In-app messaging is a crucial component of a strong customer engagement strategy—one that reaches users at the right time, in the right place, and is consistent across platforms.
This article explores how apps design, position, and personalize in-app messaging to build deep, lasting engagement throughout the user journey.
What is In-App Messaging?
While push notifications deliver to the user’s home screen outside the app, in-app messages appear when the app is open, and the user is actively engaged. The beauty about this channel is you don’t require consent from your users, unlike push, where users must explicitly opt-in to receive notifications.
In-app messages positively impact engagement across the user journey and influence retention at every touchpoint. It’s essential to carefully craft messages that streamline the app experience and direct users on how to gain value from the app.
Here are the top use cases for in-app messaging campaigns that every app marketer should know about:
Onboard New Users
Onboarding is a new user’s first interaction with your app; getting the experience right increases retention rates by 50%.
Effective onboarding should showcase your app’s value quickly and help users understand core features and functionality.
Welcome new users and present your app’s value proposition with a seamless multi-screen flow. Customize each screen to take your users on a personal step-by-step onboarding tour that matches the look and feel of your app.
Waze onboarding flow
Prompt Feedback and Reviews
App store ratings and reviews play a vital role in the success of an app—99% of the top 100 grossing apps have a rating of 4 or more stars. To generate positive feedback, how and who you ask matters. Use in-app messages to pre-prompt users and gauge their satisfaction before officially asking for a review on the app store.
Segment your audience, so those receiving prompts are likely to respond and, more importantly, respond positively. Active, engaged users are typically more inclined to rate their experience positively. For example, send your campaign to users who have placed at least five orders or spend at least ten minutes in each app session.
Help Users Discover New Features
In a feature-rich app, users are likely missing out on certain elements that would help them achieve their goals and improve their app experience.
Use an in-app message to announce a new app feature at the precise time a user would likely need it and understand its value. This approach sees much higher engagement and feature adoption rates than, for example, announcing the feature in a push notification or when the user next launches the app.
Retain Lapsing Users
Pay special attention to users who are becoming less active on your app, particularly those who are not opted in to receive email or push notifications. In-app messaging may be your only communication channel to prevent these users from churning.
So, when an at-risk user opens your app, how do you convince them to stay engaged and keep returning? For a retail app, this could be a time-sensitive promotion or free shipping. A gaming app could gift the user with free tokens to encourage gameplay.
If a user reaches the end of a free trial, launch an in-app survey to establish why they chose not to continue. Use this feedback to segment users based on why they canceled and trigger an appropriate subscription discount.
Encourage Social Sharing and Advocacy
Upgrade your active app users into brand ambassadors by prompting them to share your app or its content across their social channels.
Keep users active with referral rewards such as cashback, account credit, and discounts when they invite their networks to sign up to your app.
Revolut referral program
Subscription-based apps are becoming standard across all industries. Most don’t cost anything to download and usually offer users either a freemium product or a time-boxed free trial. The goal is to convert these users into paying customers.
Use in-app messaging to prompt users for the payment information before a free trial ends. Trigger your campaign when a user is most likely to find upgrading to a premium plan beneficial.
Spotify upgrade prompt
Spotify does this exceptionally well. The music streaming service allows freemium users to skip six songs per hour. When they exceed this limit, they are prompted with an in-app message to upgrade to a premium account. Spotify presents the notification when it knows the user wants access to a feature only available on the premium version. But rather than the user feeling hindered, Spotify’s messaging creates an opportunity—“You discovered a Premium feature. Upgrading to Spotify Premium will unlock it”.
Deliver Personalized Updates
Use a customer’s purchase and browsing history to deliver relevant product recommendations, stock updates, and new product releases at appropriate times while they are consuming your app.
Share Important Announcements
Send alerts about important updates and announcements as they happen while users are active in your app. The navigation app, Waze, provides helpful updates to its users throughout their journey, such as traffic information, road incidents, and faster available routes.
Waze traffic alert
Convince Users to Opt-In
Getting consent for user permissions like push notifications, location, camera, and email communications can be tricky. One of the biggest mistakes apps make is requesting all user permissions during the first app launch before the user fully understands the value of opting in.
Maximize your opt-in rate by using in-app messages to request permissions within the context of your user’s real-time behavior. Analyze users’ in-app activity to identify the perfect moments to trigger your requests. For example, a news app could set an activating event after a user has read a certain number of articles, asking if they would like to receive updates related to the topics they have been reading.
If you want to take a closer look at our powerful messaging platform, schedule a quick demo with a Swrve customer engagement expert.
And if you’re interested in reading more about in-app messaging, check out some of our other resources: