Last update: April 2021

3 mins to read - 2021/03/15

Push Notification Click-Through Rate (CTR) for Casual Gaming

We’ve written in the past about the differences between casual, hyper-casual, and midcore games. And we’ve explored at great length the value of push notifications for boosting user engagement, CTR, and revenues for your mobile game. This can vary for different genres of game. For example, hyper-casual games have been slow to embrace using push notifications for monetization, despite the enormous opportunity for combining them with in-app advertising for even greater revenues. 

Casual games, such as role-playing games (RPGs) or puzzle/arcade games, have been much quicker to jump on the push notification bandwagon, with considerable success. This may be because these more story-driven games have more creative scope for sending personalized push notifications. For example, use them to suggest in-app purchases to players, to direct them to mini-games where they can win free tokens, to deliver messages, let your player know when it’s their turn, etc. 

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We were curious about the different results in terms of click-through rates (CTR). for different types of casual games. So we pulled anonymous data from a wide range of different casual gaming campaigns, with a specific focus on how variations of the push notifications in terms of content and purpose affected CTR. When comparing these numbers with the industry standard CTR of 1-2%, it’s striking to see how using a hybrid mobile edge computing platform like OpenBack, and how customizing notification content according to user behavior and contextual factors, achieves greater results. 

Push Notification CTR by Mobile Game Genre

Do certain apps by default get higher levels of push notification CTR than others? Even without looking at the data, one would assume that – yes, they do. Apps and mobile games that have notifications baked into the function of the app will necessarily see high CTR. For example, messaging or email apps, or games in which push notifications are natural extensions of the UX, should naturally amass more clicks from users who installed the app with the intention of using it often.

And our first batch of data supports that. Casual games – e.g. Candy Crush, Angry Birds, and similar games based on the repetition of identical core loops, very sparse on narrative and with opportunities for in-app purchases or community participation for added flare – had CTR of 2.66%, which is slightly above the industry average. 

Midcore games, on the other hand, are more complex games. They are heavier on things like strategy and narrative, but not quite in the realm of hardcore. For example, RPGs like Oceanhorn, or Raid: Shadow Legends. Our set of midcore games saw a healthy CTR of 6.58%, which suggests that there was more scope for personalized content that organically played into the theme of the game.

Message Content: Neutral Wording vs. Sense of Urgency

Different categories of push notification saw different levels of engagement as well. We know from our previous content tutorials that emotional language – especially messages that express urgency – inspire higher levels of CTR in push notifications. And this certainly held true in our data sets.

Our two lowest levels of CTR were notifications worded as standard, run-of-the-mill alerts: Neutrally Worded Offers saw CTR of 1.51%, while Neutrally Worded Reminders saw slightly higher CTR, with 2.11%. This is understandable, as both of these types of message communicate information that is not urgent. Users would assume they would be able to swipe away and return to them in the future. Whereas their “Sense of Urgency” counterparts – Limited-Time Reminders and Limited-Time Offers – saw CTR of 3.98% and 6.40% respectively. Even with all else the same, this is a perfect illustration of how using language that suggests a lightning-fast opportunity – one that really lights a fire under the user – makes for a more effective call to action than more neutral wording.

CTR% of Push Notifications Based on Emoji Use

A rule of thumb among mobile marketers is that including an emoji or two can do wonders for your CTR. Emojis are friendly, colorful, and can spur positive emotions and make a message seem more appealing. And when comparing our CTR percentages overall, notifications that used emojis got slightly higher CTR (5.26%) than notifications without emojis (3.97%)

But when we broke the notifications down by category, things got a little more interesting. In our finding, emojis actually lowered CTR when added to Offers. Limited Offer Notifications – our highest performing category at 7.77% CTR – fell slightly to a CTR of 6.38% with emojis. And Ongoing Offers fell sharply from 5.56% to 1.44%. We can only surmise as to why this may have happened. Although one possibility is that people are conditioned due to decades of advertising and promotional material to associate emojis in tandem with sales offers with cheap marketing spam, and thus dismiss it. 

On the other hand, the use of emojis considerably improved CTR when it came to reminders. Neutral Reminders jumped from a CTR of 1.07% to 2.61% when emojis were added. And Time-Based Reminders went from 3.76% to 5.62% CTR. And when it came to notifications that communicated Game Updates, emojis boosted CTR from 4.22% to 5.59%. 


Overall, we’re very excited with our findings from this study, as it provides some useful data in terms of creating a system for reliably personalizing push notifications for higher CTR. Many mobile app developers we have spoken with put relatively little effort into personalizing their push campaigns. Nor do they explore the full potential of push technology to separate app users into different segments, or experiment with different data signals to schedule push notifications to deliver during convenient windows of time. 

But seeing how widely different CTR rates can be based on different content, language, or even the type of app suggests that for each different category there’s a magical equation that achieves maximum results. At OpenBack, our job is to figure out that equation, and then give you the most cutting-edge tools in the industry to optimize your mobile marketing campaign. With OpenBack’s 40+ custom data signals that help you pinpoint the perfect delivery moment for your push notifications, we take the guesswork out of your campaign scheduling. And with our auto-removal and considerably higher deliverability than our competitors, we provide you complete oversight and control over your push campaign – with much better results than the conventional “fire and forget” approach for notifications. 

If you’re curious to learn more about how OpenBack are shaking up the entire mobile marketing industry with our dynamic notifications and mobile edge computing platform, get in touch with one of our experts to request a demo!


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