Blog skyhook logo How to Get Users to Opt-In to Location: Teaching, Timing, Retargeting

Sep 8, 2015 8:00:00 AM

How to Get Users to Opt-In to Location: Teaching, Timing, Retargeting

Posted by Skyhook

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When building an app, one of the best things you can do for your users is to make the experience easier. Many times this is achieved by reducing the steps they need to do to be able to get what they want. Saving clicks and gestures is saving time. Giving a user what they want quickly gives them time back or gives you another chance to engage with them.

Being able to deliver this simple and vital experience means you have to know a lot about what your user does. Collecting, analyzing and using contextual information like sensor data, third party data, location behavior and social content are the keys to this reduction in friction.

But what if users turn off the stream of data? For instance, what if they turn off location services, leaving gaping holes in their behavior profiles and essentially ending your ability to create place-specific experiences?  This can greatly affect your ability to differentiate and get to the home screen.

Here are some tips to get users to enable location services, or get them to turn them back on once they are off:

First Time User Experiencehow to get app users to opt into location

As part of the First Time User Experience (FTUX), tell them what kind of data you collect and why you collect the data. I know it's crazy! Transparency coupled with paying off the use of the data with an insanely awesome experience tells them not only to keep location on, but to let it run in the background.

Once they turn services off, it's hard to get them to turn them back on. As an example, the way iOS asks now makes it easy for the user to select “no” because the notification screen is generic and gives no real information. It is more like the query of location data death. Make sure you let your users know why you would like them to keep location on as you are asking them to do so.

Ask For Location Permission at the Right Moment

To avoid your user’s finger constantly clicking the “No” button, give yourself the best chance. You've now trained them on why they should keep location on with awesome use cases showing them the value of the data you can provide them, but make sure you ask them at the right time.

Instead of asking for location permission right at the time of download, consider waiting until the user clicks on a feature that requires location. At this point it will be more clear to them why turning on location is useful and they will already be more acquainted with your app so they might be more likely to grant you permission to use their location.

Getting them back

Chances are you have some kind of newsletter, in-app communication, or you send users notifications. Segment users by ‘location = on’ and ‘location = off’ in order to send each group different messaging. Make sure you always put a creative message about the value of having location services on and a specific call to action that shows them how to turn them on.

Measure the effectiveness of the communications by watching the split of users like a hawk and optimize for ‘location = on’. Obviously you don't need to bother the people who already have it on with messages about why it's awesome.

Suggested channels for these communications are:

  • A section of your email newsletter

  • An in-app notification

  • A call from your product guy

  • A card to give your users at an event


Make your communication simple - first try stressing the benefits to your users. If that doesn't work, then try telling them what they are missing. Give them reasons to open the app and make it a vital part of their daily lives.