Push Notification Best Practices: 10 Tips to Retain Engagements and Generate Profits

Push Notification is an incredible tool that enables app creators to communicate directly with their users. Not only does it help retain customer engagement, but it can also help generate more profit.

To understand this tool’s full potential, we’ll talk about the different push notification best practices and how it works as one of the highly essential marketing tools in the mobile gaming industry.

Why should you use push notifications?

Push notifications have significantly gained momentum over the last couple of years, with almost everyone in the app industry utilizing the medium nowadays. Push notifications are highly useful because of 2 main reasons:

1. These allow you to interact and send messages directly to your users.

Using push notifications is a quick and easy way to deliver relevant and timely information to your users. They could instantly appear on the user’s device, allowing them to receive and see it right away.

2. It triggers user re-engagement to your app.

One of the best features of push notifications is that users receive them even when the app is not open or even when they’re using another app. Once the user gets a message and clicks on it, they’ll be back on your app. Push notifications can draw them back to your app’s ecosystem, triggering re-engagement.

As a game developer, incorporating push notifications into your game is a great step to retain player engagement. You can use these notifications to alert your players when their energy is restored, when their crops are ready to harvest, or when their base is being attacked, etc. It serves as an instant call-to-action that pushes them to go back to your game.

Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash

Of course, higher engagement equates to more increased traffic. The more users you get into your app, the better monetization you get.

But using push notifications has a catch: the user must first agree to receive notifications before you can send them any.

That step is what we call the opt-in.

Opt-in or opt-out?

App users are often provided with the option to accept (opt-in) or decline (opt-out) receiving push notifications. App providers usually send an opt-in permission request to the user before or after (depending on your OS) installing the game/app.

According to Accengage, the average opt-in rate in the gaming industry is 63.5%, with an average reaction rate of 6.6%. It’s worth mentioning that players who choose to opt-in have a higher retention rate than those who choose to opt out.

Your opt-in permission matters

There’s a great significance of having a player opt-in with receiving push notifications in terms of player retention and engagement. That is why your initial request for opting-in is highly significant in the process.

It’s usually a one-time chance to have your user choose to accept notifications before having your game’s full experience, which is why you should carefully decide how to present your permission dialog. Standard pop-up boxes with some text don’t work well anymore these days, especially with games.

Although players could still allow their devices to get notifications by tweaking their phone settings, this isn’t as easy as pressing “Allow” for the first time.

Are you using iOS or Android?

The nature of push notifications in iOS and Android operating systems have similarities and differences. Let’s take a look at what’s in store for each one to help you better understand how they perform on both OS.

For iOS


When you’re using iOS, permissions for notifications on an application is not prompted towards the user upon installation. You can only decide to allow or deny the app notifications when you first open the app on your phone.

This part is crucial for iOS users because it’s a one-time selection before using the app, which may look like this.

push notification best practices: iOS

Some apps are highly dependent on your phone’s data access, and when not allowed, the app might not work accurately. For example, some apps require the user’s location for it to send the right notification. When the user clicks the “Don’t Allow” button on its permission, push notifications for that specific app won’t work.

However, you can fix this through your iOS phone’s settings and allow notifications for specific apps if you want to.


iOS push notifications are displayed on the device’s lock screen. But once the phone is unlocked, the notifications disappear. The user has to access the notification center to check them manually.


When it comes to interactivity, iOS devices allow users to swipe push notifications downwards to view the notification’s complete details. Users can also swipe it left or right to open the selection to either view or clear the message.

For Android:


Unlike iOS, the Android OS prompts the user about the app’s necessary permissions even before installing it. In some apps, the push notifications are enabled automatically even before the app is fully installed. This intuitive nature of Android makes push notifications more effective in this type of OS.

If you want to edit the permissions you gave to an app, you can also edit that on the device settings.


Push notifications on Android devices can also be displayed on your lock screen and stay accessible on your home screen through the device’s notification panel.


Android push notifications are similar to iOS. You can swipe them down to see the full details of the message. You can also swipe it left or right, but doing so will dismiss the notification.

Push notification best practices

Now that you know how push notifications work in each Operating System let’s proceed to the best practices of push notifications that keep your customers engaged.

1. Personalize the content

Making personalized notifications is the best way to win customer loyalty. You can achieve that by knowing what the user wants and what their interests are.

Building the proper communication to the right audience can yield better engagement. According to OneSignal, personalized push notifications sent to specific targeted segments or clusters of users have a 50% higher click-through rate than those who do not use targeted segments.

We can apply this to the gaming industry. There are different gaming preferences and motivations among players. Knowing these motivations and preferences help creators make the right game for different ages, genders, and other social standards. This should be applied when you’re making push notifications for players. Knowing what a segment or cluster of users are more inclined to will help you create the right message to capture their interest and keep them engaged.

To make it even better, you can address the user by name (or their character’s name) for a more personal feel.

2. Proper timing

Sending those notifications at the right time is essential. You surely wouldn’t want to interrupt the user with messages, especially when they’re in the middle of a class or asleep. Doing this could result in either no engagement or response at all or dismissal of the notification.

Consider the fact that the users are living in different places with different time zones. So the timing can be different for each user. It is best to send out notifications in the morning from 7 am-10 am, or evening, 6 pm-10 pm (depending on your users’ time zone). These are the highly active hours of device usage of individuals from different time zones.

3. Make it fun and visual

Push notifications don’t have to be just plain and boring texts on your screen. You can also spice it up using different media like images, short videos, icons, action buttons, etc. Using these can make your message stand out even with just a few characters.

For gaming, you can utilize this method to promote new features and additions in the game. You can send short video clips of trailers and promotional images to inform the players about the new feature. Using different media will make it more appealing and interesting, which will make them try it out immediately.

You can also use this method to suggest skins and other cosmetic items that are available for purchase.

4. Use emojis

Using emojis on your push notifications can increase your user engagement and click-through rate. Emojis have become a massive part of marketing, especially for millennials who use them almost every time.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

According to a study, using emojis on push notifications could increase your open rates by up to 85%. These small icons have the power to capture attention from people of all ages because it has become a normal part of our daily communication.

It is advisable to put your emoji before or after the sentence to reiterate and emphasize your message’s meaning. But be mindful not to overuse it as it can translate as a spam message to some people. If it doesn’t feel right to add it to your subject, then leave it.

5. Short and straightforward

Another eminent element in push notifications’ best practices is being short and straightforward. Don’t ever try and make it 2 or 3 paragraphs long (it won’t be possible too). Be concise and tell your message right away. Keeping it short and simple will allow your audience to understand it better. No other fuss is needed.

The recommended length is using ten words maximum per notification to achieve a high click rate.

6. Make real-time updates

Giving relevant real-time updates to your users can be beneficial not only for them but also for you. Certain apps provide information like traffic and weather updates to keep their users posted. As a game developer, you can utilize real-time updates with announcements of open matches, ranking updates, new game feature releases, and other related subjects that could persuade your players to open the app and play.

7. Build habits

Many apps have their user base, especially mobile games. Regular engagement is essential with these kinds of apps, and push notifications can alert the user to come back and open the app. Sending a notification at a targeted time of the day can help signal that it’s time to harvest your crops or feed your in-game pet. It can also help transform this engagement into a habit, ensuring the app is used regularly.

8. No to spamming

Sending notifications to your users also has a bad side that should be avoided at all costs – spamming. Sending too many messages at one time can be annoying and bothersome to your users. The ideal number is sending just 2 notifications per day. But this depends on what app you are using.

If it’s just about regular updates about the app, try not to go over two messages per day. Drowning your users with unnecessary notifications would most likely turn them off, and worse, remove the app from their devices.

9. Connect to social media

One of the most notable push notification best practices is connecting your users through social media. You can use the notifications to encourage your users to share their experiences, such as acquiring high scores, purchasing new cosmetic items like weapons, skins, etc., or showing off new achievements to your friends on social media sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

Getting more exposure through these sites can also help you gain more users.

10. Show some appreciation to your users

Of course, never forget to show a bit of appreciation to your users every once in a while. It can range from simple messages like celebrating their 1st-year mark on the community or maybe wishing them a happy birthday. Or you can also provide them with in-app bonuses like coins (if applicable), or perhaps new skins or character bonuses.

Anything that will make the user feel appreciated and thanked for is good. Doing this will help boost their morale and stay in your community for longer.

How to deliver push notifications to your users?

Sending push notifications to all your app users can be done with a push notification engine. This tool provides services that enable developers to send notifications to all their users, just like telecommunications companies do with phones. It helps developers track and manage all the messages sent to the users and customize the notifications according to what your client needs.

There are tons of push notification engines available online. If you’re planning to use one, here are some of our most recommended push notification engines:

How does it work?

As an app developer, you’ll have to sign-up your app with a push notification engine service to help send push notifications to your users. Let’s take Google Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) as an example.

Here’s the step-by-step process of how push notifications are delivered:

  • Information containing the notification message and the user data from your app server is sent to Google Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM).
  • Google Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) will then check and verify the information and assign a unique token for each user.
  • Google Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) will then send the message from the app server to the end user’s device after verification.
  • Once the user receives the notification, a click and delivery data is sent back to the app server. This data is useful in tracking the performance of your push notifications.

Push notifications vs. In-app messaging

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

We’ve learned that push notifications are messages sent by apps. But how does it differ from in-app messages?

These two are similar in many ways. They both alert the user with different information regarding the app and its features. However, they have one key difference: their visibility.

Push notifications can pop-up on the user’s phone anytime. They’re able to receive it even when their phone is off or if they’re using another app. Meanwhile, in-app messaging only appears when the user has the application open.

What makes a good (and bad) push notification?

Before making and sending out push notifications to your users, you should know that there are good and bad notifications released everywhere. You surely wouldn’t want a lousy notification coming from your app. So let’s talk about the essential dos and don’ts of making push notifications.

The DOS to make a good push notification:

  • Make it short and snappy.
  • It should be scheduled accordingly with the user’s timezone.
  • It must be focused on relevant, personalized, and segmented information with no excessive, unnecessary details.
  • It should help build a relationship with your users and improve communication.
  • It must be useful in tracking your user’s behavior.
  • It must generate good engagement, retention, and profit.

The DON’TS, which can result in a bad notification:

  • Don’t use ALL CAPS in your message. Using all caps could translate to anger or shouting in the form of text.
  • Don’t use jargon in your messages.
  • Avoid sending your users too many notifications in a short period.
  • Don’t make click-bait notifications. Keep it authentic and relevant.
  • Avoid using generic and empty messages that have nothing to offer.
  • Avoid sending messages with no end goal or call-to-action.
  • Avoid using negative words in your messages. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t miss out,” say, “Hurry.”

Ready to push that notification?

Push notification is a great tool to keep your users engaged and updated outside of the app itself. When used correctly, it could bring a massive boost to your click-through and app usage. It could also help with user retention and loyalty, helping to expand your community even wider.

Hard-working content writer and research assistant here at Nicely Said. With over 10 years experience, Melbren is a very competent and reliable member of our team, and has contributed greatly to our catalog of online publications. With a Bachelor's Degree in IT majoring in web application programming, Melbren is both a clever writer and technically-savvy.

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