In-app messages get people to do what you want when you want.
They allow you to notify users about special offers. You can get them to convert from free to paid or upsell premium features. And you can even highlight new content or product updates.
The problem typically comes down to execution.
It’s the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time. A product update is sent to a free trial user on their second visit. And they could care less.
The #1 reason why display ads suck? Irrelevance. Which leads to people X-ing out of a message as quickly as it pops up.
Here are five in-app marketing mistakes that are sabotaging your user’s experience (and how to solve them).
1. Treating All Users The Same
It’s far easier to send one message than it is to send ten different messages.
Especially when you have to organize which messages go to which users. Or which behaviors should qualify as a worthy reason to move users from group to group.
But segmentation doesn’t need to be overly complex.
Simply divide users based on product preferences, level of interaction with your app, and current plan (bronze, silver, or gold).
Take this MailChimp message, for instance, about an upcoming update.
Users who already have their settings set to the appropriate dials might not need to receive this message.
Similarly, when Amplitude released its 2.0 version, it sent this message to users who weren’t yet familiar with the update.
Users who had beta tested the software might receive a different message. Something like, “Thanks for testing this software for us! It’s finally going live!”
And people who received the message, but didn’t interact with it, might see it again. But people who clicked “Next” only need to see it that once.
The point is, not all messages need to go to all users.
Even though it’s easier to treat people like robots by sending them all the same message, people want to be treated like… well, people.
They want to feel like your app listens to them, understands them, and provides them with relevant offers and information.
In other words, they want to be the final determiner of what your app offers.
Personalization can increase marketing and sales ROI by up to 20%.
But this news isn’t new. For quite some time, successful email campaigns have lived and breathed on segmentation.
One MailChimp study found that segmented email campaigns received a 14.31% higher open rate and a 100.95% higher click-through rate than non-segmented campaigns.
In-app, the truth is no different. People engage more with messages that are relevant to the way they behave with your website, app, and emails.
And that fact is in line with human psychology.
In person, someone who avoids eye contact or has headphones in probably doesn’t want to talk. Someone who is walking around with a coffee trying to make eye contact with everyone they see is antsy to enter into a discussion.
In-app, users that buy every seasonal offer and read all of your blog content is far different than someone who only reads your content but never buys. Similarly, a user that visits your app daily for updates has a different relationship with your business than someone who only checks once a week.
And the way your in-app messages speak to users should be respectful of those differences.
If you want to enhance your user’s experience, then start by segmenting your users into groups based on their behaviors and message each group with the appropriate product, updates, and upsells.
2. Bad Timing
Few things kill the user’s experience like a poorly-timed notification or message.
Maybe the message invaded at a time when the user was trying to do something else. Maybe the message came too late to be helpful.
When it comes to in-app messaging, timing is key.
You want to send updates when it’s helpful and offers when it isn’t overly invasive.
For sending helpful updates, consider how Amplitude first announced their 2.0 upcoming updates.
Well before users actually dove into the massive change, Amplitude alerted users of the upcoming change.
And, as you well know, your users handle change better when they see it coming.
If you make a massive change to your product without alerting your customer base, you’re going to receive a lot of backlash. Even if you notify them of the changes after the fact.
To avoid frustrating your customers with massive and sudden changes, notify them before, during, and after the changes occur.
ProdPad sent this message during one of their updates.
And by including all of the details about changes and improvements, users feel less out of the loop.
Remember this, though. Generally speaking, the more messages you send, the less attention you’ll receive on each message.
People tend to ignore notifications when you send a lot of them. But they’re more likely to listen if you only send them when they’re relevant.
After all, if you only receive relevant messages from a piece of software, then you’ll probably be more intentional about opening those.
Otherwise, you’ll probably ignore most of them. Or even stop using the app altogether, like 32% of users who receive too many in-app messages.
So the fewer messages you send and the greater their relevance, the more users you’ll have who will engage with those messages.
In the case of in-app messaging, less is more.
But if you time that one notification wrong for your user base, you just missed out on an opportunity to update them or upsell them.
Of course, different times work for different users.
You need to consider these factors when segmenting your user base for the best time to send messages.
- What day and time is the user most active with your app?
- What time zone is the user in?
- When is the user most likely to engage with notifications?
The answer to that last question will likely be a result of consistently testing different segmented groups.
That might take some time. But it’ll be well worth it.
Because one thing’s for sure. If you craft a message like this…
The last thing you want is for people to miss out because of a pointless time discrepancy.
You want to reach as many people as you can with your in-app messages, and users want you to reach them with relevant offers.
But you can only gain their ear if you send notifications and messages at each user’s most lucrative time.
3. Letting Content Quality Suffer
Perhaps nothing is worse than lazy marketing.
Even marketers that come off a bit heavy-handed… at least we can all admire their determination.
But a marketer who produces low-quality content?
That begs the question, why are they even doing it in the first place?
And when it comes to in-app marketing, the laziness is at an all-time high.
Consider the plethora of in-app messages and notifications you receive from well-meaning but lazy marketers.
Messages like this, for instance.
At first, you might think that nothing is wrong with this message.
After all, they are simply asking prospects to allow notifications regarding “new or interesting” stuff. What’s so wrong with that?
Well, therein lies the problem.
Ask yourself this. What are they actually going to notify you about when you click the “Allow” button?
“New or interesting” stuff?
That’s not a very good answer.
The content of this prompt is far too vague to pack a meaningful punch.
And if you make the same mistake with your in-app messages, people won’t only avoid opting in, they’ll turn off notifications or delete your app altogether.
Your in-app messages should be just as optimized as the sales copy on a landing page. Each should express something meaningful and worthwhile for your audience.
This copy, for example, would probably perform much better.
Or something like this warm welcome message from Mention’s app.
However, you decide to craft your messages, create a process before each one goes live.
Much like you would for any valuable piece of content.
- Write the message.
- Edit the message.
- Revise the message.
Then, once all marketers involved are happy, hit the send button. But don’t ever do so until every internal party agrees that the message communicates exactly what you want to communicate.
4. Assuming That Your First Choice Is The Right Choice
Sometimes, your first choice is wrong.
Even when all your internal parties agree that the message is as good as it’s going to get, they don’t have the final say.
That’s right. You don’t have the final say.
When it comes to sending in-app messages, the best you can do is leverage internal knowledge. But once the message is actually sent?
That’s where the real magic happens.
Then, you can measure your user’s response to the message.
Because your user, not you, is the real decider of what works and what doesn’t.
And that means you need to determine what each segmentation group wants and which messages they respond to best.
And one of the best ways to gather that data is by regularly testing your in-app messages. A/B testing color, wording, CTA, timing, and design is a particularly powerful way to discover why users click some messages and ignore others.
You can also experiment with sending messages that include plenty of options for your users. Similar to what Canva does.
This way, you run less of a risk of sending the wrong message to the wrong person at the wrong time.
With options, the user chooses and you learn from their selection.
Think of it as a voting system. When someone doesn’t interact with your in-app messages, assume that they are voting against the message. When someone does, assume that they are voting for it.
Then, tally the votes and leverage what works best.
5. Ignoring the Details
As with most things, the leap from good to great lies in the details.
Whether or not you use clear copy, appropriate graphics, visual icons, whitespace, or say the right thing at the right time to the right person all have the potential to increase or decrease your click-through and engagement rate by several percentage points.
You want users to take certain actions, but their response is less a result of your desires and more a result of the details you pay attention to and the ones you ignore.
Several serious problems occur when marketers decide to ignore the details of their in-app messages.
First of all, your chance of committing silly mistakes increases. Things like misspellings, grammatical errors, inconsistent voice, or low-quality images.
Mistakes like those work wonder for killing a user’s experience and hurting their relationship with your product and app.
And when a user starts to lose trust in the way you communicate, they lose trust in your business overall.
Meaning they won’t want to work with you.
But, many marketers avoid silly mistakes and still sport a low engagement rate. The reality is that you don’t just want to avoid silly mistakes, you want to create a powerful and meaningful experience for your customers.
So you have to go beyond just avoiding the bad, and get to implementing the good.
Consider the attention to detail for this in-app message from Pipefy.
This notification does several things well.
First, it uses the user’s name in the blurred out section, personalizing the message.
Then, it provides real value for a real person by notifying the user about an upcoming webinar for a new feature.
And third, the message even gives the user an out if they can’t make it at the bottom of the message. It tells the user that they can simply watch the recording at a later time if that works better.
Here’s another message that does a great job of quickly, clearly, and visually communicating recent changes.
Finally, consider testing a message that adds urgency when sending special offers or discounts. Something like this, for instance.
Here’s the point. All great in-app messages are the result of marketers having a relentless attention for the details.
They don’t ignore things like sales copy, icons, images, buttons, and color. Instead, they embrace all of the nuances of a great in-app message.
If you want to create a meaningful experience for your users, then you need to pay special attention to the details.
In-app marketing allows you to do something quite remarkable. Namely, you get to communicate with your customers.
You get to tell them about upcoming offers, updates, and features. You get to contact them whenever you want. And you get to learn about them based on their response.
But the last thing you want to do is take advantage of that benefit.
Doing so is sure to sabotage the user’s experience and hurt your brand’s image. Treating all users the same, having poor message timing, letting content quality suffer, not testing, and ignoring the details can all frustrate your customers.
Leverage all of the potential, though, that in-app marketing has to offer and you’ll not only gain a loyal user base, you’ll create an environment that’s ripe for interaction and iteration.
Meaning you, the user, and your bottom line wins.