Getting Mobile App Users to Turn on Location Services: 3 Tips

Posted on by David Bairstow

AA031195Mobile app developers are becoming more aware of their users’ needs and are adapting accordingly. As these apps make use of new beacon technology and get better at location-based targeting, there remains one major obstacle: how do we convince mobile users to turn location services on?

Why do people turn off location services? New research from Skyhook uncovered an industry dichotomy: The majority of app users say location services improve their app experience, but many still resist sharing their location details.

In fact, 83% of app-using respondents said that location is crucial to their app experiences, but 40% said they’re hesitant to share their location. The percentage of people who turn off location services for all apps is actually smaller than you’d think (nearly 20%), for reasons you would expect, including privacy concerns (45%), not seeing the value of location data (23%) and conserving the battery on their device (63%). Only one-fifth said that they turn location services off to avoid advertising.

It turns out that smartphone users aren’t as afraid of location services as we thought—they just don’t understand the payoff. Here is the reality: in exchange for disclosing location, consumers expect real benefits from their apps and they need to have their expectations met. For example, we found that 49% of those surveyed are looking for accurate location; 47% like to receive location-specific app content; 46% want relevant offers and coupons; and 34% enjoy receiving personalized communications. So, if advertisers, apps and publishers want to keep their mobile users hooked, they have to explain how location data will add value to and help enhance the user experience.

How can you get users to enable location services, or get them to turn them back on once they’re off? These tips will help get you back on track:

  1. Pick the right moment. To stop your user’s finger from reflexively hitting the “no” button, give yourself the best chance. You have to make sure you ask them to turn location services on 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. It will be more clear to them why turning on location is useful, and because they will be more acquainted with your app, they will be more likely to give you access to their location.
  2. Be transparent. As part of the user’s first time experience, tell them what kind of data you collect and why you collect the data. Transparency paired with an awesome user experience will not only convince them to keep location on. Once they turn services off, it’s hard to get them to turn them back on. Make sure to let your users know why you would like them to keep location on as you are asking them to do so.
  3. Know your audience. If you have users who have turned location services off, rest assured that it isn’t impossible to get them to turn location services back on. If you have some kind of newsletter, in-app communication, or you send users push notifications, you can segment users by “location = on” and “location = off” in order to send each group different content. 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.

There’s an untapped opportunity for advertisers, apps and publishers to create value from location services, but apps need to be better at proving the value. Make your communication simple and stress the benefits to your users. If that doesn’t work, tell them what they are missing: give them reasons to open the app and make it a vital part of their daily lives.

David Bairstow is vice president of product for Skyhook.



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