There are various notification types you can use to keep your users engaged in SaaS.
When designing notifications, it’s vital to be mindful of the user experience and ensure that you have the right information in the right place.
In this article, we discuss different types of notifications that can use to improve the communication between your company and customers.
- A notification is a message or alert popup companies use to send information to users.
- Apart from acting as regular reminders, notifications are great for encouraging user engagement, boosting conversion rates, and providing guidance to users.
- There are 2 main notification types: in-app or push. In-app notifications are a mixture of UI elements like modals, tooltips, checklists, banners, and more.
- You can also send push notifications for users who are not in your app’s environment and try to bring them back. Push notifications can be sent to users’ mobile devices, desktops, and tablets.
- Here are some notification UX best practices:
- Personalize your messaging to increase engagement.
- Trigger notifications contextually and make sure they are relevant to what the user is doing at the moment.
- Add a clear CTA to the notification that guides the user to take an action.
- A/B test different versions of the notification to understand which resonates with your users and helps you meet your goals.
- Product teams can use Userpilot to create notifications within minutes without writing a single line of code.
What are notifications?
Notifications are short messages that help you to communicate with your users, inform them of relevant events and eventually engage them with your app.
What are the benefits of using notifications?
Let’s break down the top three benefits of using notifications for your products.
As a product owner, you want users to have a reason to continue using your tool. That’s where notification comes in. They act as reminders and motivate users to spend more time with your product.
For example, you can use notifications to announce your new shiny features to users and get them to try them instantly.
Sometimes what users need to finally sign up for a paid plan or subscribe to a tool is a gentle nudge, which is what notifications do.
For instance, you can send contextual upsell prompts to inform users of the ways they can get more from a product.
Notifications often act as guides that help users understand what’s happening and what they need to do next thus reducing cognitive and interaction user friction in the user experience.
What are the different notification types commonly used in SaaS?
SaaS notifications can be classified based on the following:
Channel: There are two main ways to send notifications: internal and external. Internal notifications, also called in-app messages, are sent to users within the product. External, or so-called “push notifications” are short messages that an app sends to users while they aren’t using it.
- Required attention level: notifications can require low, medium, or high attention levels. Then based on their level of importance, they can occur as alerts, error messages, confirmations, announcements, acknowledgments, warnings, success messages, or status indicators.
- Triggering method: this depends on conditions that will generate a notification.
In-app notification types
There are several types of in-app notifications, each with its own purpose and benefits.
Modals are very intrusive, they take up the entire screen and interrupt the user’s workflow. Modals persist until users engage with them and only disappear when dismissed by the user.
For this reason, you should proceed with caution when using this UI element. We advise using a modal only when the message is critical and needs immediate attention.
One great use case of modals includes sending error messages that require the user to take action. Let’s take a look at how Asana does it.
Another situation when modals could be beneficial is when you want to announce a major product update that affects the majority of your users.
Slideouts are in-app UI patterns that slide out (literally) from the side of your product’s display window to share information.
They can be particularly useful during onboarding for introducing users to key features and providing contextual help.
Unlike modals, tooltips use a small amount of screen real estate and therefore are less disruptive.
Hotspots are similar to tooltips, but they are far less intrusive. You can place these flashing circles on the different user interface elements to indicate more info is available.
Hotspots subtly draw users’ attention to a specific area or spot on the screen. Once users click on them, it provides additional information about a UI element.
Hotspots are great for announcing minor updates and UI changes.
Checklists combine an in-app message with a to-do list and act as step-by-step instructions to complete an action.
Checklists can also help drive engagement with more advanced features during secondary onboarding. In the end, surface-level features are not enough to keep users from switching to your competitor’s solution.
A notification banner is a small bar that appears on top of your site.
You can use banners not only in your app but also on your website.
They’re great for sending payment reminders, announcing an upcoming sale, discounts and promo messages, system maintenance, and downtime announcements.
Notification panels are useful for users who receive many system-generated notifications or may need to refer to them later.
The notification panel allows users to access and read all notifications without cluttering the screen with persistent notifications. Additionally, they provide consistency for users who require more time to read notifications, use a screen reader, or prefer to limit notifications.
A microsurvey is a short, in-app form that can be used to collect valuable insights from your users.
- Get feedback on your product’s features and functionality
- Analyze user sentiment (NPS)
- Create a personalized onboarding path (welcome screens)
If you use a chatbot or live chat on your app or website, you are probably already familiar with these notifications.
With these notifications, you can let users know when a message is available or if they have a response waiting for them.
This is a great way to engage users with your support team. In most cases, this type of personalized communication directly impacts your sales.
External notification types
In the next sections, let’s talk about some of the most common notifications that you can send to users when they are outside of your app.
Web push notifications
A web push notification is a communication message sent to a user through the desktop web or mobile web. An alert message appears either at the top right of the desktop screen or at the bottom right of the screen, depending on which operating system the user utilizes.
As for mobile devices, they work much like push notifications from an app.
Push notifications are delivered to users’ desktops and mobile screens whenever they’re active on their browser, regardless of whether they’re on your website.
Mobile app push notifications
This push notification is triggered by an existing/downloaded app on your device to keep users informed of time-sensitive events. They are those small pop-up messages that appear on a lock screen even when users are not active on their mobile apps at a point in time.
These mobile notifications occur as SMS messages and are more personalized than web push notifications, which are mostly generic.
And finally, you can send notifications to your user base via email.
The pro here is that it’s relatively easy to distribute notifications via email as there are dozens of cheap or even free email automation tools.
However, there are also cons to this channel.
It might take a while for the user to see the email notification. Moreover, emails can be lost in the user’s inbox (e.g., in the spam folder).
Another big con is in order to complete an action when the app sends an email notification, the user must switch to email. Particularly when interacting with an app on your mobile device, it might not be very convenient.
Notification types based on levels of severity
Notification types can be broadly classified into three levels of severity: high, medium, and low attention. Each level of severity corresponds to a different level of urgency and attention required by the user.
For instance, confirmation notifications are considered high-level because they prevent users from accidentally deleting important details.
Let’s discuss each notification type in detail.
These notifications alert the user to a serious problem that requires immediate action. For instance, they could alert a user of a security breach or a critical system failure.
Examples of high-attention notifications are alerts, warnings, error messages, system failures, and user confirmation messages.
Because these notifications are critical, they’re displayed in more prominent areas of the UI, such as modals or banners.
Medium attention notifications
These notifications alert the user of a potential problem that requires their attention. Unlike high-attention notifications, they do not require immediate action.
Examples of medium-attention notifications are customer success acknowledgments, and confirmation messages.
These notification types inform the user of an event that has occurred, such as a successful login or the completion of a task.
They’re less urgent, so they do not require immediate action from the user.
Notification types based on the trigger
This is a notification that occurs due to set conditions or events preceding it, and they come in three categories:
- Notification triggered by the user: for example mobile messaging, where the notification is created by the user and is directed to another user.
- Notification triggered by the system: system-generated notifications, such as requests to update the app.
- Event-triggered notification: this happens as a reaction to user actions or user input. For instance, suggesting a bank selection feature when a user tries to complete a transaction.
Best practices and tips when creating notifications
Now that you’re familiar with the different notification types, let’s learn the best ways to use them.
Here are some of our best tips for creating engaging notifications:
Personalize your messaging to increase engagement and boost UX
The best way to capture your audience’s attention is by understanding their needs and offering relevant solutions. This is where personalization comes in.
One way to personalize your message is through segmentation. This involves dividing your audience into different groups based on common characteristics or behaviors.
With a tool like Userpilot, you can segment customers based on their plan, location, jobs to be done, and stages in the user journey.
Send one notification at a time
There is nothing worse than bombarding users with numerous random notifications that don’t add any value to them.
That is why it’s important to show one notification at a time and most importantly, do it contextually, meaning it’s relevant to what the user is doing.
Prompt users into action with a clear CTA
Before creating and sending a notification, ask yourself what users should do after seeing them.
Notifications should direct users to a specific action. Whether encouraging them to engage with a newly launched feature or offering them to upgrade their plan, it’s up to you to decide.
In any case, you need to include a clear CTA that helps them get going.
A/B test your notifications
No matter how religiously you follow best practices when creating your notifications, you probably won’t get it right the first time.
As the saying goes, practice makes it perfect. You need to constantly test and iterate if you want to get the best possible results.
Give users the option to dismiss your notifications
Nothing turns your customers off more than forcing them to engage with your prompt.
Give them the power to choose. Just add an “X” button users can use to exit or dismiss the notification and get back to what they were doing.
Best tools for creating notifications
Ready to get notifications right for your users? Here are some of the best tools that will help you accomplish that.
Userpilot – best code-free tool for creating targeted in-app notifications
- Choose from a wide range of UI patterns: modals, slideouts, banners, tooltips, hotspots, and checklists are all at your disposal.
- Advanced segmentation options: With Userpilot, you can segment users based on several characteristics such as product usage, jobs to be done, location, etc., and send the right notification to the right user.
- Monitor in-app user behavior: You can track how users interact with your notifications: do they follow the CTA in the notification or dismiss the message altogether? Etc.
VWO engage – best for creating desktop and mobile push notifications
Formerly known as Push Crew, VWO is a web push notifications platform that enables websites to send messages to users on both mobile and desktop.
VWO Engage makes it simple to send rich push notifications with images, text, and CTAs without the need for a designer or developer.
Pricing for VWO engages starts at $99/month, giving you access to 10,000 subscribers and unlimited warnings.
There are different forms of notifications you can use to communicate with users and engage them with your product.
As a product-led company, you will particularly benefit from in-app notifications. You can use different UI patterns for creating your notifications such as modals, banners, tooltips, hotspots, and more!
Want to create notifications code-free and utilize them in a way that improves product adoption? Book a Userpilot demo and we will teach you how.
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