Last update: August 2021

7 mins to read - 2021/06/17

Developing your Mobile Engagement Strategy and User Journey

In the early years of mobile engagement, mobile marketers didn’t have much in terms of a coherent strategy. Since all push notifications had to be processed through cloud servers, they were highly unreliable. Making any assumptions as to when or where a user might receive a certain notification on their device was a risky move. Notifications were blasted out en masse, and personalization was minimal. However, as push technology becomes more sophisticated, it becomes imperative for mobile apps to become more strategic and far-sighted when it comes to crafting their push campaigns.

At OpenBack, we are dedicated to providing you the tools and metrics you need to assess your push notifications and optimize your campaign across your users’ complete life cycle. From app install to active user to churn prevention, push notifications and in-app messages are the ideal means of building a robust long-term relationship with users. Keep reading for some ideas on how to approach each stage of the push notification funnel.

Download our NEW Metrics & Measurement Playbook to learn how to optimize your push campaign!

push notification funnel


Your push notification user journey begins when the user opts in to receive push notifications. With Android phones this happens automatically upon install. However, with iOS devices, the user has to expressly consent to receiving notifications. Rather than wait for the OS to send them a generic Yes/No message, it’s important for you to pre-empt them by sending a customized pre-permission notification. This is your chance to explain to the user the value of receiving push notifications, and how they will improve the app experience. Using rich content such as images or videos can increase your chances of your user opting in.

Once you get the opt-in, that’s when you can start communicating useful information and suggestions to your users. A successful mobile engagement strategy is always one that gets the user involved and active with your app early on. So if they haven’t finished onboarding, send them a gentle reminder via push notification to complete their profile. If they are in the early stages of exploring your app, send them an in-app message that walks them through different features of your app, and how they can get the most out of them.

And if in-app purchases are one means of app monetization you use, send your new user a notification alerting them of a sale, or perhaps offering them a limited-time discount code. Studies have shown that app users who complete a purchase early on are more likely to become repeat buyers.


Reliable Delivery and Delivery Moment

As the user journey progresses, you will be able to better deliver the type and frequency of push notifications that a certain user prefers. By leveraging their device-side data and tracking metrics – both on the OpenBack dashboard and with other tools from your martech stack – over time your ability to personalize notifications and in-app messages will improve.

One key element of a personalized push notification campaign is making sure that your notifications deliver at the perfect moment for your user to pay attention to it. With OpenBack’s reliable device-side delivery, this becomes possible for the first time in the history of the mobile engagement industry, meaning you can create a strategy of timing your notifications for the moment users are most likely to click on them.

For example, by analyzing your users’ behavioral data and habitual device usage, you can determine what block of time you should and should not send notifications. Do they tend not to pick up their phone from 9am to 1pm, with sporadic use until 1:30pm? That window is probably when they’re at work, so you’re likely better off sending your notification at 1:15pm, when they’re on their lunch break. Similarly, you can designate periods for commuting and sleeping as “no-send” windows.

OpenBack Delivery Signals for Building Your Mobile Engagement Strategy

OpenBack is currently compiling data on our various signals, and what effect they have on click-through rate. For example, we have found that sending your notification when users’ device is at 95-100% battery power, or at maximum ringer volume, can optimize your chances of a user interacting with it.

We also have a considerable amount of data on our other signals, and how they affect click-through of notifications. For example, our DeviceDecisions Signal, which combines user behavioral data with an AI algorithm to predict device usage in real-time, resulted in a 39% increase in click-through when engaged.


By interaction, we mean the user either clicks on your notification to open the app, or swipes it away to dismiss. (And a dismissal isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes a user might get the value they need from a notification by reading it, with no need to click. For example, a confirmation that an order has shipped.)

As a relationship with a user matures, and as you gain insights from tracking metrics and performing A/B testing, you will be more able to offer effective notification that pinpoint the needs of a user segment. Try sending notifications at the same time each day, to engrain in them the habit of thinking about your app at that time, making it more likely that they’ll subconsciously want to click on it.

Continue to drive promotions and targeted purchase suggestions toward your users. For example, you can send them sale items that might appeal to them, based on past purchases… For a customer who bought a mixing bowl, you can send them a set of kitchen whisks that are on sale. If they need persuading, send discount codes to drive them further down the revenue funnel.

Experiment with ways to use in-app messaging – to communicate with users while they’re inside of your app – and the app inbox. These are a means of communicating in a more involved, permanent way. In-app messages allow for more artistic leeway when it comes to graphics and long-form content (perfect for educating users about features of your app they haven’t tried out yet). Meanwhile, app inbox is the place to archive evergreen content that the user might want to revist again and again.

Clicks, App Opens, and Goal Completions

In the mobile engagement industry, clicks tend to be the main benchmark when it comes to measuring the success of your push notification strategy. After all, an app needs a community of active users to thrive. Often mobile marketers consider a goal completion to be the same as a purchase, but that’s not necessarily true. Depending on how your app is monetized, sometimes the goal of getting the user to open an app and interact with it – and in the process view a monetized ad – can be enough to bring in revenue.

However, it’s crucial to understand that not every goal has to result in direct revenue to be considered a success. Goals that are more engagement-driven can provide a more holistic benefit of building your app community as a whole, which can have a knock-on effect of driving more installs. For example:

  • Sharing their scores or screenshots on social media
  • Leaving a starred review in the App Store or Google Play
  • Participating in a tournament or battle royale for your mobile game
  • Inviting a friend to install your app
  • Installing a sister or partnering app which they don’t yet have on their device

Mobile games especially depend on building a robust gaming community. Even if a user isn’t spending any money on your game, if they are actively engaging with other players and improving the UX for other players, they could be an important driver of new installs. Push notifications are especially important in driving liveops to keep your mobile game content fresh and dynamic, by communicating to users information about bonus levels, limited-edition cosmetics and buyables, tournaments, community events such as AMAs, and more.

Opt-Outs and Churn Prevention

Ideally, every user journey would end with high levels of interaction and frequent goal completions. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Mobile apps and especially mobile games have high levels of churn. However, push notifications are your best tool in trying to prevent that from happening.

For users at risk of churn – track your 30-day rolling retention metrics to keep an eye out for downward trends – send them push notifications to entice them back into your app. Try a discount code, if they haven’t purchased anything in a while. Or give them a gift of some bonus content, or another user loyalty reward. Try to elicit some feedback on how your app can improve its UX by asking for a review. If nothing else, you will at least know what pitfalls to avoid for similar users.

To learn more about push notification metrics and measurements, and how to leverage them to build the blueprint of a sophisticated, long-term push notification campaign, get in touch with one of our experts.

Or, you can download our NEW Metrics & Measurement Playbook to learn how to optimize your push campaign!

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