Users Despise Push Notification. Make Them "Behaviorally Targeted" To Achieve The Desired ROI

Users Despise Push Notification. Make Them

Push notification is changing our online behavior, probably at a scale that is not so apparent but it certainly is changing.

It is gating our engagement with the internet. For instance, just recall how until 2-3 years ago you used to scour all your content from just one source- Google. You determined what you need and then you pulled it out from Google- which is essentially just one app. But now, as the world is transitioning from desktop to mobile- which is swamped with gazillion apps, the data are determining what content may interest you and it is then pushed to you via mobile notification.

Table Of Contents:

1. Push Notification is driving your engagement
2. Behavioral targeting
3. Behaviorally targeted push notifications
4. Myfitnesspal’s nudge
5. Netflix’s recommendation
6. Uber
7. Deliveroo’s intimation
8. Zynga’s come back nudge
9. 1800Flower’s cart abandonment

The paradigm has changed from ‘pull’ to ‘push’, or perhaps changing rapidly.

Traditional pull vs push driven experience


Both iOS and Android are constantly revamping the notification interface to make it more actionable. A lot of website interactions like responding to a message, accepting facebook request, mark as read, etc. have shifted from the app to the notification tray.  

RemarkNotification is not just mobile but could be extended to any internet connected device from tablet to automobile dashboard to even your washing machine but we are going to limit our discussion only to mobile push notifications here.

Push Notification is driving your engagement

Push notification has become fundamental to your mobile marketing strategy.

However, owing to their habit marketers have exploited notifications too the same way they exploit any other channel that works out for them. It has become a convenient medium to broadcast or execute a promotional campaign. Thus amid all the rhetoric that ‘blast marketing’ is futile”, “personalization is the key” etc coming across the following kind of messaging is a common phenomenon, even from the brands who should have no excuse in terms of resource, utility or need.

worst push notification example

Or this

Worst push notification example

Following stat explains why we still get these kinds of messages.

Only 20% of marketers use behavioral triggers in their email marketing.

The stat is essentially the reflection of the marketer’s continued reluctance to rise above the ‘lazy’ way of engaging with their audience- which is segmenting on the basis of user’s demographic attributes. A primitive approach the menace of which was accurately highlighted in this opening lines of this latest article on Marketing Week.  

Marketers need to move beyond demographic data and “lazy” terms such as ‘millennial’ when creating customer segmentations, new research claims. Two separate studies find that patterns of behavior and attitudes are more appropriate tools for targeting consumers than broad generational segments

The fundamental problem with the generational segmentation is that it assumes that all users living in Madrid falling in 30-45, speaking English and German would display the same interest. The lack of behavioral targeting coupled with the lowering acceptance bar of the user has made push notification a vulnerable medium, evidenced by drip in the opt-in rate of push since last year. Try bombarding users and they are going to change the setting or simply delete the app (since it is relatively more convenient).  

In a nutshell, for your engagement to make an impact it should be synchronized with the behavioral flow of the user across all devices and channels.

Behavioral targeting

If we can fully analyze behavior patterns then we are able to design maximally effective marketing campaigns- Smart Insights

In behavioral targeting, you do segmentation on the basis of the activity of the user- both current and historical, on website and app. To create an impactful messaging a brand needs to understand the user intent, which they can identify from the various behavioral signals that he leaves on your platform.

Tracking the user events helps you build a comprehensive profile of your users which naturally gives you myriad options to segment them.

Behavioral marketing segmentation

But there are more intrinsic reasons as to why you should adapt to the behavioral targeting

  1. It makes your marketing user-centric because the crux of the message is driven by the user behavior rather than the product
  2. Every activity by the user on the website and app indicate the behavior signals of the user in a quantitative format. So, behavioral data of the user can help you establish the future decision-making patterns of the user. 

We have ‘Retargeting’ as one of the brilliant examples which leveraged behavioral data to give incredible results to advertisers.

Social media platforms already offer a very extensive behavioral targeting capability to advertisers. Like facebook could allow you to target the following segment of users from its ad engine:

Facebook targeting

Source- Wordstream

Recently, Snapchat followed suit and has hinted at offering behavioral targeting capabilities to their advertisers.

Behaviorally targeted push notifications

As discussed in the beginning of this article push has enormous potential but it cannot be leveraged via blast.

Let’s look at some of the samples of mobile push notifications where behavioral targeting is done right:

Disclaimer– We are not endorsing the overall push notification strategy of the company but only certain instances where they have behaviorally targeted their users.  

1. Myfitnesspal’s nudge  

If the user’s history indicates non-responsiveness to the previous notifications Myfitnesspal nudges for one last time. And if it doesn’t work out then you are automatically exempted from further notifications.

Behaviorally targeted push notification

This is an excellent example where both the past and ongoing browsing behavior of the user is ascertained. The current message was formulated on the basis of past behavior and the future messages are going to be decided on the basis of how you respond to the current message.

2. Netflix’s recommendation

Netflix and Amazon are undisputed recommendation kings and Netflix brilliantly translates it to its notification campaign too.


3. Uber

Quite explanatory.

Uber's good push notification

4. Deliveroo’s intimation

While the buyer is waiting is for the food, Deliveroo sends an intimation.  

behavioral marketing via push notification

5. Zynga’s come back nudge

Zynga sent this message (with the name) when the user was not launching the app for some time. It also added an incentive for the limited period.

Behavioral targeting example

6. 1800Flower’s cart abandonment

This is my personal favorite and I have highlighted it even in my previous post. 1800Flowers sends this hyper-personal offer to the user who has an abandoned product (Warm Sunset Bouquet) in the cart.

push message with contextual and good content


Wired had carried a story in mid- 2014 that notifications are going to rule the smartphone interface. Whether or not that holds true today may invite conflicting opinion but what we do know is that notification is the core of mobile engagement.

However, when it comes to engagement Mark Ritson brilliantly sums it up– “[You] can buy eyeballs based on what [people] have previously looked at, rather than the age or gender of the skull that they happen to reside within.”

Do share your thoughts in the comments.

Increase Your CTR By 40% Using Push Notifications

Follow the best practices

  • Created: 20 Oct 2016
  • Last Updated: 12 Jan 2022



Ajit Singh Content Marketer, Webengage

Ajit is a Marketing Manager at WebEngage. He is a power user who writes about marketing automation and everything about the customer engagement sphere. He previosuly worked as a Digital Marketing Executive at

Liked our article? Give us your feedback by rating it.
Total Rating : 2 , Average Rating : 5