In-app Message

What is an In-App Message?

An in-app message is a piece of information or a Call to Action (CTA) that you display inside your product, that usually aims to educate users or push them to act.

When users are using a product, the business involved might want to provide information or send a notification that is additional to the base product experience. They might be letting users know of a new release, informing them of a complex function, or even providing them with a discount that they might be interested in. 

That is when they adopt an in-app message, a single or a set of messages that has extra value in it.

An in-app message is certainly crucial in a situation where the user needs extra value, where the UX they experience will be short of complete. 

But only when done right.

How do I create an In-App Message?

When given the option, about 30% of people opt out of in-app messages and push notifications. For a business that is trying to establish an intimate relationship of trust this can generate problems that will be hard to get over.

The reason why so many people opt out is that, most of the time companies overdo in-app messaging and annoy users and ruin their UX. 

When the unnecessarily excessive amount of in-app messages is avoided, and the correct in-app messaging techniques are adopted they will be a lot more effective.

First, the business has to dig deep into the user journey to look for room for improvements. These rooms can be filled with right in-app messages that are displayed to the right users at the right exact time. Segmentation can be used to group users so that each user gets a personalized experience, since using a single in-app message for a complete audience can be a bit of overshooting it.

Second, the content should be as clear as day. It should be written in a language that the audience can easily grasp and understand. This way, the in-app message will not cause any miscommunications with the user base and be easier to provide the value the company is looking for.

Third, companies can boost the part of personalization during in-app messaging to improve engagement. The SaaS and software industry is going crazy with personalization, with new tools and technologies being founded everyday to personalize the experience. There are artificial intelligence based tools that helps you identify patterns and group them. With personalized messages, users will feel like they’re spoken to directly and will be much eager to take action than normal.

What are the different types of In-App Messages?

In-app messages come in different shapes, with different functions, and very different content. In terms of shapes, there are 4 main in-app message types.

Slip-outs slip out from a part of the screen, usually staying at the side that they slide out from. These are usually fun additions to the user experience that don’t disturb users as much.

Popups pop out of the middle of the screen, usually taking the entire screen with the message that it displays. These are a bit more annoying types of in-app messages that should only be used in utterly necessary situations where every user ever needs to be informed.

Modals exist in rectangles that display in a part of a screen, usually explaining a function or drawing attention to it.

And hotspots exist as little icons on top of features that open up to become a modal as you hover over them. These are the less annoying and disliked group of in-app messages that should be in a business’ arsenal.

In-app messages also differ in the periods of user experience they are used for, as well as the reasons for it.

  • Onboarding: User onboarding is the part where you explain what your product is and what it does to the user. It can be especially hard to educate users with just walkthroughs, as the products are usually complex and to explain each part of every funtion, the user guides need to be hours long. Instead, a company can use in-app messages throughout the user onboarding experience to distribute the amount of value across the process, and educate users one step at a time.
  • New feature introduction: When there is a newly released feature, companies tend to inform existing users inside the product to increase awareness to it. This is when an in-app message that sort of acts as an announcement can be introduced to boost the usage of the said feature.
  • Upsell and conversion: At some points in the user’s journey, they might need a little push to upgrade to a new plan, or a paid plan if you have a freemium model included. This push can happen as an in-app message, that displays a clear Call to Action (CTA) through an in-app message.
  • Feedback: Feedback is the bread and butter of product improvements. With an in-app message, you can ask users to rate their experience with the product and the business. Since in-app messages can be interacted far easily than online surveys, most companies prefer this type of feedback gathering.

Selman Gokce

Selman Gokce is the Senior Inbound Marketer of UserGuiding. He is highly invested in user onboarding and digital adoption, especially for SaaS, and he writes on these topics for the UserGuiding blog. When he's not writing, you can find him either listening to LOTR soundtracks while cooking or getting angry because he lost in a video game.

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