Game Time Push Notifications: 15 minutes could make a 60% difference in open rates

A test to see when to send push notifications to engage fans

This weekend we wanted to test push notifications to help build best practices for re-engaging fans onto the platform on game day.

Quick overview, at SQWAD Sports we create custom in-game fantasy experiences for sports organizations to engage fans live and open revenue opportunities. We use push notifications as a way to bring users (fans) back onto the platform because let’s face it, fans get busy on game day. Push is a great way to remind them to engage with the live game during their hectic schedules.

First look: Tipoff vs Halftime Pushes

On our first test we wanted to look at the difference in open rates when posting at tip off compared to halftime. Our assumption was that there would be a drastic difference with Tipoff being a higher rate (users would be playing at half, you wouldn’t have to remind them to play)

We were wrong. Although ~12% lower of an open rate, we still were able to reach and activate half of our users who have opted-in to push notification at half. The halftime push was vital in getting people back on and engaged.

Remember push notifications only show up for the user if they are outside of the app. This was huge as we were able to pull people back into the game for the 2nd half and increase our engagement & competition.

The BIG find: Tipoff push 20 min before game vs 5 min before the game

Our next test looked at sending a push notification at 20 minutes before tipoff compared to 5 minutes before. We had back-to-back games this weekend so it was a perfect time to test out times.

What we found was surprising……

When we sent the push notification earlier we saw just ~3% open rate. Our first thought was fans were already on the app playing, but in looking at the live active users that was not the case. The same amount of fans were on the app live as the previous day before the push notification (~20% of the eventual total active).

One item that we thought may have affected this is the difference in television coverage. The first game was nationally covered while the second game only locally. After looking at the data this should not be as big of a factor as we thought. We actually had more users playing in the locally televised game than the nationally (we are still digging into those rates compared to growth to see if overall users affected that number).

What we learned: Urgency is 🔑

The main thing that stood out, other than the actionable insight to send 5 minutes before the game, is to build off of urgency and FOMO (fear of mission out) when picking your push notification strategy.

Sending a push notification 20 minutes before the game starts creates no urgency, the user feels like they still have time left to jump on and play. But a push notification 5 minutes before stands out. The urgency pushes them to open and play because your time to pick a player is quickly running out.

In closing, tactically look to push as close to game time as possible but overall build a strategy towards urgency when thinking about push notifications.

We’ll be doing more tests like these throughout the year to shore down best practices in fan engagement for you all.


Written by Nick Lawson at SQWAD Sports Inc. SQWAD builds engagement platforms for sports teams that are centered around a custom in-game fantasy sports experience. Our engagement leads to ticketing & sponsorship revenue streams for our 5 clients.

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