Stop sending notifications that don’t matter — an introduction to Set SDK notifications

UPDATE: If you are interested in learning more, join our next event in NYC.

Since you left your house this morning, of the times you looked at your phone because of a notification, how many times did you open and engage with an app and how many times did you glance at the notification and get back to the real world? Mobile app engagement has moved from swipes to glances.

Creating personalization for the glances

Message Timing

The problem with reaching users who glance at your notification is that you have very small windows to provide value and a high probability of just adding noise. This has led many apps that we otherwise enjoy to send frequent and often useless messages. This is terrible for a lot of reasons, and is well documented elsewhere. An alternative for these apps is to learn when their users gain value from their services, and reach out at only those moments.

Message Content

Presenting generic messages within notifications is a problem for users that just glance at your notification. To get any useful information, the user is forced to open your app, something they will likely not do, especially if they are busy with something else. At the same time, presenting specific information in a notification isn’t useful if that information isn’t relevant to the user within their current context.

If we can understand the user’s current context, we can make better decisions about exactly what information to provide in our notifications.


The problems is that for most apps, achieving this level of highly individualized notification behavior would be extremely complex, and before now, there were no tools that could help a developer pair personalization with notifications.

Today we are launching a new notification service that utilizes Set SDK’s on-device behavioral learning tools to help you identify the right moments to be engaging with your users. Imagine cutting the notifications you send in half or more, but providing value to your users more often. Our new service has a number of unique features we know developers are going to love, and we are very excited to share it with the world.

Designing a better notification for you app

While it might sound complicated to send notifications individually paired to the times that a user will care, we are building tools to make it simple. We think of a better notification workflow in three easy steps.

  1. Author a notification
  2. Personalize and target that notification
  3. Send it

You can handle the three steps quickly and easily by using the Set SDK and notification authoring dashboard.

Step 1. Author a notification

Authoring notifications in Set is quick and easy. You can author as many notification campaigns as you need right in the Developer Dashboard, or get access to our Developer APIs if you need to integrate notification authoring with your own tools. Let’s take this example from a meditation app sending a morning meditation reminder.

Simple notification authoring in the Set Dashboard

Step 2. Personalize

Engagement reminders like the one above are a pretty tricky class of notification, since they heavily depend on personalization. And when they aren’t personalized, they can quickly become annoying and lead to customers shutting off notifications for your app. I never actually meditate in the morning, and after a few times using the app, they are able to tell that pretty easily using Set.

In Set, the meditation app is able to create a Notification Recipe using the Developer Dashboard. This custom recipe filters for moments when a user is at home in the morning and have performed two custom behaviors, completed meditations. Finally, the recipe uses something unique to Set, a learned feature optimize, which will helps identify users who have actually used the app in similar times previously. This avoids sending the notification to all those people who have no intention of meditating in the morning.

Notification Recipe optimized to when the user’s app is normally active

3. Send it

Click Save and your notification is live. Behind the scenes, your recipe is sent off to your app, where the recipe is monitored until you cancel it. The next time the recipe is matched, your app can reach out to them and provide new content they are more likely to value.

That’s it. No more annoying, mistimed notifications for all your users.

If you want to check it out, here are our docs and signup page. As always, shoot us any comments over on twitter.