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Last update: April 2020

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What Share of App Opens Will an Effective Push Notification Strategy Deliver?

Push notifications have been touted as a must-have in terms of mobile engagement. They’re fast, versatile, personalizable, and feature-rich. They are free for users to receive, which is not always the case with SMS notifications. Not to mention that, depending on which SDK you use, your push notification platform can provide you valuable data and metrics for perfecting your push campaign. But how effective are push notifications, really? And what share of app opens are a direct result of receiving a push notification?

Push Notifications – a Major Source of App Opens

When it comes to website traffic, an entire industry is built around sourcing the traffic and where it comes from. Where was the geographical location of someone who clicked on a link to a particular webpage? Were they a new or existing unique user? How to tailor the website to boost more unique users? What percentage of resources should go towards SEO, advertising, and so on?

This same approach should be applied to mobile apps, to get the most out of your mobile marketing campaign. But as the mobile industry is newer than the internet itself, app traffic analytics is still in its beginning stages. For example, there are many different avenues a device user could take to lead to opening an app. These include:

  • Just opening the app, without being prompted (the mobile equivalent of an internet user visiting a website by typing in the site’s URL)
  • Clicking a retargeting ad somewhere online that opens the app directly
  • Click a link in an email that opens the mobile app directly
  • Clicking on a link in social media that opens the mobile app directly
  • Clicking on a push notification

Why Is Understanding Traffic Metrics Crucial for Apps?

This last option – push notifications – has a sizable share of the number of opens of an app. Once mobile marketers understand this, and the extent of that percentage, they will know where to focus in improving their campaigns. This includes optimizing behaviors and methods that work best not only for opens, but for goal completes as well. Possible goals for an app, depending on its industry, could be to get a user to complete registration. Or to make a purchase, or to level up in a game.

When designing and understanding user behavior and flow, push notifications are a key factor that developers should take into consideration. They are a crucial part of user experience (UX) of the mobile app, and often the first place a user might come into contact with the app. Moreover, sometimes a push notification can deliver value independent of using the app itself. For example, it could deliver a message that your package will be delivered at 5:00, or it can give a confirmation of a transaction, or alert a player that their life has respawned in a game. A user can read these notifications, and then swipe them away without visiting the app at all.

Percentage of App Traffic from Push Notifications

The numbers don’t lie: push notifications are indispensable for driving user traffic to your app. Push notifications can boost app engagement by 88%, with 66% of an app’s users on average returning to that app when push is enabled. When users are receiving an in-device nudge every so often, app retention rates can increase 3-10x.

How many of an apps MAUs will open that app because of a push notification? Leading social networks have reported up to 68% of users opening their apps as a result of clicking on a notification.

The average click-rate of push notifications. – that is, the average amount of time that a user will click on a notification rather than ignore or swipe away. – is 10.3%. (Compare to the average 3% click-through rate earned by marketing emails.) This may not seem like a lot. But, if you’re sending out 75 push notifications per month to 10,000 users, that 10.3% can really add up. It can contribute to crucial traffic for your app, as well as more concrete returns. This may manifest itself as a subscription or purchase completed, etc.

Interestingly, a report by Business of Apps notes that push notifications achieve the highest click-through rate (CTR) when they are sent out once a week. However, sending notifications at a great frequency – say, 10-15 per week – may lower your percentage of click-through, but will boost the amount of times the user opens the app.

Percentage of App Opens By Industry

The different ways people engage with push notifications can vary widely, depending on many different factors. This can be whether their phone is an iOS or Android system, what type of app they receive the notification from, etc. According to Business of Apps, push notifications get the highest rate of opens for apps in the business and finance sector, at 5.46%. Apps in the entertainment sector hit a close second, at 5.04% of push notifications leading to an app open. At the other end of the scale are retail apps. In this case, .89% of push notifications lead to an app open. For food and delivery apps, the number is 1%.

The wide disparity between these sectors is likely due to the different reasons people use these apps. Apps dealing in business, money, and entertainment all have a wide scope of uses for push notifications: they could lure users into the app to check their bank balance or stocks, to defeat an opponent in a mobile game, or to stream a new trailer for an upcoming movie. When it comes to retail/food apps, people will likely open those apps to fulfill a need, independent of being prompted. When a push notification comes, it may be to confirm a purchase. Or it may tell a user that their food delivery has arrived. It’s more likely the user will get the information they need from the message and then swipe it away.

Not surprisingly, there’s an even higher click rate on in-app messages (messages that appear while the user is already in the app) at 21.9%.

Timing and Personalization: The Golden Ticket

It goes without saying that segmentation of push notifications will greatly boost your CTR. This is opposed to blasting out mass notifications to all your users. Personalized content – that is, notifications that are tailored both in language and content to individual users according to their personal data – shows a boost in average open rate of notifications to 5.9%. Compare this to a 1.5% open rate for non-personalized notifications.

And then there’s timing – making sure you send your notifications at the right moment for the user, often called “adaptive scheduling.” Taking into account a user’s schedule, and what time of the day they are most likely to get value from your notification, has also resulted in a sizable upswing in app opens. Results from studies show an average of 23.3% increase in CTR, with a maximum increase 60.7%, when notifications have the user’s convenience in mind.

OpenBack uses machine learning and device-side data to make sure you always know the exact moment to send notifications. And our 40+ data metrics mean that you can personalize your content to an accuracy not possible with any of our competitors.

Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more about how OpenBack can help you maximize the number of app opens by your users!

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