Your list of mobile push notification subscribers includes all users who are currently consenting to receive your flashy little push alerts.

The path to becoming a push subscriber depends on the platform your users are on. On iOS, opting in is a more active process, whereas Android users are subscribed to push notifications by default. We’ll go into more detail on this shortly.

In understanding the value of gaining push notification subscribers, you should consider the high-level benefits you can achieve by getting users to enable this channel.

Why should you care about growing your subscriber list?

Higher push opt-ins translate to quantifiable benefits for your app. Failing to get users to opt-in at an early touchpoint or losing subscribers over time can impact your app’s engagement and retention metrics.

Losing subscribers also means you’re losing a direct communication channel that can serve a variety of purposes across the user lifecycle.

In case you haven’t considered the value of growing your subscriber list, here are some key reasons you should do so.

Leverage a Real-Time Channel

Push notifications are received front and center and can convey real-time updates, transactional messages, reminders, and more. Users who aren’t subscribed will miss out on all of this valuable information.

Increase Retention

Implementing push as a channel and getting your users subscribed leads to quantifiable jumps in retention. For example, fitness and health app BetterMe boosted their app retention by 22 percent after implementing push notifications.

Enhance the App Experience

Unlike more traditional communication channels such as email, push notifications are viewed more quickly and make it easy for users to return to your app in fewer clicks. Getting users to subscribe to push creates a seamless reengagement mechanism for your app.

What is an Opt-in Rate?

Let’s take a quick step back. What exactly is an opt in rate?

Your push notification opt-in rate is the ratio between the number of devices that enable push messages over your total number of app users. In other words, this is the proportion of users who are receiving your push updates.

Average push notification opt-in rates can vary between Android vs. iOS devices, especially for newer users. This is because each operating system has its own protocol for subscribing to notifications.

Whereas Android devices automatically allow push and provide the option to disable alerts later, iOS users must first provide consent by responding to Apple’s native permission prompt.

If you cater to an iOS user base, you likely already know that you have to butter these users up in order to earn their push opt-in. Similarly, for your Android users, you must maintain a high quality and the appropriate frequency of notifications to discourage them from opting-out.

What Strategies Can You Use to Get Users to Opt-in to Notifications?

The first step you should take before implementing a new strategy to gain more push subscribers is to identify existing patterns in your opt-in rates. Take some time to identify whether your opt-in rates have changed over time. When considering changes in your opt-in rates, think about changes both to the ecosystem and within your overall strategy. Have you defaulted to iOS’s standard native prompt in the past? Have you played with pre-permission prompting? How are you expressing the value of push updates at early touchpoints in the user journey?

2. Compare Your Opt-In Rate to Industry Benchmarks

Opt-in rates will vary widely depending on the industry you’re working in. Take a look at what’s typical in your app category to understand how your opt-in strategy is performing.

Travel apps, for example, tend to have higher opt-in rates than finance apps. This is because more users may readily see the value of push for apps with a more obvious need for real-time messaging functionality. The barrier to convince a user to stay subscribed to order updates for your food app is probably lower than it would be to receive educational push from your finance app.

Keep these industry benchmarks in mind when you’re seeking to understand how successful your current strategy is, and what type of improvements you should look for.

3. Use An In-App Pre Permission Prompt When Catering to iOS Users

On iOS devices, your users will be faced with Apple’s generic native prompt before being subscribed to notifications. Unfortunately, most users say no to this request, because it doesn’t fully express the value push notifications can provide and isn’t specific to your app’s use case.

To work around this generic and unconvincing prompting mechanism, we suggest that you use an in-app pre permission prompt to increase the chances that users will see the value of subscribing to your messages.

You can only serve up Apple’s native permission prompt once, so creating an in-app permission prompt will help you prime users to accept the native permission and allow you to hone the timing of your request.

Pre permission prompts should ideally tell the user what types of pushes you intend to send, and why they should subscribe in the first place. The more context you provide, the better.

Make sure to display this pre permission prompt at the optimal time, in a moment when your users have seen the value of your product and gotten to know how push messages can enhance their app experience. In other words, try and delay your prompt for a moment when your users are in a positive mindset. Is your boss more likely to respond positively to your PTO request on a Monday morning, or a Friday afternoon? The same principle can be applied to your pre prompting strategy. Maybe you trigger your pre permission prompt after a user has leveled up, completed a workout, or received their first order.

4. Provide Incentives

If convincing users to opt in within your current approach has been tricky, you might consider offering an extra incentive for their agreement to subscribe to push. Offering incentives is a tried and true psychological marketing tactic that not only gives users an extra reason to opt in, but also gives them an additional purpose for reengaging with your app.

Some examples of incentives you can offer include a discount on a user’s next purchase in your eCommerce app, additional in-game currency in your gaming app, or an extension of their free trial in your fitness app.

When they receive an added perk, your users will start growing affinity for your brand and viewing their experience with your app more favorably.

5. Get Granular With Testing

Test the elements of your opt-in messaging and timing to evaluate its effectiveness in driving subscription rates. If you’re conducting a thorough approach, you’ll want to base your opt-in messaging on existing data you have around in-app behavior. Even after evaluating this data, you can experiment with your copy, timing, and message appearance to see what’s working for users. This might seem like an extra step, but remember that the opt-in process is critical to enable continued communication with your users. Down the line, refining these elements will pay off.

For example, maybe you A/B test your permission prompt timing and find that users don’t appreciate an opt-in request right before they check out from your eCommerce app with ten boxes of their favorite ramen. You may decide to adjust the timing of your pre permission request for after they’ve checked out and received their order confirmation.

6. Stay True to What You Promised

In order to gain and retain push subscribers, transparency is key. We’ve already established that your initial opt-in prompt should clearly convey what types of push you’ll send and approximately how often users can expect them, so make sure you consistently deliver on these expectations. It should go without saying, but don’t be deceptive with your opt-in requests, because this will only lead to unsubscribes in the long run.

For instance, if your pre-permission prompt indicates that you’ll only send users transactional order updates, don’t blast them with ten promotional pushes per day.

Do More with In-App Messaging

Did you know that in-app messaging (IAM) can be used for more than just pre-permission prompting?

In a highly competitive app ecosystem, in-app messages can be a critical differentiator for your app. Only one-third of apps use IAM, even though their click-through rates are through the roof. With OneSignal, you can send mobile push notifications and in-app messages from the same platform, without doing any development work. Create your free account to start messaging your users today.

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