How These 5 Apps Delighted Their App Users with In-App Messages

delight-app-usersPush messaging. The shining star of the app marketing world. Celebrated for its ability to retain and recover latent users, it's garnered the attention of the savviest app marketers. But in the shadow of this fame, an unsung hero has emerged: in-app messaging. What it lacks in the ability to touch users outside the app, it makes up for with an astute ability to customize and enhance the app user experience.

With this potential for value though, comes the responsibility of actually providing that value. Put yourself in your users' shoes. Your in-app message should answer the question, "What's in it for me?" before the user even gets the chance to ask. We've found five apps that have proven what's in it for their users. Oh, and don't miss the quick, hypothetical Q+A with your user at the end of each section!

Spotify - New App Features

I don’t often pay for monthly subscriptions, but when I do, it's Spotify Premium. And I’ve been a faithful convert from Slacker Radio for over 18 months now. Besides the obvious appeal of listening to almost any song at any time, I’ve found myself lost in spontaneous solo dance parties while listening to “The Happy Hipster” or “Beards and Flannels” mood playlists.


Early last week, they announced a suite of new features for their mobile app. Upon launching the app after the new update, I was greeted by three simple, yet informative in-app messages describing these new features - along with a helpful video (not pictured above). It was so effective that I remembered to try out the “Running” feature the next day - which, by the way, is awesome!

Q: What's in it for me?
A: Three user-driven new features, one of which will detect your running tempo and keep you on pace for your fitness goals.  

Waze - New Cross-Platform Feature

waze-in-app-messageBeing a blogger in the app marketing space means downloading a lot of apps to get a constant lay of the land. I think it’s safe to say I have more screenshots of push messages than the average person has photos on their phone (and that’s OK with me!). Of the hundreds of push messaging screenshots I’ve found myself taking, Waze has shown up multiple times for all the right reasons: simple, valuable, contextual. Even better, their in-app messages seem to follow suit as well.

It’s no secret that GPS apps aren’t perfect. We’ve all run into a missing street or incorrect turn here or there. Waze recognized this and built a map editor available to all their app users. If you look closely, you’ll realize that it’s not actually a new app feature, but a new website feature.

So how does this exemplify a good in-app message? It’s the perfect example of cross-platform marketing. A map editor would probably be too bulky for the app, so they built it on the web.  With an instructive video and link to the direct URL, they’ve given their users a reason to explore them outside the app, which can be a tough feat for mobile-first companies like Waze.

Q: What's in it for me?
A: A chance for you as a user to have a direct impact on the accuracy of our app’s navigation.

UrbanSpoon - Download New App

urbanspoon-in-app-messageEarly this year, Urbanspoon was bought out by Zomato, a fast-growing restaurant directory service. There’s no question that acquisitions are a complex process for both parties. Part of this process will likely be setting up a 301 permanent redirect from the Urbanspoon website to Zomato’s. With apps though, there’s no such thing as a 301 redirect, users have to actually download the Zomato app. Urbanspoon anticipated this challenge and informed its users of the merger through an in-app message.

While this isn’t great news for their power users who love Urbanspoon, it’s a great sign to see this proactive approach to merging the two apps. With a friendly message and direct download link to the new app, Urbanspoon was most likely able to retain some users that otherwise would’ve churned for good.

Q: What's in it for me?
A: Be one of the first people to try out the new and improved merged app when it’s first released.

McDonald’s - Proving Opt-in Value

As an app user, it’s hard enough to learn the ins and outs of a new app. Couple that with a generic plea to enable push notifications during your first launch and you have the two main ingredients of a poor first launch experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Take it from McDonald’s.


After launching their app for the first time, I was met with a series of in-app messages. The first few compiled a tightly knit introduction on how to use the app. The next few screens were dedicated to encouraging opt-in for location services and push messages. So how is this different from the poor launch experience? ValueIn the first few in-app messages, they demonstrate the value in the app itself. In the second sequence, the prove why enabling location and push would ultimately enhance the experience for the user, both giving the user a clear picture into what's in it for them.

Q: What's in it for me?
A: Mobile-exclusive, local offers delivered to you in real-time through push messages.

TrueCar - Acknowledging a Pitfall

truecar-in-app-message750TrueCar is a hassle-free car buying app that surpassed one million app downloads in October of 2014. If you spend a few minutes on the app or the site, you can conclude that their obvious market is for new car shoppers. But they also understand that they need to appeal to the used car buyers as well (hence an entire section of the site dedicated to this). If a web visitor wanted to take their user car search to mobile though, they’d be hard-pressed to find it because TrueCar has yet to integrate used car shopping into their app.

Rather than ignore this pitfall, they acknowledge it head-on at the top of their “Browse Vehicles” screen. As a user, this transparency is a massive time saver because now you don’t have to spend valuable time searching for this nonexistent feature. Well done, TrueCar. Well done. 


Q: What's in it for me?
A: A glimpse into our app feature roadmap while instilling a sense of trust in our brand.

We're In This Together

As app marketers, it's easy to forget that we're app users too. Just like them, we use them every day, and should use this to our advantage. What we find valuable in our own experience will likely translate to own own apps. So if you're ever lost for innovative ways to delight your app users, look no further than the App Store. You may be surprised at the inspiration surrounding you every day!

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