How to get the green light when requesting permissions.

A recent study by Accenture has highlighted what most of us already know all too well - app users want the best of both worlds. The study of 1,800 consumers in the UK showed that 47% ‘feel frustrated when brands fail to deliver a relevant, personalised shopping experience’ - but also that 48% are ‘concerned about the safety of their personal data when they subscribe to the services that will deliver them more personalised experiences’.

These figures certainly leave digital businesses with a challenge on their hands. Personalizing the in-app experience is key to engaging users and driving conversion, and yet so is ensuring that users feel able to trust the app - so how do you navigate the delicate process of requesting permissions to access personal information?

The art of successful permission requests

One of the great advantages of apps is the sheer range and complexity of different functions that can be delivered via a smartphone, but the snag is that these often rely on having access to confidential information, such as contacts, photos and location. Without access to these, app functionality can be seriously limited, and just as some users might uninstall an app due to data privacy concerns, others might uninstall because the app simply isn’t able to do as much as it should.

There should be no underestimating the power of a positive user-app relationship either though. If users have reservations about how their data is going to be used, the logical conclusion is that they’ll be reluctant to spend time using the app, and they certainly won’t want to offer up their hard-earned cash. Users expect apps to know them in the way a helpful friend does, but this also means entrusting apps with more information than many real-life friends. The challenge, therefore, is to earn that trust, and be able to deliver great experiences as a consequence.

The fact is that not everyone is going to click ‘accept’ to your permission request - in fact, it’s common to only have an acceptance rate of about 50% of users. But let’s look at this from a glass-half-full approach: it’s common to have around 50% of users that do say yes. What you can do is ensure that users aren’t rejecting these requests just by default, or because they don’t fully understand what they’re being asked. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can maximize the numbers who do give it the go-ahead.

  • Give an explanation. Approaching a stranger and asking for their address without an explanation is likely to earn you a suspicious look and no address. Explaining that the reason you need their address is because you’re going to send them a crate of beer to try for free makes that exchange far more likely. Rather than leaving the default text on the request notification to speak for you, using in-app messaging to help users understand what you’ll be accessing and why the app needs it is an easy way to reassure people, especially when they’ve only just started using it.  
  • Show them the value. We’re all much more receptive to giving something away when we’ve already been given something first. If the permission you’re requesting isn’t vital to the basic function of the app, holding off on asking for permissions until they’re actually needed to complete an action can really pay off. Not only are we psychologically programmed to want to finish what we’ve started, this also helps to highlight why these permissions are important by putting them into context, and gives the user time to appreciate what the app can do for them first.
  • Make your security policy easy to access. If a user is still unsure and wants to check what your policies are for using their information, having yours free from jargon and easily available lets users know that they can trust you to keep data safe and only use it for the uses they’ve given permission for.
  • Let people know what they’ll miss out on. It’s easier to turn something down when you don’t know what you’re missing. Mobile users get bombarded by a lot of requests, so in order to stop that automatic finger twitch towards the ‘reject’ button, highlight to users which features they’ll miss out on if they choose not to give permission. If they take a second to weigh up the options, they’re more likely to give it a chance.

And if they have chosen to reject permissions?

  • Let them change their mind. It’s never too late for users to realise that they’re missing out, although changing permissions after the original request can involve a bit more legwork for the user. Remind them that changing their permissions will give them more access, and give them clear instructions on how they can do this through their phone options. Better late than never.

We’ve compiled handy step-by-step guides to how to build different types of permission requests in Swrve, so take a look at our cookbooks to see how you can put the minds of that 48% at ease.