Want to read a stag­ger­ing fig­ure? How about 84 per­cent of apps are not used more than two times? Amaz­ing fig­ure. Espe­cially since this means that 84 per­cent of the money mar­keters spend on adver­tis­ing their apps and build­ing them is lost. “It’s a tough chal­lenge to make peo­ple down­load your app, but the real chal­lenge is to make peo­ple remem­ber your app, cre­ate a usage rou­tine, and reward them prop­erly for that with per­son­al­ized rewards,” explained the direc­tor of mobile prod­ucts of Groupon dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion at the 2014 Mobile Word Con­gress. And when you know that mobile buy­ers spend two times more than non­mo­bile con­sumers (Groupon tes­ti­mony at the Mobile World Con­gress again, 2013 this time), it’s really inter­est­ing to keep them engaged; it’s two times more interesting.

There are two ways to get this done:

  1. A won­der­ful app expe­ri­ence has a five star rat­ing in app stores.
  2. A per­son­al­ized push noti­fi­ca­tion strat­egy inte­grated in a global mar­ket­ing strat­egy, let’s focus on that point.

This doesn’t mean from a cus­tomer stand­point that they accept this com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel freely. Orga­ni­za­tions mustn’t fall into the same errors as email by blast­ing and batch­ing push notifications—customers are aware that they can have con­trol and they expect to use it.

Con­sumers adopt push noti­fi­ca­tions but want to be in con­trol,” noted Forrester’s Thomas Hus­son,  in his report, “Push Mobile Engage­ment to the Next Level.” Push noti­fi­ca­tions can increase engage­ment and reten­tion four times accord­ing to push noti­fi­ca­tion pure play­ers. It’s a clear sign that app users like this com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel. But using the most per­sonal device ever invented as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nel has to be done with a lot of cau­tion. Using push noti­fi­ca­tions is like knock­ing on people’s door. It’s bet­ter to have some­thing valu­able and per­son­al­ized to say, and it’s even bet­ter if you have been invited to enter!

The Impor­tance of the Login

Push noti­fi­ca­tions or “pushes” can be per­son­al­ized based on app behavior—it’s the min­i­mum level of per­son­al­iza­tion. Same as email or SMS, blast­ing pushes has poor ROI. More­over, blast­ing on the most per­son­al­ized life com­pan­ion of peo­ple can lead to vio­lent backlash.

Thus, it’s rec­om­mended and far more effec­tive to per­son­al­ize it using the whole app user pro­file. To do so, it’s impor­tant to encour­age peo­ple to login.

Below are two tips to max­i­mize login attempts;

  1. Facil­i­tate: Face­book or Google+ logins are great exam­ples. We can all agree that no one likes fill­ing out forms on a mobile phone. Peo­ple clearly pre­fer a sin­gle click on a Face­book login but­ton. Thus, encour­ag­ing social login will boost login rates dra­mat­i­cally. If you’re con­sid­er­ing using forms, they should be short and well designed.
  2. Pitch and pro­vide value: Like on your web­site, you can force login to access to the app. Ven​teprivee​.com does just that. Oth­er­wise you have to explain why cre­at­ing an account or log­ging into your app will pro­vide a bet­ter expe­ri­ence of addi­tional fea­tures. On voyage-sncf app, a travel reser­va­tion app, trav­el­ers have a tremen­dous expe­ri­ence once they log in. The app is fully per­son­al­ized and reg­is­tered with your pro­file and that of your fam­ily mem­bers with your loy­alty cards, seat pref­er­ences, pay­ment infor­ma­tion, past pur­chases, e-tickets, your push noti­fi­ca­tions pref­er­ences, etc.

Three Steps to Boost Opt-In to Pushes Rate

Obtain­ing opt-in to push noti­fi­ca­tions is nec­es­sar­ily easy. Most of apps request it at the first start, with­out any expla­na­tion (and most of apps do not send pushes after­ward). Who will accept an opt-in from an app three sec­onds after open­ing it? Not a lot of people.

Mar­keters have to deter­mine what value they want to pro­vide with pushes. For exam­ple, Wal­greens built an app that includes a pill reminder by pushes.

Then, mar­keters  have to fol­low a cou­ple of steps to max­i­mize opt-in rate:

1. Present opt-in to push advan­tages in a ded­i­cated land­ing page with a call to action to say if they want to opt-in or not.

Then if app users want to opt-in:

2. Show a pref­er­ences man­age­ment page (or pref­er­ence cen­ter) where peo­ple select the kind of pushes they want to receive and the fre­quency (this screen must be eas­ily acces­si­ble through the app afterward).

3. When peo­ple click on “con­firm sub­scrip­tion to pushes,” prompt the “offi­cial” Google or Apple opt-in for push noti­fi­ca­tions to get a “yes.”

With these kind of best prac­tices, you can eas­ily dou­ble your opt-in rate.

Some final advice: push noti­fi­ca­tion is a way to get a 2x boost in sales, a 4x boost in app engage­ment, and a 2x reten­tion rate. When you plan your mobile strat­egy, don’t see it as a step two or a “nice to have.” In an “Inter­net of things” world where apps suck most of people’s time, mobile push might be as cru­cial as email is today. It will only become more so as it becomes a rou­tine and invades the every­day life of cus­tomer as Groupon explained it. Today, the web/email duo rules mar­ket­ing rela­tion­ship. Be ready for the time when apps/push will be on the top of the podium.


Good write up, Stanislas.  Rather than intrusive 'push' notifications, we often use in-app 'pull' messages instead -- i.e. when the user opens our app the message is loaded & delivered.  Far less intrusive and for me, a better way to communicate w/ my active user base.  For these active users - push notifications are used sparingly.

Still looking for a great way to increase app consumption/usage among the 'inactive user' segment.  Unfortunately push notifications haven't proven to be the solution to our problem as we've seen zero, and sometimes even negative incremental results.


Hello @StreborRelyt

You're true, pushes are not always succesful but our customers get great results with them in terms of engagement, sales, stickiness to the app. For us, a key success factor is letting app users select type of pushes they want to opt-in to. App users have to be fully in control and aware of what they receive. The icing on the cake is to deeply personalize pushes based on CRM information and in app behavior. You're also true, in-app inbound personalized message is also a great way to interact with app users as it's not intrusive but it only target people visiting the app, and it cannot create the usage routine I mentioned. It's then fully complementary with classic push notifications.