How to Use Notifications to Retain Mobile App Users

May 10, 2016 - 3 minutes read

notifications as a tool for Android app developers

I don’t believe I’m alone when I say that at least half the apps on my phone only reach me on a daily basis through notifications. Surely I’m also in good company when I say that apps that don’t use notifications properly are, at best, a serious nuisance. That isn’t to say that notifications are an easy tool for iPhone and Android app developers to master — if anything, a system that grants a Facebook alert about an earthquake and a passive weather update the same level of priority is enormously challenging.

As with any major design flaw, however, it also represents a huge opportunity for NYC mobile app developers who can use notifications effectively. Here are three rules to abide by to make sure your app’s data reaches users as conveniently and effectively as possible:

1. As with any seasoning, use sparingly

Unless it’s Instagram or Gmail, any app that sends me more than five notifications a day is going to get uninstalled, and fast. Even if there are settings to control them, Android app developers should never make the default state of an app expose the user to a deluge of information. If they’re a power user, believe me, they’ll find the settings and crank them up.

Consider your first few days with a user like your first few dates — come off too strong, and it’s smothering. If they like you, eventually they’ll ask for more face time.

2. Leverage user data

Notifications are one of the most personal touches an app offers from a UX perspective, especially in the age of the Apple Watch. It’s the part of your service that bubbles up and shows itself to the world (and anyone else who happens to be around when the phone lights up on a tabletop). Therefore, notifications are a great place to take advantage of user-specific data.

Don’t just ping them when you want them to come back — ping them when you have something targeted and useful to offer. If it doesn’t make their life easier, leave them in peace.

3. Include settings & make them intuitive

No matter how useful the service, any startup that doesn’t include tools for muting, controlling, or unregistering goes straight to the scrapheap. Follow the same protocol as email: anything sent automatically should have an “unsubscribe” setting readily available.

Even if the message isn’t spam, users will see it that way if they feel a lack of control, which is the last feeling you want to give them when they go to write a review in the Apple App Store.

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