Last update: July 2021

5 mins to read - 2021/07/23

Make Push Notifications a Pillar of Your Mobile Growth Campaign in 2021

It’s an exciting time for the mobile app industry. People are more connected than ever before, with 3.8 billion people – that’s half the global population! – owning a smartphone. Nearly every form of content, entertainment, or media can be experienced via mobile. And since the start of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, global lockdowns have shown many of us how truly indispensible our mobile apps are. Many of us can’t even envision going back to a world where communication, gaming, retail, banking, and streaming wasn’t done primarily on our mobile devices. There are many changes coming to the mobile industry, as more and more of our lives go digital, and the jury is still out on whether Apple’s new privacy rules announced at WWDC 2021 will really be as game-changing as feared. Still, there’s never been a better time to go mobile, and push notifications are the pillar of any robust mobile growth campaign.

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Changes in the Mobile Industry: Things to Take into Account

There’s no arguing that Apple is one of the key drivers in the mobile industry. Apple has always been very oriented with privacy and transparency, and recent iOS upgrades have seen them putting that into effect. Much like their approach to push notifications, mobile apps now need to gain the consent of iOS users before tracking their IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers). This move, called App Tracking Transparency (ATT), allows mobile apps access to Apple’s SKAdNetwork, which provides aggregated data, but nothing that can be attributed to individual users.

Apple is making more strides into the realm of data transparency and privacy as well. Especially with their Focus Mode, which gives users control over how and when they receive notifications, and from which apps. Ultimately, this points to a future in which the user’s benefit and convenience – a goal which OpenBack has held as its primary motivation since the launch of our mobile engagement platform.

In the future, the relationship between an app and its user will be a two-way street. And the most successful apps will be those that take into account what times users want to receive notifications from them. With OpenBack’s 25+ custom data signals, apps have full insight on device-side data that provides context on whether your user is at home, work, or asleep, whether their Wi-Fi signal is strong or their battery is fully charged, and other factors that might tell you whether it’s a convenient moment to sent them a notification. Ultimately, maintaining a positive relationship with your user is key.

What Does Genre Have to Do With Mobile App Growth, and How Do Push Notifications Play In?

Mobile apps across the board generally saw a spike in use in 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic. (Except, understandably, for travel and dating apps.) But some apps saw a greater boost in downloads and active users than others. For example, according to Branch, social video apps, such as Zoom, saw a massive surge in March 2020 as it became for many the only way of keeping in touch with loved ones. Likewise, social games saw a huge uptick in downloads, as it provided a virtual means of socializing for those in isolation. (Remember Animal Crossing?)

covid-19 mobile growth push notifications mobile apps

Interestingly, while many of these apps saw a drop in downloads once countries began to open up again (although still seeing greater use than in the pre-COVID era), one type of app that saw massive sustained growth was online grocery shopping. Apparently, lots of people started buying their groceries online out of necessity, and then continued doing it because they liked the convenience.

The success of grocery apps should provide some food for thought for developers and marketers in the mobile industry. An app’s growth should center around its utility primarily. First and foremost, your app should provide a service or experience to your user that they can’t live without. It should not be a stopgap for a time period while your users wait to return to the status quo.

Push Notifications and Your Retention Runway

In this context, push notifications are an excellent way to extend the retention runway of your mobile app for long-term growth. Like the old marketing Rule of 7, that states a consumer has to be exposed to your brand 7 times on average before they buy it, if you expose your user to regular, sustained push notifications you will train them into thinking about your app on a habitual basis each day.

For many mobile apps, notifications are an integral part of their functionality as well. Even just taking the apps above as an example, push notifications are the key difference between your mobile app being a smaller version of a static webpage that users can order food, make purchases, play games, etc. on… And being a dynamic, personalized interface with your brand. Push notifications are your way of letting users know their order is ready, the deliveryman is at their door with their groceries, BlasterKing666 is ready to duel for the space-worm crown, the seat they reserved in your restaurant is ready… and much more.

Push notifications are what drive your brand’s personal, one-on-one relationship with your mobile app’s customers, which is indispensible for achieving robust growth. And, taking into account the difference between retaining users and the expense of acquiring new users, it becomes clear that a strong user retention campaign is quintessential to increasing your customer life-time value (LTV).

Tracking Your KPIs and Other Metrics

There are other pillars you’ll want to prop up your mobile growth campaign (which we will look at in another blog post), but push notifications are without a doubt the best tool to keep your app or game relevent in your user’s daily life for the long-term. To make sure your push campaign is perform to its utmost capacity, be sure you’re tracking your most important key performance indicators (KPIs): cost per install (CPI), your DAU/MAU ratio, and your rolling retention metrics.

For an in-depth look on the metrics you should be tracking for your mobile app, and how to optimize your push notification campaign, download our Metrics & Measurement Playbook:

To learn more, get in touch with one of our mobile engagement experts.

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