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Push messaging doubles app retention rates compared to opt-out users: report

When used correctly, push notifications can help mobile application developers double their four-month user retention rates while significantly driving engagement, according to a new report from Urban Airship and Wave Collapse.

In a review of 360 apps? push messaging strategies, the report found that push messaging alone can drive retention and engagement rates. However, the apps delivering push messages that are highly relevant to the user and are focused on meeting their needs can significantly improve retention rates compared to other apps with push messaging programs.

?The big news here is that if you don?t have a push messaging strategy for your app, you are really missing the boat,? said Brent Hieggelke, chief marketing officer at Urban Airship, Portland, OR. ?Our findings show that apps without push notifications built in have much lower retention and engagement rates than those that do.

?In other words, you cannot effectively engage if you are not using the right tools - and the analytics to measure what works and what doesn't so you can refine your strategy to drive always better engagement,? he said.

Push on
Apps? push messaging practices in the report are classified as high, average or low. Good push messaging is defined by Urban Airship as highly relevant to the user and focused on meeting their needs.

Other best practices include waiting an appropriate amount of time before inviting a user to opt-in for push notifications and segmenting messages by user groups.

The results show that app users receiving push messaging at the high end are retained at more than double the rate of opted-out users.

However, there is still a noticeable impact on retention rates even when app developers? push messaging practices fall at the low end, with 78 percent more users retained over a four-month period than the opted-out audience.

Kudos to smaller apps
Push messaging also impacts how often users open an app, with apps delivering relevant messaging increasing app engagement by 388 percent for opt-in users versus opt-out users. Developers at the average and low level were still able to drive a 170 percent and 77 percent increase in engagement, respectively.

?Many of the apps ranked higher by the algorithm had smaller audience sizes while many apps ranked as Low had larger audience sizes,? Mr. Hieggelke said. ?We?ve seen a lot of innovation in push messaging being driven by indie-developed apps, and smaller apps in general may have a more focused value proposition for their audiences.

?For apps with larger audiences, these findings seem to indicate the importance of not taking a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging, and instead being more precise with messages by segmented and delivering pushes according to user preferences, behaviors and location,? he said.

Getting familiar
Of the entire sample size, 95 apps were classified as High Good Push, 175 as Average Good Push and 87 as Low Good Push.

High Good Push apps typically see more than 75 percent of their audience opt-in to receive push messages, while Average sees greater than 50 percent and Low less than 50 percent.

On average, High Good Push achieves double the click-through rate of Average Good Push, which itself doubles the click-through rate of Low Good Push.

?The best learnings from this index show that marketers should take the time to let a consumer get familiar with your app before bludgeoning them over the head with a message that forces a decision on whether they should opt in for your notifications or not,? Mr. Hieggelke said.

?Let the consumer get to know what your app delivers and why they should want messages from you,? he said. ?Retention results are much better when you prompt consumers to opt in the third or fourth time they open your app rather than right away.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New  York