In-App Messaging Examples to Engage and Retain App Users

Aug 31, 2018 · 7 min read

Savvy mobile marketers know that using the right messaging channel at the right time is a must for creating an engaging user experience.

But not all channels are created equal. Our data shows that in-app messages have over 100% higher CTRs than push notifications.

Ready to take on in-app notifications for your mobile marketing strategy? Or looking to improve on what you’re already doing with these messages?

Keep reading to learn how to make this channel an effective part of your mobile engagement strategy. Plus get in-app messaging examples to help you build your own campaigns.

Why Use In-App Messaging?

In-app messages aren’t just about engagement — they’re about creating a stronger, richer app experience. By tailoring in-app messages to specific user segments, in-app notifications add value. They inform users of important updates, share brief tutorials, encourage user habits, and offer personalized rewards.

In-app messages are an effective way to connect with every user segment:

  • Successfully onboard new users
  • Encourage more frequent app launches
  • Connect with power users who spend the most time in your app
  • Convert active users into paying customers
  • Re-engage inactive users, and
  • Improve retention rates

In-App Campaigns to Improve User Engagement at Every Stage


  • New User Orientation

Greet new users with a friendly welcome message or simple product tour. Provide a successful first-time user experience and quickly showcase your app’s key features and benefits. Just keep it short, and make the exit option prominent.

  • New User Onboarding

Show users how sharing their preferences will improve the app experience. Then make it easy for them to complete a profile by saving the information they’ve already provided, rather than starting from scratch.

  • Onboarding Flow Completion

Re-engage users who started the onboarding process but never finished. Help new users discover key features that set your app apart.

  • New User Activation

You don’t just want users to install your app, you want them to use it. An activated user will mean something different for every app: connecting with or following a certain number of people, completing a first purchase, registering an account, etc.

Starbucks, for example, activates new mobile app users by enrolling them in Starbucks Rewards. It persuades them to sign up by tempting them with free food, drinks, and a time-saving order-ahead feature.

Image: Starbucks

  • First Purchase

Most new users are more engaged with your app than they’ll ever be again. So strike while the iron is hot! Tempt new users to complete a first purchase with a special discount or bonus offer.

  • Personalized Content

Users expect a personalized app experience. So send birthday or holiday messages, share relevant content based on past behavior or user preferences, and notify them of recent friend activity.

  • Newly Added Content

Highlight your growing content library, notify users of the latest episodes, seasons, or movies in a series they’ve watched, and help users discover new favorites.

  • Engagement Milestones

What behaviors do you want users to repeat? Use in-app notifications to highlight milestones and encourage habit formation. Congratulate users for creating 5 playlists, inviting 10 friends, completing a new game level, etc.

  • Help Stuck Users Complete a Key Action

Unless your app is 100% intuitive for every user, some actions can cause confusion or annoyance. Do users have to log in to do certain things? Are some features or content only available to paid users? Are graphs or reports difficult to read without a brief explanation? An in-app message can prevent frustration for users trying to complete that action for the first time.


  • Sales and Personalized Promotions

Personalize promotional messages by sharing sales on product categories a user has browsed, a discount on a wishlist item, or related products based on past purchases. Consider deep linking these notifications to specific product pages (or even straight to checkout) for even more personalization.

  • Subscription Renewal Reminders & Incentives

Nudge customers about upcoming account expirations to lock them in for a renewal. Remind them of the benefits of their subscription, or include incentives to get them to take action.

  • Upsells & Cross-Sells

Offer free shipping or goodies on a minimum purchase amount, cross-sell users on a new release, or persuade free users to upgrade to a paid subscription. Take Spotify — the app triggers an in-app message when free users try to skip too many songs to nudge them to upgrade to premium.

Image: Spotify


  • New Features & Performance Upgrades

Let users know that you’re actively adding new features and improvements to your app, and encourage them to upgrade for the best user experience.

  • Share Social Proof

Chosen as App of the Day or Editor’s Choice in the App Store? Received a flattering review from a high-profile publication? Remind your users that your app is best-in-class by sharing awards, special recognition, and significant milestones.

  • Loyalty Programs

Paying customers are great. Repeat customers are even better. Let users know you have a loyalty program and persuade them to join with a personalized in-app message that highlights what they have to gain.

  • Help Users Discover Advanced Features

Bombarding new users with every available feature isn’t a smart onboarding strategy. But customers who have been actively using your app may appreciate learning new tips and tricks to get even more out of it. Showcase bonus features to keep impressing even long-time users with an amazing app experience.

  • Tell Users What’s New Since Their Last Launch

Even if your app is meant to be used every day (and many aren’t), not every user is going to launch it that frequently. Re-engage users who may be going dormant by highlighting what you’ve improved or added since they last launched.

  • Gather Feedback

Ask for valuable user feedback. You can learn about problems before they show up in App Store reviews, and build stronger relationships with your customers.

Referrals & New User Acquisition

  • Ratings & Reviews

High app store ratings and reviews not only boost your app’s visibility, they provide powerful social proof to fuel new downloads. But getting the right users to share their positive experiences with your app can be tricky. Target your most successful users to ask for app store ratings and reviews.

  • Referrals

Encourage users to invite their networks and keep them active on your app with referral rewards. Think cash back, account credits, or discounts on future purchases.

Mutual incentives can also be a powerful way to keep current users engaged while attracting new users. In-app messages are ideal for capturing users’ attention and giving them a quick way to share their unique referral link.

Building Omnichannel Engagement Campaigns

When building your messaging campaigns, it’s easy to focus primarily on push and email to bring users back to your app. But without effective in-app messaging to add value once those users are in your app, it’s a wasted opportunity.

This is why you need to approach your messaging strategy from an omnichannel perspective. Each messaging channel should complement the others to create a seamless user experience that fuels retention

Have less than 100k monthly active users? Try CleverTap for free with a 14-day trial and start engaging users at every touchpoint.

Mobile Marketing Insights by CleverTap

All you need to know about app analytics and user…

Mobile Marketing Insights by CleverTap

All you need to know about app analytics and user engagement is right here. Read the latest mobile marketing news and expert advice from the CleverTap team.


Written by


CleverTap is a leading mobile marketing platform built for analytics and engagement. Follow us for the latest mobile marketing news and expert advice

Mobile Marketing Insights by CleverTap

All you need to know about app analytics and user engagement is right here. Read the latest mobile marketing news and expert advice from the CleverTap team.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store