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Five best practices FS app publishers must adopt with notification changes in iOS 12

Mike Herrick, SVP of Product & Engineering, Urban Airship

Ahead of iOS 12’s public release and key changes it is bringing to notifications, Urban Airship urges financial services apps to adopt customer-centric messaging best practices to accommodate new user behavior, improve notification visibility and maximize the value that their app can deliver.

Granular user controls over notifications, new Grouped Notifications and Provisional Authorization — a historic move by Apple that enables apps to offer a trial of “quiet” notifications prior to obtaining opt-in consent — create valuable opportunities if approached strategically.

  1. Evaluate Opportunities for Greater Reach

Choosing notifications no longer has to be a binary decision made prior to understanding the value they’ll offer. Financial Services firms can choose to implement Provisional Authorization, which allows them to reach all app users with notifications delivered to the Notification Center without a sound. Users that are already opted in or those that choose prominent delivery will continue to receive notifications on lockscreens with an audible alert.

If 50% or more of users are opted out of notifications, this automatic notification trial may offer a better approach to get more users to understand the glanceable value notifications deliver. With every message users will be given the opportunity to turn them off or continue getting them with the choice of prominent or quiet delivery.

  1. Run Opt-Out Users Through a Funnel

Preference centres are now deep-linked to notification settings in iOS, in “manage” buttons within notifications, and in “Turn off” buttons served via Provisional Authorization. This tight integration between an app’s preference center and iOS notification settings will expose more users to granular controls that they may not have even realized existed.

Allowing users to easily toggle notifications on or off for various categories — low balance alerts, potential fraud alerts, payment reminders, deposit confirmations, retirement planning — can help retain a greater level of audience opt-in to notifications. Additional controls can be provided around the frequency of messages, or which topics they’d rather have delivered to in-app message centres or via email.

  1. Get Tuned In to Users as Visibility is in Their Control

The more relevant and timely an app’s notifications, the more likely people will be receptive to them audibly arriving on lock screens. Prominent or Quiet Delivery is an either/or choice with iOS 12, which both banks and users need to realize.

For many firms, being able to flag potential fraud with real-time alerts is inherently valuable, while deposit and payment confirmations take customer service to the next level. The impact of these timely notifications is diminished if relegated to arrive quietly in the notification center.

Financial firms must re-examine their features or focus areas that are worthy of interrupting users on their lockscreen. Allowing users to select alternative means of delivery (email, message center, in-app message) for content they are more passively engaged with can help retain prominent delivery for more time-sensitive notifications.

  1. Offer Great User Experiences that also Maximize Your Share of Screen

iOS 12 uses Grouped Notifications to condense the display of an app’s notifications on the lockscreen and notification center, which can be dismissed as a group. Ensure important messages aren’t missed by setting up groups for different types of message: educational, account activity, fraud alerts or cross-sell offers. Users can easily swipe through each group to get all caught up or easily dismiss notifications on a topic, leaving your other grouped notifications to consume.

Firms that do not set different groups will have all of their notifications stacked on top of each other, leaving only the most recent message immediately visible, which may result in users missing key updates that are important to them.

  1. Realize Notifications are an App Feature, Not a Marketing Channel

This is likely where famously user-first Apple is coming from in creating Provisional Authorization; real-time, relevant notifications are now a feature of apps—to be experienced— and too many people approach notification opt-in prompts as a binary decision likely with an old frame of reference like email subscriptions.

Highly targeted notifications see engagement rates more than three times higher than messages broadcast to most app users, and financial services firms have a wealth of opportunities to make messaging responsive to individuals in-the-moment behaviours across channels. They can also elevate transactional relationships to garner greater customer loyalty by drawing greater visibility to financial management services and member benefits, with everything from helpful tailored hints to surveys that further refine what’s most relevant to individuals.

According to Forrester, “Among CX transformer firms — those that employ mobile to transform customer experiences — 55% have seen a significant positive financial impact due to mobile, compared with only 16% of shrink-and-squeeze firms. CX transformers and shrink-and-squeeze firms show the largest difference in their use of notifications (Forrester Research Inc., Consumers Are Connected; Your Company Isn’t, August 13, 2018).