What are Push Notifications? How Do They Work on Mobile Apps?

Push Notifications

Have you just launched a new mobile application for your business? You might be wondering what is the best method to promote your apps in such a way that they attract customers. Push Notifications are the one-stop solution for all of your problems.

Using these little messages keeps users engaged and instills a sense of loyalty in them toward your brand. With push notifications, brands can reach their customers in real-time, wherever they are. 

The next question you might ask yourself is what are push notifications, and how do they work? In this article, you’ll learn how iOS and Android push notifications work.

Push Notifications – A Detailed Overview!

Push notifications are messages that can be sent directly to a user’s mobile device. Mobile devices can display them on the lock screen or in the top section. It was introduced in 2009 and is a relatively new digital marketing channel. It has gained significant momentum over the past few years. 

Companies use them to convey customers’ messages, offers, and other information. Subscribers can only receive push notifications if they have installed the publisher’s app. In some cases, push notifications can be sent without the app requiring the user to provide their contact information.

However, it is important to note, that the app must ask the user for permission before it can send push notifications. To better understand what push notifications are let us look at an example


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Netflix is an online video streaming service where users can watch their favorite shows. The app sends notifications about shows users have watched when they download them. For instance, if their favorite show has a new season, the app will send the user a notification inviting them to watch the new season! A good example of how push notifications work is Netflix. 

Having learned what push notifications are, let’s explore how they work.

Push Notifications: A Peek into how they work

The working of push notifications can be conveniently understood by understanding three basic terms:

  1. Operating system push notification service (OSPNS): There are different services for each mobile operating system (OS), including iOS and Android.
  2. The publisher of an app: When the publisher has enabled at least one OSPNS on their app, they upload it to the app store.
  3. Client application: A push notification app that is installed on the user’s device and receives all notifications from the OS. 

Each phase of push notifications is divided into four steps, with the above components playing a key role in each. 

Step 1: Registration with operating system push notification service 

  • OSPNS are used by publishers to register.
  • To communicate with the service, the OSPN provides an application programming interface (API) to the app publisher. 
  • The publisher of the app adds a software development kit (SDK) to the app, which is a code library that is specific to the OSPNS. 
  • An app is added to the app store by publishers.

Step 2: Installation of the app

  • An OS app store is visited by the user and the app is installed.
  • The app and the device are assigned unique identifiers (IDs) once the user opens the app.
  • The OSPN returns the IDs to the app publisher and passes them to the app itself.
  • Registration details, including IDs, are stored by app publishers.

Step 3: Send Push Notifications

  • A manual message is created by the app publisher using a message composer user interface (UI). As an alternative, they can automate the message and send it via APIs.
  • Publishers define the audience for push notifications and choose whether to send them immediately or later. 

Note: You can target and personalize push notifications for different segments of your user base. To write, target, and send messages, you’ll need user identification data and a specialized interface. 

Step 4: Opting-In

There are different opt-in processes for each OSPN. For example, the opt-in model used by iOS requires users to give explicit permission to receive push notifications. The Android operating system auto-signs users to receive push notifications, which must be opted out of manually. The user can start engaging with your app once they consent to receive push notifications.

Having discussed what are push notifications and how they function, let’s look at why are they so popular. 

Push notifications: Why are they so popular? 

Push notifications allow you to communicate quickly and efficiently with your audience. Here are some benefits that mobile push notifications can offer your business.

1. Encourage User Engagement

You can use push notifications to attract more customers at certain touchpoints. Your audience can regularly engage with your brand when they receive real-time updates and reminders. According to Localytics, users in 2017 were willing to receive more push notifications before disabling them. 

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As a result, marketers have a better opportunity to reach customers today.  By providing timely messages and helpful and relevant information like rewards descriptions and special offers, android push notifications allow you to stay in touch with your users. They are also a great way to get users to engage with new features.

2. Maintain Customer and Subscriber Loyalty

According to 82% of businesses, retaining customers is easier than acquiring new ones. You can automate the whole process while everyone else is busy trying to retain their customers. Push notifications can also be used to ask for feedback. As a result, the customer feels more loyal to the brand. 

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Boost Conversions with Push Notifications

Did you know that you can schedule push notifications to be sent exactly when your subscribers need them? For instance, price drop alerts can be set up automatically for your clients who were viewing the product. 

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The beauty of these campaigns is that they are focused on converting subscribers into buyers. These notifications convert well because they provide content and products that users already need or want.  


Hopefully, this guide will answer all your questions about push notifications and how they work. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use Android or iOS push notification app, then you should try Wondershare Push Notification since it is the best option available in the market.


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