Mobile Messaging Strategy: It’s About Time

The “right user, right place, right time” rule of mobile messaging matters so much that it is almost a cliché. We’ve written about targeting users based on their explicit preferences, as well as using in-app behaviors and data from external systems such as CRMs, POS or email marketing tools. Location services vary from user-supplied zip or post codes to device-supplied country, to location history and, for more pinpointed, real-time targeting with beacons.

Time is the element of messaging that often gets less attention.

Waking up a sleeping app user, or missing a direct open opportunity because the user is busy, can impact brand perception and user response. Here are various elements of time to consider when you push send.

Push to Local Time

For brands pushing to multiple time zones, push to local time allows marketers to assure that all users receive their notification at the same time locally. A marketer anywhere in the world can know that their notification targeted to lunchtime will hit at the right time in both California and Bulgaria. This helpful functionality to send notifications to a device’s current local time is built into Urban Airship Engage, but users sometimes forget about it!

Day Parting

We are often asked what time of day to send a message, and the answer varies significantly by your app’s audience, device type and app behaviors. Our Insight product manager recently wrote about how to determine the right time to send for your brand. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all answer.

Quiet Time

Most brands avoid sending messages late at night or early in the morning. Some build in “quiet time” as an app preference, though both Android and iOS also let users suppress notifications at the device (rather than app) level. Quiet time and time zone are device properties that help control potential interruptions. Consider your overall brand policy for what hours you send messaging. Quiet time can be a policy or a built in, programmatic aspect of your messaging.


The USA Today app allows users to set a Quiet Time, during which they won't receive notifications.


The Zillow app allows users to control how frequently they receive alerts, and how many maximum they will receive per day.

Location and Time

Where someone is during a certain time can matter. Perhaps you want to message victorious Red Sox fans who were at Yankee Stadium on April 29th during the hours of 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., or retail shoppers who were in San Francisco at some point over the last three months. You can use location services paired with the desired element of time to reach the specific user segment you wish to message.

Target Push Notification Timing

Timely messaging matters. The features outlined add relevance to your messaging, and relevant content is at the heart of “good push.” For more thoughts on messaging relevance, download “From Good Push to Great Engagement.”