May 6, 2015 Last Updated 12:33 pm

Push notifications: getting users to opt-in may prove essential for success with the Apple Watch

Just as digital publishers need to do more to get readers to subscribe to their digital editions, publishers will need to ensure readers opt-into push notifications

The rush to launch apps that support the Apple Watch may ebb a bit now that the smartwatch has officially launched, but we will still see more apps being updated to add Apple Watch support over time as more media companies see the value in reaching watch owners.

PN-iPhone6-380But getting Apple Watch owners to actually use those apps may prove as difficult as getting iPhone users to use media branded mobile apps, or tablet owners to continue to read their digital editions. There are many reasons for this but one tool publishers have to improve the performance of their apps, the push notification, is often poorly used.

Most apps, upon installation, pop up a message asking the user if they want to receive push notifications. The reflex response, at least for digital publications, is to answer “No”.

But the opt-in rate, in general, is actually not bad. Depending on the company gathering the information, they vary from 52 percent of users opting in, to only 40 percent opting-in. This doesn’t sound too bad at first blush. But when you look closer you see that the opt-in rate varies tremendously based on the kind of app we are talking about.

For instance, users of ride share apps opt-in at a rate of around 79 percent, according to data from Kahuna. One wonders who those 21 percent are that don’t opt-in, after all what good would the app do without the push notifications?

Meanwhile, the opt-in rate for news and media apps is around 40-45 percent. This is better than I expected, actually. But it still means that the is a better than 50 percent chance that the user of a mobile news app will not have the push notifications turned on for the app, and hence may not properly use your app on their new Apple Watch.

Part of the problem is that few publishers actively promote their push notifications, or build in reminders to user that they should have them on. Those news outlets that have specific types of notification choices built into their apps probably perform best – The New York Times being a good example.

NYT-iPhone-PNBut the real issue is reminding those readers who reflexively said “No” to later say “Yes”.

For magazine publishers, the push notification is often seen as simply a way to let readers know a new issue is coming out. But with so many readers addicted to their mobile devices, this might be a poor way to think about their use.

Gregg Hano, then CEO of Mag+, thought publishers needed to know about their reader’s interests so that they could deliver more targeted, relevant content, more often.

“I read recently that the average individuals a smart phone picks it up 150 times a day,” Hano told TNM in September of last year. “If you are picking up that device that often a bit of content coming into me every 30 days doesn’t feel right for the device that I am consuming it on. Now that doesn’t mean we do away with digital monthly issues.”

“I’ve use this analogy before, but I love Saveur and Saveur has so much content around, let’s say, Italy. So they could be asking me ‘are you interested in Italy? Are you interested in the foods of Italy? Are you interested in the ones of Italy? Are you interested in the wines of Tuscany? Are you interested in the Reds of Tuscany? Are you interested in this vineyard or this region of Tuscany?’ Because if I’m interested I’m going to say ‘yes, I’m interested, please send me more’.”

I’m sure that Hano was speaking more about delivering more frequent, targeted content rather than push notifications, but for news this idea should still apply – and knowing more about the interest of your readers certainly cannot hurt.

Comments are closed.