How to increase your push notification opt-in rates

Unlocking the full potential of your mobile push strategy hinges on one crucial element: notification opt-ins. Being able to reach and connect with your app users through push notifications is vital for boosting engagement and retention. Yet, securing that all-important opt-in can be tricky. 

Studies show that users who opt in to receive notifications are four times more engaged with apps and twice as likely to stick around compared to those who opt out. So, if a user declines your permission request, you risk losing their attention for good.

In this article, we explore strategies to maximize your opt-in rate so you can instantly get in front of your users with relevant, meaningful messaging.

Don’t ask for permission right away

One of the biggest mistakes mobile apps make is requesting all user permissions during the first app launch before users fully understand the value of opting in.

This approach results in a poor first-time user experience (FTUE) and significantly lower opt-in rates, particularly if the user is still learning about what your product has to offer.

Consider this generic system prompt for notification permissions. It doesn’t provide any context and leaves users in the dark about the types of notifications they might receive and how often.

Use a push message prompt

Some call it a pre-prompt, while others prefer the term “push primer.” No matter how you phrase it, setting the scene with an in-app message directly before delivering the standard system prompt is a genius way of earning another shot at capturing user consent.

How does it work?


A push message prompt offers you a unique opportunity—to clearly explain the value of opting in to receive push notifications before you present the user with the mandatory system prompt. It’s like providing a sneak peek behind the curtain, a chance for you to make your case before the user decides.

Push permissions prompt by Skyscanner


More importantly, you can gauge a user’s likelihood of opting in by first asking them if they want to receive updates. If the user taps ‘OK,’ you can direct them towards the official prompt message. If, on the other hand, they tap ‘Ask me later’ or ‘Not now,’ it’s a clear signal to hold off on requesting permission until a later stage when the user expresses more interest or is more invested in your app. 

Push permissions prompt by ClassPass


In essence, you’ve just scored another opportunity to ask for permission to push. And here’s the exciting part: You can serve up pre-permission prompts as many times as you want, each one a fresh chance to win them over.

But remember, once a user declines the official system prompt, the only path to opt-in is persuading them to adjust their notification settings. So, wait to present the final system prompt when you’re confident the user is ready to opt in.

Trigger your permissions prompt based on user behavior

Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to permission requests, set specific event criteria to target users at appropriate times when they are engaged and more likely to opt in. By analyzing users’ in-app behavior, you can pinpoint the perfect moments to trigger your push notification prompt. It’s all about seizing the right moments to gain consent, and user behavior holds the key. 

Let’s take a look at some examples:

App session behavior


Consider setting a trigger for a permission request after a user has opened your app a specified number of times within a given timeframe, say, three times in the last week. You can also factor in the duration of their sessions, ensuring they’ve spent a substantial amount of time within your app during each visit.

Why does this matter? It indicates the user is already deeply engaged with your app. At this point, you’re catching them at the right moment of engagement, and they’re more likely to appreciate and agree to receive notifications tailored to their interests and needs.

Shopping and browsing behavior


A retail app could launch a push permissions prompt when a user has reached specific milestones. These milestones could include actions like viewing a certain number of products, adding an item to their cart, or successfully completing a purchase.

Push message prompt by Asos


At this point, it makes sense to ask the user if they’d like to stay informed via push notifications about product updates or receive timely notifications regarding their order status. This tailored approach ensures your push notification request aligns perfectly with the user’s current shopping journey, making it more likely to secure their consent.

Content consumption behavior


A content-centric app like news or media can be a goldmine for strategically timed permission requests.

You can set a trigger event when a user has consumed a certain number of articles, asking if they’d like to stay in the loop with news updates tailored to the topics they’ve been actively reading.

Consider A/B testing your event triggers to further fine-tune your approach. Do more users opt in when they’ve read three articles, or is it more effective after five? Does the opt-in rate vary when you request permission after two app sessions compared to three or four?

Remember, users are more inclined to opt in when their behavior aligns with the timing of your prompt. For example, a user who places an order naturally expects notifications to track their delivery status. Or, as shown in the below example, a user sends a friend invitation and wants to know when they accept.

The key takeaway here is this: When your permission prompt makes sense and adds tangible value to the user in that very moment, they’re (unsurprisingly) more open to giving their consent. Find those moments where your permission request is perfectly in sync with the user’s journey and needs.

Keep testing and measuring

Just like any other campaign, the key to success is to continuously test and measure the variables that matter—from your message content to its timing and design.

Every app is unique with its own set of user requirements, so testing is the only way to discover what resonates most with your users and, ultimately, leads to higher opt-in rates.

Here are some valuable recommendations for A/B testing your message variants:

Test your messaging

Optimize your messaging by testing different tones of voice, copy length, word choices, and even emoji to find what resonates best with your audience.

Optimize the timing

Experiment with various triggered events, such as the number of app sessions, completed transactions, or the time users spend in your app. You’ll find that certain events may work better than others when it comes to prompting opt-ins.

Explore design combinations

Test different fonts, typography, color schemes, button styles, and other graphic elements to discover the winning combinations that appeal most to your users.

Try image variations

Imagery can speak volumes. Test different visuals, try message variations with and without images, and explore changes in image size and dimensions. You may be surprised by the impact a well-optimized image can have.

Iterate, iterate, iterate

Don’t shy away from experimentation. Test and fine-tune your approach so you can adapt to what works best for your unique app and audience. Incorporating continuous testing into your campaigns will help you optimize user engagement and drive higher opt-in rates. Find what resonates best with your users and tailor your approach accordingly.

Optimizing your push notification strategy for maximum user opt-ins

Securing user opt-ins hinges on demonstrating the value you intend to offer in exchange for their consent. Once your users can see that receiving push notifications from your app personally enhances their experience, gaining their consent becomes much easier.

You can achieve this by:

  • Asking for permission at moments that matter most to the user
  • Providing clear and compelling context about why the user should opt in
  • Explaining the benefits they’ll receive and how notifications will enrich their experience
  • Continuously testing, optimizing, and refining your push opt-in strategy

While securing user permissions will always require a solid strategy, there are ways you can simplify and automate the process to maximize the opt-in rates for your app.

Ready to unlock the full potential of your push notification strategy? Schedule a personalized demo with one of our mobile marketing experts to learn how.

About the Author
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Sarah Kelly

Sarah is a passionate marketing professional devoted to crafting thought-provoking content that fuels business growth and success. With over a decade of experience in the ever-evolving marketing world, she brings a strategic and data-driven mindset to her role as SEO.