Push it real good: a closer look at HQ Trivia’s app notification strategy

Sam Poullain
Jan 27, 2018 · 4 min read

HQ Trivia has taken the world by storm since launching in October 2017. The trivia app, which streams two 20-minute live shows per day, has topped one million unique viewers and offers prize funds of up to $40k. It’s TV for the mobile generation.

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HQ Trivia host Scott Rogowsky, AKA ‘Quiz Daddy’

HQ’s regular time slots, lively in-app community chats, referral code, and big fat pot of prize cash have undoubtedly fuelled its insane growth by word of mouth. But I’ve been kind of fascinated by the fact that HQ relies heavily on one other tactic to reach its users every day: push notifications. As the app is only live for two twenty minute slot per day, they’re kind of a big deal:

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And we all swipe right, right?

Swipe right for good times

What I love about these notifications is that they’re short and sweet. They’re consistent. Timely. Scarce (they only send one per game). They don’t go anywhere crazy in terms of tone of voice, and they don’t try any cheap tricks by name-checking celebrities, trends or memes. They are unmistakably HQ. They’re fun. Alluring. They make you feel part of the game. They definitely don’t make you want to turn off notifications in settings. And in a world where we have dozens of notifications flashing up on our screens every day, that counts.

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On a romantic date? Tough. It’s HQ time

HQ we have a problem

Very occasionally, HQ suffers from technical failures and has to re-start its game. So what happens when something goes wrong? It’s time for quick thinking and — you guessed it — another notification. But instead of a grovelling apology, they simply do it the HQ way:

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What more do you need to know?

Extra push

HQ has also launched bonus games in the UK and Ireland fronted by a new host. Notifications for this game usually start with the British and Irish flags, a clear sign that its the local game, and a smart character-saving tactic:

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We’re on our fourth round by 8pm on a Friday, so let’s have some fun

About as far as HQ goes into immersing itself into the outside world is occasionally referencing the day of the week or time of day:

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I’ve definitely noticed that these UK/Ireland notifications are a little wordier and pushier. Maybe there’s a little tone of voice subtlety between how they see the US and UK/Irish audience. Or maybe they’re going a little more aggressively after that user base outside of the US. Here, for example, the grand prize is called out, something you don’t see quite as often on the main game:

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Dolla dolla bill y’all
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It’s that sweet referral code again

We don’t know how the long the HQ wave is going to last, but it’s set a new paradigm for live apps and inspired a number of others. And they’re gonna have to work hard to get space on your home screen.

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Read more:

The Magic of HQ Trivia [Product Hunt]
Who Are The HQ Trivia Hosts Who Aren’t Scott Rogowsky? Quiz Daddy Is Part Of A Team [Bustle]

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