Push Notification Open Rates – Good, Bad or Brand?

Jan 16

Push Notification Open Rates – Good, Bad or Brand?

Push notifications are now so over-whelmingly used that open rates have steadily dropped over the years. What was originally an esoteric piece of infrastructure has become commonplace with companies like StreetHawk giving non-technical marketers and product managers the ability to engage users without writing code.

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

The downside of this fantastic capability is that it has emulated the web-world’s “drip-marketing emails” which have forced a sequence of content to the user that they often don’t want.
Push notifications saying “Happy New Year” can expect much lower open rates than a transactional push telling you your Uber is about to arrive. So its not surprising that open rates of 3% are common. Lets take a look at recent study by Acquisition player Tapjoy.

Tapjoy Push Open Rate Study

Tapjoy Push Open Rate Study (Source: Venturebeat)

It’s initially a bit of a shock but in 2016/17 those numbers don’t look unusual for generic marketing push. But its not so bad.

The New Brand Advertising

Quite often push has become more a ‘brand’ advertising event and a user will open the app within the next 3 days after the push rather than right in that moment. Its quite hard for us to normalize the data across all apps but:

  1. Rates of App Opens in the following 3 days can be 15-25% (for installs that were opened in the previous month)
  2. Rates of App Opens in the following 3 days for activated users can be greater than 50%


No – its not a radio station! WIIFM is “What’s in it for me?” – that is…think like a user…not as a marketer….whats the payoff for a user to not swipe away the notification when they have 12 other push in their list and they have 30 seconds before their next meeting starts. So the user needs to know:

  • there is a pay-off to open your App
  • that is deeplinks to the relevant piece of content.
  • As always relevance and context are a critical to this effectiveness.

Targeted and triggered campaigns with personalization (or transactional) always get higher open rates. “Happy New Year” might let your user know you’re still around and that you care but a good push practice should always have a pay-off for the user.

InApp Content

Because a user may open the App within the next 3 days, then you need to “couple” push with InApp content. If the user opens the App, the InApp feed should reflect all your recent communications. Here are a few examples:

 HBO blast a lot of content but its more “blockbuster generic”. The InApp feed is a central focus on the App and like its content, it looks impressive. This content mirrors the push notification (or in the mind of the HBO Product Manager) the notification mirrors the content.
This real-estate App does a good job of keeping the users interests in mind. Highly customised based on search criteria the user can see their defaults whenever browsing but also jump directly there if a push notification arrives.    


Are you performing?

General analytics tools like Mixpanel, Omniture or GA are useful across the board – but they are blind to growth experiments you might run that have multiple CTAs (calls-to-action)

Analytics that relate to multiple entry points into engagement are a more accurate view of user aggregate response. This image shows that:

OK, this analytic from StreetHawk could be more cosmetically pretty but it does give the marketer or product manager some valuable insight about how users engage with the App.

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