Shoppers suffer from push message fatigue as response rates fall

Mobile app users that opt in for push messages are thought to be more engaged with apps and retained at twice the rate of those who opt out. Yet a new report suggests that shoppers are becoming fatigued by an onslaught of push messages.

Notification opt-ins are an important part of an app and their use is expected to increase as location-based marketing grows. But a new study by Urban Airship found that retailers may be overusing the medium or mistiming messages.

Urban Airship examined the notification opt-in rates of nearly 3,000 apps and 100 billion push notifications in 2014, calculating results by industry. Of the 15 industries, retail and media experienced the biggest declines in year-over-year opt-in rates. Previously, retail was found to gain the highest engagement and retention improvements when comparing opt-in users to opt-out users,

What changed? Simply put, shoppers are now inundated with messages.

"As more and more apps turn to notifications for four times greater engagement and two times 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."

Urban Airship tracked retailers' use of push notifications during the 2013 and 2014 holiday seasons using the same 150 retail apps and found that retailers had doubled their notification send volumes on key shopping days in 2014. Shoppers responded to those messages at double the rate of 2013.

"There's no other marketing channel that's seeing this type of growth," noted the report. "There's also no other marketing channel where well over one-third of the audience opting in to ongoing communications could be called out as an accomplishment let alone the new average."

During the 2014 holiday season, shoppers were most engaged with notifications the Saturday before Thanksgiving, but retailers instead sent the bulk of notifications on key shopping days such as Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This effort to capitalize on the immediacy of mobile may haven been misplaced, according to Urban Airship.

"Had retail apps focused more on pre-shopping activities, they could have tapped into higher upfront engagement rates to divine shoppers' interests and tailor subsequent notifications," noted the report. "Maybe they would have gone from doubling response rates over the 2013 holidays to achieving four to seven times greater response that highly targeted notifications receive over messages broadcasted to everyone."

For more:
-Download this Urban Airship report

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