Push Notifications Delivery – the Problem of Undelivered Push Notifications and How Smart Push Solves It
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Push Notifications Delivery – the Problem of Undelivered Push Notifications and How Smart Push Solves It

Published : August 7, 2020
Push Notifications Delivery

App marketers and makers are known to use every possible channel to reach and engage with their customers. And that should come as no surprise with the two factors that affect their app’s bottom line.

  1. Acquisition cost, which is as high as $1.75 per install, $3.52 per registration, and $86.61 per in-app purchase.
  2. Retention cost, for which it is widely accepted that each invested dollar is as powerful as five dollars spent in acquisition.

With the obvious advantage of retention over acquisition, it should come as no surprise when app makers and marketers lean towards the channel that has the most impact on engagement rates; push notifications, which boast up to 40% CTR. And in Netcore’s experience these CTR numbers can be pushed even higher with notifications that are personalized to the user in both message and time of delivery.

However, as amazing as any channel is in engaging with your end customer, it is only effective if it delivers. And that had been the primary issue with push notifications. A myriad of issues had lowered the delivery rates of push notifications, limiting its potential.

Why do your app push notifications not get delivered?


The simplest, yet the most problematic, reason your push notifications aren’t getting delivered to your customers is that they have simply opted-out. Our experience shows that there is a high correlation between the type of app and the possibility of a user opting in. For example, banking apps have over 95% push notification opt-in rate across devices, while e-commerce apps have a much lower opt-in rate of around 60% across devices. The industry wide average for push notification opt-in, across various industries, is around 91.1% for Android devices and 43.9% for iOS devices.

Chinese OEMs

Android-powered Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo, are optimized for functionality. They restrict background processes related to certain apps so as to conserve battery life and processor bandwidth. As a result, push notifications from many applications aren’t delivered or only a few notifications are delivered, as the vital link between the FCM push gateway and the smartphone device, the background process, is severed.

Users often misconstrue these failures as Google’s push notification not working, while it’s actually the device that is the source of the issue. It has been such a common user complaint that there is an Android Central article on how one could improve push notification delivery on Xiaomi and articles by Forbes magazine on improving push notifications delivery on Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo.

In our experience, we’ve seen that delivery rates to Chinese OEM smartphones can be as low as 12 to 20%.

Network Issues

Your push notification might not get delivered if your customer isn’t connected to the internet, and typically a lot of app users aren’t. Android uses Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging (or FCM, previously GCM push notification delivery service) to deliver push notifications. FCM maintains an idle socket connection from the Android device to Google servers. This connection is important since it allows push notifications to be shown on the device, and if it is interrupted FCM will not be able to deliver it. To make sure that the connection remains active, Android will send a heartbeat over dynamic periods of time. If Google doesn’t receive this heartbeat it assumes that the connection broken and attempts to re-establish it. However, push notifications come with an expiration date, known as the Time to Live (TTL). If the device doesn’t connect back to internet in time, the notification will remain undelivered or will be delayed.

Android OS Versions

We’ve also observed a significant difference in delivery rates among Android OS versions. Older Android OS typically have a much lower delivery rate when compared to the newer versions. Android 10 has recorded the highest delivery rates to date. These improvements are highly correlated to the optimizations made to battery usage and improvements to the way notifications are introduced to the notification channel.

Push Notification Delivery Gateway Failures

In Android, the FCM/GCM push notification delivery gateway is a major concern among app developers. Despite the high opt-in rate for push notifications in Android, the push notification delivery to devices through FCM/GCM push delivery gateway is consistently low at around 40-50%.

How can you improve delivery rates?

Netcore has developed a four stage Push Amplification technology – Smart Push – that targets aspects of the push notifications infrastructure that drains your final delivery rate. Here we describe how each of these stages acts to boost your overall delivery rate.

Smart Push Stage 1 – Push Amplification

When network issues drain your push notification delivery rates, traditional push amplification can be highly effective. Smart Push’s first stage involves this traditional push amplification and involves the following three steps:

  1. Smartech SDK generates a Unique ID for each user to directly deliver App Push Notifications.
  2. With this unique ID, Smartech builds a back-up delivery gateway, other than the GCM/FCM & APNS.
  3. With its pull-back mechanism, Smartech server triggers back all those undelivered APNs directly to the user’s smartphone.

The success of traditional push amplification can be varies but we’ve seen a boost of over 10 to 15%.

Smart Push Stage 2 – Xiaomi Push Gateway

Like mentioned earlier, Chinese Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), are optimized for functionality over and above the stock Android OS. But considering how these Chinese smartphones dominate the Indian and the global marketplaces, we can’t ignore the need to focus on improving deliveries to these devices. And hence, Smart Push’s second stage works with Xiaomi Push Gateway. Smart Push will send notifications through Xiaomi’s Push Gateway, FCM (Google’s Firecloud Messaging) and the traditional push amplification in parallel. The SDK on the client end will ensure that there isn’t a duplication of the notification while improving overall delivery.

Smart Push’s second stage improves delivery to Xiaomi smartphones by 70%, and the impact on overall delivery rates will depend on the user base of the brand. Our experiments have put the numbers at over 7 to 8%.

Smart Push Stage 3 – Delivery Boosters

Network issues also have a consistent drain over each push notification campaign. And to address it, Netcore has developed what we call ‘Delivery Boosters’ – with the potential to deliver notifications to 100% of your active users.

To put it simply, they fetch and schedule your push notifications ahead of time. So even if your users are offline, have network issues, or are on airplane mode, your notification will get delivered provided they’ve been active on your app beforehand. So for your active users, you will find it hard find anyone who hasn’t gotten your notification.

This stage alone has been shown to give a boost of at least 7 to 10% to your overall notification delivery rates.

Smart Push Stage 4 – The Secret Sauce

And finally, we’ve our own delivery secret sauce – Netcore’s dedicated push notification deliverability experts. We’ve been known as the best in the email space for years. So we took that expertise and transferred it to the push notifications division. The deliverability team spent thousands of hours experimenting, innovating, and implementing ingenious hacks on every level of the push notification funnel. Their efforts have further squeezed another undeniable advantage.

Smart Push’s Secret Sauce will give you a boost of at least 10 to 15%.

The Smart Push technology will give your deliveries a total boost of at least 45%.

If it’s Push Notifications or any other channel, Netcore is committed to increase your ROI across all channels. If you’d like to know more on how we can help, please contact us.

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