6 Best Practices for Push Notifications in 2020

A push notification is a powerful marketing tool that is currently being used by marketers and developers in two different ways.

Blasting impersonal, spammy notifications to user’s devices that annoy them.


Sending notifications to users that are personalized and at the optimal times.

Here’s a hint: You want to be the company that sends personalized notifications to its customers at the times they want to see them. Companies now have more data on their users than ever before which helps marketers and developers craft messages that are tailored to their users’ specific interests.

OneSignal helps 850,000+ developers send over 5 billion push notifications every day. Pulling from our experience in this industry, we’ve listed six best practices to craft a successful push notification strategy.

Push Notifications Best Practices

1: Personalize Your Notifications

personalized-messages push notifications

Knowing your user’s activity and behaviors aren’t helpful unless you find a way to apply that data. When creating a push notification, you want to make sure that the message will be something that your user is interested in. User Tags, one of OneSignal’s most useful features, allows you to tag your users based on attributes such as subscription status, cart abandonment history, and other user behaviors.

Tags are the bedrock of a successful personalization strategy for your push notifications. After you’ve implemented tags, you can use segments to create specific audiences for various messages.

In our analysis of over 118 billion push notifications sent over a 4 week period, we found that push notifications targeted to specific segments have a 50% higher click-through rate than push notifications sent without the use of segmentation.

You should experiment with your targeting until you have optimized performance to a level where you’re satisfied with the results. Always test!

2: Use Rich Media

Rich-media-for push notifications

Rich notifications allow you to include images, short videos, action buttons, and icons within the notification. Since users aren’t always going to click into your notifications, getting your point across within the push notification can result in your desired outcome. Send the latest sports highlights or photos of an item that’s on sale to your users and show them what they could be missing out on!

While rich notifications are not always the answer, they can be a powerful tool in your toolbox. Countdowns and reminders are two examples of notifications that can be enhanced by rich media. We found that push notifications sent with images had a 9% higher click-through rate than those sent without images.

3: Think About When To Send


With users across the world living in different time zones and having different hobbies, people don’t all tend to engage with your app at the same time. Because of this, you want to make sure that you’re sending your messages at the best times for your users.

Typically there are three delivery options for your push notifications: Sending them immediately, sending by user time zone, and if you’re using OneSignal; Intelligent Delivery.

Sending notifications immediately makes sense when you have an urgent message to send to your users. For example, if there was breaking news or if an airline had to cancel a flight, they would want the people affected to be notified as soon as possible.

Time zone delivery should be used if your notification is based on users’ time zones. If you were running a sale that ended at midnight in each time zone, you may want to send reminders at 4 PM in each time-zone, otherwise, some users may be getting notifications while they’re sleeping and never see them.

With Intelligent Delivery, OneSignal optimizes notification delivery time based on when each user is most likely to engage with your app. This is based on when a user opens your app over a 3-month rolling average. With Intelligent Delivery, your push notifications are going to be sent and opened at the most optimal times for users.

4: Change Up How You Prompt

If a user declines the prompt to enable notifications, they’ll have to manually enable it through their phone’s settings. Because of this, it’s critical to pick the right moment when a subscription prompt will be displayed so you have the best chance to get users to subscribe.

For example, a company like CashApp with over 7 million users worldwide first explains why push notifications will help them and then prompts them to subscribe to messages from their app afterward. Telling the users why they should be receiving these notifications helps the user know that they will be getting value out of subscribing and dispels the negative connotation that surrounds push notifications.

5: Use Emojis 🏆

use emoji

Emojis can be a huge help in increasing engagement. In fact studies have shown that using certain emojis can increase click-through rates for your campaigns. Avoid emojis that can be interpreted incorrectly or any that disrupt the flow of your messages.

Unless you replace a word with an emoji, they should typically be placed before and/or after the message. Use emojis at the end of your sentences to drive home the meaning of your messaging.

Your driver has arrived đźš™
Find out if you’re a winner 🏆
Time to order dinner 🍕
Get 20% off your next order đź’¸
New comments on your page âś‹

6: Make Sure to A/B Test!


Let’s say you’ve delved into your extensive user data and cooked up what, by all indications, should be a successful push notification strategy. But you shouldn’t stop there.

A/B Testing allows you to test your audience’s reactions to a variety of messages. By testing to see what works, you can analyze the results and make changes to your strategy accordingly. You should only A/B test one variable at a time so you know exactly what’s influencing the results.

For example, Notification A can have its own title, message, and image. Notification B could have the same title and message, but a different image. By testing these images against each other, you can determine how the different images might impact engagement and conversions. Our analysis of push notifications found that push notifications sent after A/B testing have a 10% higher click-through rate than notifications sent without A/B testing.

Final Remarks

The bottom line is that to maximize the performance of your push notifications, you need to focus on what your users want.  Through data collection, analysis, and good practice, you can now figure out what that is.

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