Push Notifications Statistics (2022)

Business of Apps

Updated: July 21, 2022

Push notification technology was first introduced by Apple Inc. back in June 2009, alongside its iOS 3.0 version. Push notifications allowed third party app developers to send messages to their apps’ users, even when those apps weren’t run. The benefits were quite significant – now developers could communicate important information at any time, increasing the value of the apps to their end users.

The modern push notification can include media, action buttons, and can be tailored to individual users. They can be used to convey information and updates, encourage users to engage with an app, send reminders, serve as a step in the user journey, and much more. They also extend beyond mobile devices, to web push notifications on laptop and desktop computers, on both Windows and macOS.

In the ongoing battle to keep users engaged in a high competition, high-stakes marketplace, push notifications can play a key role. They can also, however, be problematic if used thoughtlessly. Indeed, too many pushes can even cause users to uninstall an app entirely, implying push notifications can drive mobile app user churn up. While there are external factors that cause user churn that mobile app marketers aren’t in a position to control, the push notification is not one of them.

Learn more about push notification below, with statistics on what kind of businesses send them, the best times to send, what sorts of push notifications users like to receive, and how to increase engagement and Click Through Rate, aka CTR.

Key push notification statistics

  • Average US smartphone user receives 46 app push notifications per day
  • Medium opt-in rates on Android devices – 81%
  • Medium opt-in rates on iOS devices – 51%
  • Overall push notification opt-in rate – 60%
  • Android push notification reaction rate – 4.6%
  • iOS push notification reaction rate – 3.4%
  • Android average push notification CTR – 4.6%
  • iOS  average notification CTR – 3.4%
  • Highest push reaction rate day of the week – Tuesday (8.4%)
  • Emojis improve reaction rates – 20%
  • Rich formats improve reaction rates – 25%
  • Tailored send times improves reaction rates – 40%
  • Advanced targeting improves reaction rates – 300%
  • Push notification personalisation improves reaction rates – 400%
  • Basic personalisation improves open rates – 9%
  • Emojis improves push notification CTR ~5%
  • Sending targeted push notifications enables retention rate (11+ sessions) – 39%
  • Sending broadcast messages enables retention rate – 21%
  • Percentage of mobile marketers use rich push notification – 8% (Airship) / 38% (VWO Engage)
  • Push notification segmentation adoption – 85% (2017) from 65% (2015)
  • 1 push notification a week leads to 10% of users disabling notifications, and 6% to uninstalling the apps

Now, as we have the key push notifications benchmarks in place, let’s dissect them in depth below, starting with the opt-in rates.

Push notifications opt-in rates

According to the Airship’s 2021 Push Notification Benchmark report, opt-in rates for app push notifications on the Android OS ranges from 49% to 95%, with medium equal to 81% and  on the iOS side it ranges from 29% to 73%, with medium equal to 51%. The higher medium on the Android side is explained by the fact that iOS users must actively consent to push notifications, whereas Android automatically enables push notifications.

The medium value gives the Android OS a clear advantage over iOS, this reflects the in-balance we find in the market. As of Q2 2022, Android devices accounted for 71.6% of new device sales, compared to iOS’s share of 27.7%, with remaining percentage belongs to Samsung, KaiOS and Nokia. Although, today’s Android’s edge over iOS is smaller, in Q2, 2021 the split was 73% and 27% respectively.

Top Push Notifications Services

  • AdMaven - The Ad Network For publishers and advertisers
  • Airship - Mobile Marketing Solutions
  • RollerAds - Worldwide ad network with onclick, push and in-page push notifications.
  • Braze - Comprehensive customer engagement platform
  • Launchpad by Growth Rocket Apps - Flexible Marketing Subscriptions | Human experts & a smart platform
  • MoEngage - Insights Led Customer Engagement

The study analyzed 600 billion push notifications sent to 2 billion users over H1 2021 via the Airship’s own platform (so not necessarily perfectly reflective of the general market, though, given Airship’s market share, certainly an instructive insight into it).

Airship’s push notification statistics are broken down to analyze how behavior pertaining to app push notifications differs in various contexts. The benchmarks were broken down into high (90th), medium (50th) and low percentiles (10th). The 50th percentile number is the median for the vertical. The 10th percentile number means 10% of the apps had a lower value, while the 90th percentile number means 10% of apps had a higher value.

Breaking the opt-in data down by vertical (we took only 7 verticals from the report’s data pool to provide a clearer picture), Airship found that on Android finance apps are on the top of opt-in push notifications ratings, with 96 % of mobile users who accept to receive push notifications. Education and medical closely follow with opt-in rate around 94%.

Push notification opt-in rates by vertical on Android (%)

Overall the iOS opt-in rates are way lower that the Android’s ones because the latter  has push notifications set on by default, meanwhile iOS users are offered to make a conscious choice to accept push notifications or not. The most striking difference between Android and its iOS counterpart lays with social,  the low, medium and high are respectively 30%, 48% and 75% against Android’s 55%, 94% and 97%.

Push notification opt-in rates by vertical on iOS (%)

What makes users disable push notifications?

The average US smartphone user gets 46 push notifications every day reports customer engagement & user retention platform CleverTap in its 2018 research – something of a bombardment (it is unclear whether this includes emails, WhatsApp etc.).

Restraint can be key, therefore. Dedicated customer support company Helplama finds that one weekly push will cause 10% of users to disable app push notifications. Going with 3-6 push notifications will get you into bigger trouble, with 40% of app users say “no more push notifications” if they get that much of the messages. But then an interesting thing happens, sending more than 20 message will cause only 5% of app users to turn off push notifications on their smartphones. We believe the key is what kind of messages are being sent and if the message implies sending multiple messages regularly users really don’t mind.

Number of weekly push notifications that cause users to disable push notifications (%)

Source: Helplama

The A/B testing company team VWO Engage finds a slightly higher cut-off point for five key push sending industries, the results vary across them. Recipients of software & SAAS pushes consistently unsubscribe at the highest rate, and see a real spike in unsubscribes at the 11-15 per day mark. Senders of ecommerce and media, publishing & blogging push notifications enjoy the greatest levels of tolerance, while BFSI can get away with five before faced with a sharp increase in un-subscribers. Looking at these numbers, it seems like on average app users don’t expect to receive push notifications from software-as-a-service companies and prefer to be in a control when to engage with the app or web service. When it comes to media, getting extra nuggets of information is something that is expected and push notifications come handy.

Across industries, unsubscribes remain below 1% up to the five pushes per day mark in this analysis. The sharpest increase lies between 11-15 per day (a touch under 3%) and 16-20 (7%). Certainly mobile marketers should think carefully before sending in excess of 15 push notifications per day.

Daily push notification frequency vs. unsubscribe rate by industry (%)

Source: VWO Engage

Unsubscribing is only one mobile users reaction on excessing push notifications, more stronger reaction is considering them to be a spam. Now, what does it take for a push notification to be considered a spam? Well, it depends. It seems senders and recipients (‘subscribers’ are recipients, while ‘users’ are senders of push notifications in the below chart) differ in their interpretation of what qualifies as spam.

VWO Engage surveyed subscribers of push notifications to identify their reservations around them, the responders could make a multiple choice. The most glaring reason for subscribers to consider push messages to be a spam was what you’ve guessed – too many, 62% of them believed so. 55% of their sample simply said they push notifications were simply irrelevant to them. Clickbtait was provided as one of the reasons by 55% of the responders.

What makes push notifications classify as spam? (%)

Source: VWO Engage

All the more reason, clearly, to be cautions and thoughtful about how many push notifications messages you send to your subscribers.

The next finding from the VWO Engage survey was what push notification recipients considered to be annoying. Almost 53% said that those notifications just irritated them, 49% of the responders complained that they were distracted by push notifications. Quite predictably a significant portion, namely 39%, said the push notifications disturbed them at the wrong time. 24% said they were irrelevant to them, which could indicate the change of their preferences, 21% couldn’t find a purpose for the push notifications they received and, finally, 12.5% believed those notifications were impersonal.

What do recipients find annoying about push notifications? (%)

Source: VWO Engage

Push notification reaction rates

The 2019 CleverTap report also sheds light on the push notifications open rate by industry & operating system. This year Retail leads the pack with 2.97% on average and Android and iOS having 3.01% and 2.48% respectively.

We can also single out Utilities and Education & Training as two verticals that have Click Through Rate for Android push notifications significantly bigger that its iOS counterpart, 4.87% and 4.91% respectively against 2.51% and 1.77%.

Media & Publishing is at the bottom of the chart, with 1.69% for Android and 1.31% for iOS.

Push notification Click Through rates by verticals: Android vs. iOS (%)

Source: CleverTap

Now, last year the Airship report gave an average push notification reaction rate of 4.6% for Android and 3.4% for iOS.

Switching from a mobile platform wise to region wise.

Thanks to differences in culture, people in various countries react on push notifications differently, some welcome them a lot, some tolerate enough to leave them on and some just don’t have enough temper to deal with them at all, even if they did initially give their permission to receive those push notifications.

Having said that, if you’re looking for engagement from push notifications, then it seems you’ll have most luck in Europe, which sees the highest push reaction rate – 8.85, which translates  to 11.5% for Android and 5.5% for iOS. South America is on the opposite side of the spectrum, here only 6.9% of mobile users react on push notifications.

Again, on top of the difference caused by how different people react to notifications that pop up on their screens and may not be welcome at all times, there is this difference at how Android and iOS treat push notifications opt in / opt out wise, on the Android side users receive them by default and if they choose not to, they need to explicitly reject it in the settings and it’s the opposite for the iOS.

The difference in how both platforms respect people’s privacy right there for you.

Again, things seem fairly consistent across geographies, though proportionally speaking the difference between top and bottom is more pronounced.

Push notification Click Through rates by continent (%)

ContinentNorth AmericaSouth AmericaAfricaEuropeAsiaOceania
Average7%6.9%7.7%8.5%8%7.7%
iOS4.2%4.4%4.9%5.5%5.1%4.7%
Android10.8%9.3%10.4%11.4%10.9%10.6%

Source: Airship

Zooming in to Europe, German iOS users are most likely to react to push notifications at 12.2%, while the highest push reaction rate on Android smartphones can be found in France, at 6.3%. The least willing to react to push notifications iOS users live in Spain, just 11% bother to react and Switzerland people are the least engaged on the Android side.

Push notification rates in European countries (%)

CountryGermanyFranceItalyAustriaNetherlandsUKSpainSwitzerlandBelgiumPortugal
Average9.2%8.9%8.8%8.7%8.6%8.6%8.5%8.4%8.1%8%
iOS12.2%11.9%11.3%11.8%11.9%11.6%11%11.5%11.1%10.6%
Android5.8%6.3%5.5%5.3%5.5%6%5.3%5.1%5.4%

Source: Airship

Moving on to day of the week wise mobile users reaction rates.

The highest push notification reaction rates globally occur on Tuesday, at 8.4%, followed by Sunday at 8.1%. It follows a usual trajectory for the business week, when on Monday people aren’t really ready to engage but by Tuesday they are. On Sundays people already had their chance to decompress after a biz week and hence are more willing to engage with push notifications that show up on their smartphone screens.

Push notification Click Through rate by day of the week  

Source: Airship

VWO Engage’s  push notification statistics look at how CTR varies by day of the week for the top five push-sending industries. It doesn’t show a great amount of variation over the course of the week; indeed, perhaps the most notable observation we might make is of what appears to be a Saturday lull.

Click Through rate by day of the week/industry (%)

Source: VWO Engage

Now, let’s zoom in from days of the week to the hour-by-hour  split and take a look at times of the day when we see the most push notification reaction activity. Indeed, this seems to fall into a more edifying pattern. We see a daytime peak at lunch time, thickly sandwiched by lower activity during work and commuting hours. Implying mobile users are more susceptible to push notifications around the time they have their lunch and don’t mind to click-though those notifications they received earlier that day.

When the work day has ended, we see a clear upward trend that reaches a pinnacle around the time we would expect people to be winding down and going to bed – seemingly with phone in hand and open to distraction.

Push notification Click Through rate by time of the day (%)

Source: Airship

According to the 2018 edition of the CleverTap push notification statistics report, the story in terms of the best times for click-through ratios is slightly different. Here, we see a main peak occurring for two hours around lunchtime, which remains fairly high into the evening (with a slight dip during the homeward commute hours). As with the Airship stats, we see another peak around bed time. This is followed by another perhaps self-explanatory peak seven or eight hours later.

Push notification CTR by time of day (%)

Source: CleverTap

Those looking for the ideal time to send a push notification might also consider with how many other app push notifications they will be vying for attention. CleverTap identify the morning peak as being a particularly low-competition time to post. The same might equally be said of the bedtime peak. Obviously to use this knowledge about the most efficient time frames, you need to know in what time zones the majority of your push notification subscribers are located.

Time of the day push notifications are sent (billions)

Source: CleverTap

Push notification senders

In push notification statistics pertaining to their own customers, VWO Engage found that ecommerce businesses were the biggest senders of push notifications, followed by media, publishing & blogging. These two alone account for 40% of businesses sending push notifications. And Banking & Financial Services, Software & SAAS and Digital Marketing agencies as a distant third place with 8%, 7.6% and 7.5% respectively.

Push notification technology users by industry (%)

Source: VWO Engage

The ecommerce sector primarily uses push notifications to announce offers and discounts, with five out of six businesses using them for this purpose. New product announcements of time-limited offers are the next most popular options.

Purposes to send push notifications in the ecommerce sector

SectorAnnouncing new offersAnnouncing new productsSharing time-bound offersAnnouncing price dropsWelcoming new subscriberSending personalized product recommendations
Percentage of users83.3%50%33.3%25%16.7%16.6%

Source: VWO Engage

Key push activity times vary by industry, though there does seem to be a concentration of pushes in the afternoon, midweek. This is interesting, as we see below that this is not a time that users prefer to receive pushes, nor the time they are most likely to react, according to much of the analysis we see.

The time when push notifications are sent, by industry

eCommerceMedia, Publishing & BloggingBFSISoftware & SAASDigital Marketing Agencies
3pm - 4 pm Wednesday9am - 10am Tuesday3pm - 5 pm Tuesday4pm - 7pm Wednesday2pm - 7pm Tuesday

Source: VWO Engage

As we will see below, using advanced features available in push notification sending platforms can deliver significant results, but many developers/marketers are not taking them. Apparently, only 8% of marketers use rich push notifications, according to Airship.

VWO Engage’s analysis of its own clients also finds some interesting results in this regard. Only 20% of push notifications are segmented, for instance, which is really unfortunate because segmentation is one of the most basic mobile marketing tactics that allow marketers to customize messaging and deliver messages with the language that will resonate with recipients. Another finding is that 38% of push notifications do not utilize rich features, which is again about missing an opportunity to engage push notifications recipients.

Utilization of advanced push notification features

FeatureScheduling ExpiryRich NotificationsWelcome DripAudience SegmentationMulti-websiteSmart Campaign
Percentage usage54%38%34%19.7%13%11.5%

Source: VWO Engage

This is not borne of ignorance. Compare these figures to the respective importance such features are ascribed. We are seeing a gap, seemingly, in knowledge and practice, it’s unfortunate that while 100% of push notifications senders do understand the importance of using rich notifications, only 38% actually utilize them in practice.

Perceived Value of advanced push notification features

Source: VWO Engage

Now let’s switch to mobile app users preferences and see what kind of apps they prefer to receive push notifications from.

Push notification user preferences

According to VWO Engage’s stats, users are most keen to receive app push notifications from social media platforms. This is the only option chosen by more than half the survey sample – though news & information comes close. Beyond these two, no option garners more than a quarter. It’s interesting that long format media such as blogs and publications are the bottom of the chart, with only slightly more than 9% of the survey responders prefer to get push notifications from those. Evidently, the social media has trained people to accept being constantly reminded about new content from Facebook, Twitter, TikTok.

From what kind of apps do users like to receive push notifications?

Source: VWO Engage

When it comes to expressing their opinion on usefulness of push notifications, the survey responders answers split with roughly 57% saying they do find them useful, 46% – they do not and 25% were mostly positive but only if they get to choose specific apps to send them those push notifications.

Do users find push notifications useful?

Source: VWO Engage

The morning, the evening, and the weekends – i.e. downtime – are the times when people are happiest to receive push notifications; tarrying somewhat with the peak reaction times above. In this instance, the people know what they want (except when it comes to weekends perhaps).

Now, when it comes to peoples’ preferences

When do users like to receive push notifications?

Source: VWO Engage

How to improve push notification performance

Various tactics can be taken to increase reaction rates, Airship’s push notifications statistics show. Emojis increase reaction rates by 20%, rich formats by 25%, and tailoring send times for each user by 40%. Then we have the big ones: advanced targeting can increase reaction rates threefold, and personalisation fourfold.

CleverTap state that even basic personalisation increases open rates by 9%. It also finds that emojis can increase CTR – 9.6% with emojis compared to 3% without. Some emojis work better than others. Popular emojis that do engage recipients are “fire”, “blue heart”, “thumbs up”, “Ok”, “Lightning” and a few others.

Certain facets of personalisation are more effective than others. Stated preferences, for example, will result in higher levels of usage (49% of the CleverTap survey respondents considered it to a con), while addressing a user by name is not likely to be as effective (only 27% of people thought that it was a cool idea), it’s been used so many times that it’s lost its value, people have stopped perceive it as the way to communicate something on a personal level.

It’s worth exercising an element of caution also; sending messages based on ‘real-world’ behaviour may make 37% of people use the app more, but it will also make 25% of people use it less. The same applies to location-based tracking, and in-app behaviour (presumably there is significant crossover, demarcating a demographic that does not like its behaviour to be tracked).

App personalisation preferences

Use app moreUse app lessNo difference
The app always applies my stated preferences (e.g. sport team, home town) into content displayed or push messages sent to me49.2%15%35.5%
The app knows my location and factors that into content displayed or push messages sent to me42%25%33%
The app factors my actions in the “real world” (e.g. a purchase in a store) and reactors that into content displayed or push messages sent toe me37%25%37%
The app tracks my in-app behavior and factors that into the content displayed or in push messages sent to me32.5%29%38%
The app addresses me by name26.8%15%58%

Source: Localytics

Airship push notification statistics find that using rich push notifications can result in increases in open rates of up to 56%. They cite the example of USA Today – which saw an increase of app opens attributable to push notifications of 18% though the use of rich formats in 95% of push notifications.

Brazilian ecommerce retailer Dinda managed to drive a 25% increase in its direct open rate though a combination of rich notifications, segmentation, and A/B testing. This increases further if we use influenced open rate as our measure.

VWO Engage peg the rich push notification CTR at 9.2% – compared to 6.9% for simple push notifications.

The type of push notification can help too, say Airship. Interstitial notifications enjoy a reaction rate of 35%, compared to 18.3% for an alert box and 12.5% for a banner. It helps, it seems, to get in a user’s face…(within reason!).

Localytics’ push notification statistics measure the open rates following different types of push notification against each other. We can clearly see that, even without segmentation of the userbase, dynamic messages garner the best results. The holy grail of push notification, however, is a dynamic segmented message.

A business that takes both of these steps set to see users launch the app twice as many times as those sending any other type of message, and three times more than a standard broadcast message.

Engagement level by push notification type (%)

Source: Localytics

Looking it another way – direct open rate – yields similar results, albeit less stacked in favour of the dynamic/segmented. Using dynamic push notifications again is the simplest way to achieve better results.

Direct open rate by push notification type (%)

Source: Localytics

Things look a bit different, however, if we look at conversion rates: i.e. how many of users actually complete an action after receiving an app push notification. Here, we can see that segmentation becomes the difference. Indeed, dynamic/broadcast messages seem to be less successful by this metric.

It should be noted, say Localytics, that this might be down to the goals related to dynamic messages being more specific than broadcast messages. The latter may be broader, ergo meaning easier to achieve. The value of building wider engagement, they also note, are worth keeping in mind.

Conversion rate by push notification type (%)

Source: Localytics

VWO Engage find a marked positive effect when it comes to segmentation. Media, publishing & blogging( 13.7% with segmentation against 8.7% without) , BFSI (13.8% with against 8.7% without), and digital marketing agency push notification senders profit the most from segmentation (10.7% for segmented push notifications against 4.1% without, attributing the segmentation the solid 6% increase).

Segmented vs. non-segmented push notifications CTR

Source: VWO Engage

It seems we are seeing a positive trend in push notification segmentation, with more and more marketers sending segmented rather than broadcast messages – suggesting that they are getting the message on this.

As of 2017, the percentage of push notifications that had been segmented had climbed to 85%, as compared to 65% in 2015. It’s reasonable to speculate that since then the level of push notifications adoption has increased even further, given a positive effect it has been delivering for mobile marketers’ push notifications campaigns.

Broadcast vs. segmented push notifications (%)

Source: Localytics

As well as the above, we see marked improvements in both open rates and conversion rates where geotargeting is applied. Close to double in terms of the former and in excess of double in the latter, specifically 4.2% versus 7.9% for the Open Rate and 1.5% versus 3.8% for the Conversion Rate. Which goes to show that both segmentation and geotargeting allow mobile marketers to increase significantly relevance of their messaging.

Success rate of geotargetting (%)

Source: Localytics

The ideal length of a push notification varies according to the industry in which the poster operates, according to CleverTap. Those looking to attract clicks in the Health & Fitness and Travel & Hospitality industries should aim for 90 characters, according to this research. Those pushing Deal & Coupons, on the other hand, or Education & Training need to be more disciplined, with notifications of 20 and 25 characters respectively getting the best results.

And it should go without saying that the frequency of notification has an inverse relationship with CTR. According to VWO Engage push notification statistics, peak CTR comes at two pushes (for businesses in the ecommerce or digital marketing space, one) – after which the laws of diminishing returns apply.

There is, however, notable variation between industries. We might note that at the 16-20 push mark software and SAAS push notifications are still registering superior CTRs to any other industry after five (or ecommerce after one) – perhaps aided by a high unsubscribe rate leaving more engaged users. BFSI sees a marked drop off after 5 pushes, while digital marketing agencies actually get better results on the fifth than the fourth push.

Daily frequency of push notifications/CTR (%)

Source: VWO Engage

Across all industries, we see a tail off in CTR after 5 pushes, 3 seems to possess some of its famous magical properties here, giving better results than 2.

Using their push notification data, VWO Engage identify the ideal number of pushes by industry. According to these numbers, careers & training apps and digital marketing agencies can profit from sending more push notifications. Those in arts/sports/entertainment and online directories, on the other hand, should practice restraint (among others).

Ideal number of push notifications sent daily for maximum CTR by industry

Source: VWO Engage

It can be as simple as using certain words. CleverTap, for instance, identify a range of words that seemed to occur frequently in push notifications that result in strong engagement.

These words can hardly be considered obscure, but clearly serve a useful purpose in guiding users to open the apps. Words suggesting urgency feature heavily: ‘today’, ‘soon’, ‘now’, ‘limited’, ‘missed’, ‘don’t miss’, etc. We also see words alluding to quality (‘indulge’, ‘premium’, ‘awesome’), action words (‘explore’, ‘reserve’, ‘enjoy’), just a friendly ‘hey’, and of course ‘free’ and ‘get free’.

‘Power words’ in push notifications  

AddedDiscountHandpickedOffer
ApplyDon't missHappyPremium
AwesomeEarnHassle-freePromo
BackEnds soonHeyRemind
BestEnjoyHurryReserve
BetterExclusiveIndulgeSale
Book NowExploreLatestSave
CashbackGrabLimitedSoon
CelebrateFreeMidnightSpecial
CheckoutFriendsMissedToday
Coupon CodeGee FreeNextValid
DealFavoritesNowWin

Source: CleverTap

There are also words that are best avoided. CleverTap break this down by industry. These are less obvious.

Those in Finance should avoid ‘trade’, ‘price’, and ‘please’ (leave your manners at the door); Entertainment & Events app users are unmoved by ‘special’, ‘blockbuster’, and ‘get ready’; and in the world of Health & Fitness no one wants to hear ‘treatment’, ‘pain’, and the insult to the vanity of the user base that is ‘old’.

Other basic steps that can help can really be considered Marketing 101. Things are simple as adding a CTA increases CTR, for example (the fact that this can be measured suggests that it is not a step taken by all marketers).

CTR and Call-To-Action (%)

Source: VWO Engage

Adding a call-to-action to a push notification as a text is only one way to increase its CTR, adding a big size picture is another. Across multiple verticals we see that having a compelling graphic attached to a push notification is capable to increase Click Through Rate 2-3%. For eCommerce it drags CTR up from 5.8% to 6.7%, for Media, Publishing & Blogs it’s from 8.7% to 10.1%, BFSI enjoys the biggest boost at almost 3%, from 8.9% to 11.7%. The least effected is Software & SAAS vertical – only 0.9% from 6% to 6.9%.

CTR and picture size by vertical (%)

Source: VWO Engage

Push notifications and app retention

The percentage of people who will stop using an app after receiving push notifications is not a great deal smaller than those who simply disable app push notifications. 6% of users will abandon an app after receiving just one push notification per week – a figure that remained unchanged between 2015 and 2017. The better news is, outside of these hardcore push objectors, it seemingly is taking a greater number of push notifications to upset users to the point of uninstalling the app.

These conclusions are drawn based on the 2015-2017 data because of the lack of more recent similar researches. Given that since then push notification formats haven’t changed much, but the number of apps has increased, it’s reasonable to assume that if the same research would be conducted in 2022, the percentage would be at least the same if not greater.

Number of weekly pushes that cause users to abandon apps (%)

Source: Upland

This surely is not a liberty marketers can take; 21% of users abandon apps after one use as it is.

According to eMarketer research, in 2022 the average number of apps people opened on a monthly basis was 20, which was equal to the eMarketer earlier research from 2018. In 2020 that number raised to 21 – an expected bump thanks to people’s need to access many services and products from home. By 2026 it’s predicted that only 19.7 apps will be opened by people every month, of course we’re not claiming that it’s possible to open 0.7 of an app but to say that the trend to decrease this number will continue.

Push notification opt-in can give a clear indication of retention rates, representing an investment in an app by a user. Most users who have enabled app push notifications will be around for at least nine sessions, with 46% remaining beyond the unofficial retention point of 11 sessions.

On the other hand, nearly half of those who do not enable push notifications will be lost after a mere two sessions.

Retention rates opted in/opted out of push notifications (%) 

Source: Localytics

As above, there is a clear merit to sending out targeted messages; not just for the sake of CTR, but also for app retention. Send out broadcast messages, and you stand to lose over half of your audience after 3 sessions.

On the other hand, 39% of audience members will stick around for over 11 sessions with targeted notifications. It should be noted, however, that we shouldn’t overstate the significance of these numbers; broadcast message-sending apps retain 21% to the 11+ mark, while targeted message-sending ones lose 20% after one session. The decision taken by a healthy proportion of users to stick with or dispense with the app will have nothing to do with the nature of push notifications they are sent.

Retention rates by push campaign type (%)

Source: Upland

Final thoughts

Push notifications can clearly be an effective channel to reach users. They can also be a quick way to annoy, alienate, and ultimately lose an app’s userbase.

They must be used, therefore, with caution – and with reference to either the plentiful resources available online, or ideally with propriety data and A/B testing to gauge what works most effectively in any given context.

There are, however, some clear-cut ways marketers can increase the effectiveness of their app push notifications. While more and more seem to be cottoning on to the importance of segmentation and personalisation, there still seems to be plenty of room to improve. Namely, in the use of rich formats, user preferences (including those for no push notifications), and other simple touches which will make push notifications more compelling.

As the possibilities grow with improvements in tech and the availability of data, the potential to engage audiences through innovative and relevant push notifications will surely grow – as will the potential to irritate, particularly with numerous apps vying for our attention.

Striking a balance between grabbing attention and not becoming obtrusive in the process is the great challenge of the push notifier. Get it right, though, and the results can certainly pay off. Get it wrong, on the other hand, and you would probably be better off not sending any at all…

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