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Medium-performing apps on Android, iOS see notification engagement discrepancy: report

Medium-performing applications for Android mobile devices are seeing an average notification engagement rate resting 12 percent higher than iOS devices? 8 percent rate, suggesting that marketers should take advantage of consumers? ability to easily find notifications on Android devices, according to a recent report from Urban Airship.

Urban Airship, a mobile engagement platform, discovered major discrepancies between engagement notification rates on Android and iOS across 15 industries, positing that brands are at a severe disadvantage if they do not offer push notifications for Android users and instead focus solely on iPhone and iPad customers. Additionally, medium-performing apps must hone in on better targeting methods and message optimization to ensure greater notification response rates.

?The difference between good and great mobile engagement is very significant and growing,? said Bill Schneider, director of product marketing at Urban Airship, Portland, OR. ?High-performing apps typically see notification engagement rates that are six times greater on iOS and four times greater on Android that what the average or medium-performers see.

?This engagement gap cuts to the core advantage of apps: the ability to reach out beyond the confines of a brand?s digital property to engage people on device home screens and smartwatch faces?the only screens that are hardly ever more than a glance away,? he said.

?Medium-performing apps should focus on implementing greater targeting, rules-based automation and general message optimization to attain greater notification response rates. Apps in the 10th percentile of notification engagement rates?5 percent on Android and 2 percent on iOS?should consider re-architecting messaging strategies immediately before users generally tune out, or, at worst, delete the app.?

Persistent screens
One advantage Android has over iOS is the ability for consumers to locate notification more easily, as the notifications persist on the devices? lock screens until they are manually dismissed. For iOS users, notifications are typically moved from the lock screen to the Notification Center once the smartphone is unlocked.

They are also grouped by app instead of time of arrival, making it tricky for users to determine when the notifications arrived. This could be severely detrimental to marketers attempting to send push messages to consumers with time-relevant content, such as flash sales or live event updates.

Consequently, brands with push message abilities in their apps must recognize the different notification engagement behaviors that accompany particular platforms.

?In what many are calling the age of notifications, it?s also important to remember that not all notifications are meant to drive people immediately back into the app,? Mr. Schneider said. ?Many are focused on serving up relevant and contextual information that can be consumed in a glance, providing immediate utility and a steady reminder of the value of the app.

?For use cases like this, marketers can take advantage of new interactive notification buttons, like a thumbs up/thumbs down to gain feedback and fine-tune messaging strategies where the goal isn?t an immediate app open,? he said. ?In addition, considering the performance of in-app message centers for Retail apps, it is exceedingly clear that there is huge value in going beyond notifications as a solitary engagement touch point.

?Companies need to refine messaging strategies focusing on notifications where immediacy is paramount but not overlooking the opportunity to engage users with rich content that can be consumed at their convenience through in-app messaging. Combining notifications deep-linked to in-app messages when it makes sense is another important tactic, especially for Android which doesn?t natively support badge icons that alert app users on their home screen that new in-app content is awaiting them.?

Surprising finds
Urban Airship studied retailers? apps as part of its 3,000-app strong data set. Retail apps have been fastest to go beyond notifications and offer users in-app message centers, a feature that has proven to be a solid tactic.

Medium-performing retail apps receive five times the amount of in-app message opens than they receive swipes or taps on notifications. Meanwhile, high-performing apps experience a 54 percent open rate with in-app messages, suggesting consumers appreciate the two-way, mobile-powered dialogue with their favorite brands.

Urban Airship?s findings signal to retailers that all mobile surface areas must be considered when crafting new features or communication methods to fuel greater engagement.

?The notification engagement gap between high- and medium-performing apps is actually bigger than what separates low-performers from the middle-of-the-pack,? Mr. Schneider said. ?Medium notification engagement rates are holding relatively steady year-over-year, but the rates high-performing apps see have grown massively since last year: +24 percent on iOS and +13 percent on Android.

?As the newest business-to-consumer communications channel, the level of sophistication in using notifications varies widely from blunt, business-focused implementations to highly targeted, customer-focused uses, and this is a clear signal that leading mobile innovators are leaving the competition behind.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York