In-app messages are a great communication tool for engaging (or re-engaging) users who are already using apps. Yet, many app owners wonder how to create content that isn’t viewed as spam and doesn’t detract from the user experience. This may explain why only one third of app marketers are currently using in-app messaging as part of their mobile engagement strategy.

According to our recent research, when in-app messages are used effectively, there is a strong correlation with higher user engagement and retention:

  • Apps that send in-app messages show 2-3.5x higher user retention and 27% more app launches than apps that do not.
  • In-app messages triggered off of an event have higher click-through and conversion rates than those triggered at the start of an app session.
  • Photography and Sports apps see the highest lift in click-through rates when in-app messages are triggered by an in-app event.

Apps That Send In-App Messages Have More Loyal and Engaged Users

In-app messages are the perfect tool to guide users to the most valuable parts of an app, because they either act as directional guidance to get to the next step or serve as an opportunity to offer incentives delivered at appropriate points in the app. Once a user sees the value of an app, they are more likely to return frequently and often. Our latest data supports this idea.

Overall, apps that send in-app messages experience 27% more launches than apps that don’t send them, seeing an average of 13 launches per month.


In addition to a higher number of app launches, apps that send in-app messages have significantly more loyal users. For example, these loyal users return to the app 3.5X more often in their third month of using the app.


This means that these app owners are retaining nearly 50% of their users three months after their initial engagement, thanks in part to the effectiveness of their in-app messages.

In-App Messages Triggered From an In-App Event Are 4X More Effective

Delivering relevant in-app messages is the key to negating their perception as spam.

Our research observes the average click-through rate of an in-app message is 28%. But, on average, when the in-app message is triggered off of an event (i.e. an action taken inside the app), the click-through rate is 2x higher than an in-app message presented at the start of the app’s session. The same holds true for conversion rates, as in-app messages presented based on an event have 4x higher conversion rates, on average, than those shown at the start of a session.


Photography and Sports Apps Show the Largest Lift in Click-Through Rates

Certain app categories see an even higher lift in click-through rates when using in-app messages triggered off of an event:


Photography apps see the most significant uptick, with click-through rates increasing by 19%. While photography apps may seem like a straightforward use case that do not require reminders or incentives, there are often highly valuable features worth pointing out to users that can add to the experience, enhancing the usefulness of the app. All it takes is a quick tip.

Sports apps land in second place when it comes to click-through rate lifts, experiencing an impressive 19% lift when in-app messages are triggered by an event. Many sports apps are also content-centric apps, delivering a wide variety of content personalized to their fans, such as scores and team news. A well-timed in-app message calling out a new piece of relevant content is a great opportunity to engage users in a new way, keeping them informed of the latest and greatest information.

To Conclude

In-app messaging is an often overlooked engagement strategy but, with the right approach and benchmarks to compare performance, they have a powerful impact on user retention and engagement.


Localytics is the leading analytics and marketing platform for mobile and web apps across more than 1.5 billion devices and 28,000 apps. Localytics processes 50 billion data points monthly. For this study, Localytics looked at apps that have integrated in-app messaging across both iOS and Android. For engagement, Localytics observed the average number of app launches for apps using in-app messaging compared to those that were not. The timeframe for the engagement study was May 1st to May 31st, 2015. Retention was observed from February 2015 until the end of May 2015. Localytics further investigated the average click rate of campaigns that were triggered off an in-app event versus presented at the beginning of a session. All results are based on worldwide app usage.