light bulb made of gears graphicSource: Freepik

Utility apps are among the most popular app categories, but they’re probably not the first category that comes to mind when you think about mobile marketing. Many utility apps (such as alarms, file explorers, and notepads) are developed by individuals and small companies. These developers usually don’t have a full marketing team at their disposal, so they rarely send out targeted messaging campaigns.

Even though utility apps exist to solve practical problems, they can still add value and lift engagement through marketing. Their value propositions might be a bit different from a retail or media app’s, but the fundamentals are the same. There’s always some way for an app to leverage mobile messaging campaigns.

To get started, we’ve compiled a few simple campaign ideas for utility apps. Try one of these messaging campaigns to see if it helps your user engagement.

1. Timely Reminders for System Performance Apps

mobile utility app

Source: iTunes

Performance apps are a common type of utility app, and for good reason. They help users make the most of their device’s hardware. Usually these apps are specific to each platform — examples include Battery Life Magic for iOS and SD Maid for Android.

Every performance app works a little bit differently, but the general idea is the same. Utility apps accomplish tasks like:

  • Conserving battery life by closing inactive processes
  • Saving space by deleting app caches and other unnecessary data
  • Freeing up RAM when the user is playing a game, enabling a smoother experience

Usually, system performance apps are set-it-and-forget-it. They operate in the background and don’t require much user input. But unless the app is monetized through paid subscriptions, the app team must still find a way to keep users engaged.

Reminders, delivered via push notification or email, are one way for performance apps to remain top-of-mind. Some actions, like clearing app caches, can be performed at whatever interval the user deems necessary. Some will happily let the app automatically delete old caches once a week, while others will want more control over the process. For users who don’t schedule their actions, the app could send a reminder after a few weeks to suggest a full scan.

That said, today’s mobile users might be put off by a generic push notification reminder. One way to make the message less spammy and more valuable is to mention details specific to the user’s device. For example, the mobile apps for cell carriers like Verizon and AT&T send a personalized push notification alerting users when they’re almost out of data. These messages tell each user the exact amount of data remaining. Personalized messages are 4x more likely to be opened, and they’ll make sure users understand how the app is adding value.

2. Geolocation Alerts for Weather Apps

weather apps

Source: Freepik

There are a few common use cases for push notifications that weather apps have already implemented. It’s easy to receive alerts for extreme weather conditions and surprise rain or snow.

Some apps implement personalization by asking you how you feel on different days. Over time, the app could learn that 60F is chilly for one person but mild for another. But weather apps can personalize even further with geolocation.

Geolocation targeting enables messages that are personalized to each recipient’s physical location. Even if users input their city when they download the app, geolocation enables precise targeting based on the device’s GPS data. This lets the app see not just the person’s city, but their neighborhood or street as well.

Weather apps like Weather Underground and Sunshine can provide the option to send push notifications only when the user isn’t at home. Weather apps can selectively alert users who’re in outdoor areas about mild adverse conditions, like upcoming rain or snow. People who live in rainy areas probably won’t want an alert for every single rainfall, but the message could come in handy if they’re at a park or outdoor venue. Likewise, it may be helpful to alert users when the rain is about to stop so that stranded travelers can plan their escape around gaps in the storm.

Alternatively, apps could let users input their home/work addresses and create a small geofence around them. The app could provide the option to turn off push notifications within these geofences. This way, users who don’t want too many push notifications will still receive weather alerts whenever they’re out.

3. Email Summaries for To-Do Apps

push notification ideas

Source: Freepik

Task management is a huge category for everyday consumers. Apps like Evernote, Wunderlist, and Todoist have dominated the App Store for years. They help you stay organized and productive.

To-do apps can easily send reminders for upcoming tasks, and many of them already do. A more interesting (and under-utilized) use case is sending task summaries to remind users of their accomplishments.

Once a week, a to-do app can email users with key metrics on their app usage. The email could list completed tasks, sort tasks by category, display a pie graph of completed versus pending tasks, and more. Some of these metrics might not be necessary, but they’re a fun way for users to visualize the impact of their actions. It’s motivating to see your work translated into a business report, even if you only use to-do apps to manage groceries and chores.

This messaging campaign might not earn the highest click-through rate, but it’s perfect for encouraging long-term retention and user love. By providing automated insight on user activity, you’re helping each person on their journey toward organizing their lives. If users regularly engage with your weekly reports, they’ll have more reason to stick with your app in the long run, even if a competitor offers similar features.

For another example, a reminder app can track task completion streaks to keep users motivated. Let’s say someone sets up a daily reminder to floss. The app could send messages like “you can do this!” in the morning and “did you remember?” at night. It also tracks your current streak whenever it sends a recurring reminder. Below is an example from

push notification example

In these use cases, mobile marketers can leverage user data not just by quietly using it to inform campaigns, but by openly sharing it with users to add value. Over time, this historical user data becomes a competitive advantage — people will be less inclined to switch to a competitor if they can’t bring their task history with them.

4. New Feature Announcements for Insurance Apps

insurance apps

Source: Freepik

It’s hard to develop new app features, but sometimes it’s even harder to drive customers to those features. This is especially true for apps that deal with complicated topics like insurance. Unlike some types of apps, like weather or reminders, users are unlikely to check their insurance details every day. Apps like Humana, Progressive, and Oscar have to go the extra mile to ensure users understand how the app works.

Insurance apps can use a combination of push notifications and in-app messages to alert users about new app features. For users who don’t browse the app very often, push notifications are the perfect channel for these alerts. Mobile teams can deep link users directly to the new feature within the app, ensuring that they engage with the feature right away.

Alternatively, marketers can create a separate segment for people who regularly use the app and create an in-app message just for them. This message can pop up at app launch and deep link users to the new feature. This is a less intrusive way of announcing your new feature to users who don’t necessarily need a push reminder.

Messaging Campaigns for Every App Vertical

Some apps still feel that mobile messaging won’t work with their product, but this is almost never the case. Between push notifications, email, in-app messages, and App Inbox messages, there’s usually a way to lift engagement by reaching out directly to users. Some utility apps do a good job of adding value and selling themselves, but they can earn even more engagement by proactively interacting with users.

With these campaign ideas, you’re armed with enough knowledge to get started. All that remains is the tools. Schedule a demo to find out how Leanplum empowers mobile teams to craft messaging campaigns just like these — and more.