4 Steps for Fighting App Abandonment with Push Notifications

Keeping users loyal to your app is an increasingly difficult task for the modern app publisher. With hundreds of new apps vying for the attention of users and the average smartphone owner using only 5 of the 25 apps they’ve downloaded, engaging users beyond the download is vital to an app’s success. While it’s true that the content and features of your app play their part in creating an engaging experience, the best way to fight app abandonment is by implementing a push notification strategy.

Push notifications are an app marketer’s best weapon for fighting low usage and abandonment. A study from Localytics found that users who enabled push messages on average open the app 88% more times than users who disable them, in addition to showing higher retention rates months after installing the app. 

Not only can push notifications bring lapsed users back to an app after a period of inactivity, they can also nurture users towards completing in-app events and conversions. So how can you get the most out of push notifications while increasing app engagement? Here are 4 steps for fighting app abandonment with push:

1. Getting Users To Opt-In 

While Android app users are automatically opted-in to receive notifications, iOS app users actually need to accept to receive them. Urban Airship found that on average 42% of iOS users opt-in to push, though rates vary across different industries, with lowest rates in gaming, retail and food & drink categories. 

push-notification Source: Adweek

Furthermore, they found that high-performing apps (the top 10% of apps in the survey) averaged opt-ins of 50% with multiple industries even reaching above 70%! So how can you get past this first barrier and run with the best of them? Here are a few tips that can help nudge your new app user to click accept:

App Store Optimization

Mention the benefits of notifications as early as on the app store page and focus on how they improve the user experience. When users understand the value behind opting in, they are more likely to when prompted to accept. Telling and showing users what they can expect in your app store description, screenshots and preview video is definitely a best practice.


Assist iOS app user opt-in by including a screen that promotes the advantages of push. Flipp does a great job at guiding users towards accepting push notifications during onboarding.

push-notification Promote push notifications in the app store as well as during onboarding like Flipp

While many apps will deploy the standard iOS opt-in upon the first open after a splash screen, it is also possible to delay the message (with a bit of coding) until the user has tapped through a few screens, until a second or third open, or even until they complete a specific action. This can be a great strategy for fighting low opt-ins, since users might be bypassing the generic (annoying!) message to get straight to trying your app. By delaying the message to a more contextually appropriate moment you can ensure that your message is getting in-front of an engaged user, hence increasing the possibility of an opt-in.

In-app Messages and System Settings

Not all is lost if your app user doesn’t accept right away. Remind users of the benefits of push notifications with a pop-up message on their next visit or after they’ve completed a specific actions, like achieving certain level in a game or a completing a purchase. Also, give users the ability to turn notifications on/off from the app settings. In addition to giving users an easy to way to start receiving notifications, it also helps you avoid situations when a user might delete your app because they are not able to turn them off.

2. Develop an Automated Push Strategy

Once users have opted-in, the focus now shifts to your push notification strategy. There are still some misconceptions about sending push notifications, including that they are “the spam mail of mobile”. It’s true that much like with email, continually ping-ing users with messages of little value can make users feel bombarded and puts you at risk of getting deleted of their smartphone. 

Automation can ensure you’re sending the right message to the right user at exactly the right time. Lay down different usage scenarios to see where push notification can help you move users down conversion funnels. For example, a new user may benefit from incentives to increase app adoption, while more a active user may only need a monthly reminder on topics they prefer. 

push-notification Map out your customer journey and push relevant messages that increase engagement

Remember: the line between nurturing and spamming is very thin – it’s up to you to use your best judgement. Avoid overstepping the boundary by putting yourself in your users’ shoes and always keep in mind that the goal is to ensure a positive mobile experience.

3. Craft Compelling Messages that Convert

Push notifications need to be relevant and click worthy – how else will they get a user’s attention? Notifications with a high click-through rate are short and sweet (never beyond the 128 character limit), peak curiosity and make user want to open the app to know more. Set up A/B tests to test your copy (including emoji use!) and track app open rates as well as app events attributed to your message. 

4. Use Personalization and Targeting 

The trick to increasing conversions – like viewing a specific screen, making an action or completing a purchase – is to take advantage of segmentation. Using personalization and location targeting makes for more engaging messages. In fact, users who receive segmented push messages convert 3x more often than users who receive generic notifications. 

You can use user information, demographics, location, behaviour or predictive data to personalize and target your push messages, while leveraging hardware like beacons can give you an extra layer of relevancy for proximity-based campaigns

Keep in mind that users are happy to share personal data, including their location, when they see the benefit. To avoid that your messages are seen as creepy, remember that some levels of targeting are best used to maintain a relationship with fairly active users. 

In Summary

Developing a push strategy with segmented push notifications is the first step to optimizing your in-app conversions and building loyalty. Nurturing monthly active user towards becoming a daily active user, not only fights abandonment, but sets you up to succeed in the biggest battle of them all – increasing your LTV. 

What is your experience with push notifications? Let us know in the comments!

A version of this article was originally published on the AppsBuilder Blog, found here

About the author:

Krista-appsbuilderKrista McLandress, Marketing Manager at AppsBuilder – a professional, yet easy to use mobile app development platform. An expert in inbound and web marketing, Krista creates content for marketers who need to bring their brands mobile, helping them navigate the new world of app marketing. You can read more of her posts on the AppsBuilder Blog or by following @appsbuilder

Krista McLandress, Marketing Manager at AppsBuilder– a professional, yet easy to use mobile app development platform. An expert in inbound and web marketing, Krista creates content for marketers who need to bring their brands mobile, helping them navigate the new world of app marketing. You can read more of her posts on the AppsBuilder Blog or by following @appsbuilder.