For the past three years, Urban Airship has been promoting the idea of "good push" which is based on the insight that "more is not better," Hieggelke says. Notifications are valued, even welcomed, by users when they are relevant to their interests and needs.
Urban Airship compared the response rate (called "lift") of broadcast notifications versus targeted notifications, for over 1,000 apps and one billion pushes using their platform. "Targeting gives you almost a 300 percent lift over broadcasting," he says. "Good push done well becomes a feature, a strength, of the app."
The highest lift rates were for gambling apps, which are more common in Europe. Entertainment apps had the next highest lift, in part because notifications were fine-tuned to time of day -- different messages for morning in a coffee shop compared to for evening in a pub.
For many apps, users emphatically want certain types of notifications. "This is a triple opt-in channel," Hieggelke says. First, just by selecting and installing the app, users have taken a big step in saying 'I want this on my device." Second, they have to explicitly opt in to push notifications from the app. Finally, if the app also is requesting data on the user's location, the user has to explicitly grant that also.
Walgreens' Duane Reade pharmacy chain is beta testing a sophisticated marriage of push notifications and Apple iBeacons at 10 of its stores in New York City. The latest version of its iOS app adds support for the in-store Bluetooth iBeacons. Once inside the store, the app can be switched to in-store mode "where users will have access to their loyalty card, saved coupons, a floor map of the store, a product locator and product scanning."
Eventually, a drugstore that automatically refills your prescriptions can send you a notice when the refill is actually ready. Instead of waiting or guessing, you can be notified immediately on your iPhone when it's available.
The new interactive notifications in iOS 8 promise to change how you -- and app developers and businesses - use your iPhone. You may not like some of the changes, if you're flooded with irrelevant alerts.
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