June 30, 2015 Last Updated 12:00 pm

Importance of ‘opting-in’ and engagement seen in mobile app report from Kahuna

Nearly 90 percent of app users go away if brands fail to engage, according to the newly released Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index

The new mobile benchmark report from Kahuna, a Palo Alto based mobile marketing company, is targeted at brands that have launched apps. But the same findings likely have relevance for digital publishers, as well.

PN-iPhoneMuch of what is discussed in the new Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index report feels familiar with what some digital publishing platform companies have been telling their publishing clients: one must build engagement and retention into their digital publishing apps.

“I don’t think that there is enough mining of the information that brands can get from their customers,” Gregg Hano, then CEO of Mag+, told TNM in October of last year.

“What I mean by that, if a brand sends a magazine out every 30 days and they think that is going to satisfy their consumer base, I happen to think that they are mistaken.”

Not surprisingly, Kahuna’s advice is along similar lines, though they are targeting brands. Kahuna pushs brands to get their customers to opt-in to notifications, saying “the average 30-day audience retention rate is increased by 125 percent.”

One interesting finding in the report is that opt-ins is one area where Android is beating iOS.

Here is the announcement from Kahuna:

PALO ALTO, Calif. – June 30, 2015 — Kahuna, the leader in mobile marketing automation, today released its inaugural industry mobile benchmark report, revealing key insights to help brands engage customers with strategic, personalized messaging automation. Kahuna’s benchmark report, The Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index, analyzes opt-in and retention rates for apps across 16 different verticals, including travel, sports, music, finance, and education. A quarterly report – culled from anonymized data gathered from more than 39 million mobile customers – The Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index will provide marketers everywhere with up-to-date insights on trends in mobile consumer adoption and behavior. To download a copy of the first report, go here.

“In the mobile era, all our assumptions about marketing are being challenged,” said Adam Marchick, CEO and co-founder of Kahuna. “The Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index will be an increasingly strategic source of data and insight for the world’s smartest brands.”


The findings illustrate the impact mobile marketing automation technology can have on user engagement and retention. By measuring aggregate and anonymous interactions of more than 39 million customers between the months of January and May, Kahuna’s benchmark found:

Opting-in matters. The average short- and long-term retention rates for users who have opted in to push notifications are more than twice as high than rates for users who have not opted in. For opted-in users, the average 30-day audience retention rate is increased by 125 percent, the average 60-day retention rate is increased by 150 percent, and the average 90-day retention rate is increased by 180 percent.

But engagement is mission critical. Without an engagement marketing strategy, up to 90 percent of app installs do not become high-value users after 90 days.

Android is beating iOS on opt-ins. The average opt-in rate for push notifications is 62 percent. Android outperforms iOS with an average opt-in rate of 78 percent, whereas iOS only sees about a 46% opt-in rate. The disparity between the two can be partly attributed to the fact that users are automatically opted in for messaging on Android devices, but changes to the Android app permission process will likely have an impact on that percentage.

Not all verticals are the same. Opt-in rates vary drastically by vertical, with the highest being Travel & Transportation (78 percent) and the lowest being Medical, Health, & Fitness (35 percent). Some apps within each vertical were able to reach 80 percent or more of their audience with push.

Timing is everything. Consumers have an established bias: they only want to receive push notifications that are immediately relevant to them. Users intuitively understand that allowing push notifications from certain app categories is important to the app’s utility and overall functionality.

The upshot: making messaging matter

The report concludes that companies “must be strategic about where and when they ask for permission to send messages, especially on iOS where the opt-in isn’t guaranteed. App interstitials that convey the benefits of opting in for messages before the actual iOS prompt is sent is a proven way for companies to boost opt-in rates. It allows companies to use a greater amount of phone real estate to communicate the benefits of push notifications, as well as other information customers want to know – like the cadence and purpose of messages being sent.”

The Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index demonstrates that disconnected, impersonal messaging isn’t effective, and brands that take this approach will experience high app abandonment. Strategic messaging tactics are critical to keeping users engaged – from before the user selects the app to a year after download. To view the complete findings, download the full report on consumer engagement metrics here.

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