Last Updated on
July 5, 2024

Maximizing Engagement with iOS 12 Push Notifications

Published in
Key takeaways:

How iOS 12 Changed Push Notifications

The release of Apple’s iOS 12 has opened up new ways for mobile app owners and app users to control how their receive and interact with Push Notifications.
Almost 3/4 of iOS users are already using iOS 12, so you need to be aware of what’s changed.
The goal is to provide a higher quality and more relevant Push Notification experience for iOS 12 users.
Here are the four key changes to Push Notifications in iOS 12 that might affect how you send Push Notifications from your iOS app:

  1. Push Notification Grouping
  2. New Notification Center
  3. Intelligent Suggestions from Siri
  4. Provisional Authorization

Read on the find out what these updates mean, and how you can adapt to benefit from them.

1) Push Notification Grouping

What does this update mean?

Like Android already does, iOS 12 groups push notifications from the same app together on the lock screen. As a user, this will reduce unnecessary clutter on the lock screen, and the lock screen should be a more personalized and relevant space for the user.

As Braze points out, this makes the iPhone lock screen experience similar to the Facebook news feed – the goal is to show only the most relevant notifications to users at the right time, rather than simply showing all notifications in chronological order, like was the case in iOS 11.

How you should react to this:

Only the most recent notification sent will be instantly visible to the user receiving it.
You should be sending push notifications that have great copy, relevant media included, and that are very relevant to the recipient’s interests. If your Push Notifications fail to live up to user expectations, they’ll swipe it off the screen and all of your notifications will be ignored.
Despite having less space on a users lock screen, you can still generate good engagement by always sending highly relevant notifications that make people want to click through to your app content.

2) New Notification Center

What does this update mean?

The new Notification Center & Manage Notifications system in iOS will make it easier than ever for people to control how they receive push notifications straight from the lock and home screen.

ios 12 manage notifications
Manage notifications from the lock screen

The notification center is now easily accessible from the iOS 12 homescreen. This means users will be able to quickly change the permissions your iOS app has on their device, and adjust how they receive your notifications (or mute them altogether).

How you should react to this:

You need to make sure that all of your notifications are high quality, interesting, relevant to the recipient – if not you can expect people will mute or entirely turn off your notifications. It’s always been a quality game, but now the barrier is a little bit higher and you have to prove your value on an ongoing basis.
Ultimately, it’s about building a relationship with your audience, one based on respect for their time and attention – there’s no space for spamming or aggressively communicating messages your users are not interested in. Any strategy that attempts that will fail very quickly. You need to win people’s trust and then continually deliver on that.
A good way to start testing what type of notifications your audience responds to is to dig into your push notification analytics.
Test sending notifications at different times of day, with different styles of copy, and with different kinds of media. You can use a tool like OneSignal to quickly start A/B testing different hypotheses, and finding out what type of notification your audience engages with most.

3) Intelligent Suggestions from Siri

What does this update mean?

You can’t just send notifications in iOS 12 and expect everyone to open them. Apple’s focus on quality has also now extended to Siri being part of the push notification experience.
According to Apple, “Siri will make suggestions such as to quietly deliver or turn alerts off, based on which alerts are acted upon.”
Yes – if you send irrelevant push notifications in iOS 12 that aren’t engaging your users, Siri might recommend that they mute them.

How you should react to this:

This might sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be.
If your notifications are engaging, they’ll get shown more. As I recommended above, make sure you’re A/B testing to find the most relevant types of notifications to send your audience, at the right time of day.
Personalization and user segmentation is key here.
Personalized messages have been shown to get 4x higher engagement rates than non-personal, generic messages. If 4x as many people see your notification and content, that should have a significant positive effect on your business.
You can create a segmentation system allowing people to subscribe to different categories of Push Notifications.
This means you can send people more tailored notifications to their specific interests.
You can set up a push notification settings page easily if your app is built by MobiLoud.

For example, if you own a news app, some users may want to receive Political News, but are not as interested in Technology or the Food section. By letting people change their preferences, you’ll see higher engagement rates with the ones they do want to receive.

4) Provisional Authorization for Push Notifications

What does this update mean?

This is arguably the most important change in iOS 12.
iOS Push Notifications currently have a low opt-in rate due to the need to manually opt-in when opening a new app.
Accengage found that 43% of iOS users manually accept to receive push notifications (in previous versions of iOS).
That means in previous versions of iOS you will have been missing out on sending notifications to approximately half of your user base (of course, some apps will have higher opt-in rates than this). A key barrier to engagement with push notifications was that users didn’t know what type of notifications you would be sending, so it was the norm to be cautious about opting-in.
An important new iOS 12 feature is the ability to enable “Provisional Authorization”.
What does this mean? Now, the push notification opt-in process will work more like it does on Android. Your app users will be automatically opted-in when they install your app, and can then Keep or Turn Off your notifications.

iOS 12 provisional authoritzation
Provisional Authorization in iOS 12

The downside of provisional authorization is that your notifications will deliver quietly, without any notification sound, until a user opts to ‘Keep’ your notifications.
Quiet notifications don’t sound ideal, but this feature is offering you a great opportunity to engage an audience twice the size of what has been the norm on previous iOS versions.

How you should react to this:

Firstly, you will need to build this feature into your app. Here’s an tutorial from iOS Brain on how to setup Provisional Authorization in your app.
Then, you need to prove to your users that your notifications are worth keeping turned on.
iOS Brain recommends starting your push notifications for new users slowly, and building up as they start to engage with your notifications more.

“If you can gently introduce your users to notifications, and use them judiciously, your customers are more likely to see your app as an elegant service, not an annoyance.”
– iOS Brain

If you choose to opt-in to Provisional Authorization the downside could be that your users don’t receive a audio or visual notification straight away. But the benefits, of larger reach,should outweigh this!

Wrapping up

iOS 12 is raising the quality bar for push notifications.
But, don’t worry – you should be looking forward to it!
You have a bigger opportunity to gain loyal and engaged app users by only sending relevant push notifications.
It reinforces that you should be using Push Notifications as part of your app marketing and retention strategy – they remain an important part of the iOS ecosystem.
Make sure that every single notification you send is highly relevant to the recipient. Find out what’s relevant by talking to your users, A/B testing, and giving your users control over their notification settings.
Personalization is key if you want to see success with iOS 12.

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