The Push Messaging Opportunity: Never Too Little, Too Late

Brands and businesses are just beginning to understand the possibilities that push messaging creates to engage and build relationships with their consumers. But with our customers who are ahead of the curve, we are seeing very strong consumer response to push notifications across brands large and small. And we’re just getting started. Customers like Accuweather and Walgreens have big plans for future push messaging efforts, and as new capabilities like location-aware targeting are adopted, we see a very bright future where mobile moments of delight turn connected consumer relationships into loyalty.

Earlier this year we conducted our first study of customer data to determine push messaging’s influence on app user retention and engagement and the results were nothing short of amazing. Today, in a much broader study, we are happy to report that we’ve verified these initial findings and offered new insights that will enable you to begin benchmarking your efforts to see where you are in the continuum of Good Push.

The short of it is that by analyzing the behavior of opt-in vs. opt-out users across 360 apps spanning many app categories, we found that effective push messaging more than doubles four-month retention rates and nearly quintuples engagement.

We also worked with Joy Liuzzo of Wave Collapse to develop an algorithm to categorize brands’ push messaging practices as garnering either High, Average or Low Push Engagement to offer more insight into push effectiveness and to offer the beginnings of benchmarks for you to evaluate your own efforts. Of the entire sample size, 95 apps were classified as High Push Engagement, 175 as Average Push Engagement and 87 as Low Push Engagement. Apps with High Push Engagement see opt-in users being more than 75% of their unique monthly users, while Average sees opt-in users being more than 50% and Low less than 50%.

Regardless of High, Average, or Low rankings, all drove higher engagement and retention of users who receive push messages versus those that don’t. But the opportunity to go bigger with push messaging certainly has its rewards:

  • Apps with High Push Engagement drive 388% more app opens than opted-out users, with Average and Low driving 170% and 77% more app opens, respectfully.
  • Apps with High Push Engagement achieve double the clickthrough rate of Average, which itself doubles the clickthrough rate of Low.

The observant might ask what about retention? Going from Low to High Push Engagement only increases four-month retention rates by 5%, so is it really worth the effort? Consider for a moment some tried-and-true marketing principles like the fact that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers, and that it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. One of my favorites also coming out of Bain & Company is that increasing customer retention rates by 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95%. The opportunity is becoming much clearer, right?

There were some surprises in the data. Many of the apps ranked higher by the algorithm had smaller audience sizes, while many apps ranked as Low had larger audience sizes. We’ve seen a lot of innovation in push messaging being driven by indie-developed apps, and smaller apps in general may have a more focused value proposition for their audiences. However, for apps with larger audiences, these findings seem to indicate the importance of not taking a one-size-fits-all approach to messaging, and being more precise in efforts to segment and deliver pushes according to user preferences, behaviors and location.

As you’ve probably noticed by our product advances this year and by our Good Push education efforts, we firmly believe that more precise targeting is an absolute necessity to drive the level of relevancy that will spark exceptional mobile experiences and increase customer loyalty.

Let us know what your plans are to “push it, push it real good” (sorry, couldn’t resist).