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Marketers size up in-app messaging to retain and monetize customers

Marketers have been slow to embrace in-app messaging for fear of creating a spam-like experience and because of the priority put on drawing in new users, potentially missing out on a key strategy for boosting and maintaining engagement as a result.

Only one third of marketers with mobile applications leverage in-app messaging, but this is starting to change as marketers focus more on retaining and monetizing their app users. Research has shown that these messaging features can help drive app loyalty and high engagement.  

?Compared to stalwart options like push notifications and emails, in-app messaging is used less because historically, marketers have not been as focused on internal app communication channels to influence the customer journey,? said Myles Kleeger, chief revenue officer at Appboy. ?There has been a huge emphasis on acquisition efforts, and as a result marketers have a natural tendency to turn to vehicles like push and email to bring new and lapsed customers back into their app. 

?Today, more and more companies are realizing how vital the in-app marketing experience is to retaining and monetizing their customers, particularly in light of the fact that it costs 7 times more to acquire new ones compared to retaining them,? he said. ?That means that more marketers are turning to in-app message solutions to complement their push and email efforts, and better engage their audience. 

?By smartly targeting the right active customer segments with in-app messages, brands realize that they can inspire desired behavior, including but not limited to revisiting an abandoned shopping cart, taking advantage of mobile sale or completing their profile within the app.?

Skittish consumers
Marketers are apprehensive of creating a frustrating user experience for consumers, and do not want to drive away current users with in-app messages. Many focus their efforts on drawing in new users rather than turning the users they have into loyal users. 

Many new studies show that in-app messaging is responsible for turning users into loyal users. Marketers that implement such features show two to three times higher retention rates and 27 percent more launches compared to those without in-app messaging, according to a report from Localytics. 

Kahuna?s Mobile Marketing Index states that users that have opted-in for in-app messaging showed increased retention rate by 125 percent in a 30-day period.

Mobile app providers have to look at information to see how individual users operate with the app, and respond accordingly. Sending users messages within in a retailer app for deals and specials can be highly beneficial, especially while the user is viewing content such as locations and menu items. 

?We believe that many app marketers are concerned that their in-app messages may come across as spam because of how in-app mobile advertising can be viewed similarly,? said Josh Todd, chief marketing officer at Localytics. ?However, we have seen that, when strategically personalized, targeted and segmented, in-app messages improve the app experience, providing content that actually engages users. 

?For example, our research shows the average click-through rate of an in-app message is 28 percent,? he said. ?However, when the in-app message is triggered from a event users are taking in the app, i.e. highly relevant to them in those moment, the click-through rate is twice as high as a standard in-app message presented at the start of a session.? 

Omnichannel messaging
It is important for marketers to leverage in-app messaging as a part of a multichannel approach with apps. Push-notifications and emails must be executed as well, and each must used for appropriate efforts and not overdone. 

These tactics to engage users of an app are vital as a whole, but it must be well thought out and researched. Consumers should be provided with notification content that means something to them at the time, and should not be overbearing and cause an annoyance. 

Urban Outfitters Inc.?s bohemian apparel brand Free People exhibited how to effectively time push-notifications to drive sales for collections available on its application (see more). 

Also, GEICO?s Quick Messaging, a text-based, in-app messaging function that allows mobile users to speak directly with GEICO in real-time from their smartphones or tablets, points to mobile?s ability to deliver important information in consumers? moments of need, a mainstay of the crisis-driven insurance vertical (see more).

?In-app messages have the power to mimic both the urgency and impact of push and the rich content that email is known for, making it an important tool for marketers who are wisely prioritizing multi-channel messaging,? Mr. Kleeger from Appboy said. ?The channel works well to engage active customers and help nudge them toward desired actions, and drive in-app discovery and education triggered by individual activity, but without leveraging the likes of push, email or News Feed Cards, solely relying on in-app messages will not enable you to reach audiences who aren?t as engaged with your brand.?

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Marketer