In-app messaging: what it is and why you should already be using it

in-app messaging article

What would you say if we told you that you’re missing out on your most impactful digital channel? A channel that your customers trust, can guarantee higher conversions and instantly improve engagement. Welcome to in-app messaging.

Our recent survey showed that nearly-half (44%) of customers say that in-app messaging is their most trusted channel for communication. In-app messages are preferred for their security, ease of use and convenience; but many organisations are still not listening to customers’ needs. We’re here to help by walking you through the basics.

So let’s break down what exactly is this (relatively new) customer channel, share some examples of best practice and dive into why you should already be incorporating this into your customer engagement strategy.

What are in-app messages?

In-app messages, as the name suggests, are messages delivered directly to your customer within your mobile app or web portal. Sometimes referred to as in-app notifications, app alerts or ‘message centre’ messages, in-app messages allow you to keep active customers informed about important updates, promotions, or actions they should to take while inside your secure channel. They can allow you to convert, retain, active and engage with your customers. For a full list of examples, check out our Solutions Catalogue filled with ideas on how to use in-app messages, based on insights from current customers.  

In-app messages are often highly personalised for each customer, more so than traditional channels like email or sms. Your company is able to use insights like demographics, customer journey stages, or geographic location to tailor the message, and then trigger when to send based on customer interests, activity and past behaviours. This lets you deliver the right message to the right person when they are at their most engaged.

Why in-app messages need to be at the heart of your customer engagement strategy

Stronger Security

In this year’s State of Digital Trust report, customers ranked in-app messaging as the most trusted form of communication when interacting with a business – exceeding more commonly used, traditional channels like email, sms and phone. And while factors like ease of use and convenience helped boost in-app messages to the #1 spot, it was security that ultimately become the key factor. In fact, in-app messaging was the only channel to have security listed – meaning customers no longer view sms, phone or email as secure. Given the ongoing rise of scam alerts and fraudulent messages, it’s no wonder why customers are looking toward more secure channels like the app.

Higher Engagement

Think about it. When your customers are logged in to your app, they are switched on. They are thinking about your brand and are primed to be engaged with in a meaningful way. Our data shows companies are seeing read rates of up to 94% with in-app messaging (compared to email, where the industry-average read rate is just 30%). And they are not just reading the messages, but interacting with them. Customers are engaging with in-app messages 14x more than traditional channels like SMS and email. This is because in-app messaging is tailored to each unique customer and sent are just the right time, in the right place within your app. Just as we mentioned above, the ability to hyper-personalise these messages can lead to stronger cut-through. And with, you’re able to go even further, by allowing your customers to take action directly in the card.

What are the benefits of in-app messaging?

Provide real-time updates and notifications

In the event of an emergency, reaching customers quickly can be crucial. Push notifications paired with in-app messages can allow you to send important updates directly to customers and bring them back into a secure channel for timely updates. This allows you to keep your customer in the loop when time is limited.

Easily prompt customer actions

Encouraging customers to update their latest contact information or assisting them to finish onboarding is more effective when they’re already inside your app. By displaying short, actionable messages in relevant areas of your app, you can boost engagement instantly. And while in-app messaging is offered in a variety of marketing tools, is the only in-app messaging solution that allows for actionable messages. 

Reach your entire app audience

Sending messages to customers inside your app doesn’t require a legal opt-in like it does for some channels (looking at you, email and sms). This means you can easily (and legally) reach every single user who opens your app. And with 57% of app users opt-ing for push notifications, marketers can pair a clever push notification with their in-app messaging strategy to ensure your message is getting to everyone. 

Create seamless customer experiences

Further down we will take you through the various types of in-app messages. Many platforms, including, allow you to play messages anywhere you may need in your app, allowing for a more organic customer experience. Compared to jarrying pop-ups or easily-ignored alerts, in-app messaging allows you to create native and integrated communications that lead to smoother, more impactful customer journeys.

Cut through the noise

Customer channels like email, SMS or social media can be noisy and competitive places. But inside your app, you are the sole messenger. You have your customers’ full attention and they are most likely actively thinking about your brand. It’s no wonder in-app messaging has 45 times higher impression rates than email.

Create dynamic content to suit your message

Depending on the type of message you are trying to send, a simple text box may not due. With solutions like, you can add in videos, gifs or photos to grab users attention or even explain a message more easily. Add buttons, drop downs, toggles or radio selects to create an easier experience for customers directly in your message. Tools like exist for marketers to help create these highly personalised, dynamic messages in a matter of minutes WITHOUT the need for developers or engineering. 

Streamline your communication strategy

By prioritizing your impact channels, you can cut down on the volume of effort needed to send multiple communications. With a clever in-app messaging strategy, you can drive stronger engagement with half the effort, making your communications more efficient and reducing workload for your team.

Increase retention, decrease customer churn

Apps experience a high amount of churn just days after download. Research into worldwide retention rate shows that the average retention rate was 25.3% on Day 1, before failing to 5.7% by Day 30. Strong in-app messaging strategies can lead to stronger app retention for customers. During their 2023 campaign, Movember experienced an 8% rise in in-app retention following the implementation of In-app messages allow companies to deliver tailored, valuable content to customer, right from Day 1. 

Drive product and feature adoption

Promote the uptake of new products from your company or features within your app through timely and insightful messages. Introduce the latest features by quickly displaying overlay messages precisely where needed within your app, instead of introducing them on another channel like email, forcing your customers to go back and forth.

Are push notifications and in-app messages the same thing?

Often used interchangeably, push notifications and in-app messages are each their own form of communication. Let’s break down the difference between the two.

Push notifications are sent from a server directly to a device, appearing as an alert or notification when a customer is outside the app. Think about those messages on your lock screen or a banner across your home page when you’re scrolling – that’s a push notification. These are generally used to bring the customer back into the app.

In-app messages are just as they sound – a message displayed when a customer is actively inside the app. Due to the nature of when in-app messages surface (in the app), you’re able to do a lot more with them. These messages can take on many forms which we’ll break down for you in the section below.

Combining push notifications and in-app messaging can significantly enhance customer engagement within your app, creating a stronger strategy for secure communication.

What are the different types of in-app messages?

This can vary depending on the type of customer engagement software you use to create your in-app messages, but some of the most common in-app message types include:

1. Banner notifications

The most common format used, the banner notification appears at the top or bottom of the app screen. Also known as sticky in-app messages, this type is used for everything from communicating promotions and offering product updates to encouraging customers to subscribe to newsletters.

2. Full-page alerts

As the name suggests, these are messages which take up the entirety of the app screen. Given the eye-catching nature of this format, they’re most often used for urgent, time-sensitive alerts such as system outages or store closures. Critical Alert

3. Half-page messages

Similar to the full-page message, this does what it says on the tin – it delivers messages which take up half of the app screen. These are often used during onboarding to guide customers through the app, or to provide promotional offers.

4. Inline messages (nudges)

These may seem similar to banner style notifications, but they’re designed to be integrated into the customer experience in a more organic way. These notifications don’t interrupt customer journeys but instead appear within app content at the most natural moment. These can be used for educational messages or less urgent customer support.

5. Message Centre messages (inbox)

This type of message takes on many names including in-app inbox, notifications window, or To-Do lists. Essentially this is where customers can go to see a collection of messages. If you’re using an in-app messaging platform like, you’re able to rank these messages by priority to ensure customers see the most important, as well as combine message types so customers can see the same message twice if it’s important.

Is there a difference between iPhone (iOS) and Android in-app messaging?

In terms of in-app messaging, the core functionality remains largely consistent across iPhone and Android devices. The key differences mainly impact your developer and marketing teams.

For developers, differences arise in the tools and technologies employed for their implementation. For instance, on iPhone, developers often utilize the iOS SDK and APIs, employing languages like Swift or Objective-C. Conversely, Android developers typically rely on the Android SDK and APIs, possibly incorporating the Firebase in-app messaging API.

For marketers, platform-specific considerations, such as user privacy guidelines and data protection protocols, demand their attention. It’s important to adhere to each platform’s requirements and best practices, as well as your local laws and regulations around communication.

The major differences between in-app messaging on iPhone and Android are likely to be related to the specific tools and technology used, rather than any fundamental differences in how the feature works on each platform. Look for in-app messaging platforms like, that can operate across both iPhone (iOS) and Android.

About currently powers in-app engagement for some of the biggest brands, including ANZ, Westpac, Movember, SS&C Health and more. We are an in-app customer engagement platform that provides actionable messages to your customers in your most secure channel. If you’re interested in learning more or would like a demo, we’d love to talk. Only can help you driver stronger engagement for your customers in your most impactful channel, your app.

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