If you run a mobile service or a startup, you may have considered integrating instant messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to share your contents or establish a user communication channel for your service.
Instant messaging apps attract massive amounts of traffic and most consumers are likely to use mobile messaging as their initial gateway to smart phones. Messaging apps represent one of the most frequently used mobile services, globally.
Mobile messaging apps are present globally: WhatsApp leads the competition with around 800 million active users and Facebook Messenger follows with 600 million, as shown in the left panel of Figure 2. The right panel indicates most-used apps according to number of chat sessions. Many mobile services try to incorporate mobile messengers as a major channel for user acquisition and to enable user-to-user communication with minimal up-front development efforts.
Designing a chat feature that can maximize brand exposure highly depends on the policies and abilities provided by the relevant IM app. Third party mobile messengers offer very limited monitoring and analytics systems to track the performance of your marketing via messaging services.
In addition, the more often end users communicate via external messaging services, the greater possibility there is that those users may bounce from your services, which is a growing concern for entrepreneurs of mobile services.
Finally, there are also cases in which corporate legal and IT teams have been pressured to limit the use of external messaging services.
‘In-app messaging’ consists of messages that a user or service provider interchanges during the mobile service experience, triggered by specific events or user experiences. It can provide text messaging and multi-media content (e.g., picture, video and the thumbnail of a URL link), offer rewards or contribute to navigation through other key events inside the app.
A major example of an app incorporating in-app messaging is the dating app Tinder.
On Tender, users swipe right if they approve of the suggested match and are presented with an in-app message that begins a chat if the approval is mutual. Dating apps like this have proven the value of in-app messaging as a core feature, and an increasing number of services have started adopting in-app chats to innovate user experiences and are applying this as a new medium for additional sales generation.
Moreover, apps that featured in-app messaging experienced an activation rate 27% higher than apps that did not, with an average of 13 such apps launched per month.
The performance gaps in user retention and app launches may result from
Furthermore, it is also possible to generate additional revenue using in-chat “emoji” or electronic gifts, and there is a scenario in which in-app messaging can be shown on the 2nd screen of a mobile service for improved navigation and more innovative user experience. These are the reasons we believe in-app messaging will become a dominant trend in the near future.
Localytics data shows that the average click through rate for in-app messages triggered by an event is 2 times higher than the click through rate for messages presented when an app launches. This advantage is also visible for conversion rates given that in-app messages integrated with events have a conversion rate 4 times higher than those triggered at the start of a session.
The additional clicks gained from event-based triggers are expected to vary based on app category. However, the interesting part is that compared to game or lifestyle (e.g., social, dating, etc.) apps that have an obvious track record of community building via messaging features, photography, sports and finance apps, which less often incorporate chat features, may see a bigger lift from in-app messaging.
Nonetheless, not all mobile apps will necessarily benefit from in-app messaging itself. User engagement and retention efforts from in-app messaging should be designed with the right approach and made to coordinate with a deep understanding of user behavior for your specific services. There have already been many cases of leading startups in the fields of mobile commerce, fintech, on-demand and food delivery services where “hot potato” companies are following this recent startup trend. We expect more and more innovation in real-time communication to continue to gain attention as the heart of up and coming mobile features.