How Notifications Impact User Behavior–For Better and For Worse

Alex Li

Alex Li

Founder / CEO

March 31, 2022

How many of us have tried to have a sitdown conversation with someone wearing an Apple Watch? About every few minutes–if you’re lucky–there’s a buzzing sound, and they’re looking down to check their newest message. If it’s one thing we’ve learned about consumer behavior when it comes to user notifications, it’s that they exist in extremes: if they aren’t helpful, they are disruptive and annoying–and that can make or break an app’s installation and DAU rate.

It may not seem like an important subject, but things are happening in the world of push technology to address this imbalance. That’s because technology companies are learning how important it is to understand the relationship between user behavior analytics data and the success of application software and mobile apps. There’s a delicate balance between overburdening and under-informing. If it not done well, a poorly designed notification system can cause users to delete apps in favor of a competitor’s. Even the most established tech names don’t make it easy for users to customize their notifications–imagine a non-tech-savvy user attempting these Microsoft Windows directions or this Snapchat tutorial.

Facebook, which was been heavily criticized for its overuse of notifications (right around the time they lost a chunk of users), made “quiet mode” available last week; this will probably spill over to Instagram as well. Startup MagicBell, which offers software for pre-built notification infrastructures, makes it easier for businesses to provide highly-customized, cross-channel alert systems so that customers have a better experience. And OneSignal just unleashed advanced behavioral analytics capabilities to provide organizations with a deeper understanding of how users react to their push commands, emails, or in-app text messaging. In the meantime, Apple has relaxed its privacy restrictions on app notifications, making some iPhone users concerned about the security of their information. Even those of us surfing the internet outside of our mobile devices are seeing more notifications–just ask Adrenalead, an AI and advanced analytics startups that let marketers push notifications to computers. (Luckily, Google Chrome recently built a computer program that will reduce the notification burden.)

User behavior data is worth its weight in gold, and especially so when it comes to push notifications because it’s hard to gauge the psychology of the entire user journey without it (or distinguish anomalies from a true red flag trend). For example, did more Fitbit users stop using their wearables because the notifications were redundant, or because there was a blizzard and they couldn’t get outside?

As this part of the industry evolves, we’ll leave you with some insightful research that came from various analysis of user patterns around notifications–and showcase the value of behavioral data analytics: