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iOS 16 and Web Push Notifications: How to Plan For and Execute a Winning Strategy

With the arrival of iOS 16 next year, marketers will need to use every method at their fingertips to help drive engagement and bump their brand to the top of the notification charts. Here are 8 best practice methods to help get your brand on the road to success, and prepare you for its arrival.

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Web push notifications are a highly effective way to reach and connect with your audience – but they’re also a super-fast way to lose even loyal customers if you’re not using the insights and best practice methods proven to optimize your chances of success.

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The average click-through rate of web push notifications currently stands at 12%, which can be boosted to just over 15% with intelligent push campaigns. Sending web push notifications with rich media bumps this number up even further – to an impressive 18%.

So, when web push notifications in Safari for iOS 16 come to a mobile device near you, the user notification preferences currently seen in iOS 15 – timing, importance. and display – and likely to remain, mean that marketers will need to use every method at their fingertips to help drive engagement and bump their brand to the top of the notification charts. 

The best practices we’ve included here will help you get started on that road to success.

Optimize your opt-in messaging

Let’s start from the beginning; before you can send anyone a push notification – web or app – they must opt in. And while yes, you can use a standard opt-in prompt, we recommend customizing these prompts to give your potential subscribers an idea of what to expect; this is your chance to demonstrate the value of opting in – so make it count!

How? The more compelling you make your notifications, the better. For example, will you offer sneak previews of upcoming sales? Maybe you’ll send unmissable discount codes when a subscriber is in one of your stores (hello, proximity marketing!)? Or perhaps you’ll deliver breaking news on special interests (for example sports, travel or health)? However you skin it, avoid the impersonal, meaningless approach that so many marketers take; that old chestnut, “We’d like to send you news and updates’ is not going to cut it!

Segment your users

Since notifications are displayed according to user preferences (see iOS 15), your goal will be to deliver web push notifications that are going to stand out amongst the other 41  other push messages that the average smartphone user receives every day.

In the first instance, this means making your notifications relevant and personal; and the only way you can do that is by using laser-focused audience segmentation. 

To get started, you’ll want to look at user behavior across your website, establish audience segments by interests and preferences, attribute your tags, and ensure that they’re updated in real-time. When you’re confident that you’ve got your segmentation in shape, you’ll be able to reach your iOS 16 customers with valuable content that they’re actually happy to receive.

Familiarize yourself with the Notification Summary

With your web push notifications heading for what could be a long list in a user’s Notification Summary, shipping dozens of messages every day may prove fruitless. In fact, such high-frequency delivery could work against you because your messages will be lumped together in their Notification Summary, along with the number of messages you’ve sent.Now, if that number happens to be ridiculously high (and to be fair, it shouldn’t be if you’re doing it right!) users may exclude you entirely. 

Our advice? A/B test to ascertain user behavior by sending the normal number of push notifications to one group of users, and a reduced number to another group. Take a deep dive into the results and identify any patterns; are users engaging more on fewer notifications, or is there little or no difference? Whatever you discover, use it to fine-tune your iOS 16 web push strategy.

Which leads us to, “always add value”!

Here’s the thing – there simply must be something in it for your audience if you want them to engage with your web push notifications. A limited-time discount for leaving feedback? Check! The opportunity to try out your new product before anyone else does? I’ll take it! Saying thank you for their participation in a survey – with a link to the results and a money-off coupon? Now you’re talkin’! 

With fierce competition for a top spot on your subscribers’ lock screens, how can your brand offer value across your iOS 16 web push marketing campaigns?


Personalization is integral to every successful mobile marketing campaign, and web push is no exception. Currently, with iOS 15, there are a whole raft of preferences users can set to ensure they’re receiving the notifications they want, when they want them, with the ability to:

  • Identify which apps & contacts can alert them with notifications.
  • Apply  ‘relevance scores’ to different apps.
  • Define multiple ‘Focuses’, so if they find value in the notifications from one brand and not another, they can adjust their settings to reflect their preferences.
  • Fine-tune notifications according to time intervals, location triggers – or on-demand.

Do note that users can simply turn notifications off for good. With these preference settings likely to remain when iOS 16 launches, your web push notifications are likely to be handled similarly.

The upshot? Valuable, engaging, relevant personalized messages are key to iOS 16 campaign success. Intelligent targeting is your BFF here, offering you the potential to amplify engagement by up to 300% – try dropping that bomb at the Monday morning meeting! Time-sensitive offers on these jeans I put on my wishlist yesterday; an update on that news story I’m following on Reddit; a reminder that my pizza is on its way and will be at my door in 15 minutes – are all valuable, useful, and relevant messages that are likely to ensure users continue to prioritize your messages on their iOS 16 Lock screen.

Timing is everything!

When are your users engaged with your app? When do you never see them? Timing web push campaigns to land with users at the pitch-perfect moment – that sweet spot when the chance for engagement is optimum – is critical in boosting open rates.

The current Notification Schedules functionality in iOS15 is likely to remain, and although you won’t have direct access to your users’ Notification Schedules, you can set up and run a series of A/B tests that focus on sending notifications during different time periods and assess how users are engaging with these at different times. 

Make ‘em pretty

How about some rich, engaging web push notifications that compel users to open? Asides from personalized content and great copy (see below), you’ll want to make your web push notifications shine when it comes to iOS 16; after all, rich message formats offer the potential to skyrocket your engagement rates by a whopping 25%!

Rich media – images,  emojis, video, URLs, deep-links, audio, and gifs – is generally considered to be a great way to engage users, and as things currently stand with iOS 15, push icons and images are larger than in previous iterations, giving campaigns that use rich media the potential to make a far greater impact than standard text-based notifications. So, be creative, be bold, but just remember to keep the visuals in line with your brand.

Use copy aimed at converting! 

You’ve only got one chance to grab a user’s attention, so if you’re using words over rich media, or both, then you’ll  need to consider shorter, more succinct messaging that encourages users to click. 

Our copy recommendations?

  • Be clear – leave out the ambiguity and cut to the chase.
  • Be funny – not relevant for every brand, but if your brand regularly taps into humor to engage your audience, use it in your web push campaigns where possible. If you can grab attention while making your audience laugh, you’re a winner!
  • Be helpful. Your business exists for a reason, and that’s to help your customers in some way. If your web push notifications can tap into that, your audience is far more likely to engage.

And, don’t miss the opportunity to acquire more app users

If you have an app, web push notifications are the perfect way to increase app downloads. For example, when a user opts-in, you’ve got the ideal opportunity to introduce them to your app, tell them about its benefits, and guide them to the app store where they can find out more.

You can also:

  • Send a web notification after a customer has made a purchase on your website, thanking them, and inviting them to download your app to track delivery.
  • Send notifications with app-exclusive discounts.
  • Invite subscribers to download your app for app-exclusive content.
  • Offer a discount if your app has a paid subscription model.

A final word

21st-century technological advancements are providing mobile marketers with a veritable treasure trove of tools to ensure they’re hitting the sweet spots of their audience. But it’s web push notifications that continue to jostle for a top spot in their marketing toolkit – for good reason.

Timely, relevant, and valuable messaging, all while finding the right balance between engaging and spamming, is a subtle balance of art and science – but one that can be mastered! 

Still not completely sure just how to go about building hyper-effective web push campaigns that will sky-rocket retention and boost engagement? Talk to an Optimove expert today!

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Bob Lawson

Bob Lawson is Director of Mobile Offerings at Optimove. He joined Optimove early in 2022, when it acquired Kumulos, the company he co-founded. Kumulos was a market-leading Mobile and Web Messaging Platform serving a broad range of industries. Bob has spent more than 18 years in technology, particularly Mobile MarTech. He has held commercially facing roles in start-ups, scale-ups, and large enterprise businesses, particularly in Mobile Technology. Before working in the Tech space, he spent 15 years in Financial Services, most recently as Marketing Director of one of Europe’s largest Fund Management Companies.