Optimizing user engagement – just give a little push!

Posted by Mads Mikkelsen on 15/01/16 13:51

Image of blog author Mads Mikkelsen

optimizing user engagement with push notificaitons

It is almost seven years since Apple first introduced the push notification to the market with its Apple Push Notification Service (APNs). Since then, the communicative possibilities associated with this feature has continued to evolve.
The feature is now available for all major platforms and multiple devices, such as laptops, smart watches, tablets and mobile phones. Today, you have the ability to send images and interactive buttons, which all contribute to enriching the user experience and increase user engagement.As such, Push Notifications has proven to be an effective tool to achieve user retention and increase the usage of apps. As you will see in this case from Ekstra Bladet, one of the largest Danish newspapers, Push Notifications hold many great opportunities for the media industry - if you do it right!

The effects of Push Notifications – a brief walkthrough

We have compared various data from Ekstra Bladets ePaper, eBladet, before and after implementing a Push Notification campaign. This was to investigate the relationship between Push Notifications and the number of downloads. The effect of the Push Notification is clear. Let’s have a closer look at some of the details.

If we look at the data from the Push Notification campaign, there is an overall increase in the number of downloads of 9,2%. While this is pretty impressive, a greater effect appears if we isolate the period just after the notification is pushed. In the first hour after the Push Notification is sent there is a total increase in downloads of 22,7%. This means that a brief message sent to your readers can potentially increase readership by more than a fifth.
And that’s not all. If we compare the data from weekdays with the data from weekend days, there is a slightly greater impact of the Push Notification in the weekend days. Thus, it is important to send Push Notifications for weekend publications as well.

eBladet sends two Push Notifications pr. day – one at 06:00 AM and the other at 09:00 AM.
The first Push Notification (06:00 AM) had a greater impact on the number of downloads than the second (09:00 AM). Downloads increase up to 28,5% after the first Push Notification is sent, whereas the second only caused an increase of 11,1%. This could indicate that the first Push Notification has a greater impact on the number of downloads, than the second. However, it is important to note that the timing of the two Push Notifications could play a significant role.

Furthermore, the two Push Notifications were sent out with only a few hours in between – this could also influence the effect of the second Push Notification and requires proper A/B testing to ensure the most optimal outcome.

Thomas_Svensson_Ekstra_Bladet.jpg   “We have this idea of a use pattern, a hypothesis we would like to test, where users focus mainly on the shorter stories together with the front bearing stories in the morning and tune in on a more extensive article later in the day – an article may be too time consuming for the morning but more readable during lunch,” says Thomas Svensson, Marketing Manager at Ekstra Bladet.

The less significant effect of the second Push Notification led Thomas Svensson to take action and move the second Push Notification from 09:00 AM to 11:00 AM. As he explains, the action is based on a hypothesis that more time-consuming articles were more likely to be read during lunch break or later in the afternoon.


*the rest of the analysis builds on data from this time interval

Focus on the first hour after sending the Push Notification

As illustrated above, the effect of the Push Notification is especially great in the first hour after the Push Notifications were sent. Therefore, this particular timeframe is interesting to explore further.

If we look at the data from this specific timeframe and distinguish between weekdays and weekend days, the span is even more substantial. The effect one hour after the Push Notifications are sent, increases on weekdays to 20,6%, where weekend days experience an increase of 27%. This underpins the importance of using Push Notifications in the weekends as well.

The difference is illustrated in the graphs below. The data is converted to indexes where the reference points are set to the periods before the Push Notification campaign, and hence constitutes index 100.



⇒ Increase 27 %


⇒ Increase 20,8 %


Key takeaways

By implementing Push Notifications, the number of downloads rose significantly – especially in the first hour after sending the Push Notification.

The fact that the first Push Notification (06:00 AM) had greater impact on the number of downloads than the second Push Notification (09:00 AM), indicates that the timing of the Push Notification is important – both in terms of the time of day, but also in terms of the timing of the Push Notifications in relation to each other.

In general, analytics and measurements are crucial tools for an app’s performance and success. Analytics provide the necessary data to evaluate whether a campaign works satisfactorily or not. For any Push Notification campaign, it is essential that both the timing and the value of the concerned messages are right, in order for them to drive action.

As an example, when Ekstra Bladet sends out Push Notifications, much of the value is attributed to the users’ experience of product delivery. The need for this delivery experience already had Ekstra Bladet’s attention because of its desktop users. Here, users receive an email and as Thomas Svensson explains: “users see this as product delivery, and simply calls in if the mail is not delivered, even if the newspaper is actually delivered. If the mail is not received, the newspaper is not delivered”. This exact experience is what Ekstra Bladet wants to transfer to its app.

Furthermore, Thomas Svensson believes in a higher perceived value by users when the reading increases. As he argues: “when paying for a product, a greater satisfaction is experienced when the product is actually being used”. For this reason, he is also looking into how Ekstra Bladet can engage users in the evening, for instance with TV, crossword puzzles or other such features – even though these are offered for free, they enhance the perceived value by engaging users.

The results show that any messaging strategy or tactic needs to be measured and analysed throughout an iterative testing process to reach the highest potential, no matter if the goal is to gain new users, to properly on-board users or to reduce user churn rates. To sum up, this is what you can do to benefit from using Push Notifications:

  • Use the right timing
  • Optimize the value
  • Analyse and measure

Download Benchmark Report about  ePaper reader behavior 2015 Q4

Topics: Customer Cases, Business Intelligence


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