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Are Your Push Notifications Just Delivered or Rendered? And What Can You Do About It?

Divyekant Gupta Divyekant Gupta, the Associate Director of Product Development at CleverTap, spearheads product innovation and customer success. With expertise in engagement and analytics, he leads AI initiatives.
Are Your Push Notifications Just Delivered or Rendered? And What Can You Do About It?

Today, brands compete for customers’ attention via all possible channels. We live in a world where customers need instant gratification. This has marketers exploring new ways to attract eyeballs and deploy innovative tactics to stand out.

On the user acquisition side, the average cost per install is $3.00* while the average cost to acquire a paying customer is an astounding 16x!

With such high acquisition costs and intensive competition, marketers face a real challenge after acquiring users: keeping them engaged over the long term and providing them with meaningful, personalized experiences.

Marketers use a variety of channels such as email, SMS, in-app, browser push, push notifications, and more to engage users. Of these, one of the dominant channels used is push notification. It is a powerful channel that is cost-effective as well as highly contextual to the user, resulting in CTR’s as high as 40%.*

When used right, push notifications tend to perform better than other channels.

But no matter how effective a channel may be, your carefully crafted push notification is futile if it doesn’t reach all your intended recipients. In other words, marketers must ensure high render rates for your push campaigns to work.

What are the potential causes of push notifications becoming invisible to customers?

Pie chart showing why push notifications are not visible to stock android phones: 91.7% is DO Not Disturb, 4.6% is network related, 3.7% is FCM related.
Pie chart showing why push notifications are not visible to Chinese android phones: 81.4% is Battery Optimization, 10% is Do Not Disturb, 4.7% is FCM Related, and 4% is Network related.

Note – Since Push Notifications are delivered through FCM, our servers don’t have visibility on why some messages go undelivered beyond FCM. The above numbers are a result of hypotheses and experiments we ran on a statistically significant sample set.

    1. Opt-outs (40-55%)
      The largest component of non-deliverability is OS level user opt-out to receive push notifications.
      iOS mandates that all apps ask for permission to send push notifications to users. This leads to a high 55% average opt out rate on iOS. Even on Android, the average opt-out rates are at 40%. Note that these are averages and certain types of apps, for example messaging apps or ride-sharing apps, tend to have better opt-in rates.Plus, the latest versions of Android and iOS give full control to users, who can turn push notifications on or off for any app they want.
    2. OEM related reasons (25-30%)
      Some Android device manufacturers restrict or stop background processes that limit device connectivity with FCM, impacting push notification delivery on the device. This is particularly true for Chinese OEMs that tweak the Android OS to optimize battery life.A Forbes article mentions: “One area that Chinese phones haven’t fixed is broken push notifications. For some reason, every Chinese phone has a very aggressive battery saving software feature that shuts down an app when it’s not being used.”*

      As a result, users on Chinese devices sometimes miss important notifications such as product offers, alarm clock notifications,* live updates, and important status updates, among other critical notifications.

      Users have since long complained about not receiving notifications on Huawei devices on EMUI operating system and Xiaomi phones with MIUI*. This is because battery optimization is mostly done by OEMs using some form of recency/frequency algorithm, which we believe is adaptive.

      Moreover, third-party battery saving apps also Force Stop other apps in order to increase battery life. This poses serious challenges for most apps, especially the ones not frequently used.

      We analyzed data on push notification delivery rates and mapped it to the device type (OEMs) and user behavior. We found a high correlation in Recency of App Launch and push notification delivery rates. Here’s the data:
      Bar Chart showing average delivery rates by OEM and recency of app use

      As you can see, the Chinese OEMs have very poor delivery rates of ~20% in case of recently used apps. This decreases to as low as 10% when the recency of app usage goes down.

      It is important to note that this delivery rate is only for users who have opted in to receive the notifications.
      Bar chart showing average delivery rates by device make and recency of app use

      The above chart shows the abysmal push notification delivery rates for major Chinese OEMs, namely Vivo, OPPO, Xiaomi, and OnePlus. As you can see, there is a marked difference when compared with OEMs like Google and Samsung.
      Bar chart showing increase in delivery rates with regards to frequency of app launch

      In our analysis, we also found a correlation between the frequency of app usage and delivery rates. The above chart shows that OPPO and Vivo have a higher increase in delivery rates with increasing frequency of attendance (frequent App Launches) as compared to other top Chinese OEMs and Google, Samsung.

    3. Connectivity Issues with FCM (20-25%)
      Push notifications on Android are delivered via Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM). The FCM maintains an idle socket connection from the Android device to Google servers. It is this connection that allows push notifications to render on the users’ device. And there is one reason why this essential link sometimes gets interrupted:Time to Live Expired: Sometimes, when a user is not connected to the Internet, FCM is unable to send push notifications. This results in delayed delivery when the connection is re-established. If the connection to device is not established within the set Time to Live (used to set an expiry date on the delivery of push notifications), the notification is undelivered.
    4. Improving Delivery Rates
      Say you have an app on Android and iOS called YourApp. Assume you’ve got 100 installs on each platform and you are now looking to engage your install base with push messages.
      Let’s look at how each platform might perform individually.
      App Installs100100
      Avg. Non-Delivery due
      to FCM/APNS errors
      Delivered messages2545
      Rendered messages1045
      Avg. Render Rate10%45%

      As you can see above, the average delivery rates are ~45% for iOS and ~10% for Android.

What is the Solution?

CleverTap RenderMax

RenderMaxTM is a push notification rendering technology by CleverTap. RenderMax boosts push notification render rates up to 90% so you can engage users you could not before, and elevate your push campaigns’ ROI.

RenderMax improves mobile notification render rates by determining the state of the device and adjusting the notification rendering accordingly. For example, using RenderMax can ensure the delivery of your push notifications even if the device is in battery-saving mode on inactive devices, especially on Chinese OEMs.

RenderMax helped BetterHalf, India’s first and only marriage super app skyrocketed their push render rates to 85%.

Customer quote from BetterHalf showing why they achieved 85% render rates on their push notifications.

RenderMax enables you to use the power of the following features:

RenderMax Push SDK

RenderMax Push SDK comes with the power to render notifications where this was not originally possible. It works specifically on Chinese OEMs, where due to lack of usage of the app, the device puts the app in battery optimized state. Upon receiving the push notification payload, the RenderMax SDK attempts to bring the app out from battery optimized state and then render the notification.

OEM Partnerships

CleverTap has partnered with Mi, Huawei, and Baidu teams to help increase render rates on devices manufactured by these brands where FCM services are suppressed due to aggressive battery optimizations. These unique/exclusive partnerships allow CleverTap customers to render notifications by keeping the local app services alive on the apps.

Pull Notifications

Pull notifications handle the issue of low deliverability on certain devices, and runs a periodic poll job from the SDK to get the unrendered notifications from CleverTap servers. With pull notifications, you can optimize the delivery of mobile notifications to devices that missed receiving these notifications.

If you are interested in making the most of your push notification campaigns, read more about RenderMax or schedule a call with a CleverTap expert to see it in action.

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Posted on January 4, 2023