What Are Push Notifications?

Push notifications are small messages that pop up on a user's device. App publishers and website owners can send them at any time, and users don’t have to be in the app / on the website to receive them. A smartphone user can see notifications even when their phone is locked. Being highly engaging and personalized, push notifications are one of the most popular customer communication channels among marketers.

Why Use Push Notifications?

Push notifications add extra value to your app/website. With the help of these messages, you can make the life of your users more convenient by delivering highly relevant and personalized content at the most appropriate moments.

When it comes to the benefits for your business, you can use this communication channel for increasing customer engagement, retention, conversions, and obviously your revenue. Communication via push notifications has proven to be one of the most effective ways to retain users and boost their activity.

You can trigger push delivery by user actions in the app, which makes your communications highly relevant and personalized. Onboard your customers and move them down the sales funnel, promote special offers, and more. The numerous marketing opportunities push notifications create are described in this article.

How Push Notifications Work

  1. App registers with an operating system for push notifications;
  2. Device gets the push token from the OS notifications service;
  3. The app is given a token;
  4. The app sends the push token to its server/provider;
  5. When the provider needs to send a notification to the device, it sends the payload to the OS notifications service with the token it received beforehand.

What Is a Push Token (Device Token)?

A push token (or a device token) is a unique key for the app-device combination which is issued by the Apple or Google push notification gateways. It allows gateways and push notification providers to route messages and ensure the notification is delivered only to the unique app-device combination for which it is intended.

Opting In

While Android and Fire OS do not require a user to grant permission for an app to send them push notifications, iOS apps do. Convincing users to opt-in is important for the success of your communications.

Users subscribe to your messages when they understand their value. It means that the first thing you need to do is explain what kind of push notifications you’re going to send and how valuable they are. You can talk about that in your opt-in message.  

Customized in-app messages allow you to deliver the most relevant opt-in requests telling users about the value of your push messages at the most appropriate moments.

Check out these tips on getting more push notifications subscribers.


For apps:

  1. The app owner registers with a push notification service.
  2. The service provides an application programming interface (API) to the app owner. It is a way for the app to communicate with the service.
  3. The app owner adds Pushwoosh SDK to the app. The Pushwoosh SDK is a code library specific to the OS’ push notification service.
  4. The app publisher uploads the app to the app store and communicates with its users via pushes.

Read more about implementation for different operating systems here.

For websites:

Website owner simply adds JavaScript to the website using HTML.

Automation & Personalization

Push notifications offer multiple opportunities for automation and personalization. Pushwoosh allows triggering push notification delivery by certain events, customizing messages for certain audience segments, and even sending automated push notifications right at the moment a user enters the specified area on the map (using geozones). Such notifications can contain links and media, which increases open rates and brings more clicks. The more personalized and relevant your push notification is, the more conversions it will bring.

See push notifications in action — check out the live examples from top apps:

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Or get a personal consultation from Pushwoosh Team:

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