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Comparing Courier vs Novu: Analysis of Notification Systems

As development teams look at Courier to improve they build application-to-user notifications, it’s sometimes necessary to compare Courier with other offerings in the communications space.

To start with, it makes sense to better familiarize yourself with Courier. You can sign up for Courier for free or, for a more detailed understanding of how Courier compares in your unique environment, you can contact us.

To make this analysis as fair as possible, we rely primarily on feedback from development teams that have used Courier and Novu We go into detail on the features as the differences here are sometimes nuanced but very important. If you have any questions or feedback, please reach out. Now, let's dive into the details.


Unlike marketing notifications, product notifications are a core component of how your users experience your web and mobile applications. Whether it’s a push notification to bring users back into the app, or an SMS password reset notification, or an email that prompts a user to walk through an approval workflow in Slack — these notifications need to work with your tech stack to trigger a notification at the right time, with the right content, on the right channel.

It’s not only important that a notification platform support the channels and providers that your users expect, but also that it supports the other adjacent tools in your stack. For instance you may want to trigger notifications from events driven through your Customer Data Platform (CDP), like Segment Or it might make sense to synchronize logs from the notification platform with a log management system like Datadog. Because the notification platform is a key part of your stack, it needs to seamlessly integrate across it. It’s worth noting that even though Courier shines in the number of and scope of pre-built integrations available, Novu is OSS, which makes it possible for anyone to build and check-in new integrations.

Feature comparison:

Provider integrations across email, SMS, push, chat, and in-app3948
Email template import (e.g. SendGrid, Mandrill)
Customer data platform (CDP)  integrations, eg. Segment & RudderStack
Reverse ETL (eg. Census and Hightouch)
Observability integrations (eg. Datadog and New Relic)
SSO native integrations (eg. Okta)

SDKs for in-app notification center and user preferences

While supporting existing channels and providers is important, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to offer a notification experience inside of your web and mobile application. Typically such an experience consists of a notification inbox that works alongside mobile push and web-based popup messages (also called “toast” messages). It’s important that a notification platform provide the SDKs and underlying feature set that makes it easy for developers to drop this into an app.

Another important part of the frontend experience for notifications is a user preferences center, where each user can configure channels they want to receive notifications on and message frequency for each notification topic.

Feature comparison - In App Notification Center (Inbox):

Notification inbox - React SDK
Notification inbox - Javascript SDK
Notification inbox - Angular SDK
Notification inbox - IOS SDK
Notification inbox - Android SDK
Synchronized message status across web and mobile inboxes

Feature comparison - User notification preferences

Preferences API, built to spec (headless)
Preferences center, fully hosted
User preferences - Channel selections per topics
User preferences - Batching frequency

Customization per account, with multi-tenancy

For businesses that need to customize the experience for each of their customers, features like unique branding are important for allowing white-label communications, where each account can customize their own tailored branding and content. A few critical areas of customization include:

  1. Generating and modifying new brands through the API or directly from a web application user interface.
  2. Modifying the aesthetics and UX of client-side components to be integrated into applications, enabling each sub-account or customer to independently update their own branding. (example screenshot).
  3. Enabling developers to send a simplified JSON document to the notification system (e.g. Courier Elemental), making it possible for each customer to completely customize the content of the messages they’re sending. The messages should also include support for rich elements like images, buttons, variables, loops, and others. The rich content needs to work across all notification channels and automatically get rendered appropriately so that the same mechanism is used to let each account customize messages in one channel (say, Slack) as in another channel (like email).
  4. Robust tenant segmentation using list patterns to subdivide tenants’ accounts into teams (or other units) within that tenant. For example, you might have a need to message all users within all teams of the customer “acme” (which would be covered by the wildcard acme.** in Courier), or you might need to send a message to all admins across all customers (in Courier the wildcard for this would be .admins ).

Feature comparison:

Global customizable branding
Multiple tenant per account, user & preference attribution✔ Beta
White-label multi-tenant customer control over branding
Multi-layer tenant categorization
Advanced message customization across channels (Elemental)

Content localization within notifications

For applications that support users across international borders, localizing the design and content for each notification is crucial. While it’s possible to manually achieve this with any solution, the some platforms offer capabilities to automate internationalization.

While basic localization is a core part of any notification service, there are significant differences in each approach and flexibility provided by each solution.

Content and design internationalization should not only be available in the template designer of the web application, but also provide advanced capabilities to enable language translation with any third-party translation services like Crowdin. The notification system should be designed to support the unique characteristics of this asynchronous publishing workflow. When someone publishes a new version of a message template — for any channel — the internationalization tooling should automatically start the translation process in coordination with that service. And it should handle delays from that service, whether translation is provided automatically or via human translators — pausing publication while waiting for the translation process to be completed.

Feature comparison:

Translation in the application UI template designer
Programmatic translation designed to support third-party translation services

Web interface in addition to the API

While notification systems focus primarily on the developer experience (DX), it’s often just as important to balance that with an intuitive web interface to manage and design templates, review logs across channels, build notification sequences that kick off from events that originate in third-party customer data tools like Segment, and so on. It allows non-technical teammates to make changes, freeing developers from repetitive tasks and the time involved to coordinate, review, and get approval for these changes.

This is an area where Courier consistently beats Novu through the right balance of both developer experience and web-based tooling. While this is a subjective rating, we encourage you to log in to Courier to see the value of the web interface yourself. Also check out more information about how we’re envisaging the future design direction of the web interface.

Security and compliance

Notifications send personalized content and data straight to a user’s device via email, SMS, push, etc. — which means security, data privacy, and compliance are fundamental requirements for notification infrastructure.

Feature comparison:

SOC 2 type 2 certification, GDPR compliance, HIPAA compliance
Live security portal and reporting
SAML-based SSO with RBAC
Dedicated SSO provider integration
API key revocation support
Customizable RBAC roles

Product maturity and advanced features

The product you choose must offer a complete feature set for notification delivery as well as other functionality that you might need to build out the desired user experience.

Courier's extensive features, like DigestsBatchingThrottling of events, and the Bulk Send feature, provide flexibility and control that Novu can't match.

Additionally, Courier allows you to set account-level limits, controlling the volume of messages sent to a user or a channel. This level of granularity and control is absent in Novu’s offering.

Feature comparison:

Event throttling
Bulk send feature
Scheduling feature - on-time, recurring, or cron
Time-configured batch send
Digesting - user-defined aggregated notifications
Batching - aggregated notifications on either time, event count, or wait time❌ limited
Account-level send limit controls
Option for manual one-time notification send from the web UI

Client libraries supported

The breadth of support for native SDKs across popular programming languages is a good indication of product maturity and developer focus.

React Native

Financial health

While overall stability of a company can feel subjective, there are some clear indicators that Courier is in a stronger position than any other player in this space. Courier is backed by top-tier investors like Bessemer, Google Ventures, Matrix Partners, and Y Combinator. It is also funded by both Twilio and Slack — early recognition that these communications APIs alone are not enough to support the complex logic behind most notification use cases.


When deciding on the right notification infrastructure for your organization, careful consideration should be given to the platform's compatibility with your tech stack, customization abilities, localization support, user empowerment, security features, and maturity, and the financial stability of the associated company that built and maintains the solution.

In our comparison between Courier and Novu, it's evident that Courier consistently outperforms in these areas. There are good examples of companies like LaunchDarkly, Comcast, Lattice, ApartmentList, and Contentful, who choose to power their product’s notifications using Courier.

We hope this guide was helpful. Choose wisely!

You can signup for Courier for free or, for a more detailed understanding of how Courier can add value for your unique environment, contact us

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