As a marketer, one of the toughest parts of your job is deciding which marketing channels are most effective at engaging your customers. It even gets more overwhelming to find the right combination of channels to use when there are innovative solutions to engage customers.
Two marketing channels — in-app messaging and push notifications have been gaining the spotlight in the industry. However, the comparison of in-app messaging vs push notifications can be a tough nut to crack for so many reasons.
In this article, we address this matter by exploring the key differences between in-app messaging and push notifications, their use cases, and the best time usage.
Table of contents
- In-app Messaging vs. Push Notifications: a brief definition
- In-app Messaging vs. Push Notifications: key differences
- In-App Messaging vs. Push Notifications: use cases
- In-App Messaging vs. Push Notifications: Which one performs better for customer engagement?
- In-App Messaging vs. Push Notifications: 3 tactics to use in a meaningful way
- Wrapping it up
In-app Messaging vs. Push Notifications: a brief definition
You can display messages on your app through two channels: in-app messaging and push notifications. To get a better understanding, let’s begin with a brief definition of each term.
In-app messaging: you’ve most likely seen in-app messaging when using an app. These notifications are sent to users while they use your app. In-app messages are usually targeted and contextually based on user interactions and activities. Here’s an example of in-app messaging:
Push notifications: these are notifications that are sent to users even when they are not engaging with your app. They usually pop on the user’s home screen or notification trays notifying them of ongoing activities. A great push notification strategy can help boost click-through rates through solid customer engagement.
Here’s an example of push notification:
In-app Messaging vs. Push Notifications: key differences
The positioning of push and in-app messaging isn't the only thing that sets them apart. There are other differentiating factors like :
1. The main objective
Push notifications are a great way to increase app retention. This is one reason why it has become popular in mobile marketing —the ability to reach users even if they aren't actively using your app.
For example, if a user hasn't logged into your app for a certain period, you can send push notifications to draw the user back to using your app through various marketing strategies.
On the other hand, in-app messages help to build engagement with users who are actively using your app. A user can easily interact with your product features, and special offers and have a better onboarding experience through targeted in-app messages. What's more, in in-app messaging you can design longer copies and link them up with visually appealing imagery and elements.
Push notifications can be sent even when the user isn't actively using the app, which makes them ideal for winning back lapsed users. In-app messaging is usually sent when a user is actively using an app, which makes it ideal for building customer engagement. You can think of it as nurturing users and pushing them further down the sales funnel.
3. Can they be disabled?
Push notifications require an opt-in from users before messages can be delivered. Users can also choose to turn off push notifications through app or device settings.
In-app messaging can't necessarily be disabled for its part of the app's UI.
In-App Messaging vs. Push Notifications: use cases
Now that we've highlighted key differences between in-app messaging and push notifications, let's explain some of the possible use cases of when you should be using push notifications and in-app messages.
In-app messaging use cases
- In-app Onboarding tutorials
User onboarding takes time. For some users, it may take weeks or months before they get a deep understanding of your product features. In-app messages can be used to direct new users to specific features and show them how they can derive maximum value from the app.
- Customer survey
Users can be asked to participate in surveys to provide feedback. It is a good practice to ask customers for feedback after you’ve launched a new feature or redesigned an app page. Here's an example:
- New feature or update
Rather than allowing users to figure out a new feature, you can use in-app messaging to showcase new features or updates and explain the problem they solve and how users can benefit from them.
You send important company updates to your app users.
Push notifications use cases
- Abandoned shopping carts
Users have different reasons why they abandon a shopping cart. It could be high pricing or they simply got distracted. Whatever the reason, you can send push notifications reminding users of their incomplete purchases.
- Promotional marketing
You can drive sales with targeted push notifications that encourage users to use your app or visit your website. Some effective marketing strategies like promos, discounts, special offers, or gifts.
- New content push notifications
When you publish a new blog post, push notifications can engage active or lapsed users by reminding them of your content.
- App reminders
Push notifications are mostly used to send important reminders and alerts. For example, calendar apps, meeting reminders, flight trackers, or a workout.
In-App Messaging vs. Push Notifications: Which one performs better for customer engagement?
CleverTap reveals that in-app messages can have a 100% higher clickthrough rate than push notifications. From this data, it can be easy to deduce that in-app messaging is ideal to build customer engagement. Since the message is highly targeted and contextual, it's more likely that users will click on it while they use the app.
However, in-app messaging isn't a clear winner in all cases.
According to a study, in-app messaging has an average click-through rate of 7.4% while push notifications have a click-through rate of 28%. For this reason, stating that one is a better channel than the other leaves room for inconsistencies, considering that there are different industries and target audiences involved.
That being said, whether you choose to use push notifications or in-app notifications — or both, you need to apply the best tactics to get good customer engagement. If the right tactics are not applied in any of the messaging tools, it can be easy to assume that they are ineffective. This brings us to the next section.
In-App Messaging vs. Push Notifications: 3 tactics to use in a meaningful way
The best way to apply in-app messaging and push notifications is by sending personalized, relevant notifications in an actionable way. A study has shown that 30% of mobile users won’t hesitate to delete an app if they feel that they are being spammed.
So, the most effective tactics must be used to build user engagement and retention. Now, let’s throw more light on the three tactics that form the building block of a notification strategy.
- Timely: If your notifications are not relevant and timely, your users may develop a negative sentiment towards your brand. So, it is best practice to send relevant notifications. Gather analytics data about the peak times of your app usage. You also need to dig deep into your customer data to uncover the pain points that users deal with while they use your app. Using accurate data, you can create customer segments so that you can deliver the right message to the right user.
With Engage’s segmentation feature, you can create customer segments based on different events and attributes. Here are some examples of categories to create your customer segments:
- paid users that reach a new level.
- free users that have visited the upgrade page longer than 30 seconds.
- Users that abandoned a shopping cart after a certain period.
- Personalized: personalization is key to connecting with your app users on a personal level. A personalized notification prevents your messaging from sounding vague and disconnected. Personalization can come in many forms—using the first name, location, knowing your users' preferences, and more.
- Actionable: whether you want your users to complete a purchase, participate in a survey or interact with an onboarding tutorial, attaching a sense of urgency makes your user know that their action is important.
Wrapping it up
The case of in-app messaging vs push notification is a jigsaw puzzle that requires understanding and in-depth data analysis. From the key differences between in-app messaging and push notifications, you are now in the best position to know how to apply both strategies.
When it comes to building customer engagement, in-app messaging is the ideal marketing tool to use. Push notifications, on the other hand, can drive higher retention rates.
However, on a larger marketing scale, push notifications and in-app messaging can work best when combined together. Their combined effort can improve open rates, and build user engagement and retention.
We have made this process easy for you. With Engage, you can reach your customers beyond emails by using in-app messaging and push notifications features to engage and retain your customers.