Push notifications aren’t exactly new. Way back in the early noughties, BlackBerry introduced a way of instantly seeing your emails as they arrived called Push Services and for those of us old enough to have been working around the turn of the century will remember how dominant BlackBerry was around this period, especially when they doubled down on their success and introduced Blackberry Messenger (BBM) for SMS messages in 2005.

Within a couple of years Apple and Android would be on the scene, and with BlackBerry adamant that keypads were the future and touch screens just another fad, saw all of their early gains lost, their market share drop from over 20% to 0% and any of their original ideas worth keeping cannibalised by the competition, Push Notifications being one such service.

Since then, the humble push notification has undergone quite a transformation. With each update, new features are added and fresh challenges arise (such as the Push Notification changes introduced in iOS 13)  which can create additional hurdles and additional opportunities for the savvy app developer. We’ll cover those another time but today let’s lay the groundwork and start by going over the facts

Push notification uptake and Engagement

There’s an oft quoted post compiled by Localitics that analysed push notification engagement in 2018, putting the average total push notification opt-in rate at 53.3% between all users. As a stat on its own it’s great news, as it implies that over half of your users want to receive additional updates from your apps.

As with most things in life, it’s never that straightforward. Only 18% of users always find push notifications useful with 31% not finding them at all helpful. The uptake per platform also paints a very different picture between opt-in on iOS and Android, with iOS users at 43.9% vs Android users at 91.1%.

This is due to iOS requiring users to opt-in to start receiving push notifications before they use the app, while Android goes the other way and opts users in automatically from the word go, making users manually edit their notification preferences at a later date if they no longer want to receive them.

  • Users have to opt-in to start receiving push notifications on iOS.
  • Android push notification opt in rate is 91.1%.
  • Users have to opt-out to stop receiving notifications on Android.
  • Toal push notification opt in rate is 53.3%.

Now, there’s no right or wrong here, it just presents us app developers with a unique challenge to overcome for each platform if we want to maximise our user engagement and bring them back to the app via push notifications

Creating value for your users

You may have guessed from reading so far that we have two main problems to solve and I am going to attempt to solve them in the articles below.

These two short questions are admittedly very, very broad and unfortunately have no definitive answer but the good news is that there are plenty of tools and techniques you can use to help get the most out of your push notifications and increase your user engagement.