and holding user attention is an uphill battle. The solution? Crafting effective notifications. These little messages can be your secret weapon – a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. But with two main options – push notifications and in-app notifications –  deciding which one to use for maximum impact can be challenging. Not to worry! This article is here to demystify the world of push vs. in-app notifications. We’ll delve into their strengths, weaknesses, and ideal use cases, equipping you with real-world examples and best practices for push notifications. By the end, you’ll be a notification expert, crafting messages that resonate with your audience, boosting engagement, and driving real results for your app.

When to Use Push Notifications?

Push notifications are those little alerts that pop up on your phone’s lock screen or banner, even when the app itself isn’t open. They’re a great way to reach out to users who might be a little disengaged, reminding them of your app and enticing them to come back for more. Let’s explore the ideal use cases for push notifications:

For Quick Sales or Discounts.

Everyone loves a good deal. Push notifications are perfect for sending out flash sales, limited-time offers, and exclusive discounts. Imagine a scenario where a user has a cart full of items but hasn’t quite pulled the trigger yet. A well-timed push notification offering a 10% discount for the next hour could be just the nudge they need to complete their purchase.

For Updates Tailored to the Customer.

In today’s marketing world, personalization is key. Push notifications allow you to send updates and information that’s relevant to individual users. For example, a travel app could send a push notification to a user who has an upcoming trip, reminding them of their flight details or suggesting relevant activities at their destination.

To Remind the Customer about Their Cart.

We’ve all been there – you add a bunch of amazing stuff to your online shopping cart, get distracted, and completely forget about it. Push notifications are the perfect solution for this. A gentle reminder about a forgotten cart, complete with a link to take them straight to checkout, can significantly boost your conversion rates.

For Important News Delivered Directly.

Need to get critical information out to your users quickly? Push notifications are your go-to channel. Whether it’s an update about a service outage, a critical bug fix for your app, or an important announcement about your product, push notifications ensure your users are quickly informed and engaged.

For Fun Quizzes or Games to Engage the User.

Why not have a little fun? Push notifications can be used to send out interactive elements like quizzes, polls, or even simple games. Not only is this a great way to keep users engaged, but it can also provide valuable insights into their preferences and behavior.

When to Use Push Notifications?

Push Notifications Examples & Best Practices.

Now that we’ve explored the ideal situations for push notifications, let’s look at some real-world examples:

Example 1: A clothing store sends a push notification with the subject line “Flash Sale: 50% off all jeans for the next 2 hours!” accompanied by an image of a trendy pair of jeans.

Example 2: A food delivery app sends a push notification to a user who frequently orders sushi, reminding them of their favorite local sushi restaurant with a special offer.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when using push notifications:

  • Keep it clear and concise: People are busy. Your push notification message should be short, sweet, and to the point.
  • Personalize when possible: A little personalization goes a long way. Segment your audience and tailor your push notifications to their interests and preferences.
  • Use visuals strategically: A compelling image or GIF can grab attention and increase click-through rates.
  • Timing is everything: Don’t bombard users with notifications. Experiment with different times of day and days of the week to find what works best for your audience.
  • Less is more: Don’t overuse push notifications. Aim for quality over quantity. Users who are constantly bombarded with irrelevant notifications are likely to opt-out entirely.

When to Use In-App Notifications?

In-app notifications, on the other hand, are messages that appear within the app itself, usually when a user is actively using it. These notifications are ideal for providing contextual information and guidance specific to the user’s current activity within the app.

For Real-Time Alerts While Using the App.

Imagine you’re using a ride-hailing app, and your driver is approaching your location. An in-app notification letting you know the driver’s ETA and car details is a perfect example of how real-time alerts can enhance the user experience within the app.

For Personalized Tips or Guidance During App Navigation.

New users often need a helping hand to navigate the ins and outs of an app. In-app notifications can be used to provide personalized tips or tutorials based on the user’s actions. This could be anything from highlighting a cool new feature they haven’t discovered yet to offering step-by-step instructions on how to complete a specific task.

To Inform Users About New Features or Updates.

Have you just launched a new feature in your app? Don’t leave your users in the dark. In-app notifications are a great way to showcase new features and updates, piquing user interest and encouraging them to explore the latest additions.

For Immediate Feedback Requests or Surveys.

In-app notifications are a great tool for gathering user feedback. Imagine a user has just completed a specific action within the app. An in-app notification could politely ask them to rate their experience or answer a quick survey question. This real-time feedback can be invaluable for improving your app and user experience.

To Showcase Exclusive In-App Content or Events.

In-app notifications can be used to create a sense of exclusivity and excitement. For example, a music streaming app hosting a live Q&A session with a popular artist. An in-app notification could alert users about this exclusive event, driving engagement and fostering a sense of community.

When to Use In-App Notifications?

In-App Notifications Examples & Best Practices.

Now that we’ve explored the what and why of in-app notifications, let’s see them in action with some real-world examples.

Example 1: A fitness app displays an in-app notification after a user completes a workout, congratulating them on their achievement and offering personalized suggestions for their next workout.

Example 2: A social media app uses an in-app notification to inform a user that they’ve received a new message or friend request.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind when using in-app notifications:

  • Timing is everything: Don’t overwhelm users with in-app notifications while they’re trying to complete a task. Align your notifications with natural pauses in the user journey.
  • Keep it relevant: In-app notifications should be directly tied to the user’s current activity within the app. Don’t use them for generic marketing messages.
  • Offer value: Every in-app notification should provide some kind of value to the user. This could be new information, helpful guidance, or exclusive content.
  • Don’t be disruptive: In-app notifications should be subtle and non-intrusive. A small pop-up message or banner usually works best.
  • Provide an opt-out option: While in-app notifications can be valuable, give users the option to disable them if they find them distracting.

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Push Notifications vs In-App Notifications Comparison.

Now comes the million-dollar question of what to choose: push vs. in-app notifications? While both push notifications and in-app notifications have their strengths, the ideal choice depends on your specific goals and the user’s context. To help you visualize the key differences, we’ve created a handy infographic. 

Feature Push Notifications In-App Notifications
Delivery  Delivered to user’s device even when the app is not open Displayed within the app when the user is actively using it
User State Targets potentially disengaged users Targets actively engaged users
Purpose To bring users back into the app To guide users within the app
Timing More flexible timing, can be sent outside of app use Aligned with user actions or context within the app
Examples Flash sales, news updates, abandoned cart reminders Real-time alerts, personalized tips, new feature showcases
Benefits Reconnect with users, drive re-engagement, promote special offers Enhance user experience, provide contextual guidance, boost in-app actions

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Wrapping Up.

So, which notification reigns supreme: push vs. in-app notifications? The answer is… neither! They’re both incredibly valuable tools, and the true winner is a well-orchestrated strategy that effectively combines both.

Think of push notifications as a friendly reminder, gently nudging users back to your app. In-app notifications, on the other hand, are a guide, providing assistance and direction to users who are already actively engaged.

By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each notification type and by following the best practices for push and in-app notifications outlined above, you can create a dynamic notification duo that will skyrocket your user engagement. Here are some additional tips to consider for a truly winning notification strategy:

  • Measure and Analyze: Don’t just send notifications and hope for the best. Track key metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and opt-out rates to see what’s working and what’s not. Use this data to refine your approach and continuously improve your notification strategy.
  • Segmentation is Key: Not all users are created equal. Segment your audience based on demographics, interests, behavior, and app usage patterns. This allows you to send targeted notifications that are more relevant and engaging for each user group.
  • A/B Testing is Your Friend: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try out different notification formats, messaging, and timing to see what resonates best with your audience. A/B testing allows you to compare the performance of different notification variations and identify the clear winner.
  • Omnichannel Marketing: While notifications are a powerful tool, they shouldn’t exist in a silo. Integrate your notification strategy with other marketing channels like email and SMS. This creates a cohesive user experience and reinforces your messaging across different platforms.

By embracing the power of both and following the best practices for push and in-app notifications, you can transform your communication strategies from fleeting messages to powerful engagement tools. Remember, the goal is to create a win-win situation: provide users with valuable information and guidance, while simultaneously driving engagement and boosting conversions for your app. 

Why not both types of notifications

Ready to leverage the power of notifications? Beamer is your one-stop shop for creating, personalizing, and scheduling both push and in-app notifications. Sign up for your free trial today and discover how Beamer can help you boost your app’s success.

In this article you can read about how to setup and use push notifications. Also check out our “Ultimate Web Push Notifications Guide”