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In-app messaging reaches customers when they are most ready to interact with a brand, which means wielding them wisely can supercharge deeper levels of engagement. Here’s what makes them such a potent tool, and how one brand’s creative use of this channel yielded exponential results.

Imagine a restaurant purchasing a full-page ad in the local newspaper to advertise its grand opening, dishing out major dollars on hilarious TV ads, and hiring your teenage kid’s favorite TikTok influencer to talk about how they can’t wait to eat there…and then, when you walk in the door and sit down, the menu lists only two items, “food” and “drinks,” as though you were in a scene out of 1984’s twisted cult film Repo Man. The reason that scenario sounds ridiculous is because any restaurateur knows that getting customers in the door is only the first step in crafting the relationship, and that what happens next can mean the difference between a fruitful experience and a nasty, one-star rant on Yelp!

When it comes to ecommerce, this same tenet holds true. There are a variety of messaging channels that can be utilized to draw in consumers and get them to engage with your brand, but once they’re in, engaging them in more fulfilling ways is key to nurturing a relationship that creates user loyalty and improves metrics like conversions. The king of the hill in that respect is in-app messages (IAMa), a channel that speaks to your most engaged and enthusiastic customers when they’re most ready to be reached.

In-App Messaging: What It Says on the Tin

The basics of IAMs are fairly simple to grasp, in that they’re a kind of messaging that’s served up to users who have chosen to open and interact with a brand’s mobile app. Don’t close this tab yet, though, because there’s a lot more to it than that. Thanks to the fact that they’re native to an environment a brand controls, IAMs are highly customizable and capable of delivering a great deal of personalization and interactivity. From rich imagery to embedded video to buttons and other clickable elements, the options are pretty varied, and all can be delivered with a look and feel distinct to a brand’s overall style.

Of course, every messaging channel has its strengths and weaknesses, and if you’re looking to snag customers who’ve lapsed in their engagement or who need to be reached in a timely fashion, you’re going to want to lean more into avenues like push notifications or email. IAMs reach customers who have already chosen to engage, meaning they’re out for a deeper, more personalized interaction. This channel works particularly well in the onboarding process, and the ability to customize and personalize allows for the kind tailor-made content that customers who’ve lived a long time in a world of one-size-fits-all mass messaging tend to appreciate. IAMs also operate particularly well in a synergistic fashion with other channels, allowing brands to bridge engagement gaps by, for example, targeting users who haven’t engaged with a promotional email the next time they open the brand’s app.

IAMs as Delivery Hero’s Hero

All of the above sounds nice on a philosophical level, but ultimately it’s the results that matter. Fortunately, it’s possible to pinpoint the quantifiable effect creatively-applied IAM campaign can have on user engagement. For an example, let’s look at leading global food delivery platform Delivery Hero and its Nordic sub-brand, foodora. Seeking a way to increase engagement around its users’ monthly paydays, the company created an IAM strategy that gamified the distribution of promotional discounts. Users of the foodora app who opened it as their payday approached were presented with digital “Scratch & Win” cards that, for some, carried a 100-kroner ($9 USD) discount on their next order. Those who didn’t win were presented with a call to action telling them to return next month for another shot.

The results were dramatic. Foodora saw a redemption rate for Scratch & Win discounts 3X higher than that of similar, previous campaigns. It wasn’t just the winning users who increased their engagement, either; customers who didn’t win also saw increased engagement between paydays. What’s more, once the Scratch & Win template was tested, Delivery Hero was able to make use of IAMs customizability to roll the format out across other brands in its portfolio.

Final Thoughts

Delivery Hero’s gamified discounts are just one example of the ways in which IAMs can be creatively used to supercharge user engagement. With their flexibility and applicability to multiple different stages of the customer journey, they provide a multitude of methods for encouraging app and web users who are ready to hear from a brand to take the next steps at a time when they are at their most interested.

Ready to learn more? Check out the Braze In-App Messaging Guide and get ready to put IAMs to work for you.

Adam Swiderski

Adam Swiderski is a writer, editor, musician, surfer, and recovering professional nerd from Queens, New York. He's interested in the meeting of technology and humanity, and disinterested in zombie apocalypse.