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Proof App Push Notifications Actually Matter

Push-enabled mobile app users show higher engagement and retention, lower abandonment

Mobile apps grab over half of US internet users’ time spent with digital media, and app retention and engagement are up. Based on July 2014 research by Localytics, push notifications may be helping to drive higher app interaction and lower abandonment rates.

The analysis, which looked at activity on the Localytics platform, found that app engagement—measured by launches—was 88% higher on average among mobile app users worldwide who had enabled push messages. However, some app categories fared far better than others here. Ecommerce was the real ruler: Such apps saw a 278% increase in launches among users with push notifications enabled vs. disabled. Localytics noted that personalized and targeted messages from ecommerce apps, such as reduced prices on items of interest, could drive engagement and interaction. Music also fared well, with 177% higher engagement among push message users, and travel as well as food and drink both joined the over-100% club, too.

Push notifications also improved app retention. Users who had enabled push messages were between two and three times more likely to launch the app over the four months post-download. And compared with Localytics’ figure of one in five apps being used just once, this study found much lower abandonment rates after one-time use among push users: 11%. Meanwhile, more than half of push-enabled users (53%) accessed an app 11 times or more after download, vs. 38% of non-users.

January 2014 polling by ExactTarget found that US smartphone and tablet users who had opted in to push notifications were relatively pleased with their decision. Among the 64% of respondents who had done so, 80% said such messages were somewhat or very useful. But just like Localytics noted, personalized and targeted messages were critical for interaction. When asked what action they would take after receiving a branded push notification, 65% of smartphone and tablet push users polled by ExactTarget said they would check the message and open it if interested, the most popular response, compared with 16% who would open it immediately.

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