So you acquired a few players for your mobile game, but can’t seem to keep them?
This is a common problem among developers.
User acquisition is only half of the battle – getting users to keep playing is a different beast altogether.
This is where push notifications come in. They can significantly improve engagement and retention metrics as well as help with monetization.
Lucky for you, I have put together a list of proven push notification tips and tricks that will solve your engagement problems.
But first, here’s why push notifications are so important.
The Benefits of Mobile Game Push Notifications
As you probably know, user acquisition cost for mobile games isn’t exactly cheap. When those users are not engaged enough or stop playing altogether, you’re wasting your UA spend. Not to mention you lose the opportunity to monetize these players.
According to GameAnalytics, in 2021, the top 2% of mobile games lost 70% of players in just one day. The median 50% of games lost about 80%, while the bottom 25% of games lost about 88% of players.
If you think that’s bad, check out these numbers.
After one month, the top 2% of mobile games lost an average of 98% of players in 2021. The median 50% of games lost 99% of players.
Can you guess how many players the bottom 25% of mobile games retained after a month?
Scary, I know.
Luckily, push notifications can help with that.
According to Urban Airship, if you start sending push notifications right now, you can increase your 90-day retention by 190%!
On iOS, retention rates for players who opt-in for push notifications are 2x higher than those of players who don’t. (Urban Airship)
Tips and Tricks for an Engaging Mobile Game Push Notification Strategy
Here’s what you can do to improve engagement and retention with push notifications.
Ask For Permission
While Android users opt-in automatically, iOS users need to give their permission to receive push notifications.
What’s even worse, you have only one chance to get iOS users to opt in. That’s why you need to think long and hard about how to ask them.
Apple recommends that developers provide some context when asking permission.
“Do you want to receive notifications from *game name*?”, tells players nothing about what they’re consenting to. Most likely, the user will not opt-in. And just like that, you’ve missed your only opportunity.
Instead, tell players why they should opt in. In other words, what’s in it for them?
Here’s a great example from Fruit Ninja 2.
It includes three specific benefits for opting-in.
Write a Compelling Message
A big part of the push notifications strategy is copywriting. You need to learn how to craft the perfect message that will not only grab people’s attention but make them complete the desired action.
That takes a lot of time and practice.
Lucky for you, l have put together a list of the top Push Notifications Copywriting Tips you can try right now!
Make It Relevant and Provide Value
75% of Millennials, 67% of Gen Z, and 61% of Baby Boomers say they delete an app because of too many irrelevant notifications. (Business of Apps)
That means random and generic notifications don’t cut it.
Every notification you send out needs to be relevant to that specific user. Furthermore, it should provide value and stand out from the dozens of notifications players receive daily.
Instead of writing, “Hey, you haven’t played in a while, come back!”, go with “John, your hero is almost at level 15. Get extra XP for finishing a level today!”. The former message is generic and boring, while the latter is relevant to that specific user.
Good push notifications are personalized.
By this, I don’t mean simply addressing the player by their first name in your message.
Sure, that’s better than nothing, but you should take it to another level.
You need to personalize the message itself based on the player’s journey, age, gender, location, previous engagement, responsiveness to notifications, etc. Furthermore, you need to personalize things like delivery times and frequency.
All of that results in a tailor-made user experience. According to Clevertap, basic personalization can improve open rates by 9%.
A nice way to grab a player’s attention and entice them to return to a game is to offer rewards.
It can be some kind of daily reward, coins, gems, extra lives, etc. Whatever it may be, rewards are a powerful motivator. This trick is useful for getting back users who haven’t played in a long time as well as for keeping users constantly engaged.
For example, you can offer extra coins if a player completes a new level.
However, make sure the rewards don’t devalue your in-app purchase offers (if you have any).
Always Include a CTA
When writing your message, take a moment to consider what it is that you want the user to do? In other words, which action do you want them to complete?
Every push notification needs to have a distinct purpose. Moreover, you need to give clear directions to players.
Do this by including a call-to-action in your message.
For example, “Don’t miss out on your daily reward. Claim your coins right now!”
You may also use simple CTAs like “Play now”. However, they tend to be quite generic. Having a personalized CTA works much better.
Another cool trick is to utilize limited-time offers in your CTA – it creates a sense of urgency.
Fine Tune Notification Frequency
Here’s the truth about push notifications – players generally don’t like them. In other words, nobody likes to be interrupted.
For that reason, send notifications sparingly.
Ask yourself, is this message really important and relevant to this user?
If the answer is no, don’t send it.
Remember, when you send notifications too often, the players will get irritated and delete the app altogether.
Here’s a good trick to determine message frequency. Send the same number of notifications as the number of times the user opened and actively used the app. For example, if a user plays five times a week, send five notifications a week. It’s a good limit.
Send the Message at the Right Time
So you have crafted the perfect message – it’s a masterpiece.
And then you send it when your player is sleeping.
This illustrates how important it is to send notifications at the right time. Not just when your players are awake, but at a time when they’re most likely to engage with it.
According to Clevertap, 77% of notifications are sent during the week. 12pm – 1pm and 7pm to 9pm seem to be the best times on average. However, in order to figure out the perfect time, you need to collect data on your users.
Create a Sense of Urgency
You can increase the chances of a user clicking on the push notification if you create a sense of urgency. Granted, that’s perhaps best suitable for brands in retail and similar industries that focus on product sales. However, it’s also applicable to mobile games.
For example, you can announce a limited-time in-app purchase deal or sale. Let people know how much time they have to get that discount or bundle – it will capture their attention and make them react fast.
Take Advantage of FOMO
Here’s the thing.
People hate missing out on things. If they hear or see other people having fun without them, they experience major FOMO. Because of that fear of missing out, people are more likely to engage with a push notification that triggers that.
For example, “Join X number of players and play GAME”, “X number of players are online right now – join them”, or “New levels added – try them right now!
This also works for in-game events. Let players know about upcoming events and emphasize how important it is to join right now.
Examples of Mobile Game Push Notifications
Here’s how all of this is done in practice.
Above, you can see different examples of Cash Frenzy push notifications.
The message content is very diverse – there are promotions, updates on in-game events, rewards, etc. Furthermore, some notifications appear as image banners, which is a nice touch.
The only possible issue with Cash Frenzy notifications is their frequency – often players get five or more messages a day. That’s a lot. However, it seems to be working.
Let’s analyze these Design Home push notifications.
The first one is all about winning cash prizes. It lets players know they have a chance of earning cash if they complete the daily challenge. It’s a smart way of encouraging players to be active every day.
The second one is a call for designers and it promotes an in-app purchase offer. Since this is a limited-time offer that ends soon, it creates a sense of urgency.
The third one ties in directly with gameplay. Voting on designs is part of the core gameplay, so it makes sense to remind players to get their results now.
The notifications above are a good example of sending messages at the right time. Most are based on specific times of the day. For example, players get a good morning and good night message, as well as a message when commuting.
That makes these notifications very personalized and relevant to players.
Other messages reward users for their engagement, which is another great strategy.
This is an example of not-so-great push notifications. AFK Arena should improve its push notification campaigns.
The main issue is that the messages seem very generic, e.g., “Collect your Arena awards now!”. Furthermore, players receive the same message multiple times. It’s easy to see how this gets boring quickly. Not to mention it can result in player churn.
Additionally, the timing of the notifications is quite bad. For example, players receive some messages in the middle of the night.
Most Homescapes notifications are either about life refills or related to in-game events.
We see great use of time-limited offers, “Your unlimited lives are going to expire in an hour! Go play!”. Because the message creates a sense of urgency, players are more likely to engage with it and continue playing.
Furthermore, all Homescapes notifications are very relevant and don’t feel too pushy.
Rise of Kingdoms
Most Rise of Kingdom notifications are reminders that players get when their timers are complete. For example, when warrior or horse training is complete. This is quite useful because players can’t complete tasks instantly (unless they pay). As a player, I would welcome this type of notification, as they help me progress more quickly.
Notice that oftentimes the word “Governor” is used instead of the player’s username. This is a missed opportunity to make the messages more personalized.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
Since this game is based on energy mechanics, players need to wait for the Energy bar to recharge in order to complete tasks (or they can pay for it). For that reason, players get a notification when their Energy is full. It’s a great example of relevant and useful notifications.
Furthermore, the notifications are personalized and follow the game’s storyline. For example, some take the player’s progress into consideration, “Rowan is ready for you in the corridor.”
Metrics You Need to Track
Finally, here are the most important push notification metrics you need to track to determine the success of your campaigns.
Similar to emails, you need to know how many notifications are opened by players. That’s done by counting how many times a user interacts with the message or dismisses it.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
This metric is one of the most important ones. It tells you how many players opened your push notification and it’s a key indicator of whether your campaign works.
According to Clevertap, the average CTR is 4.1% on Android and 1.7% on iOS.
Even though it happens rarely, notifications can sometimes fail to deliver. This is why it’s worth tracking how many were actually successfully delivered.
This metric shows you how many players opened the game after seeing a push notification. If your push campaign doesn’t result in many game launches, it’s back to the drawing board.
Retention rate tells you how engaged the players are. In other words, how many users keep playing after a certain period. User retention is usually measured for days 1, 7, and 28.
Some publishers simply want to re-engage users with push campaigns. Others are also looking to boost revenue. If a notification is responsible for an in-app purchase, it’s important to track that.
Finally, you need to check how many players have opted out of notifications or uninstalled your game. This is another indicator of how successful your push campaign is.
Final Thoughts on Mobile Game Push Notifications
Hopefully, these mobile game push notifications tips and examples have been helpful. Now it’s time to start crafting the perfect message and (re)engage your users.
If you need help with mobile game push notifications or anything else regarding your mobile game, make sure to contact us!