In-App Messages Vs Push Notification
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In-App Messages Vs Push Notification: Which is the best bet to place and When?

Getting a space on the user’s mobile and thereafter having the user visit it frequently is the prime challenge for the mobile apps. When the user downloads the app, retaining them after app abandonment or for getting the app, is the other half of the battle, which can be triumphed by leveraging innovative marketing plans.

How can such a marketing strategy be devised?

Till date, there hasn’t been a sure shot marketing strategy available that guarantees the success for every app. The app features and the target audience will be different in every case.

In a nutshell, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution, for an app to fit into every user’s requirement. Presently, the users are dynamic in nature and so are their preferences and interests, while their behavior changes faster than the climate.

In order to maintain pace with dynamic users, embracing dynamic marketing is all-important to communicate with the users in their way. It mitigates the risks of getting obsolete and soon dumped by the users.

The in-app message and push notifications are considered as the two most adorable child of dynamic marketing strategy for the brands that are catching many eyeballs, driving engagement and increasing retention.

However, many times, they are used interchangeably, which is wrong as the two are completely different.

Let’s clear up the air:

In-app message

The in-app messaging is a natural extension of the app where a message is popped-up on the screen when the user is browsing or interacting with the app.

The messages are highly contextual that’s triggered on the screen with the right content at the right time based on the user’s interaction. They are not intrusive at all.

Push notifications

These messages appear on the user’s mobile either on the lock screen or status bar and from where they can be easily viewed or dismissed. Also, after the app download, the users’ permission is required to send the app notifications. It’s not necessary for the users to use the app for receiving the notifications.

It’s tricky to determine which is the best and what an app should opt for because apps need to weigh several factors that will demystify everything.

So how would you decide which is the perfect fit for your app? Here’s the answer:

For immediate attention

When the user abandons the app after one use, they can be drawn back to the app with seamless communication and improve the interaction through personalized messages.

The push notifications proved to be incredibly disruptive in regards to renewing the user’s interest in the mobile app as soon as they land on the user’s mobile.

The users who have opted-in for the notifications become a great help to the brands to reach the users anytime as they can send notifications which appear on the top of the user’s screen, thereby they won’t interrupt the users in the current activity and remind the users about the app that they have downloaded.

The apps topping the charts had proven that how the content in context and compelling incentives wrapped in the notifications captured the user’s attention and have made them come back.

The proactive alert for the users during the scheduled downtime, constant reminders to achieve the goal, notifying about the cart abandoned as the items added will soon get out-of-stock, and other such examples have helped the brands in engaging and retaining the customers by two folds.

Here, push notification is good to consider.

Prompt for conversation

The users have to walk through multiple steps in the application of push notifications right from viewing them on the screen to opening it in the app.

Often, the user could be lost in the midst of the journey and alas, they can’t be made to initiate the action. That’s where in-app messages excel.

The reason is, in-app messages flash on the user’s screen when they are using the app, so the brands can directly connect with the users and start a contextual conversation.

Also, the messages are tailored to the user behavior and appear to the users in the real-time which improve the response rates. It’s a powerful tool to engage the users while they are using the app.

Different types of messages are triggered on the screen such as solving the specific problem, requesting the in-app feedback, guiding the user for new features, making in-app purchases, and assisting the first-time users as they navigate, which engage and re-engage the users with instant connection and communication.

It specifically works when a user in using the app and a message has to be conveyed or a particular action has to be taken.

Here, the in-app message works like a pro.

For time-sensitive content

It’s unrealistic to think that the users remain glued to app 24/7. When the users are not active on the app, then notifying them for emergencies, flash sales, in-store beacons, or weather condition becomes implausible.

That’s embarrassing! The push notifications to the rescue.

Push notifications are the best choice to inform the users to get active on the app to avail short-lived flash sales offers, get alerted for the changing weather conditions, enjoy the benefit of the deal going on in the brick-and-mortar store when they pass by, and so on.

These time-sensitive alerts illustrating the start and end time of the special activity that intrigue the users and retain them to the app, which in-app messages cannot do.

Here, push notifications are the clear winner.

Based on app goals

The brands have to be very clear about what they wanted to accomplish using either of the app strategies.

The in-app message is always employed when the achievements are quantifiable with an in-depth understanding of user’s behavior via funnel metrics and behavioral analytics analyzation.

It’s so because these messages are considered as native to the app, which requires regressive testing and assessment of their impact on the user’s journey. A little mistake can ruin the user experience and hurts the brand image as well.

So, the brands have to be very specific.

Undoubtedly, the push notifications strategy is also very important. There is a major difference that’s they are an extension of the mobile app not the part of the app. It indicates a trivial mistake in the push notifications is tolerable.

The other fact is the push notifications not necessarily received by the users on the spot, often times, the notifications drive lately to the customers, but they hold value in the sense of long-term utility as they are stored in the notification area and can be viewed anytime later or soon.

Here, both strategies make sense depending on the use cases.

What’s next? It’s time to test!

All the points have nicely described in which case- the in-app message and push notifications works the best. But, before implementing any of the one, it’s essential to test everything.

Don’t play the guessing game, else the marketing strategy will be at stake. For push notifications, the A/B testing will determine what content and the time to engage, or you can end up disappointing the users.

For in-app message, again the A/B testing helps in sorting out what the users like and what not, and in verifying whether the content serves the purpose or appears intrusive.


The number of smartphones before long outnumber the human beings on the planet. This will create ripples in the communication sea as the brands can stay connected, engage and retain more users with the right mix of in-app message and push notifications implementation.

No matter which of the two the brands selected, the marketing strategy should fall in place with certain factors such as its relevancy, time, and target audience, which must be ensured for the content sent through any channel so that the message makes sense for the users.

In addition, the messages should not be too little or too much that makes the users overwhelmed leading to app abandonment.

Select the approach and incorporate it judiciously so that the users get enthralled to open the app (Via push notifications) and enjoy receiving inputs (Via in-app message) when using the app.

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