As a media app marketer, you must know how greatly push notifications can promote your content — provided, they get high CTRs themselves. Do you believe they are hard to achieve? True, but we’re ready to share the tips that will help you address the challenge.

This year, Pushwoosh has researched 104 active news outlets and analyzed their push notification campaigns.

  • What are the average CTRs for the industry?
  • What maximum numbers can a media app achieve?
  • What factors impact your push notification CTRs?
  • And, most importantly, how can you improve your metrics?

Read on to get answers to these questions, based on the most recent data from the push notification benchmark report.

How Pushwoosh calculated push notification CTRs

The data study has aggregated anonymized statistics of 104 media apps. Their audience varies from under 10K subscribers to over 5.5M active users — if you’re interested in benchmarking against a particular size of the app, you can access the data in the complete report.

Here is the formula Pushwoosh used to calculate push notification CTRs. Other push notification providers may measure CTRs differently. If you wish to benchmark the Pushwoosh data to the CTRs provided by other vendors, we recommend you calculate the open rate — and then compare the metrics safely.

Push notification CTR formula

Benchmarks: average and maximum push notification CTRs for media apps

According to our data, an average media app’s CTR is 4.43% on iOS and 5.08% on Android.

The maximum CTRs found for a media app are 55.59% on iOS and 68.9% on Android.

Does the gap look impressive? Let’s dwell on the obstacles that may prevent publishers from gaining maximum engagement with their pushes.

Five factors that constrain the media apps’ push notification CTR growth

1. The industry averages

It looks like for media apps, there is a ceiling they can’t break through. The average push notification CTR for publishers is typically 3.5 times lower than that of e-commerce apps. Shouldn’t people care more about breaking news rather than purchasing something?

From what we observe in Pushwoosh, the reason why media apps miss out on push notification clicks is the lack of user segmentation.

E-commerces break down their customers into granular segments based on triggered events. Media apps, in the meantime, tend to send their alerts to large audiences.

As a result, e-tailers hit their customers right in the feels, offering the items they are most likely to view and buy. And media apps, in the best-case scenario, ensure sufficient reach for their content, but their average CTRs stay — well, average.

2. Timing

The day of the week and the time of the day when a push notification is delivered matter. Based on Pushwoosh statistics, the most clicks occur on Tuesdays, between 6 and 8 p.m. users’ local time. Unfortunately, media apps can’t schedule all of their news alerts for this time. Especially as some publishers need to deliver 20–30 notifications per day.

What every media app can do, though, is to define the most engaging hours for themselves and reserve them for editorials and op-eds that can be planned in advance.

3. Platform particularities: iOS vs. Android

You may have noticed it for your own app too: CTRs are typically higher on Android than on iOS. Publishers have to live with it as the reason lies in the platforms’ UX.

On Android, pushes stay glued to the top of the screen, and users see them every time they pull down the notification drawer.

On iOS, pushes get hidden in the notification center and only stay visible on the lockscreen.

4. Your audience’s geography

We know that push notification CTRs on Android are normally higher than those on iOS. But we also know that Android has a much smaller coverage in the USA than in Europe.

This means that if the United States is your key region, Android users may bring you fewer clicks than iOS subscribers. Just be aware of this when measuring and comparing your statistics for different regions.

5. The very content of a push notification

A lot depends on the type of news that a media app delivers.

Is it breaking news that concerns a broad audience? Without any user segmentation applied, such a notification can get high CTRs.

Is it a niche update? Most likely it won’t receive the same level of engagement when sent in a broadcast push.

The upshot is, you either apply segmentation or acquire a narrowly focused audience in the first place. Pushwoosh research has revealed that highly specialized media apps can get impressive push notification CTRs even when they send very few or a lot of pushes per day.

In our sample, there is a media app covering news of the Spanish Mediterranean coast — they send no more than two pushes daily. Their CTR on iOS is 4X the average.

Another example is a regional news outlet from Germany — this app sends solid 7–8 notifications per day, and each of them engages their Android readers 4X better than the average.

Six proven ways to get higher push notification CTRs

Media apps with maximum click-through rates use these techniques.

1. Emojis: boost your pushes CTR by up to 40%

We’ve carried out an experiment with our client recently. A media app was eager to grow its push notifications CTR, so we suggested they start an A/B test. One part of their subscribers would receive pushes with emojis in their subtitles and another group would receive their messages without emojis.

In three days, the media app saw a 15% boost in CTR for push notifications with emojis.

Other customers have shared that their CTRs increased by incredible 40% since they added emojis to their pushes.

Emojis in media apps' push notifications

Surely, you need to stay sharp on whether your notification will benefit from an extra emoji or not: relevance comes first.

2. Dynamic content

Media apps with high push notification CTRs personalize every element of their pushes: titles, subtitles, icons, sounds, send time, and root params.

Elements of a push notification which can be personalized

With dynamic content in your push notification, you can call your readers by their names and refer to any of his or her preferences. Are they subscribed to any particular topics? Have you detected them read certain pieces of content? With this information, even global news will sound more engaging.

Dynamic content in media apps' push notifications

3. Custom sound

It’s hard to ignore a push that arrives with a shout of a goal or a well-known news show jingle.

A custom sound increases the chances for your news to be opened in the first minute after delivery. Unless a user (especially an iOS user) does it straightaway, your push may get lost in the notification drawer and never receive a click.

Don’t have a signature tune in your media app? Any unusual sound will do — the goal is to drive extra attention to your pushes.

4. Segmentation: based on user attributes, subscription preferences, and behavior

Do you wish to increase your push notification CTR by 50%? Then take user segmentation seriously.

Put together all the information you have on your media app users: from their demographics to the past activity.

Create user segments based on these criteria and target relevant content to each of them.

5. Frequency

An average media app sends 6 pushes per day — but we believe you don’t want to be an average.

Look up to successful media apps in your size bucket. In our research sample, smaller publishers send fewer pushes — 3 to 5 notifications daily. Large outlets distribute over 20 and even 30 pushes per day — and stay relevant.

The trick is, there is no universal frequency that would guarantee high CTRs. In many cases, a smaller amount of pushes sent daily results in better CTRs for each of them — but it’s rather a volatile correlation than a direct dependency.

Correlation between push notification frequency and CTR

To determine the ideal frequency for your app, you will have to experiment.

6. A/B testing

At Pushwoosh, we believe that A/B testing can help apps grow any marketing metric, including push notification CTR.

The great news is, you can A/B test any element of your push and any condition of your communication:

  • Your push notification content — with and without personalization
  • Sending time and frequency
  • Geographical and behavioral segments

For example, compare which group reacts to your pushes better: those who have read some content in a related category or those who haven’t.

  • Single- vs. multi-channel communications

You can engage active users with an in-app message first and then send them a notification. Deliver the same push to the subscribers who haven’t been active in your media app recently and, thus, haven’t seen that engaging in-app. Will CTRs differ for the two groups? You’ll see.

In broad strokes, here is how you A/B test your notifications to find the perfect recipe for high CTRs:

How to A/B test your push notifications

From what we’ve observed at Pushwoosh, these techniques help media apps to grow their push notification CTRs.

The trick is, user engagement is a never-ending process of experimenting and improving, and to make it more predictable, you want to rely on some proven data.

Gain more insights on how efficient media apps are at sending push notifications. How do the metrics differ for small and large publishers? Do high opt-in rates lead to high CTRs? And which technological features provide for push notification efficiency? Discover in the Pushwoosh report.