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Pushing for a Reaction: Best Practices for App Notifications

Posted Dec 22, 2015

Inspiring a user to reopen an app is the mission of any mobile app developer. While the myriad of strategies vary, many employ push notifications to drive users back. However, how effective is this tactic, how many users an a publisher expect to reach, and what best practices can be employed?

To answer these questions, we’ve turned to a recent report from Forrester Research.


From the chart above, the struggle to encourage users to allow push notifications is clear. While 21% of users are likely to allow push notifications for most apps, 38% rarely grant apps such permission. Still, 62% of US smartphone users regularly receive push notifications on their devices.

Yet how many of these notifications trigger actions? That answer varies wildly by industry and OS, as depicted below:


While the higher performance for Android may seem odd, this is partially due to the nature of notification permissions between the operating systems. In many cases, iOS apps default with push notifications already on, and users must go into settings to turn them off. Conversely, many Android apps default with push notifications off, and users must actively turn them on. Thus, users who opt in to receive notifications are more likely to engage with them.

In addition to encouraging opt-in notification systems, Forrester’s study advocates the following push notification best practices:

  1. Leverage user behavior analytics to segment users.
  2. Identify mobile moments that are ideal for reaching out to your customers
  3. Leverage marketing automation to integrate push notifications with in-app messages and other cross channel messaging.
  4. Personalize the content with custom messaging
  5. Make the benefits of push notifications clear. Users won’t sign up for them if they aren’t positioned in a way to offer a meaningful benefit.

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