Facebook Pushes Mobile Notifications out of Beta

Mobile developers seeking better user engagement can now use Facebook's push campaign functionality freely in production, as the feature has come out of an extensive beta program.

Part of Facebook's Analytics for Apps tool, push campaigns let developers target specific user segments with push notifications or in-app notifications, triggered by user actions.

Facebook developer Brian Ni said push campaigns help developers keep their audience engaged so they keep returning to use an app, an important goal in view of research that found 60 percent of all downloaded apps are used fewer than 10 times.

"With a redesigned audience targeting section, it's now easier than ever before to send push notifications to specific audience segments for a smoother and quicker workflow," Ni said in a blog post this week announcing the end of the beta program.

The initial beta stage for select organizations started after the push notification tool was unveiled during the company's April F8 developer conference. After attracting more than 10,000 developers, that beta was opened up to more businesses last month.

With the tool now generally available to everyone, iOS and Android users can expect to see a bunch more messages popping up from their smartphones.

Push Campaign Examples
[Click on image for larger view.] Push Campaign Examples (source: Facebook)

Those messages are categorized by Facebook into push notifications and in-app notifications. Push notifications typically are presented on a device lock screen, but can also be displayed elsewhere, such as banners. They can contain "deep links" that open up an app and present a targeted experience from that app. Typical uses include presenting reminders and offers.

In-app notifications, meanwhile, can leverage rich media, including images, buttons, animated GIFs and emoji, to engage users without developers having to hand-code the functionality within apps.

Ni provided the following examples to illustrate different ways developers can use in-app notifications:

  • New features: in-app notifications are an eye-catching way to let people know about a new feature in your app. For example, if a ride sharing app can promote new transportation option.
  • Limited-time offers: developers can use in-app notifications to increase awareness and participation in a seasonal sale or limited-time offer. For example, a shopping app could promote a "50% Off Sale."
  • Cart reminder: in-app notifications can remind people they have something left in their cart they haven't purchased yet.

The source code backing in-app notifications is open source and available to all on GitHub.

The push campaign functionality comes in the Facebook SDKs for iOS and Android. More information is available in a whitepaper -- "6 Steps to Increase Engagement with Push Notification Campaigns" -- and a quickstart guide.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.