Alert! Mastering push notifications to re-engage players and boost revenue

November 16 · Nick Schultz · 7 Min read
With a delivery rate of 90%, push notifications may just be your secret weapon to re-engage players and drive revenue for your mobile game. Deploy these insights, tips, and best practices so that your push notifications enhance user experience and boost retention rates.

Find the answers you need

If you recognize the need to refine your push notification marketing strategy but are uncertain about how to enhance it (or where to begin), remember that the very act of considering a start is a starting point in itself. 

Push notifications can help you re-engage players who may have dropped. Studies show 56% of users uninstall apps within seven days of installation. Push notifications remind players to return to your game through new content, upcoming events, and special offers. It’s a way to provide value and crucial information to your users. 

Nataliia Muzychuk, Chartboost’s Senior Product Manager, AdFormats explains, “Push notifications provide a direct line of communication that can instantly hold a player’s attention. Unlike traditional promotional advertising and mass mailings, push notifications can be controlled, depending on the users and preferences. This creates a more relevant and meticulous mode of advertisement.” 

You can track which notifications have been opened and have the highest or lowest CTRs and engagement. This data can be used to make all of your push notifications more effective. 

But first, let’s cover why it all matters. 

Why push notifications?

Let’s look at some stats. Push notifications have a delivery rate of 90%, which is 50% higher than open rates for emails. They’re instant and viewed in real time. Therefore, users who see a notification are four times more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. 

On top of that, 40% of users engage with notifications within an hour of receipt. Push notifications increase engagement rates by 88% compared to users who weren’t shown any alerts. 

Alerts can improve retention rates and increase profitability, keeping players interested, so the chances of uninstalling your game decrease. Notifications also can drive more engagement to in-app purchases and other opportunities to monetize. 

Nataliia points out, “Push notifications also don’t require a big marketing budget, making them a cheap option to re-engage gamers for developers who want to maximize their return on investment.” 

The following best practices can help you effectively re-engage players, improve ad revenue, and increase your bottom line

Ask for permission

Bear in mind that Android users automatically opt-in to push notifications, but consent is required from iOS users. That means you have one shot to get iOS users to say yes, so make it count. Lead with value and let users know what’s in it for them. 

Some apps include an educational onboarding sequence upon the first install, providing lots of context around why opting-in may benefit their overall experience. It might be a way to receive timely product updates or alerts for upcoming tournaments in your game. 

It’s highly likely your game won’t be the only one players have on their phones. Assume they have mobile games experience and are more sophisticated than you might think. Use this opportunity to revamp previous messages if your opt-in rate is low and consider the quality of the experience. If they see the value, they’re more likely to opt-in. 

Personalize messages

In today’s landscape, users expect customized content that aligns with their interests and behaviors. Tailoring your messages demonstrates your understanding of their needs by presenting relevant information. 

Start tailoring notifications, including when and how frequently notifications are sent, by first understanding: 

  • Player behavior 
  • Where they are in the game 
  • Age 
  • Location 

Based on a player’s in-game usage, you can offer special incentives, such as bonuses or discounts. Doing so can foster feelings of appreciation and value while encouraging users to return to the game. 

Audience segmentation is another way to personalize player experience. You could segment and target players that engaged with your game less than five times. A campaign targeting this segment might include specific messages that appeal to them, such as a push notification with an enticing weapon or extra life in a challenging part of the game: “You have a prize to level up! Get it now.”

Once you decide what you want users to do on receipt of the notification, give it a week or two before analyzing the results. A/B testing rewards and messaging is a great option if you want to find the most engaging approach (more on that later!). 

Create short but compelling messages

Push notifications are meant to be digested at a glance. Your call to action (CTA) should be simple and its benefits easily understood. 

Create messages that drive interest and connect to emotions. Nataliia points out, “Effective notifications create a sense of urgency, excitement, or curiosity. Messages that highlight successes, compare progress to others, or trigger FOMO, tend to boost the likelihood of re-engagement.” 

Inspirational messages can motivate users to conquer a level or beat other players: “You’re almost there! Buy a new weapon for 50 extra coins.” 

Establish a sense of urgency

A limited-time in-app purchase deal or sale can capture users’ attention. Letting them know how much time they have to receive a discount or bundle often prompts a quick reaction. For an extra sense of urgency, add a countdown timer to the notification. 

Nataliia recalls a special event that sparked a quick reaction from users. “The event could only be accessed by a push notification. Since it was available for a short period of time, players took immediate action, which increased the game’s level of excitement and exclusivity.” 

If your game has a social element to it, let users know when a friend is online or encourage healthy competition. The message could be, “You’re in the top percentage of players in your level. See how your score compares.” 

Time notifications for higher engagement

Sending notifications at the right time is crucial. “If notifications are sent in the evening when players are engaged in another activity, they may be ignored or deleted.” 

Rather than guessing, send them when a player is engaged with a certain part of the game. 

“Be mindful of the player’s timezone,” Nataliia adds. 

If you aren’t sure where to start, there are various reports that outline different rates of success when sending push notifications. According to one study, the best times to send are weekdays at lunchtime; engagement is lower than when sent during commute hours. 

A/B testing push notifications to re-engage players

Content and messaging, timing, and frequency can be A/B tested to see what sticks. 

Start with something simple. Nataliia recommends sending a push notification to two groups of users, each with a slightly different message. You can then compare which version gets more opens and clicks. Use alternative CTAs, such as “Come back and explore new levels,” or “Compete with friends and claim rewards now.” 

Test the timing of notifications to various groups at different times of the day. You can deliver one notification in the morning and another in the evening. Track and evaluate how push notifications impact user behavior and revenue KPIs. 

No overwhelm

The average app user gets more than 46 push notifications a day. When users receive more than five notifications in a week, 32% disable them. 

“Sending messages the player doesn’t find significant could also have a negative impact,” Nataliia warns. “Make sure alerts are personalized and align them with the recipient’s interests and behavior. Use data and segmentation.” 

Make sure only to send the most relevant messages. 

Final thoughts

A strong push notification can be a great way to engage and retain users while a weak one could lead to an uninstall. Be strategic and send them at the right time to the right users. 

Test the time of day you send them and their CTAs to learn which variables lead to the greatest impact. 

You can also use push notifications to offer rewards for watching ads. This kind of ad experience benefits both users and your potential for revenue. 

Find creative ways to use push notifications to enhance the player experience, tighten your relationship with them, and prompt a return. 
Have we got you thinking about how you can engage and retain the players in your games? Don’t stop with notifications. The award-winning Chartboost Mediation platform offers an intelligent, developer-first ad monetization solution to increase revenue with unbiased transparency into the premier demand sources in the industry.