Many developers measure the success of a mobile app based on the number of installations. But app downloads are similar to unique page views: there can be a lot of them, but that doesn't mean people will convert into customers.
Another metric that’s more important than the number of downloads is how many people come back to your app the next day, week, or month after they install it. This metric is called retention.
Let’s imagine that 100 people install your application today. Tomorrow, 35 of them will use your app. But only two will still be using it two weeks later. The retention rate, in this case, is 35 percent on the second day and 2 percent by the end of the second week.
Increasing the number of app downloads is undoubtedly important for an online business, but keeping retention rates high is what developers should be focusing on. A high retention rate means people are loyal to your product – and we’ll let you in on a little secret: Sometimes loyalty can be fostered by being a little pushy.
Push notifications retain users
According to Localytics, most app users who have enabled push notifications will use an app for at least nine sessions, with 46 percent remaining beyond the unofficial retention point of 11 sessions. However, almost half of users who don’t enable push notifications will abandon an app after a mere two sessions.
Localytics has also discovered that the perception of push notifications has improved over time, with 52 percent of respondents to a 2018 poll stating that pushes were better than they were several years ago. It’s important to convince users to opt for pushes.
Informative mobile push notifications enhance the user experience by delivering valuable personalized messages at just the right time and in just the right place. Successful apps use several types of push notifications or mobile alerts. What are push notifications? Pushes can be mechanical, behavioral, and location-based. Let’s discuss each type, learning from examples of existing apps.
Mechanical push notifications
Push notifications that are sent after a specific activity are called mechanical. This type of notification is triggered by a user action, predetermined time, or event.
1. User action
Sending users a mechanical push notification when they abandon their shopping cart is an example of a notification triggered by a user action. By the way, implementing an abandoned cart push notification is a great solution for e-commerce apps, as nearly 75 percent of all shopping carts are abandoned. Poq, the App Commerce Company, has recently introduced its new push layer integration. The layer lets different SDKs to be loaded into Poq apps. This means clients can integrate their app with any third-party push notification provider for retaining customer engagement.
If an app is integrated with a calendar, it can send reminders every time a user has an event planned. A classic example of this type of push notification is sent by the Trello app. A user sets a date and time when a card is due. By default, 24 hours before the due date, the user gets a notification. Users can change the reminder time within the date picker.
When somebody likes your photo on Instagram, you receive a push notification. Such push notifications also fall into the mechanical category because they’re prompted by a simple event – in this case, a like.
Another example of event-based push notifications are those for a new match in dating apps. Check out how this works with the Bro app, a dating app for men that we developed for our US-based client.
Mechanical push notifications are used in a wide variety of apps and have simple logic. Google and Apple provide their own native services for building mobile apps with push notifications for business. Check out these services for Android and iOS.
To set up mobile app push notifications, you can also use third-party tools such as Kinvey, Localytics, and Kumulos. Their advantage is that they can be used cross-platform. On the other hand, the functionality they offer might be too extensive for some basic use cases.
The number of push notification platforms grows steadily, and it will take some time to find the right one for you, your app, and your audience.
Behavioral push notifications
Notifications based on previous user behavior or statistical data are called behavioral push notifications. These notifications offer well-timed suggestions based on data about how individuals use your app. In other words, the application predicts what users want before they even know they want it.
However, a recent study by Localytics discovered that users consider notifications triggered by in-app behavior as spying. About 49 percent of respondents stated that they prefer apps that send pushes based on stated preferences over in-app behavior. We suggest you take this into account so as not to repel users. Let’s now look at a few examples of behavioral push notifications.
1. New releases
Have you seen the last season of Black Mirror? If you watched the previous seasons, Netflix would notify you about its release.
2. New arrivals
Would you like a personal stylist who can recommend clothes based on your taste? That’s precisely what H&M offers.
H&M uses deeply personalized behavioral push notifications to increase sales. The H&M app acts as a personal stylist, offering items that go great with your latest purchases.
There’s no guarantee that a user will buy these cute boots, but they’ll probably at least open the app to check them out.
Read also: How to Develop a Shopping Assistant App
3. “Cheer up” notifications
A distinct subset of behavioral push notifications is the so-called “cheer up” notifications that recognize a user’s achievements and encourage them to keep going. For example, Activity on Apple Watch is a fitness app that sends helpful and supportive notifications during the day.
Check out our article on how to develop brand voice for in-app communication.
Some behavioral notifications talk to you like your mom or trainer. Fitness apps, activity trackers, and educational apps often use this type of iOS and Android push notifications.
Behavioral push notifications are personalized and, if well thought out, have a good chance of increasing the retention rate. According to CleverTap, even basic personalization increases open rates by nine percent.
Location-based push notifications
Location-based push notifications are relatively new and varied. Geo-targeted pushes show up when you go to a certain place. These promotional notifications are especially useful for shopping apps.
According to a Localytics survey from 2018 of 1,000 smartphone users, 49 percent would use an application more if it sent them push notifications related to their hometown. And 42 percent said they would use an app more if it sent pushes triggered by their present location.
There are two types of location-based push notifications:
Based on collected user data. This type of notification is based on a user’s IP address, city, region, and country. Such pushes are received by users in a specific location by means of simple targeting.
Geo-triggered pushes. Such notifications are sent in real time when a user enters or leaves a certain geographic zone (if they’ve shared their location via their phone). This is usually performed by means of either geofencing or beacons.
These two types of location-based pushes may contain:
- Announcement of discounts, rewards, and other special offers
- Information about new products
- Information about buying top-ups when travelling
- Updates on the status of orders (for example, when a taxi has arrived)
Vouchercloud is your shopping companion. It sends location-based notifications about the best product offers.
Aside from store promotions, there are a lot of other opportunities to use location-based automated notifications. Check out several examples below.
1. Welcome to Paris! At Starbucks? If you use Foursquare, you probably recognize these questions.
2. Alexa, set a reminder to pick up dry cleaning at Mac’s Dry Cleaners. When you pass by Mac’s, Alexa will notify you. The Alexa app lets users adjust the reminder location radius to as close as 500 feet, which is helpful if you’re on foot.
3. Google Keep, an easy-to-use note-taking app, looks like a dashboard and provides a location-based option for each note. A user can tap “Remind me,” choose “Pick place,” and type an address or search for a location. Users can share notes and location-based reminders with friends who have Gmail accounts.
Handy hints to implement pushes
Don’t overwhelm users with notifications. Sending lots of notifications in a short period of time is likely to irritate users, leading to a flight from pushes.
Minimize the number of pushes based on in-app behavior. Sending pushes based on in-app behavior is likely to make people nervous. Localytics found that 58 percent of respondents to a survey were annoyed when they saw remarketing ads after viewing a product online.
Ensure choices to receive specific notifications. Instead of initially forwarding pushes to users based on location and in-app behavior, allow them to get specific types of pushes. For example, a retailer may add preferences for Online Specials, Local Specials, and Product Suggestions.
Enhance user opt-in rates. When users download an app, they may choose to opt out of allowing you to collect data related to their location and send them pushes. Ensuring a screen before the opt-in pop-up to tell users what they'll get for opting in is crucial to convincing users to let you send pushes and track their location.
Send users relevant content at the appropriate time. Sending a low-value message to your customers in the middle of the night is likely to repel them. But every audience is unique. Conduct thorough research and test notification timing and content to figure out what resonates with your customers.
Try out different ideas, measure your results, and boost your retention rate! If you’re about to build your app, we’ll gladly help you implement your business idea with an understanding of how to use push notifications.