Mobile App Development

Who are the best push notification vendors? Here’s the Waracle guide to the Top 3!

3rd March 2015

Developing an awesome app is one thing. Engaging your audience is a different matter. Making sure you pick the best push notification services for your app will help a lot.  It’s estimated 80% of time spent using a smartphone is direct via an app. We establish a deep connection with your audience by engaging users via meaningful messages and content. Your goal is to ensure your app is grabbing more eyeball time than your competitors. 

What are push notification services?

App push notifications are like giving your app a megaphone. They deliver targeted and compelling messaging to increase usage of your app. They’re permission-based, so users have to actively opt-in before they receive them. Bottom line – ensure your user’s first app experience explains why they should opt-in for push messaging!

The benefits of using push notification services?

When used correctly, push notifications represent a great channel to deliver meaningful content to your app users. That means if you get this right in terms of strategy and planning, you can increase app engagement by up to 300%. Not to be scoffed at! But it won’t just happen – you need to invest significant effort around your mobile marketing strategy and planning in order to maximise the impact of your campaign. 

“Everything in your app should be delivered from the mindset of benefiting the audience”

You’ll need to consider the rate at which people engage with your push notifications, the types of messages that are most popular and the characteristics of the app users most susceptible to your push campaign. Will you want to want to include location-based or geo-targeted notifications? What about the different time zones in which your users are? Impeccable planning around all of these details is key to delivering a great app experience.

How To Optimise Your Push Notification Campaign

Optimising your targeted push messages is about understanding customer behaviour. It’s therefore essential to have a firm grasp on analytics. You need to become obsessed with the data in order to enhance your ongoing performance –  it’s essential to focus on stuff that adds real value to your UX. You can use purchase history and other data points to improve the features in your app. If you’re new to push, you might want to get something up and running fairly fast – then optimise as you go based on relentless data analysis and user feedback.

Here are the top 3 best push notification services:

We had Parse Push in our Top 4 best push notification services, but with FaceBook’s decision to pull down the shutters on that service we had to think again. Just as we were reviewing other push notification services, Kumulos, an mBaaS favorite of ours, launched their Push Notification Service. The timing here couldn’t have been better.

 1.) Kumulos

Kumulos is our recommendation for best Push Notification Services. It offers the best balance between ease of use, cost and functionality. It also offers a few features that you can’t currently get elsewhere, like pre-built Push Notification web portal to send and manage push campaigns and pre-configured analytics that give you a broad view of not just push messages, but also OS, devices, location of the user.

We particularly like the number of rich push features that are easy to use including emojis, badges, deep linking, local time settings and sending JSON pay-loads. The fact that it lets you brand the interface up with your logo and colours is also a big plus-point. We also love that it gives customer logins so they can manage their own push campaigns – and view the results (we haven’t found any other service that lets you do that).

Set up is quick and painless and there are great technical resources online.

Kumulos Push Notification Pricing:

For us, this is where Kumulos scores big. It costs a fraction of the other push notification services out there, yet you don’t lose out on features. You get an unlimited number of push notification messages for a starting price of just $50 per app per month and they price based on total push notification subscribers., This can work out better for you as you only pay for the users that are actually subscribed to receive push messages, which we think is fair.

2.) Carnival

Carnival allows for push notifications, in-app messaging and a rich customizable message stream. It allows you to target and automate rich messages by user behaviour, location and demographic.

It’s extremely easy to use with beautiful Carnival Documentation and a knowledgeable support team to help you get set up quickly. One of the coolest features of Carnival is their auto-analytics integrations with major analytics providers like Google, Flurry, Localytics and Mixpanel allowing you to import all the events you’re tracking in these platforms into their audience builder for targeting and automation.

Carnival seems to shine for e-commerce/retail, consumer businesses and loyalty apps where there’s a good use case for personalized and rich messaging beyond a basic push.

Carnival Pricing:

Carnival’s basic self-service pricing starts at $250/month and roughly equates to between $0.007 – $0.01 per monthly active user. For larger clients, their Pro pricing starts at $1250/month for 100,000 MAU including access to a customer success manager, and then enterprise (global brands or brick and mortars with large store numbers) is pricing on request.


3.) Urban Airship

If you’re a developer or marketer new to the world of mobile app optimisation, this is also a decent place to start. Urban Airship uses a combination of analytics, engagement strategies and push notification features. And it also uses location, platform and preferences to deliver tailored and engaging notifications. The toolkit provides an intuitive web-based editor to schedule updates and preview them across different mobile operating systems. Analytics reports on the success of your previous push endeavours, helping you optimise accordingly for future campaigns. ‘Wallet Studio’ integrates directly with Apple Pay and Google Wallet offering retailers the ability to store details around coupons, deals and loyalty cards.

Urban Airship Pricing

You can have up to 1,000 “addressable users” on the free tier, but you don’t get any support. Above that pricing ranges from $99-399 a month for their basic plan (which you do get support). Their Essential Plan starting at $149 and Comprehensive at $349 a month. Both the Essential Plan and the Comprehensive Plan in addition have tiered pricing based on the number of addressable users.

The bottom line on the best push notification vendors

So we’ve given you our view on the best push notification services out there! Ultimately you have to choose the appropriate platform based upon the requirements of your mobile app project. But for now, the Kumulos platform is the platform that we feel gives the best balance between cost, flexibility, ease of use and features.

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