How to Improve Your Push Notification Opt-in Rates

January 31, 2013 Pivotal Labs

Though they’re one of the few elements that you can use to keep in touch with app users, push notifications are generally under-utilized. This is usually the result of organizations not effectively promoting the benefits of push messaging to recipients. Even if your current push notification opt-in rate isn’t where you want it to be, the potential this medium holds for user engagement makes it impossible to ignore.

Urban Airship is the world’s most globally deployed mobile push messaging service, and we’ve seen impressive results with customers that take a thoughtful approach to push messaging and use various channels to promote the benefits they deliver. We shared some of the key best practices in our Pocket Guide to Good Push and proved the tremendous engagement and retention lift push messaging drives in our latest Good Push Index.

Here are some key tips and tricks that will help you maximize both push opt-in rates and the value you and your customers get from them:

1. Transparency
Users need to trust the company and understand the value of both the app and push messaging in order to be open to receiving notifications. Apps should have a mandatory component of the sign-up process that clearly outlines the type of messages you will be sending, and how user data will be used to create messages. It’s also important to let users know you won’t be spamming them.
2. Customize the Opt-In
You may want to create a way for users to select what kinds of notifications to receive (e.g., sales, promotions, content/product categories, proximity alerts, etc). Since the default iOS push notification opt-in message is not customizable, you can trigger a pop-up window before the opt-in screen to help communicate the value of push messaging and options that will be available for personalization.Brick-and-mortar retailers wait until the customer is at checkout to ask for an e-mail address. Similarly, having the push opt-in request appear a few pages into the app, affords users the time to trust your brand and become more comfortable before you ask for permission to stay in touch. Choose to delay the push request in order to increase opt-in rates. It’s also important to provide step-by-step instructions on how they can opt in to notifications on their phone, as it’s not always clear for users.
3. Promote Benefits
Leverage other channels to help convey why it is beneficial for users to opt in to push messaging. For instance, an email marketing campaign could emphasize how users who opt in to push will receive exclusive access to content, sales, promotions or coupons.The website is another major channel: large retailers, hotel chains, and any corporation with a significant amount of traffic flowing into their websites and information portals can change their homepage hero image to drive users to their apps and increase user adoption of push messaging.
4. Customize the Messaging
By using a service like Rich Push, users will be greeted with a much richer and more engaging message than with standard text-only push notifications. Rich Push is a way to communicate more information to the user, displaying HTML, video, audio and maps delivered to the app’s in-box. Users can receive an entertaining and engaging experience, and companies can communicate a message that is completely consistent with their brand. (For example, check out what President Obama did with Rich Push.)

Optimizing your push messaging opt-in rate is a crucial step to driving user engagement. These seemingly small tweaks can stack up to a surprising surge in push notification opt-ins. As long as you remain transparent, promote the benefits of opting in, and customize your opt-in form and messaging, you will continue to build the trust of users, which will be reflected in increased response rates and user engagement. Stay ahead of your competition by making full use of push messaging.


Elizabeth Robillard (@ekrobi on Twitter) is Director of Agency Programs at Urban Airship, which helps brands build relationships with their always-connected customers through services that streamline delivering highly targeted, cross-platform mobile push messages and Apple Passbook passes.

About the Author


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