New Urban Airship Study Finds Massive Difference in Notification Opt-In Rates

First Mobile Engagement Benchmarks report examines opt-in rates of high-performing apps versus average apps across 15 industries with key optimization best practices

PORTLAND, Ore., – April 15, 2015 – Urban Airship, the leading mobile engagement platform, today released key findings from the industry’s largest study of notification opt-in rates, spanning nearly 3,000 apps and 100 billion push notifications, sent to more than 500 million users through all of 2014. High, medium and low opt-in rates were calculated for 15 industries using the performance of apps in the 90th, 50th and 10th percentiles to offer actionable benchmarks. Across every industry, high-performing apps see notification opt-in rates above 50 percent, while multiple industries are above 70 percent. In contrast, medium-performing apps see an average opt-in rate of 43 percent.

Best practices and complete results of Urban Airship’s first Mobile Engagement Benchmarks report are available for download.

Medium Push Notification Opt-in Rates by Industry

Overall, the average notification opt-in rate is now down slightly to 43 percent from 45 percent when six industry verticals and more than 1,000 apps were analyzed in December 2013 (Good Push Index). The latest data shows that high-performing apps achieve average opt-in rates that are 45 percent higher than the rates medium-performing apps see.

“As more and more apps turn to notifications for 4X greater engagement and 2X greater retention, it’s natural users will become more selective about which apps they allow to send push notifications,” said Brett Caine, president and CEO, Urban Airship. “There’s no other business-to-consumer communications channel that, on average and across every industry, achieves at least one-third of the audience opting in. However, the delta between average and high-performing apps is massive and will only become more important as marketers seek to extend mobile experiences to Apple Watch and the Internet of Things.”

Of the six industries previously examined, retail saw the steepest decline year-over-year with average opt-in rates going from 46 percent to 37 percent. A closer look at holiday shopping season data, using the same 150 retail apps in 2013 and 2014, offers compelling perspectives and context for all industries.

In 2014, retail apps doubled their notification send volume on key shopping days—Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday—and consumer response rates also doubled, despite the majority of those notifications being general sales promotions sent to all users. Had retail apps focused more messaging on pre-shopping activities where consumer engagement rates were higher, they could have determined shoppers’ interests to tailor subsequent notifications and achieve four to seven times greater response that highly targeted notifications receive over messages broadcast to everyone.

Beyond optimizing opt-in processes and providing greater personal value through more targeted messaging strategies, apps are adopting in-app messaging solutions to reach their entire audience—opted-in or not. A forthcoming Mobile Engagement Benchmarks study will compare user engagement with in-app messages versus push notifications and early results show tremendous potential.

“If you're a marketer, the most important action to take is to define and refine your mobile engagement strategy. It's the difference between a good and a great brand experience,” said Caine. “This report validates the fact that a well-defined and executed mobile strategy delivers greater results, helping to turn users into fans, and fans into advocates.”

This study focused on opt-in rates for iOS apps, as Android users are automatically opted in to notifications on app download. Urban Airship analyzed customer data in aggregate to identify apps with at least 5,000 downloads that had sent at least 1000 cumulative pushes in one month. Analysis included 2,946 apps that had collectively sent more than 93 billion notifications to more than 533 million users. For industry-specific insights, apps were manually categorized into 15 industry verticals with results grouped into high, medium and low ranges using 90th, 50th and 10th percentiles. Year-over-year comparisons were calculated using Urban Airship’s Good Push Index study from December 2013, and as averages rather than 50th percentile medians.

About Urban Airship
Urban Airship is leading the movement of mobile innovators. Mobile strategies must extend beyond app acquisition or risk leaving 70 percent of users behind within 30 days after the download. Urban Airship helps brands build high-value relationships from the moment of download, increasing engagement 4X and retention 2X to turn users into loyal brand advocates. The Urban Airship Mobile Engagement Platform arms companies with the broadest set of possibilities for creating rich, interactive experiences that drive new levels of reach, relevance and immediacy with all mobile audiences. Thousands of companies and some of the most demanding brands in retail, media & entertainment, sports and travel & hospitality, trust Urban Airship to deliver the mobile moments that matter to their customers and their business. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @urbanairship.