App Development, Thought Leaders

How To Win Back App Users Who Opt Out of Push Notifications

August 22, 2018

by Emma Mullan

Marketing Strategist, Hurree

Push notifications are one of the most important tools for engaging your app users. Discover why users opt out of push notifications and 5 steps to winning them back.

People download new apps every day. As an app developer or marketer, new users downloading your app is exactly what you want to see.

However, user acquisition is only half the battle. Mobile app users are fickle creatures, and their short attention span often means they can lose interest quickly.

On average, only 29% of app users from across the globe still use an app 3 months after the initial download. This is where push notifications come in.

The Importance of Users Opting In to Push Notifications

An effective push notification strategy can boost app engagement by as much as 88%, which can help lower the number of users who stop using your app. In addition, when push notifications are enabled, 65% of users will return to the app within 30 days, compared to just 19% who return when push is not enabled.

For iOS apps, the power lies completely in the hands of your user, as it is up to them to choose to opt in to receive your push messages. This is a challenge for businesses because 57% of iOS users decline push notifications.

Android apps automatically opt users in without choice when downloading an app. But that still doesn’t mean you’re safe, as these users can choose to opt out at any time.

Why Do App Users Opt Out of Push Notifications?

When users first download your app, a major factor on their decision to opt in or out is trust.

Opting out is a default response for 25% of users, as all push notifications are suspect until proven otherwise. They haven’t yet had the opportunity to build a relationship with your app, so it is simply their natural instinct to prevent you from intruding on their day-to-day lives with notifications. For others, a previous negative experience with a push notification has resulted in them opting out.

You need to show users how your push notifications will add value to their user experience.

Uber, for example, manages to do this successfully.

Uber push notifications

Uber has an opt-in rate of 80% because users want to receive updates about when their ride is arriving.

If you see users opt in at the start but choose to opt out later, you might need to rethink your current push notification strategy.

Sending repetitive, non-personalized, or irrelevant content too frequently is going to frustrate your users. If they still see value from using your app, they’ll just turn the notifications off.

Many users, however, will simply delete your app if you send them too many notifications. And if that happens, you will need an entirely different campaign to convince them to download your app again, not just opt back in.

Whatever their reasons for opting-out, your app marketing will suffer as a result. Push is one of the most powerful tools you have for engaging and retaining your app users, so you want to try to win back as many users as you can.

How to Get Users to Opt Back In to Push Notifications

Being unable to reach out and engage the majority of your app users isn’t ideal. But a user who opts out isn’t lost forever. It is possible to win them back.

To do this you will need to conduct a re-permissions campaign. This involves the use of various other channels to convince your users of the value and benefits they could receive from opting in to your push messaging.

1. Use Alternative Communication Channels

When users turn off push notifications, you have no choice but to use a different method of communication with them.

It is not uncommon for an app to ask users to provide a form of contact. This could be an email address that was required to create a username and password or perhaps a mobile number, which is beneficial for delivery apps such as GrubHub and Uber Eats.

Provided they opt in to either of these channels, you can try an email or SMS marketing campaign to convince your user to opt back in to push notifications.

Email marketing is a much more permanent method of communication in comparison to push. With push, the message disappears once it is opened or dismissed. This makes email perfect for giving your user information you want them to be able to refer back to.

Use email as an opportunity to get creative; use of images and videos to show your users exactly what they are missing by not opting in to push notifications.

SMS marketing is an ideal way to continue reaching users on their mobile device, as 78% of mobile users will read a text message from a company they know and have given their mobile number to.

If neither email nor SMS marketing is an option, you can always fall back on in-app messages. These are considered part of your app experience, so they don’t require an opt-in. However, in order to receive these, the user will have to open the app.

So, if you are trying to reach users who haven’t opened your app in the past 6 months, in-app messaging is unlikely to work. However, they are the perfect method for targeting users who have opted out but still frequently use your app.

2. Choose Your Target Audience

After you’ve decided what channel you want to use to get users to opt back in to push notifications, you need to segment your users based on the ones you want to target with your re-permissions campaign.

Targeting someone who hasn’t opened your app in the last 6 months with a message encouraging them to turn on push notifications is pointless. These people don’t even use your app, so why would they be interested in turning on push messaging?

You want to go after the users who still use your app frequently but for some reason have decided against receiving your push notifications. These are the ones you need to get back on your side by showing them exactly what they are missing.

3. Offer an Incentive

Show your users you care with a thoughtful and valuable incentive.

This works especially well for users who have had a previous bad experience with push notifications. Explain that by turning on push notifications, they will gain exclusive access to the best discounts, freebies, features, new levels, upgrades, or whatever else might work for your app.

The key here is knowing your users and understanding what you can offer that will benefit them.

4. Show Users How to Opt Back In

Once users want to opt back in, it’s often a good idea to show them how.

Finding the way to the settings page can be a bit tricky for the less tech-savvy users. Without an idea on how to get there, users will likely leave the process for another time, which could lead to them forgetting to do it at all. You need to get them to act now when it’s on their mind.

Shopping app Rue La La promises special discounts to opted-in users and shows users how they can easily opt in.

Rue La La push notifications

Rue La La created a page on its website containing a GIF with a step-by-step guide on how exactly to opt in to push notifications.

Showing users how to opt back in to your push notifications won't leave them guessing.

5. Don’t Overdo It

A re-permissions campaign works differently than a usual engagement and retention strategy. This is not something that you can keep bothering your users with on a weekly or even monthly basis. Keep the messaging via your chosen channels down to a minimum.

Once every 6-12 months is more than enough. Continuing to harass your users and begging them to opt in to receive push will only annoy them and could even encourage them to delete your app entirely.

If you’re this needy before they have opted in, what will you be like when they do opt in?

Make use of A/B testing so you can try out different copy, subject names, incentives, or even images to a smaller portion of your target audience. That way you can be more confident that the most effective version went to the vast majority of your list.

Once you figure out the best copy, don't overwhelm users with constant requests to opt back in to push notifications; only do it occasionally.

Maintain a Relationship With Your App Users

Once you get users to opt back in to receiving push notifications, it is absolutely critical to ensure you deliver everything you promised them.

You need to respect this incredibly personal channel of communication and only send relevant, personalized, and valuable push notifications.

It took some effort on your part to build this relationship, so you need to be able to maintain it; otherwise, your users will simply opt out again or even worse, delete your app for good.


About the Author

Headshot of Emma MullanEmma Mullan is a marketing strategist for Hurree, an app marketing platform. She loves to write about all things related to the world of digital marketing and apps, with a passion for creating new ways for Hurree's clients to increase app user engagement and retention.

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