Consumers who opt in to retail push notifications and then receive frequent, relevant notifications are more likely to keep using retail apps, a new study finds.

Retailers that send frequent push notifications may have a better chance of keeping their app users around, a new study finds.

50% of iPhone users who received smartphones alerts more than once a day from retail apps still used the app after 90 days, but only 38% of Android users did, according to the recent study, “How Push Notifications Impact Mobile App Retention Rates,” by mobile app developer Urban Airship Inc.

The study monitored the retention rates of 19.74 million consumers who used 210 retail apps that had at least 5,000 downloads between September and December. Urban Airship defines retention as a consumer who opens the app at least once a month.

This is a much better retention rate than consumers who received zero or one notification within three months. For iPhone users, only 15% of consumers who received one notification in three months still used the app at the end of that time period and only 14% of users who received zero notifications continued to use the app. The retention rate is even worse for Android users, as only 9% of consumers who received one notification in three months still used the app and only 6% did if they received no notifications.


While consumers are more likely to keep and use a retailer’s app if they receive notifications, Urban Airship cautions retailers to ensure that the messages are relevant. Notifications that are a mix of transactional, automated and marketing campaign alerts will have the best results, the vendor says.

Urban Airship recommends that a retailer personalize messages as much as possible. For example, a merchant might send a message that reminds a shopper about products in her cart, or provides information about a product she has viewed or a discount on a category of products she is interested in.

Another key to retaining app users is the consumer opting in to notifications. 92% of Android users opt in to push notifications from retail apps and 49% of iPhone users do. Consumers who opt in to push notifications from retail apps are more likely to keep the app on their smartphone than consumers who don’t sign up for notifications, the study finds. On Android, opt-in users have an app retention rate 90% longer than opt-out users, and on iOS it’s 40% longer, according to the study.

While a consumer can easily dismiss a push notification, retailers can give their alert a longer life by adding an in-app message center, which stores push notifications and other messages from the retailer. Consumers read nearly half of messages stored in a retail app’s message center, the study finds.