Of what, you might be asking? If you’re not an app developer, you could be forgiven for not knowing the significance of today. But if you ARE an app developer, and you’re using any API or push notification services from Facebook’s Parse, AND you haven’t moved your services yet – you’re in trouble.
That’s because today is the day that Facebook will be pulling the plug on all of its Parse services. The Parse shutdown is today. As detailed in the Parse blog, they’ll be switching off APIs and other services on an app by app basis.
If you haven’t moved your apps yet, don’t panic. We’re here to help. Kumulos offers all the functionality of Parse services with more to boot.
Just Push – If you’re just using Parse Push, replace with Kumulos Push.
Nothing to pay until your apps are rebuilt and out in store*
Unlimited number of development accounts. Unlimited number of push messages and active devices.
Free unlimited AWESOME support to help you with the migration.
Bring your Own Data – Free data import service and hookup feature so you can keep using existing data sources.
THAT’S what we can offer you with Kumulos.
Even if you’re not effected by the Parse shutdown and just want to come over to Kumulos to kick our tires – feel free. With our up to 30 day free trial, you’ve got a no cost and no obligation chance to see what it’s like to work with Kumulos.
Parse Push Notification Service is ending. With the surprise announcement that Facebook is closing the shutters completely on Parse, there are a lot of mobile app developers who use Parse Push Notification left with the headache of what to do next. But as you’ll know, its OK, you have some time, the service wont be withdrawn until the end of January 2017. But the sad part is that the Parse Push service wont be open-sourced like other parts of Parse. So you’ll be forced to find an alternative to Parse Push.
So no point in hanging about.
What’s the Best Alternative for Parse Push?
You have two routes you can go. Take on a free standing push notification service and integrate that with the server-side of your app project or pick a provider that offers you a push service that is already integrated within a backend. The route that right for you will depend on many things including how comfortable you are with the overhead of building and maintaining the integration between your push service and your mBaaS platform. Also whether you will actually need some of the specialist features that come with the free standing systems and whether they are worth paying extra for those features.
So here’s a short summary of the best alternatives to Parse Push Notifications. Its not designed to be an exhaustive list. There are dozens of services out there, each having their own merits and no doubt de-merits. But maybe this will help you short-list what to use once the Parse Push Notification service finally shuts down.
Kumulos Push is the only Push Notification Service that is purpose built for Mobile App Development Companies. As such it has a range of features that are specifically designed to help make App Developers lives easier, and help them get more apps that they build on monthly retainer. It doesn’t aim to be as full featured as the specialist stand-alone systems. Kumulos offers a push notification service that strikes a good balance between ease of use, functionality and price. It gives you the choice of using their push platform stand alone with an existing mobile backend platform, or already integrated within the Kumulos mBaaS platform. Either option also lets you give your mobile app clients access to their own push notification dashboard that allows them to run their own push campaigns and measure the results.
There is also the option of an automated monthly report. This is typically offered by Mobile App Development Agencies to their clients as a service on monthly retainer.
This is one place that Kumulos Push scores highly. Fixed monthly pricing fits well with mobile app developers offering Push Notification as a Service to their customers. Kumulos starts from as little as $50.00 per month which gives you an unlimited number of notifications each month, there is also an up to 30 Days Free Trial available.
Carnival is definitely worth a look if you are looking for a system well featured system to run complex push notification campaigns. It seem to offer a well balanced push notification services catering for the needs of developers and the marketing team that will be running the push notification campaigns. Too often push notification services are bias towards developers needs, so its good to see Carnival getting the balance right.
Their push notification services offers rich messaging, granular audience segmentation, message automation that includes timezone (and language) settings and narrow geo-fencing targeting and user behavior analytics that can be automated and sent directly to your inbox.
I’d say they definitely have to be up there when considering an alternative to Parse Push.
This looks to be a closely guarded secret so best to email them if you want a demo or to find out if your project can afford them.
StreetHawks Push Notification Services have good platform coverage iOS, Andriod, Phonegap, Xamarin, Corona, Telerik, Titanium. They say, and it seems to make sense, that if apps don’t use deferred deep linking properly it can lose 70% of its users day 3 from the first install. So StreetHawk put a lot of emphasis on this within their “Growth Offering”. But their real strength comes in their “Engage” offering. It offers impressive features around segmentation and life-cycle management, highly configurable push notification services and rich in app content. Their iBeacon and geo-fencing functionality is also worth a close look. Possibilities here to keep app users engaged makes StreekHawk a very interesting push notification platform.
StreetHawk lets you focus effort on the most valuable app users with some interesting “viral analytics” and some pretty cool engagement automation tools.
Churn within any app is inevitable, but if you can use push to help reduce churn, particularly among your most valuable app users, or use it to increase use frequency of less engaged app users then its value will be immense. StreetHawk has real strengths here.
StreetHawk’s push notification pricing is one of the more complicated plan structures out there. They set their pricing out based on what you are trying to achieve. Best just to browse streethawks price page for yourself to see if its for you.
Urban Airship’s goes beyond what you’d typically describe as a Push Notification Service. It positions itself as a mobile engagement platform offering an impressive array of features including of course push notification, but also a very user friendly message center, fine grain segmentation configuration and location technology including beacons, geo-fencing, location history and location targeting.
This makes Urban Airship a pretty powerful in app marketing automation platform that allows highly targeted (if done right highly relevant) real time customer experience. Also the message configuration settings help prevent spamming the app user with too many push notes.
The analytics package is pretty impressive too. It can give a real insight into what activities, push, in app messages or whatever, are driving the desired behavour. Knowledge is power after all, but its how you use it that counts, of course.
In terms of plan pricing, Urban Airship keep their Push Notification Services a secret. That’s rarely a good sign. If you need to know the price, you probably can’t afford it.
Push Woosh positions its push notification services more at the development community. Its the classic stick to what they are good at software provider that you could argue is less likely to do a Parse Push on you.
Its highly configurable, with loads of great features, but not that friendly out the box, compared with other push notification services. But it comes with a big user community amongst mobile app developers so your not going to be short of programmers to help you out.
With a technical solution you won’t be surprised to hear that there is a huge list of platforms and formats that Push Woosh works with – it covers 19 platforms in all. By far the most comprehensive of any Push Notification Service platform. Android, Blackberry 5-7, 10, Windows Phone & 8, Nokia Asha, Amazon, OS X, Chrome, Safari, WordPress, Cordova (phonegap), unity, Adobe Air, Marmalade, Corona, Appcelerator Titanium, Xamarin, PhoneGap build and Trigger.io
Pricing looks decent also with a good free tier, albeit only allowing very limited functionality. But at $49 a month used well it should more than cover its cost.
Catapush’s push notification services feels a bit raw around the edged but could be an interesting option for the smaller mobile app projects. It offers a narrower platform choice than some of the more established players with SDK’s for just Android and iOS. It has a RESTful API. That said it does offer some interesting features. For example delivery status tracking and failover to SMS when the app user has lost data connectivity. This gives the option to send an SMS using the standard protocol even if the app isn’t currently installed on the phone. Pretty useful if you’re trying to win back lost app users. That said, not sure how this fits with permission based push notes and how invasive this would feel to the user, so best used sparingly.
As for analytics, this isn’t integrated but accessed through an API. The stats appear to be very centered around note delivery, so less useful to analyse and drive more granular campaigns.
There’s no free in-use tier with Catapush’s Push Notification Service. Pricing is in Euros for this Italian based company, there is no US $ pricing. Entry price is €29/month (plus purchase tax) for up to 2,500 subscribers. For that you get to send an unlimited number of push messages.
You’ll need to ask them about pricing for the SMS service.
Always tempting to discount push notification services once they are bought by a tech monolith. Xtify was absorbed by IBM (Push.io was bought out by Oracle and merged with their Marketing Cloud offering a while back also). What you lose in access and engagement with the software company you gain in security and the fact that if you go for Xtify (or Push.io) you can be pretty sure the push notification services will be around in a few years. Well, you’d like to think so, wouldn’t you. But the lesson learned from FaceBook and Parse Push is that maybe a broadliner like IBM may lose interest in Xtify. So some caution is needed, perhaps.
Xtify offers the standard set of SDK’s, and one of the few offering it for Blackberry. It allows you to target either simple or rich text HTML push notifications. It also offers a “persistent” notification inbox, which is pretty neat. So messages stay visible until they are read or deleted. It also offers a scheduler that can be configured on timezone and location. It’s also one of the few that lets you integrate with any existing CRM data, so gives a more complete view of customers full contact history regardless of medium.
So it’s from IBM so it’s not going to be the cheapest option for push notification services. It’s not easy to find out pricing, which probably tells you what you need to know in terms of cost.
It offers the choice of a shared cloud or dedicated instance. The cloud instance is pretty fast to get going. It offers simple drag and drop configuration to get the SDK into your app code as well as copy past credentials from the QuickBlox dashboard.
Its free tier gives you 20,000 monthly active users and unlimited numbers of push notes. That said it throttles those to 20 per second. So could be OK for retail location-based apps maybe where instant volume isn’t critical, but for a high volume app where you’re wanting to push out large numbers of push notes all at once, it can get pricey. You could be looking at pricing in the range of $49/month to $219 per month for the shared cloud option. Up to $2,399/month if you need more than 500,000 monthly users.
Push Notifications are the one of the most effective ways of driving recency, frequency and higher mobile app engagement. Used well push notifications can drive up to 20% greater app engagement, reduce attrition and drive more profit from your apps. Research from our friends at Netmera, shows that push notifications an drive up orders by as much as 180%. Check out their infographic.
But just having push notifications installed within your app isn’t enough to guarantee success. You have to work at it. How successful you are at driving users to enable push notifications at first install (30% success is a good number) and how you drive push notification campaigns is what will make a difference.
1. Relevance of Push Notifications
Delivering the right content, to the right user, at the right time is one of the most important drivers of success from your mobile app. For this to be effective you need to carefully segment your customer base and use intelligent segmentation tools to build different customer groups. You then need to build the specific rules that will deliver that relevant content to that segment when they are most ready for your content.
2. Buying Preference
Know your customer and you’ll sell to that customer. Using analytics to understand their historic behavior and how/when they have consumed a push notifications from you in the past. Its likely that different market segments will react to and interact with your push notifications in different ways. Modelling your push automation systems against this behavior will have a huge impact on the engagement you’ll get.
3. Driving Intent into the purchase phase
Engaging someone just as they hit the intent to buy with a well targeted offer is one of the best ways to drive them to buy from you. A well targeted push notification just after they have been browsing your products and services but not bought will give you a huge lift in your sales funnel. There are many push notification services with powerful cross platform engines that can drive very clever re-marketing campaigns.
4. Not every metric is born equal
Its always tempting to measure and judge success based on the measures most easily available. More important is to study and understand what the true purchase lead indicators are and then build your measures of success around those. Be clear what part your push notification programs play in that buying funnel and ensure that the metrics you are using analyse push notification activity results against the specific objectives you set. Be clear that it is push notifications that are driving that and not other factors. A/B testing where you have a control group receiving no push notifications is probably the most effective technique here.
Treat this as an ongoing exercise. Its important to continually measure and refine your push notifications campaigns to make sure you optimize their effectiveness. Buyers behavior changes – your push notifications need to continually adjust to fit. It also important to continually raise the bar of what you expect. Complacency is death to progress.
Push Notification Services have come a long way in the last few years. There is a broad choice of Push Notification Services out there to chose from. Some are very strong at rule base automation engines and intelligent algorithms that are great at predicting behavior and intent. Others are incredibly strong at analytics and segmentation. Some focus hard on delivery with sms fail-over or virtual in-box technology that keep the push notifications visible longer. No one covers all areas. Which one is best will depend on many things, including the size of your data set and most probably how deep your pockets are.