10 top in-app messaging best practices to engage users

Sara Ana Cemazar
February 20, 2024
min read

In-app messaging can be an excellent channel to communicate with users, provide support, deliver updates, and sell your offerings. Appropriate usage of such messaging helps businesses secure customer trust and enhance user experience. 

Studies show that in-app messaging can generate 75% greater engagement than push notifications, which are usually sent outside the application. 

So, with targeted elements and dynamic messages, businesses can leverage in-app messaging to drive user engagement and increase sales.

In the blog post, let’s explore the in-app messaging best practices you must follow to leverage its fullest potential.  

What is in-app messaging?

In-app messages are communications sent directly to a user's inbox within the application they are currently using. Unlike push notifications, which pop up on the device's home screen, in-app messages are seamlessly integrated into the app experience. This offers a more contextual and less intrusive way to engage with users.

In-app messages also allow users to engage with the support team without leaving the application. They do not require opt-ins, unlike push notifications. In-app messaging intends to enhance user experience and seamless navigation with the application.  

In-app messaging: pros and cons

From delivering high personalization to timely guidance, in-app messaging offers several benefits to businesses. Here are the important advantages and disadvantages you must know before you start:

Pros of in-app messaging

  • Improve user retention

In-app messaging allows businesses to offer a personalized experience based on the user’s behavior and preferences. They effectively allow users to communicate with the business and seek instant support. The ability to address customer concerns promptly improves customer trust and loyalty. 

In-app messages can also be tailored based on the conversation history. Such targeted messages keep the user hooked on the application. 

  • Continuous improvement with feedback 

In-app messaging helps collect feedback using surveys and forms. Sending feedback requests after a significant action helps developers understand user behavior and preferences. 

Developers can also seek feedback and experience regarding specific features and adjust the functionality. Continuous improvement drives higher engagement and improves user experience. 

  • Drive adoption of new features

In-app messaging can be used to promote new features and draw user attention. If a specific feature cannot generate traction, you can use in-app messaging to promote it. The insights from customer behavior help businesses infer why users aren’t trying it out. 

  • Greater engagement 

Unlike push notifications, in-app messaging comes in the form of texts, images, videos, and more. You can also streamline onboarding with guidance on key features and functionalities. This drives greater engagement and utility as users easily navigate the application. 

Cons of in-app messaging

  • Some users feel annoyed

When you send multiple in-app messages, it may interfere with the user navigation and flow. This could adversely impact usability and engagement. 

  • Works only when the user is in the application

Unlike push notifications, in-app messages work only when a user is logged into the application. So, you may not be able to target inactive users.  

Use cases: when can you send in-app messages?

From onboarding to feedback, in-app messaging is crucial to deliver a seamless user experience. Common uses of in-app messaging include the following: 

1. Onboarding

In-app messages help businesses educate users about specific services and guide them about feature usage through an embedded chat. Through in-app messages, you can navigate the users through the features and functionalities of the application and drive greater engagement.

2. Announcements

In-app messages can be used to deliver announcements about new features, product launches, and time-sensitive events. You can also inform the users of the new content release and encourage them to engage with the content. 

3. Transactional

Transactional messages are usually triggered by customer action. When a user makes a purchase, in-app messages also push updates about the order, including confirmation, shipment tracking, and delivery notification. Other transactional in-app messages include password reset, booking confirmation, renewal notices, payment confirmation, etc.  

4. Promotional

In-app messages are also leveraged to send promotional messages, offers, and deals. Businesses can market their offerings within the application. Based on the data and insights, in-app messages can be used to send personalized discounts and deals. You can also use in-app messaging to cross-sell and up-sell your offerings. 

5. Collecting feedback

Businesses can use in-app messages to gather user feedback about a specific feature. They can modify the feature based on the feedback. 

In-app messaging: best practices

Here are some of the in-app messaging best practices you must follow to leverage its benefits and drive user engagement fully. 

📚Learn more: here are some useful examples of in-app messages you can send to users.

1. Concise copy

In today’s fast-paced world, you must have an original, clear copy to garner attention and drive engagement. 

A study shows that people develop an impression in just 50 milliseconds

Also, as mobile phones have small screens, you must present the message within the character limits. If needed, use a headline and subheading. 

The headline has to be catchy enough to draw users' attention. Do not overwhelm the user with too many details.

2. Use images, emojis, gifs, and videos

in app messaging best practices

Adding visual elements like emojis, videos, or images can amp up the message. 

Statistics show that posts with images result in 650% higher engagement than those with just text. 

Users are more likely to engage and react to messages with visual elements. So, combine text with visual elements to capture user attention. When you do so, ensure that the image is clean and not cluttered with too many design elements. 

3. Don’t overdo it

Many people do not like being bombarded with messages all the time. It will dilute user satisfaction, and they may overlook important messages. 

So, use in-app messaging only when needed. Avoid using them for not-so-important updates. If you are also using push notifications, exercise caution to avoid duplication, as it may become cluttered and overwhelming for users to handle. 

4. Test rigorously

Before you put in-app messaging to use, test its functionalities. Use A/B testing to test different versions of your messages. Try changing the text, placement, image, and see what works best for you. 

You can send them to a smaller group and check each of their responses. Optimize your strategy based on the app engagement metrics and other test results. You should also test the in-app message for different content styles and lengths. 

5. Nail the timing

Monitor the user’s activities within the application and time your messages accordingly. You must decide the timing depending on the nature of your message. 

For example, send onboarding and welcome messages when a user logs in fresh. Send timely prompts right at the moment a user abandons a cart. Use A/B testing to identify the right timing. Reaching customers during their most opportune moments drives greater engagement. 

Read user behavior and send inactivity reminders accordingly. Also, a common in-app chat best practice is to be conscious of time zone differences while dealing with international customers.   

6. Perfect the art of CTA

The whole purpose of in-app messaging is to push customers to engage and take action on the application. To achieve this, you need an appropriate call to action. 

Always use short, two or three-word CTAs to receive instant attention. Use action words and put them in bold. Align your CTA to the content of the message. You can also educate the user on the benefits they would avail of by taking the recommended action. 

Create a sense of urgency, as it is shown that urgency creates a 332% increase in conversion rates

in app messaging best practices

Apart from text, use contrasting colors and the right placement options. Ensure that you place your CTA where users are more likely to notice it. 

7. Reward users

Offering substantial rewards is another in-app messaging best practice. You can appreciate the users who achieve a milestone by offering badges. You should also consider tiered reward programs to unlock rewards as the user reaches higher levels. 

For instance, a career counseling application can offer ‘achiever’ status to users who have passed a set of tests and exams. This would motivate them to move forward and engage continuously with the application. 

Overall, your goal should be to drive business goals and offer a compelling value to the user. Doing so helps drive organic engagement, conversion, and sales.       

8. Don’t hide the exit option

Offering an opt-out option for in-app messaging is important as it demonstrates your commitment to user preferences. Users always appreciate the autonomy that comes with online applications. Also, adding an opt-out feature showcases your commitment to user privacy and security. 

Such features add a large-scale image to your business and a professional identity to your business. On the other hand, such features help ensure your application complies with regulations like GDPR or HIPAA.

9. Personalize & segment your audience

To draw user attention, you must send messages targeted to a specific audience and not send all messages to every user. For instance, onboarding messages should be delivered only to the new users. Inactive reminders should be sent only to those who have been off for so long. Cart abandonment messages should be dished out right at the moment someone closes the purchase halfway. 

A distinguishing feature of in-app messaging is that it shows up at the right time. Fine-tuning your audience helps draw a greater engagement. Leverage user data and conversation history to personalize your content and draw more attention. 

10. Display your branding

With a white label in-app chat, you can apply your branding like colors schemes, logo, and text fonts. It's important you remain consistent to optimize user experience.

Apply in-app messaging best practices with Rocket.Chat

Having robust chat technology in place makes it easier to apply in-app messaging best practices.

Leverage Rocket.Chat's easy-to-use and robust in-app chat APIs to build  a chat experience just the way you need. Allow users to interact with another through chat, video, voice messaging, and file sharing. Monitor engagement data to learn how they communicate and moderate message content to keep the chat environment compliant with regulatory requirements.

Learn more about our Chat Engine offering or get a personalized demo with our sales team.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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