We’ve become an instant gratification nation. And nothing caters to our desire for instant gratification more than mobile devices, particularly smartphones (except maybe this cupcake vending machine. There goes my diet!). According to Pew Research, 77% of Americans own a smartphone. So it’s safe to say the majority of us have high expectations for receiving information we deem important exactly when we want it.

Push notifications are those messages that pop up at the top of the screen when a smartphone is in use, providing a preview of a message that’s been delivered to your phone via an app. On most operating systems and phones, they also appear in a notification center that stores multiple push notifications in one spot. Not sure what we mean by “notification center?” Apple does a great job of educating us about their products and software updates, so here’s a look at their iOS notification center:

It’s important we make a distinction here. We mentioned earlier that these notifications are delivered from apps on your phone. Though these notifications are coming from apps, they look a bit like SMS text messages and other mobile alerts that also show up in the notification center. But unlike text and email promotions, push notifications are definitely not an afterthought for savvy marketers. They’re an opportunity to target customers with relevant promotions and information about your business.

So how do they do it? How do smart marketers make their push notifications pop?

1. They don’t get too pushy.

Users opt in and out. So when they’re opted in, they’re practically begging to see well-timed notifications from your business. But that doesn’t give you the right to get too pushy. Think about these in the same way you think about text and email campaigns. Send too few, and engagement with your app is sure to be low. Send too many, and you’ll likely get unsubscribed (or worse…uninstalled).

2. They understand the importance of location, location, location.

Has your phone ever asked you if it’s okay to turn location services on? That’s because many apps want to know your location in order to cater to your specific needs in that moment. With something called geofencing, marketers can draw imaginary borders around certain geographic areas that trigger push notifications when someone crosses over that border and into your ‘hood.

3. They know timing is everything.

You’ve got to time your notifications to match peak app usage times. According to Marketing Land and a 2015 Localytics survey, Thursdays will earn you the highest click rates on your push notifications when compared to other days of the week. But time of day matters more. Try sending around lunch time, between about 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

4. They’re never too vague.

It may be tempting to use vague language when you’re trying to cut down on characters and words. But omitting too much information can make your notification seem like it lacks value. The best push notifications give viewers everything they need to make a decision on the spot.

Not only should you avoid being vague, you should be clear about what you want your audience to do. Be specific about the exact action you’re looking to provoke. And according to Localytics, you’ll want to do it in 10 words or fewer (though we think you could get away with up to 15 if the words add value and clarity).

Need some examples of good push notifications?

If you operate a heating and cooling company focusing on residential A/C and heater work, conduct a promotion on system tune-ups before summer.

  • Get a tune-up and inspection be4 summer, 50% OFF. Book TODAY!

Own a salon and spa? Invite app users within 20 miles to walk in for a free consultation.

  • Not feeling yourself? Strut in w/in the next 3 hours, and get a FREE consultation.

Own an outdoor living store? Conduct a flash sale, and push notifications to anyone who enters your region (re: geofencing).

  • Grab your grill today, and get 30% OFF when you mention code: MEATOVERHEAT.
Don’t have an app for your business? That’ll make it tough to send push notifications.

So you’re probably not yet concerned about this particular type of mobile communication with your customers. That’s OK. There are plenty of other ways to reach your customers via their mobile devices (think email and text marketing, for example).

Learn more by chatting with a Thryv expert today.