The Insensitivity of Push Notifications

Here’s an interesting cycle that repeats itself.

When a new functionality can be done on mobile, the techies of us rush to level up their skill to avail it for the business and marketing.

The business and marketing start thinking of all sorts of ways on how this can be applied to serve the purpose of retaining the customers’ attention to the brand, service and engagement.

The customers then spread out to cover all ends of the spectrum from early adopters to the antagonist philosophers.

Before going on, push notification is mainly that alert you get on your smartphone to remind, , notify or prompt a user of a specific app.

Ideally, push notification, from a user perspective, should reflect “must-have information”.

If we put aside examples of malpractice, push notification is still diluted in a sea of irrelevance, because it isn’t contextually aware.

There is no need to argue what “must-have information” means as it can be charted within the

axes of cruciality and relevance.

Like the rest of the app or product, information set for push notification should be plotted with the help of focus groups.

But how to make push notifications more contextually aware?

The answer should be a combination of technology, common sense, and customer feedback.

It’s a balance that we should continuously seek. I personally don’t like “creepy” usage of technology. I also speculate that not everyone wants a cyborg life. I might be wrong...

We can evolve all we want and everyone can make their own choices, but what we can’t do,

is brute force irrelevance to become the new norm. We will most likely end up, at best, with a result along the lines of 4, 3, 2, 1, skip...

Be progressive as much as you want, but you should bare in mind that not all your audience will be as progressive and you should still embrace that angle.

Moreover, not all the audience will just be happy with the flea market noise coming out of your app. Even the ones that do, they won’t like it all the time ( survival related functions being the exception).

What I believe is a closer step to understanding and applying push notification is to split it into 2 parts:-

1. Define how frequent the audience will be needing the service provided, which is enhanced by the app. if the end service is intended for a daily basis, it will be different from shopping, lunch, activity for the kids… etc.

2. Place the push notification in a way that is convenient when they are about to encounter

the service. If your audience, already have the app, then they are already on board. You can stop promoting the service and work more on the actual flavor and experience.

It’s your choice how you want your app to be perceived and used. If you push for a continuous hype, then better have something new every single time.

If you push for senseless attention seeking, prepare yourself to be placed in that section in each person’s phone allocated subconsciously for the apps graveyard.

If you push for convenience when it’s needed, you got yourself an ongoing, sweet story to prosper on, tell, and be proud of.

Even simpler, we all still have the battery epidemic. After all the charging accessories we indulged in, a lot of people have their push notifications switched off. We need to be able to keep the phone on and accessible in case of… emergencies.