What are rich push notifications? Everything you need to know


What are rich push notifications and why do you need them? How do rich push notifications work? These are the topics we’ll be covering in this article. We’ll also be offering you tips for success in the use of push notifications. So without further delay, let’s jump in!

The mobile application industry is one of the biggest in the world; billions of apps are downloaded monthly. The competition in this sphere is truly impressive, and it’s going to become even greater, rising alongside the billions of dollars the industry earns every year. Here are the numbers of application publishers, in thousands, on the three biggest app stores: the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, and Amazon App Store.


push notifications
Source: AppAnnie

The number of applications available is growing every day, making it very important for an app publisher to stand out and make a high-quality application with a unique concept. However, quality and an interesting idea are not enough to make users return to an application again and again. An app has to be engaging to become one of those 9-12 applications an average person uses daily:

Source: Techcrunch

So how can your application become one of these top ten on people’s must-use lists? Notifications are the answer. Without them, there’s a high probability to lose all the users in no time. Everyone knows what they are: I bet you got a few this morning. These messages remind us about an app and encourage us to use it more frequently.

Mobile app push notifications are good and all, but they aren’t enough for successful user engagement. People easily get bored, so many users just close them immediately and forget they exist. However, there is a way to improve them. Rich push notifications are a more advanced, more interesting version of the good old ones. It’s a good idea to integrate rich push notifications in mobile apps.

What are rich push notifications and why do you need them?


Rich push notifications are text messages with additional media such as images, gifs, or even videos. They’re next-level messages that present not only boring text but also visual content. And it turns out this is exactly what users want. Science has proven human brain to process visual information like pictures several times faster than text. So, that’s understandable, why rich notifications are so effective and almost irresistible.

The user clicking on a link and going right to the app is the main goal of this feature. Urban Airship states that messages enriched with media content fulfil this task more than perfectly. Urban Airship’s survey shows that rich pushes boast a 56% higher open rate than plain text messages.

Rich push notifications benefit from the variety of things you can add. You can send your customers an image of a new product or a gif that demonstrates it. It’s possible to add maps and show where users’ orders are from within your e-commerce app.

How do rich push notifications work?

Push messages come from a server, but not directly. You need to send them via service bases. For Android, this is the Connect Google Message Cloud; for iOS, the APN service is used. These services connect all users in one database so you can distribute messages to them from your admin panel.

Some companies prefer not to build their own admin panels, as doing so requires additional money and on average 120 hours of development time. Instead, many companies use third-party services such as:


  • Localytics
  • AirPush
  • Firebase
  • Urban Airship
  • and more

So how exactly do these third-party notification services work?

It’s rather easy to use one – just give it your client database and that’s pretty much all. You’ll get your cloud admin panel that you can use to send and support rich push notifications. There are many useful features for sending them to popular admin panels such as notification scheduling, templates, customization, support, and user preference tracking. Most of these platforms support rich push notifications for both Android and iOS and respond quickly to operating system updates. For example, when two new options for rich push notifications appeared in iOS 10, third-party notification platforms immediately started supporting them.

The cost for these platforms varies and can be based on the number of messages or the number of users. Some platforms offer monthly or annual subscriptions or a one-time payment for their services.

Why choose a notification platform?

  • No need to build your own admin panel
  • As a customer, you can take part in loyalty programs and get discounts
  • 24/7 support
  • Notification platforms offer many additional features such as scheduling, templates, customization, and others
  • Access to lots of statistics

Getting easy access to statistics is probably one of the main reasons to choose a platform. A platform can show you how many people have seen a notification and who has clicked on it and been redirected to the app. In addition, it can show how long it took for users to react or for how long it has remained unseen. All this information can help you adjust the time you send your messages to get the best response from your users. It’s not enough to just send messages (even rich ones!); you also need to make them as effective as possible.

However, there are several drawbacks to using third-party services.

  • Price: Although the price for building your own admin panel may seem high at first, you’ll probably spend more money for a platform. However, this depends highly on the scale of your application and the number of users.
  • Dependence: If your platform’s server faces problems, there’s nothing you can do about it except wait till it works again. Unlike using a third-party service, when you have your own admin panel, you’re independent. No one can raise the prices because sending, in this case, is free. No one but you can change the terms and conditions.
  • Security: You have to entrust a third-party service with all the data on your client base. Here you need to decide who can provide better security – a platform or you yourself.

Whether it’s best to build your own admin panel or use a cloud service depends on the scale, budget, wishes, and business plan of your application. If you’re a startup, it may be a good idea to use a platform first to test your idea. If you’re a big company, it may be better to build your own admin panel.

Tips for success!


Not only must the media correspond to your message, but the information also must be useful for the users. Think about your audience and consider what might be interesting for them. You can classify your users with the help of an SDK into certain groups based on their interests or location if those factors are important.


Engaging content is what can make your messages vivid and interesting. Don’t hesitate to add videos, photos, or emojis. Make sure the media you use best conveys the information you want to share. Using deep links is also very important. If you send a gif of a new product to your customer, the link within the message should lead to that product – if it doesn’t, no one will bother to look for it.

Source: AppBoy


Personalization is what helps to build your users’ loyalty. You need to customize media just for your users, based on the info you get about them like their hobbies, likes, and preferences.

Source: B2C


Timing is the most important thing for any kind of message. You don’t want your users to be woken up at 2 a.m. because your app has something to tell them, so you need to consider location and time zones.

Frequency is also extremely important. Receiving one notification after another can become so annoying, users will probably delete your application. To solve this problem, use auto-sending with preset times and frequency. Setting the timing is probably the most complicated process, but if done correctly, the result will guarantee success. Rare messages are also pointless, so you need to strike the right balance.

Users who are new to your application need special attention. For social media or news apps, It’s a good idea to send a message about a new friend if we talk about social media or a piece of news. Bonuses for online stores are also a good option.


Make sure to ask the user for permission to send notifications. For example, after launching the app for the first time Android asks users whether the app may send them messages. Most users will choose to receive them and will keep it that way unless they get lots of spam. Others will opt out of notifications, but in this case, it’s a good idea to wait a few days and ask for permission again. Maybe they’ll change their mind.

With rich push notifications, iOS offers more flexibility than Android, but still, you need that permission, so remind your users about it – but only once! If you ask often, your app is bound to be deleted.

How can rich push notifications help your business? They can bring users back to your application again and again. Notifications are able to impress users, attract them, remind them about your application, and create a loyal audience. Visual material has never been so trendy, so rich push notifications have a huge advantage when it comes to staying in touch with users. You can use visual media to make the most of every message.

Last Updated on August 11, 2019.


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