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A Slight Majority Of App Users Will Accept Push Notifications, But Acceptance Varies Wildly Across App Categories

The proportion of users that opt in to receive push notifications will vary a great deal depending on the type of app involved, but on average a slight majority of users will accept them, according to developers, app marketing experts, and analytics firms surveyed by BI Intelligence.

For content-focused apps the opt in rate will be as high as 70%, while marketing or gaming apps that have less of a reason to send push will see lower acceptance rates, in the 30% range.

Push notifications are used by app developers to send messages to their users in the form of alerts, badges or notifications. For example, a calendar app will send you an alert to remind you of an impending event.

While many apps offer push, there is surprisingly little research available on the percentage of app users who opt in. The reasons are partly technical. On iOS, it’s difficult for developers to determine what proportion of their users accept push. Apple does not make that information readily accessible. On Android, apps are not required to ask permission to send push notifications, although users can turn them off. So there is less incentive for Android developers to track opt in or opt out rates.

Here are the main sources for our conclusions:

  • Entrepreneur and developer Matthieu Rouif investigated this question using his iPhone polling app, HeyCrowd. 40-one per cent of his English-language survey’s 12,000 respondents said they accepted push, even if just rarely, and 47% said they never did. While the opt in number seems low, HeyCrowd’s survey has some inherent biases. It’s an iPhone-only survey, and it tilts toward HeyCrowd’s younger user base.
  • Indeed, Rouif also found that males and older respondents were slightly more open to push notifications. Among HeyCrowd respondents older than 35, 37% said they accept push “always or most of the time,” while among users younger than 18 the number was 33%. The proportion among women was 34%, for men 39%.
  • Rouif also ran a test on a game app he developed, Crix, and found that 35% of the game’s users opted in to push notifications. Again, Crix is an iPhone-only app.
  • Joe Pezzillo, Co-founder of Push IO , gave us an opt-in range for iOS devices between 54.5%- 79.2%. Pezzillo was careful to note that Push IO works mostly with content apps, and not marketing apps that would bombard users with offers.

  • Corey Gault, Director of Communications at Urban Airship, provided data from three event-specific apps that Urban Airship powered with its push notification service. Two of these apps included Android users (although the proportions of Android users were somewhat small), and one included BlackBerry as well. The opt in rate for push was 60% to 68%.

If we calculate a rough average from all the reported opt in rates listed above, we arrive at an average of 51.7% acceptance rate for push.

Again, Android will have higher acceptance rates than iOS, and since our sources tilt toward the iOS side of things, we might assume that the real average acceptance rate will be higher across the two platforms.

Download the chart and data in Excel.

IPhone Opt InBII

Here’s a chart breaking down the various estimates we looked at:

Opt In RangeBII

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