App User Lifecycle

In-App Messaging Campaigns Your Users Actually Want to See

Savvy mobile marketers know that using the right messaging channel at the right time is a must for creating an engaging user experience.

But not all channels are created equal. Our data shows that in-app messages have over 100% higher CTRs than push notifications.

Ready to take on in-app notifications for your mobile marketing strategy? Or looking to improve on what you’re already doing with these messages?

Keep reading to learn how to make this channel an effective part of your mobile engagement strategy. Plus get in-app messaging examples to help you build your own campaigns.

In-App Messaging vs. Push Notifications

What is in-app notification? What’s the difference between in-app notifications and push notifications? When should you use each messaging type?

It boils down to this: external vs. internal channels.

Push notifications appear on a user’s home screen and notification menu, and users have to explicitly opt-in to receive these messages. Push is an incredibly effective way to reach users when they’re not in your app to bring them back or persuade them to take a specific action.

In-app messages are native content that appears within your app as a pop-up or full screen UI overlay.  These highly personalized messages do not require users to opt in. And because they tend to be content-rich and address a user’s immediate needs, they can prolong session time, improve the user experience, and increase retention. In-app messages should feel like a natural part of the in-app experience, not marketing.

Why Use In-App Messaging?

In-app messages aren’t just about engagement — they’re about creating a stronger, richer app experience. By tailoring in-app messages to specific user segments, in-app notifications add value. They inform users of important updates, share brief tutorials, encourage user habits, and offer personalized rewards.

In-app messages are an effective way to connect with every user segment:

  • Successfully onboard new users
  • Encourage more frequent app launches
  • Connect with power users who spend the most time in your app
  • Convert active users into paying customers
  • Re-engage inactive users, and
  • Improve retention rates
Check out these in-app messaging best practices, including tips on segmenting users, writing effective copy, and adding the right visuals.

In-App Campaigns to Improve User Engagement at Every Stage

Onboarding

  • New User Orientation

Greet new users with a friendly welcome message or simple product tour.  Provide a successful first-time user experience and quickly showcase your app’s key features and benefits. Just keep it short, and make the exit option prominent.Inapp notification - Onboarding

  • New User Onboarding

Show users how sharing their preferences will improve the app experience. Then make it easy for them to complete a profile by saving the information they’ve already provided, rather than starting from scratch.

  • Onboarding Flow Completion

Re-engage users who started the onboarding process but never finished. Help new users discover key features that set your app apart. Inapp Notification - Onboarding 3

  • New User Activation

You don’t just want users to install your app, you want them to use it. An activated user will mean something different for every app: connecting with or following a certain number of people, completing a first purchase, registering an account, etc.

Starbucks, for example, activates new mobile app users by enrolling them in Starbucks Rewards. It persuades them to sign up by tempting them with free food, drinks, and a time-saving order-ahead feature.

Image: Starbucks

  • First Purchase

Most new users are more engaged with your app than they’ll ever be again. So strike while the iron is hot! Tempt new users to complete a first purchase with a special discount or bonus offer.

Engagement

  • Personalized Content

Users expect a personalized app experience. So send birthday or holiday messages, share relevant content based on past behavior or user preferences, and notify them of recent friend activity. Inapp notifications - EngagementInapp notification - Engagement 2

  • Newly Added Content

Highlight your growing content library, notify users of the latest episodes, seasons, or movies in a series they’ve watched, and help users discover new favorites.

  • Engagement Milestones

What behaviors do you want users to repeat? Use in-app notifications to highlight milestones and encourage habit formation. Congratulate users for creating 5 playlists, inviting 10 friends, completing a new game level, etc.

  • Help Stuck Users Complete a Key Action

Unless your app is 100% intuitive for every user, some actions can cause confusion or annoyance. Do users have to log in to do certain things? Are some features or content only available to paid users? Are graphs or reports difficult to read without a brief explanation? An in-app message can prevent frustration for users trying to complete that action for the first time.

Conversions

  • Sales and Personalized Promotions

Personalize promotional messages by sharing sales on product categories a user has browsed, a discount on a wishlist item, or related products based on past purchases. Consider deep linking these notifications to specific product pages (or even straight to checkout) for even more personalization.Inapp notification - Conversions

  • Subscription Renewal Reminders & Incentives

Nudge customers about upcoming account expirations to lock them in for a renewal. Remind them of the benefits of their subscription, or include incentives to get them to take action. 

  • Upsells & Cross-Sells

Offer free shipping or goodies on a minimum purchase amount, cross-sell users on a new release, or persuade free users to upgrade to a paid subscription. Take Spotify — the app triggers an in-app message when free users try to skip too many songs to nudge them to upgrade to premium.Image: Spotify

Retention

  • New Features & Performance Upgrades

Let users know that you’re actively adding new features and improvements to your app, and encourage them to upgrade for the best user experience.Inapp Notification Retention

  • Share Social Proof

Chosen as App of the Day or Editor’s Choice in the App Store? Received a flattering review from a high-profile publication? Remind your users that your app is best-in-class by sharing awards, special recognition, and significant milestones.

  • Loyalty Programs

Paying customers are great. Repeat customers are even better. Let users know you have a loyalty program and persuade them to join with a personalized in-app message that highlights what they have to gain.

  • Help Users Discover Advanced Features

Bombarding new users with every available feature isn’t a smart onboarding strategy. But customers who have been actively using your app may appreciate learning new tips and tricks to get even more out of it. Showcase bonus features to keep impressing even long-time users with an amazing app experience.

  • Tell Users What’s New Since Their Last Launch

Even if your app is meant to be used every day (and many aren’t), not every user is going to launch it that frequently. Re-engage users who may be going dormant by highlighting what you’ve improved or added since they last launched.

  • Gather Feedback

Ask for valuable user feedback. You can learn about problems before they show up in App Store reviews, and build stronger relationships with your customers.

Referrals & New User Acquisition

  • Ratings & Reviews

High app store ratings and reviews not only boost your app’s visibility, they provide powerful social proof to fuel new downloads. But getting the right users to share their positive experiences with your app can be tricky. Target your most successful users to ask for app store ratings and reviews.

Sample Image provided by Apple

  • Referrals

Encourage users to invite their networks and keep them active on your app with referral rewards. Think cash back, account credits, or discounts on future purchases.

Mutual incentives can also be a powerful way to keep current users engaged while attracting new users. In-app messages are ideal for capturing users’ attention and giving them a quick way to share their unique referral link.

Building Omnichannel Engagement Campaigns

When building your messaging campaigns, it’s easy to focus primarily on push and email to bring users back to your app. But without effective in-app messaging to add value once those users are in your app, it’s a wasted opportunity.

This is why you need to approach your messaging strategy from an omnichannel perspective. Each messaging channel should complement the others to create a seamless user experience that fuels retention

Learn how CleverTap Journeys makes building automated omnichannel marketing campaigns that span push, email, SMS, and in-app simple.

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