Last update: April 2021

4 mins to read - 2021/04/23

How to Understand Push Notification Interactions, Clicks, and Dismisses

As push notifications edge their way into the mainstream of digital marketing, it’s becoming clear that we need a significant shift in the way we approach them. We have explored in previous blog posts the dangers of push notification fatigue, and how to avoid push notification fails that can alienate app users and drive them away. As a mobile marketer, your goal is to design a push notification campaign that gets as many interactions as possible from app users. But remember that interactions (meaning clicks and swipes) are only important insofar as they lead to goal conversions. Otherwise, you risk losing sight of the forest for the trees.

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forest trees

Why Meaningful Interactions With Push Notifications Are Worth More Than Playing the Numbers Game

There can be a temptation to blast out push notifications en masse, in the hopes that one or two of them catch your user’s attention. After all, if conventional push notifications earn on average a 2% click-through rate (CTR), that means you should be sending out hundreds of notifications, right? Indeed, that’s largely the way mobile marketers have handled push notifications in recent years. And not only does this not lead to an increase in conversions or ROI, they’re shooting themselves in the foot. According to eMarketer, 57% of respondents surveyed stated that they opted-out of push notifications for a brand because there were “too many messages or updates.” A surplus of irrelevant push notifications actually leads to LESS meaningful interactions with your users.

So what’s a better way to approach this?

Instead of bludgeoning your way to a higher interaction rate with more generic, spammy push notifications, accomplish this by sending out fewer notifications that are highly targeted and personalized for user segments. Personalization can result in 4x increase in CTR, and a much more positive app UX. Ultimately, this will lead to more long-term customer lifecycles, which often leads to greater ROI. But first, let’s look at push notification interactions: clicks and dismisses, the relationship between them, and how to use it.

Clicks, Dismisses, and Interactions Overall

First, let’s talk about clicks. They have a reputation of being the gold standard of KPIs in the mobile app industry. Or really any digital industry that functions in the attention economy. The goal of a push notification is to get a user to click on it, so they can enter your app. Deep links integrated into the notification can even direct users to a specific page in your app, rather than the app homepage. There may be offshoot goals from that point on, but that isn’t the push notification’s responsibility. Once the user has opened the app, the notification has served its purpose.

Because of this focus on clicks, many mobile marketers can see dismissals as a failure. However, this isn’t look at the big picture. Even if the user isn’t clicking into your app, a dismissal (the user swiping the push notification to delete) is still engaging with the app. So you can still count that as a win. For example, there are many scenarios where a push notification may serve its purpose simply by communicating information to the user.

Suppose a user is about to board a flight that they booked using your travel app. A push notification is the perfect mechanism to let them know that their gate has changed. Assuming you’re using a platform that offers reliable delivery, push notifications are fast, they grab the user’s attention immediately, and they don’t stay around to clutter up their device. By reading the notification – “The gate to your 9am flight to San Francisco has changed to Gate 24B” – the user has no need to engage further with the app. They can swipe away, but they have still received helpful information from the notification, which has reinforced the value of your app in their mind.

airport push notification interactions

How Can You Look at Interactions from Push Notifications as a Whole?

With this in mind, how can you look at the relationship of your push notifications with user interactions as a whole? First of all, different ratios of CTR to dismissals can mean different things depending on your app. If your app’s utility is primarily in providing information – for example, a news or weather app – then a high level of dismissals compared to CTR can still signify a healthy app, assuming users are reading your messages and then swiping away. On the other hand, a more interactive app that needs users heavily engaging with it – for example, an F2P game that is monetized through in-app purchases and ads – too many dismissals paired with low CTR means you should probably reassess your push notification strategies.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do with metrics such as interaction rate is assess them to see how and how much they lead to further engagement with your app. What other metrics and KPIs are your users completing? For example, the traveler who received the gate change notification might go on to use your app to book future flights, hotels, and cars down the line. While a notification didn’t result in a click, it could have indirectly led to purchase conversions in the long-term.

This is why careful metrics analysis is key to any mobile marketing campaign. Report all goal conversions and track how they trend and improve over time. By gaining insights on your app’s performance in the past – and how your push notification interactions ties into that – you will be able to project how it will continue into the future.

The OpenBack dashboard provides full, comprehensive metrics on your push campaigns – on everything from user interactions to active users to retention rates. Everything you need to gain detailed insights into the effects of your campaigns, we have the full analytics and visualizations for you to access through our dashboard.

Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more about OpenBack’s metrics analysis, and how you can leverage that to improve your Return on Push Notifications.

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