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cloud messaging

Firebase Cloud Messaging Service: There are Better Alternatives

Angela Stringfellow

Last updated on

All modern applications require a push notification strategy. Introduced for iPhones in 2009, push notifications have since become a ubiquitous part of user experience across all digital ecosystems, with all platforms and operating systems supporting push notifications to enrich the user experience. As a result, numerous push notification systems have emerged, with varying features and capabilities. Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) is one of the most prominent, but are there better alternatives?

The Push Notification Challenge

Support for push notifications across all platforms is a boon to marketers. Push notifications are the best tools to engage users and the most cost-effective method for increasing user engagement. As they’re supported by all popular platforms, businesses can use the technology to connect with their user base.

Even so, this poses a significant challenge to developers as they have to implement push notifications across the different platforms, which can be a tedious process. As of now, there is no standard methodology to integrate the technology across platforms and the structure, procedure, and syntax to deploy the technology are varied. This requires significant time and effort from developers and coordinating and managing the various push notification standards will become cumbersome for developers in the long run.

The Push Notification Service Solution

As is the case with most problems, the free-market is where we find solutions. Businesses were built solely with the aim of solving the problem of integrating push notifications for all platforms. There are push notification services that aggregate the push notifications for each platform, which helps to integrate push notifications to any app with a few clicks or lines of code.

Push notification service providers take care of all the mundane tasks involved in handling the backend processes for push notifications across the platforms. This makes the task of developers and marketers easy as marketers can use a simple dashboard to send push notifications across different platforms. Notification service providers also provide APIs that developers can use to automate push notifications to users.

On top of making things simple, push notification service providers also provide additional functionalities. Some of the most common features provided by push notification service providers are:

  • A/B testing: This feature lets marketers test a variety of push notification strategies. This helps them to arrive at a statistically significant result that shows which approach is best suited to their needs.
  • Segmentation: The users of applications vary according to their demographics and psychographics, and notification service providers provide avenues to divide customers into different buckets according to their attributes. These different segments can then be used to send targeted messages.
  • Scheduling: Marketers are now able to schedule push notifications in advance, and most service providers also give the option to have different schedules for different segments of users.
  • Dynamic links: Dynamic links are links that behave differently according to their environments. A dynamic link will open content in the native app when clicked in the mobile OS. The same link will direct to a website through a browser when clicked on a desktop.
  • Analytics: One of the key features required to analyze the efficacy of push notification campaigns is analytics. It can also be used to extract hidden insights from user interactions with push notifications. Most notification service providers offer analytics support.

Firebase Cloud Messaging Service

Firebase Cloud Messaging, previously Google Cloud Messaging, is one of the most popular notification service providers available, as it Integrates all the different platforms available for push notifications and is easy-to-use for both marketers and developers. FCM also has all the features one expects from notification service providers, including all of the features mentioned in the previous section. In addition, there are additional features like remote config and strong integration with other Google suites. Users can also start using the service free of charge.

This makes FCM a worthy consideration as a notification service provider, but it also has its fair share of drawbacks. Some of the notable cons of FCM are:

  • Lack of data migration support from the platform. This makes the users of FCM dependent on the service for their push notification strategy. This is a lock-in strategy to make you dependent on their ecosystem without the ability to switch to competitors.
  • Limited support for non-Google ecosystems. As FCM service is from Google, much more focus is given to Google products like Android and Google Chrome. This comes at the expense of support for other platforms.
  • Data limitations for notification messages. FCM imposes data limitations for every push notification message, which limits the messages to mostly text.

The main problem is that FCM forces the users to be dependent on their platform, giving all the negotiation power to Google. This makes it a difficult proposition to use FCM, even with the advantages that come with it. However, there are much better alternatives for FCM.

Alternatives to FCM

Many notification service providers, such as Amazon and Twilio, offer all the features of FCM without many of the drawbacks. However, the FCM alternative that stands apart from the rest is from MagicBell. This service offers a complete notification system, including notification inboxes.

When a company uses other notification service providers, they have to build their own notification inbox and the feature sets associated with it. But MagicBell offers all the features of a push notification service as well as a notification inbox. The notification inbox is designed with the intention of giving more power to the end-user to control the type of notifications they receive.

MagicBell supports push, email, and in-app notifications and in a manner the user prefers. It offers a real-time and seamless experience for users with strong multi-channel support. Better yet, developers can integrate the MagicBell solution with their application in under 15 minutes. All the additional functionalities of MagicBell on top of FCM make it a worthy consideration as an FCM alternative for your application.