A Quick Guide to Effective Use of In-App Messaging

by Miguel Perez
Blog Post

Have you developed an in-app messaging strategy for your app?

As an owner or product manager for a SaaS, or any other kind of app, in-app messaging should definitely be part of your consideration for communication strategy. This form of messaging, delivered directly to your customers while they are using your app, is one of the least intrusive ways you can engage with them.

Brands that do this well tend to have a well-thought-out strategy and consider the overall needs of the customer as a basis for that strategy. Given that in-app messaging happens inside the app, it can be used as a tool to help retain engaged customers and potentially, engage them even further.

As with any sort of messaging, there is a balance to be struck. You need to have a strategy in place which sees you communicating just enough, so that you’re able to deliver real value, but not so often that your messages are seen as annoying interruptions.

Here we’ve put together a quick guide for effective usage of in-app messaging:

Why use in-app messages?

A well-planned in-app messaging strategy is rooted in your user behaviors and analytics data. The short answer to this question is because you can deliver messaging that is contextually relevant to your user at an appropriate time.

For example, let’s compare in-app messaging to push notifications. While the latter can be used effectively, push notifications often happen at times that are more of a best guess, rather than being able to nail exactly when the user is ready to receive them. On the contrary, in-app notifications can be triggered by behaviors or events as they occur in the app, and delivered at an optimal time.

In-app messages can be seen as a seamless extension of your app, if they’re well-executed. This means they should appear logically, be consistent with your usual branding and avoid intrusive behaviors, such as being difficult to dismiss.

How effective are in-app messages?

Research data shows that in-app messaging tends to get higher engagement rates than other forms of messaging. Logically, this makes sense – you’re able to message the customer at the time they are engaged, within the medium they are using. You can take their behaviors as your guide to trigger ultra-relevant messages.

Here are some Localytics statistics to ponder:

  • In-app messages increase app launches by 27%. They can be used to help guide users, so that they know their next steps, or explain how a feature works.
  • In-app messages can triple engagement with your app. These messages can help users achieve their goals and increase their satisfaction with the app.
  • In-app messages triggered by an event within the app can quadruple conversions. App users tend to expect a highly personalized experience, so delivering information that is relevant and timely can help to lead them to conversion.

While in-app messaging can deliver some impressive results, it’s important to recognize that this only happens when those messages are delivered the right way. This means capturing those “mobile moments,” delivering the right message at the right time for the particular user. For too many companies, their strategy is still a somewhat outdated method of “pushing” messages out, rather than being about interaction or personalization.

Developing an in-app messaging strategy

What do you need to consider in order to have an effective in-app messaging strategy? Let’s look at a few tips:

Have goals

How are you going to measure, manage or improve your in-app messaging strategy? This is why it is important to develop goals for your messaging. For example, do you want to encourage conversions of some kind? Get more users to use a new feature? Gather valuable feedback? There are a number of possible goals you could set and measure through your analytics.

Consider your customer segments

One of the most powerful ways to use any kind of messaging is to ensure that you have personalized it as much as possible for the individual. In-app messaging isn’t the same as a chat app – you don’t have a chatbot or person there talking to the user – but you can personalize your messages as much as possible by focusing on the needs of your customer segments.

For example, new users might see onboarding messages that are triggered by certain actions they take. Users who haven’t used a certain feature might get messaging about it, but those who have already used it shouldn’t get those messages.

You can also make offers to users based on their behaviors. For example, perhaps you notice that they’re using a feature that naturally leads to an upgrade; you could offer them a free trial or discount on the upgrade. You can identify attributes shared by users who are likely to be suitable for certain campaigns, then segment based on those attributes.

Test your timing and deliver value

At the beginning of your in-app messaging efforts, you don’t yet have data to go by for your app, so you’ll need to use your best guesses based on other data that is available, such as that released in studies (Apptentive releases annual benchmark reports). From there, you need to monitor your results and test how the timing of your messages impacts the responses you get.

A low response rate would tend to mean one or more of a few possible things:

  1. The timing was off for the user.
  2. The user found the message/interruption irritating.
  3. The user couldn’t see value in the message.

Consider whether the timing of your message makes sense. If I’m a brand new user who has just launched your app for the first time, how likely am I to respond to a message asking me to “rate our app”? This is of course, very unlikely. It makes no sense that I would rate something I haven’t yet used. In fact, you could mark this under “irritating” for the user.

Of course, you should also be aiming to deliver value with your messaging, every time. There is no point in interrupting users with something that is irrelevant to them or is effectively “just saying hi.” If your response rate is low, take a hard look at the messages you are sending.

Test your messaging

If you’ve worked on creating customer personas for your users, hopefully, you have some idea of the language that will resonate with them, the problems they are trying to solve and the types of offers that will appeal to them. With these in mind, you should test your messaging.

For example, what kind of language elicits action from users? Are your calls to action clear and concise? (Do you even have calls to action?)

Another thing to test is the optimization of your messaging. Consider whether placement on the screen impacts results, whether buttons are easy to click and whether things like images, size, and colors make a difference.

Final thoughts

In-app messaging can be a key part of your customer communication and marketing strategy. It allows you to engage with the customer in a relevant way, in a medium that they are already using.

One of the keys to successfully using in-app messaging is to develop a strategy with your customers in mind. You’ve got to understand what will be of value to them, and avoid irritating them with irrelevant interruptions.

In-app messaging can be a valuable tool for maintaining engagement with your active customers, helping to reduce your churn. Monitor your results and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Koombea creates world-class apps incorporating the latest technologies. Talk to us today about how we can help you.

by Miguel Perez
Blog Post