Push Notification Opt-In: How to Stop Losing Users

Don’t expect that your users understand the importance and value behind every permission request.

Push Notification Opt-In: How to Stop Losing Users 1

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Okay, this is exaggerated, but sometimes it feels like this when apps ask for permissions. Right?

You only have one chance to ask your user for a push notification opt-in permission. To increase your success rate while asking for the opt-in, you have to make two important decisions: when to ask your user and how to ask your user.

App Permission Chart

Image credit: Material Design 

When to ask your users for permission

You can ask your users on two different points of the app usage. At the beginning, when they open the app for the first time or in context at a specific point when you need permission.

Keep in mind: Decide whether permission is absolutely necessary to use your app or if it can be required later. Is the app useless when you don’t have permission since the first usage?

Ask up front

Critical Permissions should be asked up-front. Critical permissions are understood to be permissions, which you definitely need to offer your users the best user experience.

Getting or not getting this permission will change the entire user experience.

If you have an app which depends on the location of the users, declining the permission for locating can make the app useless. Make sure that they understand what your app does and why you need permission.

You shouldn’t overwhelm your users with a series of permission requests when starting the app the first time. This might work if the users are familiar with your app and know the benefits they get from accepting.

If not, it’s likely that they won’t accept it. Moreover, you lose the chance to ask them again for permission.

Ask in context

Your users will feel overwhelmed when you ask them for permissions which importance they don’t understand. Uncritical permissions should be asked in context. Tell your users why you need permission and what value they get.

Users are more likely to agree to permissions when they get asked during important tasks where permission is needed.

How to ask your user for permission

After deciding when to ask your users for permission, you can start to design your permission request.

Here you have to look at how clear the importance of your permission request is. Does the user understand why you need the permission or do you have to explain the importance and value?

You can decide between an educational or an un-educational request.

Keep in mind: Don’t expect your users to understand why it’s important and valuable to accept the permission request on the first view.

Un-educational requests

Wait for an user action

This matches with “asking in context”.

If you want to make sure that your users know exactly why you need the permission and which value they have from giving you the permission, you should wait for a user action.

This means: ask them early for access when needed. When you ask them after the user requests an action, they’ll understand why you need this permission.

Moreover, they’ll understand that the app can’t fulfill their request without their permission.

Cluster App Permission

Screenshot from Cluster mobile app

Educational requests

Add some informational words

You shouldn’t use the default request. This doesn’t tell the users anything about why it’s important to get his permission.

During the onboarding process the users get confronted with a lot of requests and fields they have to fill out. They can’t possibly understand why they have to give you several permissions.

Add some informational words to the request, explain the value and build up trust.

Google Maps App Permission

Screenshot from Google Maps mobile app

Ask twice

You have one chance to ask your users for permission. If you do it wrong, or at the wrong time, you lose the chance to ask them again.

Here you can use a simple trick to not lose your chance. Show your users a “fake request” in advance. If they accept it, show them the real request. You have two benefits of this trick:

  1. This fake request screen can include some educational information and describe to your users why it’s important to accept the request and what benefits they get.
  2. If your users decide against accepting permission, you will not lose your chance to ask again. You can wait for a more opportune time to ask again.

Hangout App Permission

Screenshot from Hangouts mobile app

Be transparent

Be clear about what permissions you access and why you need them.

Offer your users this information and let them make informed decisions. Make all the important information about the what and why available to them.

No permission? Don’t give up!

Well, I told you that you’ve just one chance to ask your user for his permission. This is true.

If the user has denied the permission and changes his opinion afterwards, he has to go a long and complicated way through the settings. Now it’s your turn.

If they request something where they need permission they have denied before, you can ask them again.

You can’t send them the permission request again, but you can send an own request and link to the right page in the settings. This saves users time (and nerves) to find this page by themselves.


Don’t expect your users to understand the importance and value behind every permission request.

Users don’t think about this and simply want to save their personal data. Think about two important questions:

  • Do you want to ask your user up-front or in context?
  • Do you have to educate your user about the value of his permission or is this clear?

Choose the right moment and the right educational level to ask them. Give them the feeling they can trust you and make sure that your users understand which value they get from giving you their permission.

Now go out and get those permissions!

To continue improving your app’s UX, start using UXCam now.

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