When it comes to mobile messaging, in-app messages, or messages presented to users while they are in an app, can often be overlooked in favor of their powerful counterpart, push messages. Push messages are sent to users when they are not using the app with the hopes of convincing them to return. In-app messages, on the other hand, have proven to be a great way to enhance a user’s experience while they are actively using the app.

Taking it even further, we’ve found that “individualized” messages, which are messages that take into account a user’s actions within the app as well as if the user fits into a particular audience based on their profile attributes, are very effective at creating a more user-specific experience. Individualization takes messages into new territory beyond personalization, which was more focused on using basic user information like first name or language preference.

We decided to take a closer look at how in-app messages, and more specifically how individualized messages, are performing to understand the impact on engagement and conversion. The results are clear — more apps need to make in-app messages part of their engagement strategy.

In-App Messages Drive Higher Engagement and Retention

Our research shows that apps utilizing in-app messaging benefit in two very important ways: higher engagement and higher retention.

Apps using in-app messaging average 21% more monthly app launches, with almost 17 app launches per month compared to the 14 app launches per month seen by apps that are not using in-app messages.


Users who receive in-app messages are also more likely to return to the app again. Apps using in-app messages see 23% of their users return to the app 3 months after they download it, while apps that do not use in-app messages only see 16% of their users return within the same time period.


Apps who have taken the initiative to improve the user experience with in-app messaging see it pay off with these two very important metrics.

Trigger Your In-App Messaging off of Events

Using in-app messaging is a great start, but apps need to take an even more granular approach.

With Localytics, in-app messages can be triggered in two ways: off the start of the session (app launch) or off of an event (an action a user takes within the app). Messages triggered as soon as the users opens the app do not require any information about what the user is doing in the app, they simply have to open the app and a message could appear.

While these types of in-app messages can be effective, presenting an in-app message off of an event is a more sophisticated and effective approach. This allows an app to engage with users based on the actions they take and send more relevant messages to them. For example, if a user adds an item to their cart, an app can trigger a message with a coupon for that item enticing them to check out.

The results of triggering in-app messages off of a specific event speak for themselves. The average click through rate for messages triggered off of an event is 18%, while click through for messages triggered when a user opens the app is just 10%.


Take it One Step Further – Segment Messages With an Audience

While it’s important to trigger in-app messages from an event, it’s also important to take the segmentation one step further and show messages to applicable audiences based on specific profile information. This is where a fully-rounded individualized method comes in. This means first selecting an action for the in-app message to be triggered off of, but also showing it only to an audience that fits a certain criteria (i.e. a user in a certain location or a user who hasn’t used the app recently).

Of all of the in-app messages that we analyzed, we found that 29% were triggering messages from events and utilizing some kind of profile data segmentation, which is very encouraging. This is where the segmentation of in-app messaging is moving to. Apps are seeing even stronger results — 21% click through rates on average — when they incorporate specific information about their users.

The results go beyond just stronger click through rates. In-app messages that include profile attributes yield 3x more click through conversions in the first 24 hours after a message is shown compared to messages shown at the start of a session.

These messages also average 11% more sessions within the first week after the message is shown compared to in-app messages presented at the start of a session.


Success Varies By Vertical

Apps across different vertical industries experience different lifts in engagement when they trigger their in-app messages off of an event and include profile attributes.


Retail apps more than double their click rates when using in-app messages triggered by an event and have an audience compared to a message shown at the start of a session. Every time a user adds a certain product to their “favorites” list or checks into a store at a certain location, they are strengthening their profile, which the apps then benefit from. The next time a user is in the app, if they go to click on a promotion they could be met with a message detailing the promotion for their favorite products at the store they previously visited. This ability to give such a specific message based on the information relevant to that exact user is why these apps have seen so much success.

The success also translates to almost twice as many click-through conversions within the first 24 hours of these messages being shown as compared to messages seen at the start of a session.

Retail app users who are shown event triggered and profile in-app messages are also more likely to keep visting the app, as these messages average 1.5x more sessions within the first week than in-app messages triggered by an app launch.

Now is the Time to Take Action

In-app is emerging as a force to be reckoned with when it comes to engaging app users. And given the current hyper competitive app economy, marketers need every tool possible to separate themselves from the clutter. Moreover, marketers need to use all of the data available at their fingertips about their users to deliver truly individualized messages.


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. 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 as well as incorporating profile data with the event. All results are based on worldwide app usage. Localytics also analyzed the click through conversions within a 24 hour period for these in-app messages as well as the average number of sessions within a 7 day period. Engagement was measured from July 2016 to September 2016. Retention was observed from June 2016 until the end of September 2016.