In-App Messages: a step-by-step guide
The secret to give value to your app
Every effective mobile marketing campaign uses every available tool and strategy to engage users, aiming at enhancing their experience within apps, and ultimately increasing companies’ sales. That’s why I’m writing this article about one of the most successful and useful communication channels ever: In-App Messages!
What's in-app messaging?
As the name suggests, in-app messages are displayed when users are active in your app and have it open. On the contrary, push notifications appear on mobile’s homescreen and are used to nudge users to open the app and perform the suggested action. As for in-app messages, they’re shown to users when they carry out specific actions in an app. Indeed, as we’ll see in the following sections, in-app messages are often triggered by users’ actions within the app: the first time they launch the app, put an item in their cart, buy a product, etc. In-app messages may be related to a company’s news and app updates as well. However, this valuable communication channel is always linked to users, their needs and interests.
Want to know something cool? You can write custom in-app messages to your audience, based also on which stage they are in their customer journey. You won’t need any development team to manage in-app messages’ creation and sending, because this can easily be handled by your marketing team using innovative engagement platforms. Plus, you can choose where the in-app message will appear: at the bottom, at the top of the app’s screen, or if it’s full screen. You can even set a given duration for your message, or make it last until the user interacts with the message. Finally, in-app messages may include rich media and interactive buttons just like push notifications.
Why are in-app messages useful?
Why don’t you get started and try this fantastic communication channel? What?! You think that sending a message to users when they’re already using your app isn’t worth it? Well, you’re wrong, trust me! In-app messaging is so special because it’s not simply a re-engagement tool or an ordinary communication channel, but a way to enhance the user experience. Remember that in-app messaging can be exploited to add value to your app, instead of just reminding people that your app exists.
In-app messages ultimately play a key role in your mobile marketing campaign because they encourage customers to act as you want them to. They’ve such a wide range of use, enabling companies to:
- plan a comprehensive mobile marketing campaign;
- combine mobile marketing campaigns together, and with news, special offers, deals, etc.;
- advertize app updates and new features;
- spur users to give you feedback and share contents on social media;
- teach users how to use your app, introducing its core features and sections, such as preference centers;
- lead users right where you want them to go;
- promote your app value;
- boost brand awareness.
Different kinds of in-app messages
As I’ve just told you, in-app messages can be sent for multiple purposes. However, we can sum them up in three main categories: information, reward, and monetization. Let’s learn how to make use of this powerful communication channel!
1. Informative in-app messages
Tutorials for beginners 👩🏫📚
The first time users launch your app, they may need some help to learn how to use its basic functions. Luckily, you can use some tools to support them in their onboarding process. Create an attractive onboarding page outlining your app main features, so that users know how they can reach their goals through your app. For example, when they click on a new menu section or feature, your app could display an in-app message explaining how it works. In-app messaging is really useful not only for the onboarding stage, but also to provide other teaching tools, interactive tutorials, tips-of-the-day, etc. One of the plus points of in-app messages including tutorial info is that after they’ve been closed, they won’t appear anymore. This way, this communication channel won’t have a negative impact on expert users’ experience. On the other hand, usage tips will always be accessible through a help menu when needed.
App updates 🆕🆒
It’s true that some updates are mainly related to bug fixes and UI improvements. Please, don’t bother sending users an in-app message for these kinds of updates! It’d be much more useful to draw their attention to some cool new features or layout changes you’ve just made. So, grasp the opportunity, and leverage this communication channel to inform your audience as soon as they launch the app after an update. This way, you’ll contribute to enhance user experience with your app.
2. Rewarding in-app messages 🏆✈️
You think that rewarding has to do exclusively with games, don’t you? Well, you might learn something interesting then! On the one hand, in-app messages can be displayed when players complete a challenge and you show them the prize they’ve won. This way, you’ll enhance their sense of reward. For players it’s far more satisfying to play when there’s a reward waiting for them. On the other hand, in-app messaging is exploited by several retail and travel apps which reward customers for making a certain number of purchases, when they upgrade their loyalty status, or fill out their profile. If you manage to send in-app messages to users for their in-app achievements, you’ll keep them coming back and be rewarded too!
3. Monetizing in-app messages 🛍💰
This category of in-app messages aims specifically at leading customers to complete their purchase. I know that obtaining a high DAU number is already difficult enough, but satisfying at the same time. However, you need to put a lot of effort into converting users into customers in order to make big money. And for those apps that earn money mainly through purchases rather than ads, it can be even more difficult to gain customers. Today, I’m in the mood to tell you another tip: you can leverage deep linking from in-app messages to lead users to a monetization page like a discount, a special offer, a checkout, etc. It’ll be more likely that they take the action you want them to perform.
When and for what purpose are in-app messages most commonly used?
In the above section, I’ve outlined some of the main categories which in-app messages belong to, namely informative, rewarding, and monetizing. Now I’d like to make some more specific examples of this communication channel use cases.
The onboarding process goal is to show users the main app features and functions, helping them to get started. Create colorful and nice onboarding screens including clear advice on how to use your app, so that users can easily learn. The first time they launch your app, you can send them an in-app message with useful tips. This way, you’ll engage users with your app, and they’ll be more likely to keep using it.
Has one of your customers abandoned their cart without completing the purchase? You could send them an in-app message with a discount or a free shipping code to nudge them to buy. And what if one of your customers has purchased many products lately? Well, don’t hesitate to entice them with a special offer, a coupon, or a gift through a rewarding in-app message! They’ll feel special, and you’ll have the chance to strengthen your relationship with them.
Have you just released a new update? Have you changed your app layout and it looks amazing? What are you waiting to tell users about it? Come on! Create an attractive in-app message and promote these new features. This way, users will be eager to try your app new functions and keep using it. Let me give you some advice: always try to improve your app so that it meets users’ needs, and helps them reach their goals.
User specific actions
When users take specific actions while using your app, for example, they sign up in your app, opt in for receiving push notifications, share some products they like in social media, buy something, etc., an in-app message can be displayed to engage them even more. You could thank them for the actions they’ve just performed. They’ll be glad and more prone to keep using your app.
Strategies for creating engaging in-app messages
Now you’re probably wondering how you could optimize in-app messages and maximize their effect, right? Let’s discover it together!
Interactive buttons 👍👎
As we’ve seen in this article, interactive buttons are really useful and powerful tools, because they allow you to suggest users an action you want them to take. You can create custom interactive buttons or use out-of-the-box buttons. Add them to your in-app messages to make calls to action or simply lead users to specific pages/sections in your app. Users will be prompted to do what you want them to!
User segmentation 👨👩
Remember that user segmentation is fundamental for any marketing campaign, and mobile marketing is no exception! So, first of all, you need to segment users based on which stage they are in their customer journey, their interests and needs, their purchase history, and ultimately their behavior and specific actions. Then, you should target them on the basis of these criteria, and send them personalized in-app messages. Indeed, you’ll be more likely to be successful if you send them content that’s relevant for them. This article may help you understand the importance of users’ life cycle for your marketing strategy!
Deep linking 🔗
It’s possible to exploit in-app messaging to prompt users to visit specific app sections. For example, through deep linking, you could encourage users to do something advantageous for you, like completing a purchase, joining your loyalty program, using a discount to buy a product, etc. Deep linking can also be used to direct users to destinations in your app where they find useful information. These are just some examples of deep linking power! Use your imagination to make the most out of it.
Landing pages 📄
In digital marketing, a landing page is a webpage that’s specifically created to get web traffic, and ultimately convert users. That’s why this tool is at the core of many mobile marketing campaigns. For example, marketers can design a landing page where users buy products, get in touch with app owners, sign up for events, subscribe to a newsletter, etc. It’s possible to send users an in-app message with a link to a landing page. Interesting, isn’t it? Remember that a landing page goal is to convert users into paying customers. In order to make landing pages more appealing and draw visitors’ attention, you can add any kind of rich media.
Mobile marketing automation
By segmenting your user base and figuring out users’ life cycle stages and behavior, you can create personalized in-app messages to be sent to specific target groups. For example, you can send a welcome message to all new users who open your app for the first time. When you release an update and want users to discover it, you can send them an in-app message to inform them. These are all instances in which it’s possible to run an automated marketing campaign, where in-app messages are triggered by specific actions or behaviors which are common to some targets.
Sharing on social networks 📣📱
In-app messages may include social share buttons allowing users to share interesting content, such as purchased products, news, or simply items they like, with other potential customers. Wow! This is free advertising! Indeed, marketers can nudge their app users and customers to promote their brand and products using this communication channel. It’s a really successful marketing strategy to promote your app, and here you’ll find many more! I guess I’ve convinced you that in-app messaging is worth a try!
How in-app messaging creates value for your brand
Get to know your users
First off, you need to gather as much detailed information as possible about your app users, for example, what they’re interested in, what they like doing, their favorite music, their most-shopped clothing brands, and the like. This useful bunch of data will help you implement a successful mobile marketing campaign by setting tags and sending more relevant messages across your multiple channels, including push notifications, in-app messages, message center messages, emails, etc. Don’t forget that customized and interesting content for your users reduces app churn and boosts app retention!
Nudge users to opt in for push notifications ✅
In-app messages can be used to ask users to opt in for your push notifications, which are another crucial element in any mobile marketing campaign. Avoid displaying the standard OS opt-in prompt when users launch your app for the first time. That would be a really bad choice! Why should they ever accept to receive your messages without knowing your app well and how it can help them? Luckily, I have another tip for you: once users have got more familiar with your app, you could send them an in-app message highlighting the value of opting in. Then, if they say “Yes“, the standard OS prompt will be displayed. Instead, if they click on the “Remind me later” button, the OS prompt won’t be shown and a re-trigger for a later time will automatically be set. You can follow this approach also to encourage users to let you track their location. Finally, remember that if users refuse your request a given number of times, you shouldn’t send them that message anymore.
Show users the benefits of signing up to your app 🎁
In-app messaging is a smart tool you can use to ask users to sign up to your app. If they accept, you can collect really useful user data that can be exploited in all your channels to optimize your mobile marketing campaign. It’s wise to ask users to register at the right time! Remember to show them the advantages of signing up to your app, such as the chance of receiving special offers, new products updates, managing their orders, etc. Let them know that by registering to your app, they’ll enjoy an enhanced user experience. You could also offer users a little discount to entice them to sign up. Moreover, if they suddenly stopped using your app, you could still leverage the valuable information you’ve gathered to reach them on other channels. That’s why it’s also important to adopt an omnichannel marketing strategy!
Encourage users to take the action you suggest 🚀
As I’ve already explained, in-app messages can include interactive buttons to prompt users to take a specific action. Remember to display a given in-app message at the right time, based on users actions and behavior. This way, you’ll have the chance to boost user engagement and get them to perform the action you’ve suggested.