How do I keep my users hooked? That’s a question most app entrepreneurs have to grapple with at one time or the other in the marketing timeline. Purposeful user engagement is a great way to build loyalty, increase trust and boost conversions. Today, strategic app marketers are using in-app messages to cultivate increased engagement.

What is In-App Messaging?

In-app messages are notifications that are displayed to active users within the app itself. They can also be referred to as “native app content”.  If done right, in-app messages are highly effective in engaging and retaining users. Yet if done poorly, this approach can be detrimental to both your user engagement and experience. Effective in-app messaging should feel as much as possible like a natural part of the app, not additional “spammy” marketing. Notably, the Kahuna Mobile Marketing Index also suggests that users who leverage in-app messaging get as much as 125% more retention over a 30-day period.

In-app messages are a powerful tool to guide users through key parts of your app. They also present an opportunity for you to check in with your users, gauge user satisfaction, stimulate conversions and so much more. App owners must cultivate a strategy that doesn’t condone content that is viewed as spam, or that detracts from the user experience. Your in-app messages can make or break your app, that is why we have compiled the following best practices to help guide you through a proper strategy.

How to Create Awesome In-App Messaging

#1 Define a Message Schedule

Create a schedule that you can use to gradually promote various features within your app. You need to have good judgment regarding your user base to be able to do this effectively. Figure out what secondary features, offers or tidbits of information are of use to users and at what point. You can stagger well-crafted messages over a series of sessions to give users a sense of support and also prompt them with more “reasons” to stick around every time they open your app. In addition, as a user’s journey through your app becomes more specific, you should tailor unique message schedules to their in-app activity.

#2 Utilize in the Onboarding Process

According to Nielsen, the average person spends nearly 37.5 hours on mobile apps every month. Unfortunately, there’s a limit to just how many apps people can use per day. That puts a lot of pressure on the first session after a new customer downloads your app. To put it simply- if you don’t show people how your app works, and provide them with value, chances are high that they won’t bother to open it again. This is the essential mantra of an effective onboarding campaign. A good onboarding campaign can also be aided by in-app messages. Specifically, when it comes to progressive onboarding, in-app messages have proven to be extra effective. In-app messages can be utilized to simplify a complex workflow and help breakdown the elements of an app as a user explores the app for the first time. Furthermore, in-app messages can be utilized to point out hidden functions of an app that the user might not have noticed.

#3 Focus on Trigger-Based In-App Messages

Trigger-based in-app messages have higher click-through and conversion rates than messages shown at the start of an app session. Every time a customer opens your app or website, they are performing a specific action. They may need to access information, click on links, get in touch or make a purchase. This information helps you understand each customer better, and creates opportunities for trigger campaigns. You can tell people to take advantage of a specific deal based on their behavior, or just request them to share content or leave a rating. Social sharing in-app messages are especially effective for games, or apps where users accomplish progressive milestones (levels, points, etc.). Based on what your app does, and informed by particular user sessions, think about what the most appropriate and beneficial message you can show is.

#4 Deliver the Right Content

Everyone can use in-app messages. What really counts is whether you’re able to do it right and communicate the proper information. Leverage a no-spam strategy by knowing what kinds of content people want to see:

  • Personalized recommendations – personalization leads to consumer loyalty. By collecting data on user actions, attributes, favorites and preferences, you can use in-app messages to show recommendations that are specific to their interests. This has shown to be particularly successful for retail apps.
  • Level ups –in-app messages are a great way to issue rewards, upgrade notifications, badges, gaming achievements, and any other form of level-ups. By acknowledging users’ successes through in-app messages, you help strengthen their loyalty and affinity.
  • Connection campaigns – if your app relies on connecting multiple users for a better in-app experience, you can use in-app messages to foster these connections. Let users know that they can connect and interact with others, and highlight how they may benefit from this.
  • Easy shares – getting users to share key app content can help contribute to the popularity and virality of your app. This exposes your brand to more people and helps increase engagement. Instead of using sharing screens, leverage triggered in-app messages to make this happen.
  • Feature updates – most users have set their apps to auto-update, so they really do not have to take any action when a new feature is released or an existing one updated. Hence, it is important to inform customers using in-app messages every time there’s a distinct change in your app. This helps avoid confusion and thus ensure user satisfaction and retention.
  • Quick tips – issue quick-tips to remind users how to make the most out of the app. Make sure they are relative and succinct.

#5 Assess Your Effectiveness

Measuring the success of your in-app messaging campaigns will help you hone your marketing and engagement skills and assist you in better understanding your users’ behaviors. It is critical that you assess many facets of your campaigns such as the engagement rate, functionality, and which times in the user journey are more optimal for message dissemination. By using UX analytics tools like Appsee, you can thoroughly analyze the efficacy of your in-app messages. Via Appsee’s user recordings and touch heat maps, you can better understand if a specific in-app message was confusing to a user or had an unresponsive button.


As long as you aim to make your in-app messages as natural and seamless as possible, you can create a more unique, valuable user experience. In-app messages can truly add a special essence of personalization, encourage successful onboarding, and also help drive additional conversions through recommendations. Ultimately, apps that correctly harness the potency of in-app messaging should see overall better results in terms of engagement and conversions.

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