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Push notifications are messages that appears on a mobile device. App owners can send them at any time; users don’t have to be in the app or using their devices to receive them. They can do a lot of things; for example, they can show the latest sports scores, get a user to take an action, such as downloading a coupon, or let a user know about an event, such as a flash sale.

Push notifications look like SMS text messages and mobile alerts, but they only reach users who have installed your app. Each mobile platform has support for them — iOS, Android, Fire OS, Windows and BlackBerry all have their own services.

Why are they used?

For app publishers,they are a way to speak directly to a user. They don’t get caught in spam filters, or forgotten in an inbox — click-through rates can be twice as high as email. They can also remind users to use an app, whether the app is open or not.

Push notifications can be targeted to segments of your user base, and even personalized for specific app users. This is a major advantage when compared to SMS text messaging. However, they also require the management of user identification data. And they need some kind of interface for writing messages, targeting them and sending them.

How do push notifications appear to users?

Mainly, users see a notification as a banner or pop-up alert as they are using their phone. This alert is shown no matter what the user is doing.

Push notifications are a direct path of communication with users. App publishers should treat the ability to communication with users via push notifications as a privilege, not a right. App publishers must provide value; if they don’t, push notifications will be ignored or turned off. Some users will uninstall the app altogether.

Analytics and measurement are important tools for improving your app’s performance. But it’s important to write compelling push notifications that are valuable to users and that drive action.