Every time I download a new app to my smartphone, it bombards me with requests for personal details like my contacts, my location, my email, and my photos – followed by a request, “Name of App would like to send you push notifications.” After it’s asked for all those details, I almost always choose “Don’t Allow.”

And I’m not alone. Forrester’s Q2 2014 US 3D Panel Online Survey shows that US smartphone owners are also selective when it comes to the apps they choose to allow push notifications; about six in 10 only accept push notifications from a select number of apps, while 17% don’t accept them from any app at all. Why are consumers so discriminating? Because more often than not, people find these unsolicited app notifications are irrelevant, too frequent, and, most of all, annoying. If I were to allow push notifications from every app I use each month, there wouldn’t be a quiet hour in my day. How can companies create a better experience and use push notifications to deliver added value to their consumers?

Forrester’s US Consumer Technographics® Behavioral Study tells us that the No. 1 reason US smartphone owners opt in to push notifications is that they want to be alerted to timely information. When an app does this successfully, we found that it changes consumer behavior. For some types of apps, push notifications increase consumers’ awareness of their immediate surroundings and remove the need to open up the app and pull the relevant information. For other types of apps, the opposite is true: Push notifications trigger moments that lead to immediate action in the app:

–          Consumers who receive push notifications from shopping/coupon apps spend almost double the time using these apps as those who do not opt in.

–          Consumers who receive push notifications from travel apps spend 40% less time using these apps than those who do not opt in.

But our Technographics 360 study also shows that apps can’t afford to send thoughtless, frequent alerts to those who have allowed them to interrupt their daily lives. To earn mobile customers’ trust and enjoy the privileges of connecting with them immediately and contextually, marketing leaders must choose wisely what to send and when to notify them.

Forrester Technographics clients who want to understand how push notifications change app engagement across shopping, wellness, navigation, finance, weather, gaming, media, travel, and social networking apps as well as how marketing leaders should develop and deploy effective notifications can read my latest report, Mobile Push Notifications: Do They Save Or Spend Consumers’ Time?

Nicole Dvorak is a data scientist serving all roles. Follow her on Twitter at @NicoleLDvorak