Real-Life Examples of Killer App Marketing

How are these 16 apps using push and in-app to engage users? Find out!

App Marketing: Best Practices

More Than Words on a Screen

Push notifications, in-app messages, and other communication channels may just seem like words on a screen. But when done right, they’re much more than that. Whether it’s sending them offers, requesting feedback or just updating them with relevant news, mobile engagement presents a unique opportunity to start a conversation with your users. More than that, they elicit action from your users.

We’ll go over how to best encourage this action when crafting your app marketing campaigns. We’ll start with push messages and then go through the rest of the the mobile marketing channels. From there, we’ll cover how to measure their performance in your engagement platform.


Push Message Campaigns



It’s safe to say that most of us have felt like Doge at one point or another. Sometimes it seems like the apps on our phones and tablets never leave us alone. And we feel there’s no other choice but to opt out. But it doesn’t have to be that way!


We’ve found that despite a few bad eggs inundating people’s screens with impersonal banter, more than half of users still have push messages enabled on their devices. Of those, we see an 88% increase in engagement and nearly 3x higher retention rate compared to those who disable push. This is an opportunity that no app developer or marketer should pass up. Doing it right isn’t hard, but it does involve some strategy and preparation.


How to Craft a Killer Push Message


We’ve all been tricked by the phantom pocket vibrate. And like Fry here, it’s only exacerbated when we’re anxiously waiting on that special call (potential new employer, long-lost love, etc). But you know what’s even worse than pulling out your phone and seeing a blank screen? Pulling it out, expecting to see your long-lost love calling you, only to find a push notification from a forgotten app expressing their love for you. Right message, wrong person.


You don’t want to be that app. Since push notifications are interruptive in nature, it’s crucial to spend time crafting a strategy that doesn’t annoy your users. Here are the top three ways to write the most actionable push notifications:


1. Provide real value


There’s nothing like being underwhelmed by a push notification. There are so many companies offering daily deals and coupons, but when it occurs so frequently, what makes it so special?


Put yourself in your users' shoes. What type of language do they typically find appealing? What kind of discounts have they responded to in the past? You should be designing your offers with these questions in mind.


Remember that you’re marketing to users who aren’t currently using your app. Your message needs to give them a reason to come back. You don’t need to give away your entire inventory at 80% off. But a two-hour only coupon code on a select pair of your most sought-after items is real value.


2. Personalize it


For your users. Using your analytics platform, you can segment users by behavioral and/or profile data. Targeting them this way gives you the flexibility to use different language and offers that resonate better with each particular group.


For your brand. You know your brand better than anyone else. No one’s forcing you into a life of mundane push notification-dom. Maybe you’re a little quirky or a bit on the edgy side. Let your personality show, it’s your chance to own it!


3. Encourage action


Saying you miss your users or that you haven’t seen them in a while might give them a quick chuckle. But chuckles don’t lead to conversions. Actions do.


When you’re writing your push notifications, always remember what the desired conversion is. Is it a purchase, a sign-up, an upgrade? Once you’ve decided, it’s time to think about the first step the user needs to take to accomplish that. You should include these calls-to-action right in the message copy. If you’ve spent time optimizing your conversion funnels, the app should do most of the grunt work from there.


In-App Message Campaigns

Sometimes it seems that in-app messages receive less attention than their push message counterparts. But it’s likely due to the fact that many people just don’t know one when they see one. They often come off as a seamless part of the app experience. But by no means are they less valuable than push.


How to Craft a Killer In-App Message


Because in-app messages are sent to those people who currently using your app, you already have their attention. The focus here is more on the personalization and visual aspect of the message, to increase the value of their engagements with your app.


Though it’s called an in-app message, it’s essentially an in-app landing page. A lot of the best practices from landing page optimization can be translated into in-app messaging best practices. With that in mind, here are the top three ways to write actionable in-app messages.

1. Add graphics and branding


Unlike their push notification counterparts, in-app messages don’t have to adhere to the formatting of the OS that the user has installed. These messages occur within your app. That means you can include your logos and your branding throughout the message.


You want your message to be an extension of your app, and not come off as an advertisement. Always try to maintain the theme of your app. It’s possible to do this while still creating a message that gets people’s attention.

2. Include a clear, concise headline


Much like on your website, the headline should make it immediately clear what it is you’re offering or requesting. If you beat around the bush or make it unclear as to the meaning of the message, the user may just become confused and dismiss it.

3. Make CTAs that pop


The most important part of your in-app message is the call-to-action (CTA). You could have the fanciest message with the best content, but if you don’t make the next step clear to your users, they will likely exit the message and continue browsing as normal.


The most successful in-app CTAs are visually bold and easily identifiable. They also convey, in limited words, exactly what the user expects when they tap through. The user can then immediately know how to act on the offer.


Inbox Campaigns 

Inbox messaging offers you a unqiue experience to engage with your users. Inbox allows you to deliver personalized content to a dedicated page in your app, which users can consume at their own leisure. Have something you want to tell your users but don't think it is extremely urget? Try putting that content in their inbox! 


1. Add graphics and branding


Like in-app messaging, inbox allows your to completely brand your messaging as it is a native page in your app. This means you can customize every aspect of how your message appears: the thumbnail, images within the message, CTA button size/color, etc. You can think of inbox as a sticky in-app message that disappears when the user deletes it or the campaign expires.


2. Host appropriate content


Inbox is very comparable to in-app, but different in many ways. Because you have the opportunity to host content for an extended period of time, your content should provide value for that time! Have a promotional sale for the next week? Dump that coupon code in a user's inbox so they can grab it when the decide to purchase!


Inbox also give you the opportunity to host content in a long-form scroll, almost as a feed, if you will. Take advantage of this capability by providing content that requires longer explanations, multiple images, or several differnt CTA's



3. Don't let your inbox go stale!


Inbox is a powerful engagement channel, but if you aren't updating what's hosted there, users will start abandoning the channel if there is no value to be had. Keep your content fresh, only provide relevant messages through user segmentation, and don't forget to take out the trash! Make sure your messages don't go past their shelf life and lose relevancy. 



Geo-Push Campaigns

By design, this channel can be tricky. Not only does the user have to opt-in to receive push messages, but they need to enable location tracking too! 


Targeting users based on their physical location can sound a bit Big Brother-y...but through precise audience segmentation, individualizing the message, and provide nothing but value, geo-push is an extremely valuable channel. 


1. Individualize your message


Imagine receiving a message from a brick and mortar sporting goods store you're walking by and getting a message saying, "Stop in right now and get 50% off a New Era Red Sox hat!" Here's the real kicker, imagine you're a Yankees fan. BOOM, uninstall. Make sure you're you're not just providing value, but providing individualized value. 


2. Appropriately size your geofence


When using geofences for messaging purposes, it is crucial to size your geofences adequately. If you're trying to messages users who travel to a new city, make sure your geofence covers the airport and nothing else. You don't want to be spamming daily commuters with tourist info just because they drive by the airport every day. 


How To Measure Your Campaigns 

“Guestimate,” “ballpark,” and “assume” are three words that should be left out of every app marketer’s vocabulary. But unfortunately, many have been using them for far too long due to tools that just don’t cut it.


The issue with some platforms is that they don’t track the right metrics. Another common issue is that the notifications are executed by a third-party software, which means they have to find a way to talk to the analytics side. This could lead to data being lost in translation, which makes it tough to judge the efficacy of your campaigns.


Once you’ve installed the engagement platform, measuring your push campaigns isn’t hard, you just have to know which numbers to look at. Here’s what you should be tracking:


Engagements: How many users engaged with the message? This is measured as a total or a percentage of all users who received the message.


Conversions: These are conversions that occur as a direct result of engaging with the notification.


View-through conversions: Just because a user doesn’t engage with the notification, doesn’t mean they won’t remember the message. View-through conversions are those that occurred for users who received the message, but didn’t directly engage with it.

Conversion funnels: Compare the conversion funnels of those users who received a notification versus those who didn’t. Are there any specific events that lead to big dropoffs in one but not the other?

Opt-outs (push notifications only): Not everyone digs your style (don’t take it personally). But it’s still important to keep track to make sure that it’s not just a select few opting out.


Other than specific metrics, you should look at engagement levels as a whole, before and after the message campaigns. If you’re seeing improved numbers across the board, then you’re on the right track. If you’re seeing a gradual decline, it’s time to head back to the drawing board.


Examples of Successful Campaigns

All of this info about push and in-app messages can be a bit overwhelming. But nothing makes it easier to understand than some real-world examples.

Push Notifications

Media Apps: Gain More Subscribers


The most common challenge for media apps is to convert passive users to active subscribers. Without the right incentive, those who casually view content on your app won't pay to subscribe for access to your best features and articles. You can take the "paywall" approach, by either cutting out users part way through an article or shutting off certain pages or features, but this can lead to frustrated users that deters, rather than encourages, engagement.


By sending unsubscribed users a push message for X% off a subscription for a limited time only, you can turn many passive users into active ones.

eCommerce Apps: Tap Into Habits & Hobbies


eCommerce apps have the potential to provide a tailor-made experience for their users based on user behavior by alerting users of items or brand activity in-app that would be relevant to convert them. For example, if a set of users always flocks to Nike brand products in your eCommerce app, they would likely appreciate and engage with a push message about a new Nike product. You could even go one layer deeper to note which Nike products are most popular or which product category users visit most often, then send push messages about active sales or discounts.


When the app experience and messaging feels more customized to the user, re-engagement and conversion rates will rise. App users each have habits and hobbies. Tap into these to notify users of relevant deals and product changes for the most effective push campaigns.

Fitness Apps: Keep Users On Track


For the vast majority of fitness apps, the target is to keep users engaged and working towards personal fitness goals. Though you can't physically motivate users to keep working out, record their progress, and achieve results, you can make it fun to do these things with your app, and complement the experience with engaging push messages. A great tactic for fitness apps is to use push for accountability.


For example, a running app with customizable distance goals each week, month, or year can use push messaging to encourage users – based on average daily running distance or other recorded data – by reminding them of how close they are to their goals or if they've forgotten to record progress (or run at all) in several days. This tactic both holds users accountable for their self-set goals and keeps users coming back to the app to chart progress.


In-App Messages

How to Improve Your App Store Rating with In-App Messaging


The App Store is a place where apps have gained overnight success just from earning their way onto the top charts. It’s also a place where apps have withered away to their ultimate demise. While those are the two unlikely extreme ends of the spectrum, it’s important to note that the App Store can have a huge impact on the success of your app.


We’ve discussed paid user acquisition through third-party advertising, but what about the organic side? According to two separate studies conducted by Forrester and Nielsen, 64% of app users find apps through App Store search.1 That’s why building a healthy App Store presence should be a foundational piece of your organic acquisition strategy.


Yes, the App Store is a place where anyone can freely express their opinion of and rate your app. But if you’ve ever been on Yelp before, you know that more often than not, it’s the customers who have had bad experiences who are the quickest to leave a review. It may seem like you have no influence on this, but with in-app messaging, you do. Introducing, the in-app NPS survey.

What is an NPS Survey?


NPS, or Net Promoter Score, is a metric pioneered in the early 2000’s by Fred Reichheld that enables companies to gauge customer loyalty. Basically, the survey asks you to rate your experience on a scale of 1-10. Promoters are considered those who rated the experience at an eight or above. Detractors are those who rated their experience at a three or below.


Similarly, an in-app NPS survey empowers app developers and marketers to identify users who would be willing to recommend their app to a friend. So how does this result in improved App Store ratings? We thought you’d never ask! Here’s how it works:

1. Ask the question


In order to find out how likely your users are to recommend your app to their friends, you have to ask them first. The most common form is “How likely are you to recommend our app to a friend?” You can get creative here, remember your brand persona!




2. Segment your users


What’s great about using an advanced app marketing tool is that once the user answers the question, they can be brought to different screens based on their feedback.


Users who answer 8-10 are your promoters. These are the users that would tell their friends how much they love your app (even when you’re not looking!). Ask them if they’d care to rate your app in the App Store. Hopefully, they like it so much that they do. This drives those five-star reviews and gets your app in front of more people.


Users who select 4-7 are your passives. They don’t love your app, but they also don’t hate it (like your mom trying to compliment you on your new wardrobe). If you ask them to rate it in the App Store, you risk receiving some negative reviews that may deter other users from downloading your app. Instead, request their feedback internally. Find out what keeps them from being a promoter, and use that information to make strategic changes to your app (without ruining the experience for the promoters).


Users who answer 1-3 are classified as detractors. These users should steer clear of the App Store. Asking them to rate it would be like a restaurant serving raw meat to a vegan and then asking them for a review on Yelp. By proactively communicating with these users, you’re addressing their issues before they escalate to a very visible review in the App Store.



Knowledge is Power


Go ahead and take a stab at your own NPS survey. You should start to see an increase in positive reviews in the App Store. But keep in mind that these users answered 8-10 on your survey. That means you’ll also be some constructive (and not so constructive) criticism about your app from those who answer 1-7. Don’t take it personally though, this is your opportunity to engage with your users. If you harness their feedback to make strategic changes within your app, they will recognize that you value their opinions (and people love to be heard!).


Inbox Messages

Go beyond Push and In-app to Give Users Richer Content


As we mentioned earlier, inbox gives you the opportunity to display messages that persist over time on a dedicatd page within your app. This provides a solution to users being able to dismiss an in-app or ignore a push message, never to be seen again. While push and in-app are great channels to commuicate a succinct message with an explicity CTA, inbox should take advantage of its ability to host larger blocks of content. 


Notify Users of Key App Updates


Just launched a cool new feature in your app and want to make sure your users are educated on the new updates? Inbox is your channel. With any tech product, product launches are especially crucial. Getting your users to adopt a new feature and use it correctly can go wrong real fast.


Get ahead of the curve and launch an inbox campaign explaining what new features have been shipped, how it effects the app flow, and why users should be excited for it! Add a CTA do deep link to the new feature, or, if you can handle to scrutiny, ask for customer feedback!






Send Ongoing Announcements 


Mainly seen in the eCommerce environment, but with use cases across all verticles, inbox campaigns present the perfect opportunity to provide longer form content that is not time nor context sensitive.


With eCommerce, this means inbox is the ideal location to put your weekly/monthly coupons so users can access them at their leisure. Add images of your merchandise that's on sale, deep links to the items to view more details, or a link to their current shopping cart to entice them to finish the checkout process!



If you aren't in the eCommerce space, no need to fret! Any type of message you wish to communicate with your users that requires scrollable content can be shared here. Have blog posts about the latest and greatest in fashion? Or maybe you want to give your users a list of concerts occuring near them where they can learn more about the event and sign up/register? Having these messages in your app's inbox will provide a less-intrusive way of communication rich content. 



Geo-Push Messages

Uniting the Digital and Physical Worlds with Geofences 


Geo-push gives marketers the opportunity to message their users in real time based on their current physical location, when entering or leaving predetermined geofences. Because of the intimacy of this channel, your message must be crafted with extreme precision. Spoiling this channel with an irrelevant message can cost you the opportunity to ever message this user again!   


Send a Real-Time Message to Influence Behavior 


Real-time messages give the user a sense of urgency based on their current location. For a brick-and-mortar establishment, the use cases are endless. From shopping incentives and coupons to reminding a specific user about their rewards points they've racked up, both enticing them to come in and make a purchase. 



Educate Users by Highlighting Local Points of Interest 


When exploring new parts of a city/state/country, a travel app can provide value to your users by serving them information about local shows, great places to eat, and which bars have the best margaritas. Have geofences set around these other points of interest to later hone in your geo-targeting by creating audiences of users who attended certain restaurants/venues/etc. By seeing where your users have been, you can optimize your targeting on further suggestions of places to visit!



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