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. Venteprivee.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.