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Why app notifications are doomed to fail

App notifications get turned off. A lot.

The likelihood of your app notifications getting turn off ranges from somewhat likely to very likely depending on the industry you operate in.

As the below graphic demonstrates, some industries such as ride sharing apps, provide timely and relevant notifications and are therefore less likely to be turned off. When an Uber or Lyft is approaching they’ll notify customers through their app – it’s important and time-sensitive information, so valued by a customer. As a result, three quarters of ride sharing app users keep notifications on.

At the other end of the spectrum are social media app notifications. More than 60% of these users have turned their notifications off.

Nowadays even LinkedIn is sending birthday reminders on your 500 ‘contacts’! It’s no surprise then that users are saying ‘enough!’ and opting out.

The truth of it is that leaving them on is becoming unbearable. You face unrelenting interruption from apps telling you about discounts on things you don’t need, services you don’t want, and the 30th comment on a baby picture you felt obliged to comment on.

By contrast SMS can’t be turned off. That’s why it’s the messaging channel to deliver important information to customers. Not only do messages get read 98% of the time, 90% are read within 3 minutes.


An average of 27 apps per smartphone user

Businesses forever overestimate their importance in customers’ lives. On average, smartphone users have 27 apps installed on their phones. Best case for app developers is that customers deem your app to be worthy of a place alongside 26 others.

Interestingly, that average app number has been steady for four years. As Business Insider says “People simply don’t have room for more.” If a great one comes along, an older underutilized one will make way for it. Maybe at the time of install, or maybe at the time of the next phone upgrade.

Simply put, we’ve reached ‘peak app’. Such is the volume of notifications it is now deemed a mental health risk by some.  The never-ending sounds, icons and notifications have become too much.

Before you go down the road of app development for the purposes of delivering push notifications, understand that your customers may not install it. If they do install it, they may replace it later. Or they may install it, and then turn notifications off. All of which mean the same thing for push notifications. Non-delivery.


SMS is the way – but beware bulk SMS providers

SMS gets around all the limitations of push notifications sent by apps. No app install required, works on every phone, and can’t be turned off.

BUT. Beware dodgy bulk SMS providers. Many of them offer cheap SMS rates but use ‘grey routes’ – which are notoriously unreliable. This negates the very reason for choosing SMS in the first place which is deliverability.

For a more detailed look at these tactics read this. Long story short, a grey route is a way to illegitimately deliver SMS on a mobile network.  If detected, carriers will block it – which explains the unreliable delivery.

So, if you’re sending mobile notifications that need to reach customers, do away with push notifications from your app and switch to SMS.  It nearly always results in better outcomes for customers and your company.


Talk to us about how you can harness Upwire’s enterprise-grade SMS capability in your business.

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