Push Notification Opt-In Rates: How To Move Them, And How Much Can You Move Them?

When we discuss potential campaigns with our customers and prospects, one question inevitably arises: “what sort of results can we expect?” In truth, sometimes that question can be hard to answer - every business and every campaign is different after all. But we can share results we’ve seen with previous, similar campaigns.

Below we look at push notification opt-in rates. Where they are today, how you might improve them, and what sort of results we’ve seen in the past when running these campaigns. Hopefully you find it useful - and inspiring!  

There’s just one little problem - you need a user’s permission to send push notifications on iOS.

The Importance Of Push

Companies need to communicate with customers, and push notifications are one fantastic way of doing this. Just as email provided a way to speak to online customers when they were away from the site, so in the mobile age push notifications allow mobile-first businesses to communicate with customers when they're away from the app. Even better, although most people spend plenty of time away from the desktop, few of us put the mobile down unless we're sleeping. And even then a few can't let go. The result is an increase in metrics that actually matter - engagement, retention, and conversion.

There’s just one little problem - you need a user’s permission to send push notifications on iOS.

The Problem Of Opt-In

About half of all users, on average, opt in for push. Using my advanced mathematics skills, I can tell you that this means about half of all users opt out - a huge amount of customers that you are missing out on communicating with outside the app on mobile.

This only tells part of the story though, as different industries see drastically different results for opt-in rates. Travel, media, and messaging apps have the highest percentages of opt-ins, while finance, retail, social, and gaming apps have significantly lower ones.

Why is this? Well, some apps have very obvious reasons for opting in that customers are probably already aware of: essential travel updates, such as your flight has changed gates, or your taxi is 1 minute away; breaking news on the latest political/celebrity scandal or sports story; a message from your mum to remember to call your dad because it’s his birthday. For other apps, it can be less obvious why, even though the reasons can be just as helpful and desirable. As a result, opt-in rates can suffer.

Are You Doing It Wrong?

Frustratingly, organizations often don’t help themselves - we’re all familiar with being served context free and poorly timed requests. This typically occurs when opening an app for the first time, and a default gray system prompt pops up, offering no reason why you should opt-in. Spam alarm bells ring in users’ minds, and thumbs gravitate towards ‘don’t allow’.

Once someone has opted out it can be hard to get them to reverse that decision. Worse still, with each new app we install that serves us default prompts, we get further conditioned to instantly dismiss them. It’s time to stop doing this folks!

How To Optimize Opt-In

Thankfully there is a smarter, more effective way of asking for permission. It’s simple: demonstrate the value of opting in, provide context of the type of information users will receive, and watch your opt-in rates soar.

Incorporating permission requests into your onboarding flow works well. Hold back on the system prompt, and instead deliver an in-app message that is in line with your app’s branding, which gives the user a reason to opt-in. A bank can say they’ll send an alert for a fraudulent transaction; a retail app can let a customer know when an item is back in stock; and a game can remind a player when a major tournament is coming up.

When someone decides to allow push notifications, only then should the default system prompt be served. If they decide against granting permission, save the system prompt for another time.

For customers that have denied permissions, do not give up. Try a a re-permission campaign using an in-app message explaining why they should rethink their decision. It’s just as important to let them know how they can reverse their decision, by deep-linking to the relevant settings page on a user’s device where they can opt-in.

A Look At Customer Successes

Now let’s take a look at the results some of our customers have seen by priming for push permissions. A noted publisher saw a 45% uplift of opt-ins across multiple publications throughout 2017 by targeting users who had opted out with a re-permission campaign. In-app messages were triggered when users viewed certain content e.g. clicked on a new recipe or a news story about a specific designer. The messages explained that if customers wished to be notified about similar content, they could opt-in for push notifications.

 A noted publisher saw a 45% uplift of opt-ins across multiple publications throughout 2017

A financial services customer also implemented this strategy with great success. Push opt-in was particularly important for their business, as during tax season they needed to increase engagement with customers to increase conversions. They also needed to nurture brand loyalty by delivering relevant content through the long off season, to reduce the number of customers deleting the app. An in-app message explaining ways that the app can help customers was delivered to all users after they hit the home dashboard of the app twice. It was a massive success, providing an uplift of 45%.

Take Away

Priming for push is a simple strategy to implement, and will significantly increase your push opt-in rates. This will give your business a solid foundation to deliver relevant, contextual and timely messages to customers that will improve metrics that you business lives or dies by: retention, engagement and conversions. There’s really no excuse not to do it.