[Apps] How to decide what notifications to push from your apps to consumers

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The promise of instant engagement from consumers certainly makes notifications from our apps attractive.

Chances are we – the marketers – have spent hours upon hours and likely dollars upon dollars to get the app developed. We must show a return now.

With many apps being opened once and then forgotten notifications can help us stay top of mind.


But finding the right mix, frequency and usage of notifications can be a challenge.

Notifications work best when they are highly relevant and come at the right time.

Related podcast: Should we even develop an app?

Two examples come to mind:

The Capital 1 app

I’ve tried several credit card apps in the last year and the Capital 1 app stands out.

While many credit card apps are similar, this one stood out to me because of its highly relevant and timely notifications.

Every time a charge was initiated to my Spark credit card I got an instant notification.

Hand my card to a waitress at a restaurant, she swipes it out of sight, there’s the notification with dollar amount.

A plane ticket cost was started – which often has a delay from when you book online – there’s the notification.

You get the point. Super helpful.


Delta Airline app

Delta’s app sends a notification that tells me when a flight is boarding. As far as I can tell that triggers only when the gate agents actually start the boarding process.

Given that I like to spend the shortest amount of time possible at the actual departure gate this is awesome.

Make sure you have sounds/vibrations turned on for Delta app notifications.


Other apps

I also use notifications for specific Twitter accounts to get my news fix. But there are many so I don’t always pay attention to them.


Publication apps

The three publications I work with at Stamats Business Media all have apps and they send one notification a month currently when the digital edition – a replica of print basically – is available.


Guidance on app notifications

Similarly to text messages from brands, app notifications seem most relevant when they help us do something and are send at the right time.

Sometimes that’s news or other informational content but it appears that the most relevant app notifications have little to do with content marketing and more with customer service.

Knowing that somebody claimed money from me is helpful.

Knowing that my flight is ready to go is too.

That’s customer-focused and I only need those notifications at certain times:

  • When I’m traveling
  • When I’m spending money OR to be alerted that somebody is scamming me

Most other news and content marketing content is on a more casual basis – for lack of a better term. I have time to catch up on news or industry news I’ll go to Twitter. I won’t interrupt my drink ? at an airline club for it. But I would leave it behind when my flight is boarding.


So if you have decided to create that app and are now thinking about the ongoing campaigns – just like website launches it’s just the beginning – find the balance to overdoing it to drive the needed results and what consumers actually need.

But, well-timed and useful notifications are great. And of course the numbers will tell you what’s what. If people keep clicking the notifications – if that’s the intended and logical next step – keep doing them.

I say intended because the intent of the Capital One app notification isn’t necessarily any consumer action but mostly informational. The consumer only will likely act when it’s a frivolous charge. I know some executives don’t like it but not everything is measurable.

Let’s keep innovating with these newish things in technology and make them as useful to the consumer as possible.