It is not uncommon for an app to have the least user engagement in spite of not having any development or design fault. It is not also unusual for mobile apps to achieve high download numbers while almost always failing to retain those users beyond just a couple of days or a week. So, for the vast majority of apps still retaining and engaging users seem to be a consistently challenging aspect.  


There are two ways of looking at this problem. Maybe, you need to target users more precisely or perhaps you need to change the way you address your users. As most app marketing teams these days are aware of targeting mechanisms and how they work, the first is a lesser problem for user retention and engagement. On the other hand, coming to the lack of appropriate measures to engage users, most apps have a bounty of scopes to improve.

Push notifications have emerged as a critical way to engage your users and stay connected with them throughout the lifetime of an app. In this respect, it is essential to say that one needs to use push notifications in the right measure and at the right time and context. While push notifications can really work as helpful tools to boost user engagement, one should have a clear idea about how to use this tool.

Before we explain here the critical tips of using push notifications appropriately or effectively, let us first have a look at the key reasons for using push notifications.

Understanding Push Notifications and its Advantages 

Push notifications and in-app messages are something that no app developers can undermine as the essential app marketing and retention tools simply because developers and promoters of an app gain a lot of benefits from them.

Push notifications help developers have quick and direct access to their audience. The users without even opening the app or starting to use the app can be updated about the latest sales offerings, promotions, and all crucial aspects.

Mobile app notifications help improve the overall user experience to a great extent. For example, some apps like that of The New York Times hired a complete team to send push notifications because of the success they achieved using this tool.

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The push notifications are also helpful to enhance the user retention rate by at least 3 to 10 times depending on the success of the strategy and the app. App notifications create new reasons for the users to open the app and have a look. This is why, when used intelligently, the notification messages can really engage users tremendously.

There are thousands of iOS mobile apps across the stores that are downloaded for once and never opened again. This is where push notifications can really help in making users open it and even become loyal users over time.

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The push notifications also help app marketers keep track of the user behavior and get hold of relevant information about them. The app notifications actually help to gather essential data that can be further used by the analytics engine.

Thanks to Android mobile app notifications marketers can also target the right audience by acquiring relevant user demographic data ranging from age, gender, and location.


Let us explain here some of the most effective strategies for using push notifications to boost user engagement and user retention.

Get the Opt-In

The mobile app onboarding experience is crucial to make users feel at complete ease and to help them have maximum control. One of the effective ways to give users priority and win their support is to allow them to opt-in or opt-out if the push notification messages.

You can create a catchy message to tell users why they should opt for push notifications. In case they respond positively and agree on getting notification messages from time to time, you have achieved your primary goal.

But in fact, they say “no”, you can show them the opt-in prompt after some time. When approaching your users with opt-in messages, always show it inconvenient time and relevant context where they have the maximum chance of agreeing to get notifications. 


Understand the Context

The second most important principle is to craft effective push notifications as per the relevant user contexts. Your notifications should have a relevance to where they are located at that instant and the time of their preference. To create most engaging notifications for the right user contexts, keep the following factors in mind.

  • Mental makeup This factor explains the situations the users are in and their mindset in that particular time. It is essential to know what they want in that specific instant. Do your users tend to have a specific habit or do they have any common distaste? These are the critical considerations for this category.
  • Receptivity: The second factor is to know under which curvy stances users feel most receptive to push notifications. Under which conditions users are more apathetic to specific questions and which suggestions make them feel jovial at which circumstances? Based on such a receptivity level, a user context is decided for sending push messages.
  • Value: When will the users get the best value from the push notifications? Not in all situations, push notification messages can be equally helpful. So sending push notification messages should also depend upon the time when users can get the best value from them.


For an effective and really engaging push notification strategy, the most important thing to consider is personalized aspects of the messages. As users get tons of messages throughout the day, nothing really makes them seriously interested unless something is addressed to them very personally.

Let’s see the critical aspects of personalizing push notification messages.

  • Timing of Push Notification: You need to know about the ideal time to send push notifications to your users. By merely sending notifications at the wrong time you can lose users.
  • A device in Use or Sleep Mode: This is also important to help receptivity of notifications. When the device is in use, any notification can cause less distraction compared to the time when it is in sleep mode.
  • Segmentation: You also need to segment users in various preference groups and accordingly should send notifications to users who are more likely to engage at a given point of time. Segment users based on their responses to push notifications. You can also segment users based on their location and behavior records with notifications. 

Give Test a Priority 

Finally, for crafting useful push notifications it is extremely important to carry out A/B testing which is a crucial strategy for push notifications. Do a lot of experiments with different words, message length, timing & frequency of messages to know the effective strategies for different contexts and situations.

Here are the key considerations for crafting the right push notification messages.

  • Can the notifications with the text, format, and frequency level help to achieve a goal?
  • Does the notification help in re-engaging users?
  • The time gap between the notification sending, and the subsequent user interaction with the app.


User-centric push notifications can really help your app garner steady interaction and engagement. This obviously requires crafting messages and sending it in the right time, context and to the right user segments.


Juned Ghanchi is a co-founder and CMO at IndianAppDevelopers company well know mobile app development in India having an expert team of iOS and Android developers. Juned is always looking for new ideas about software technology and share his gain knowledge on various blogs and magazines.