Push Notifications are a wonderful tool when used correctly and earlier this year we wrote at length about specific techniques to increase engagement with your push notifications. However, as with all topics, there is more to discuss. Many people fall into traps when using push notifications and here are some of the most common mistakes you should watch out for

Sending push notifications too frequently

This is the single biggest challenge that most app marketeers get wrong when using push notifications but it doesn’t have a straightforward answer. You have gotten your user to opt-in to push notifications and then you send push notifications. Once users opt in to your push notifications, statistics show that 10% will immediately disable them after you send your first one. Which isn’t great. But if you send 5 (i.e. one every working day) the number increases to almost 50%.

As you can see in the chart below, as we have been exposed to notifications over the years our tolerance has been increasing. As users we will accept more notifications now before they become a nuisance than in the past. However it is clear sending fewer notifications increases your retention of the number of people you can continue to market to.

As marketeers regular communication is key and if your messaging is well-crafted and valuable to your user then 3-5 notifications a week is probably a nice balance between your and your users’ needs. Just be aware that not everyone you’re contacting will want this frequency and it may be best to start contacting users slowly. Only when they engage with your notifications, and you can see a pattern in their behaviour, should you think about increasing your frequency. This will give you the best chance to keep your users and engage with them when they are interested. Tools such as Firebase Cloud Messaging and Urban Airship will allow you to craft your campaigns in this manner.

Making your push notifications too long

Think of a push notification as a teaser from something within your app. More information in the push notification actually stops people engaging with your app. Either they get all the information they need to qualify out their own personal need for your message or they simply can’t be bothered reading it. Less than 10 words is what you should be aiming for to capture the imagination/desire of the user.

Sending notifications at the wrong time

This issue is one of our own making. As businesses we are open often as not 9-5 in the UK and we tend to have our marketing activities match this. We want to have our finger on the pulse to react to the consequences of our marketing efforts. Especially when this might have a demand for us to react. The problem with this is most of our users are also working and do not have time to engage in the way we most likely hope.

During the working day engagement rates fluctuate from around 6% to a peak of 8% over lunch so if you do wish to market during working hours with push notifications then lunch is probably your best bet. However, the peak of engagement at over 11% is 10-11pm. In fact, the best chance of getting engagement is between 9pm and 1am where we are at least 50% more likely to have a user take action. This is because in the evenings as things wind down we are more susceptible to marketing messaging, we are most likely using our phones, and we have time to be distracted.

This is when, if you can, you should be marketing to your users and this means you’re putting their needs over yours, which is the correct way to market to your customers. It also means you’re not competing with most marketers, who are sending notifications between 9am and 8pm.

Not getting users opted in during the onboarding process

This is key to your push notifications being a success and even if you are going to have any users using your app at all. Getting your user to opt in to push notifications with a compelling reason is key. Android will do this automatically but on Apple they are opted out by default so you need to inspire your user immediately to do this.


The reality is, if you don’t get them opted in to push notifications a third of your users will never return to your app and only 25% of users will come back more than 10 times. Your app idea simply isn’t enough in today’s world.

If they do opt in, drop-off after session 1 is under 10% and around half of your users will engage with your app more than 10 times. This is almost double than if they have not opted into push notification — which shows you how powerful this tool can be.

Here is a link where we discuss what a great onboarding process and dissects great examples of onboarding. If your team is not discussing push notifications while designing the user onboarding process, getting them to do this later is almost impossible. And you will have already lost a huge chunk of the audience you wanted to engage with. So make sure you prioritize this very important step.