Types of Push Notifications

Dec 03, 2020

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Types of Push Notifications

I love 2X2 matrices. They are very powerful and can be used to explain the most nuanced concepts in a very simple and easy manner. There are umpteen ways of presenting the types of push notifications- on the basis of the degree of personalization, level of targeting et al. However, when you step back and question - why exactly were push notifications introduced- well, to communicate with users about important stuff. What’s important is subjective. So let’s take a shot at classifying it on the basis of what we think is important and how users respond to it. 


Broadly speaking, there are three types of push notifications - 

1. Transactional Notifications - Notifications that confirm the status of a specific transaction - eCommerce purchase, ticket confirmation, wire transfer confirmation, bill payment confirmation, ride completion et al - you get the drift. These are heavily context-specific and personalized -  what the user did and giving them a status update. While they are boring or at times also feel redundant, they are important nevertheless.   


2. Informational Notifications - These are messages and alerts that the user has specifically opted in for. Again a wide range but the user has a definite level of commitment here. Great examples include - Back in Stock Alerts, Wishlist reminders, Breaking News alerts, Updates about your favorite celebrity, Score updates, Live updates of events you are following such as elections, matches et al. Upcoming speaker and sessions at a conference. These are definitely actionable because you expect the user to tap on and perform the action - join the Zoom call, purchase the back-in-stock-shirts, read the article about elections et al.They are usually high on engagement but the volume and the frequency of these notifications can make these overwhelming for users. There is a thin line between staying relevant and irritating the end user.  


3. Promotional Notifications - At the risk of hyperbole, this is what 95% of notifications are about. Promoting stuff. You know when you are sending a notification that the user did not subscribe for explicitly but because you have their consent, and you have an opportunity, you hedge your risks and push out notifications about the new collection of dresses, new article about Kim Kardashian, latest viral video - the list is endless. These are also the notifications where maximum time is invested - to make them personalized, hyper-relevant - all of this is done to stand out in the ocean. If you have a mobile device, it is highly likely that you look at your mobile device when you wake up. At 7 in the morning, you are swiping notifications left right and center. And the marketers are optimizing - by personalizing, for a tap and not a swipe. Despite the best of the best efforts, most notifications that are promotional are swiped and not tapped. This does not mean that they are ignored. Some do register a positive recall - which really is the key objective of interrupting a user with a notification. Registering a positive recall. 

Here is the 3X3 that I had in mind



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Founder at Datability Solutions. Second Venture. Writes about technology, entrepreneurship and mobile. Avid cyclist.

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