“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush” and rightly so for businesses In an overcrowded app market where there are approximately 10 prominent apps competing in every segment, app capability is certainly no more the differentiator. Hence unless you are the Googles or the Facebooks of the world, you are always at the risk of losing out to your immediate competitor. In order to preserve market share one needs to employ better in-app engagement and retention techniques to keep bringing users back and increase their lifetime value.
Push Notifications had long been the app marketer’s darling and lately there is a new kid on the block i.e. in-app messaging. While Push Notifications are a way for you to playfully nudge your users, getting them to open your app, in-app messages are media-rich messages that you receive in the app. Together the two play a huge role in an app’s user retention efforts.
We have been building Messaging capabilities in mobile apps for a while now, and have seen various use cases of Push Notifications and In-app Messages working in tandem to engage and retain users. In this article we would unveil 8 unique and innovative ways of using these two communication channels:
- Onboard New Users: Your onboarding experience is the user’s first interaction with your app, getting it right . Help customers navigate from one process to the other: such as creating an account, watching help materials etc. This would make your users familiar with the lay of the land for ease of use and navigation.
- Help Users discover features: In a feature rich app, users might be missing out on the feature they need i.e. the one that would boost engagement with your app. A friendly nudge while they are on the app, asking them to check out a certain feature might just help them discover their favorite thing about your app.
- Show off what’s new: Announce New Features to users: Take advantage of the worthy moment when the user is in your app to announce a major new feature and encourage them to take it for a spin. A good practice is to let them dive right into the new feature via a CTA button, making it easy for them to try it out.
- Help retain Lapsing customers with customized offers: Often when users go dormant and are inaccessible by traditional modes of communication like email or push notification, in-app messaging with a suitable offer can be used for retargeting. This is because in-app messages are triggered when the user is actively using the app and data suggests in-app messages .
- Personalized Upsell and Cross Sell Messages encouraging purchase: Companies have always looked for avenues to win a customer’s heart (and wallet) and one such technique is by offering personalized recommendations and up/cross sell offers. One way is to use a customer’s purchase history to suggest additional items and while someone does so, it is important to consider factors like apt timing to contact and the customer’s price sensitivity.
- Transactional In-app Messages for user satisfaction: Transactional in-app messages does a great job at giving users peace of mind that their conversion action is completed. It is advisable to take it further with a CTA since data suggests that
A good example is sending users in-app messages confirming their reservation, with an option to add it to Google Calendar. This way your app weaves into the user’s everyday life, increasing the likelihood of them becoming power users.
- Sharing important information and making major announcements: Right information at the right time can delight your customers beyond imagination and make them loyal to your app. Although it can’t be good news every time, but upfront transparency is better in cases where user experience can be negatively impacted later on. For example while Google Maps tells you if a faster route has become available and gives the option to accept a change, Uber notifies users about price surges beforehand, and also when prices have dropped.
- Encourage Social Sharing and Building Brand Advocacy: The key here is to show messages to the right people at the right time with the right copy. The purpose is to graduate active app users into brand ambassadors by encouraging them to rate your app or by endorsing the “Sharing is Caring” philosophy asking app users to share content from your app on Social Channels.
Do you use In-app Messaging? If yes, how and if not, why? Tell us in the comments.
In the previous article, we have explained about the technologies being used by each of the solution providers. This was the first step in taking a decision as to which software to rely upon for chat integration. The next important set of parameters to evaluate is from the user’s perspective.
Let us understand the features which users will enjoy.
Audio And Video Calling
We all know how important it has become for users to have the option to converse face to face. With instant messaging applications like Messenger, WhatsApp making it their USP, enterprises wouldn’t want to lag behind. IP based Audio and Video calling is being offered by Applozic, Layer and Quickblox, while Sendbird is yet to release this feature.
SMS and Email Fallback
Although internet penetration has been immense and in-app messaging is undoubtedly on the rise, users still need a mechanism to be notified in its absence. SMS and email fallback allow users to receive messages on their mobile phones in case they are not connected to the internet or by email if they are not using the application. It assures that no message is missed or lost. This unique feature is offered by Applozic and Layer only. Sendbird and Quickblox are yet to offer SMS Email fallback.
Chat UI Kit
Users enjoy an easy to navigate mobile/ website application. With unique UI toolkit designers and developers can provide the same user experience even inside the chat application provided by third parties. To meet these needs Applozic and Layer provides an open source toolkit which allows designers and developers to completely customize UI as per their requirements. On the contrary, Sendbird offers limited capabilities with its open source sample UI kit and Quickblox with its chat view controller.
Number of Members allowed in Group Chat:
This is the age of networking and users with similar interests love to stay connected. Users love to form groups based on interests in apps they use instead of migrating to third party app always.Group Dynamics, not only induces engagement but also plays an active role in knowledge sharing. With Applozic and Sendbird there is no upper limit on the number of users in a group. However, in Quickblox you may need to host it on a dedicated AWS infrastructure for better performance.
Layer has kept a limit of 25 on the number of members a group can have.
Applozic, being a White Label SDK is highly customizable and allow developers to build chat the way they want. It has seen compounding growth among developers in platforms like Stack Overflow, Github, Reditt since its inception. On the other hand Sendbird and Layer have seen growth at a constant rate. Quickblox enjoys a good number of followers in Stack Overflow.
Customer Support is a determining factor for SaaS since unlike other products, for most businesses relying on SaaS – operations can come to a standstill even for minor malfunctions. Applozic has tried to redefine customer support in this domain with 24X7 connectivity across different channels like email, Skype and support chat. The typical response time is anywhere between few mins to an hour, whereas Sendbird, Quickblox and Layer are known to reply in days.
Conversational Commerce is a term coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in a Medium article in early 2015. It explains the power of Messaging and its impact on sales. It explains how business would see messaging as a mode to convert and earn. This has become a reality with mobile app and website developers integrating real time chat within their apps. However, relying on in-house capabilities to build and maintain a chat plugin comes with lots of disadvantages. It is advisable to buy 3rd party SaaS solutions and get rid of all worries at once. Have a look at our take on Build vs Buy.
Some of the solutions providers in this domain are:
A Bit of Background:
A white label and fully customizable communication platform that offers almost all types of conversations rich messaging, offline conversations, audio/video calling is yet to be perceived widely. There’s only a handful players globally with QuickBlox starting in 2011 followed by Sendbird and Layer in 2013 and then Applozic in 2015.
Every organization has tried it to position itself as a complete messaging solution provider. Applozic presents itself as, “Chat & In-App Messaging for Mobile and Web apps”, Sendbird as “Messaging and Chat API for Mobile Apps and Websites”, Layer as ”The power of messaging for every mobile and web product” and Quickblox as “Cloud Communication Backend API As A Service For Mobile And Web Apps”.
Though one can’t make out any major difference from their positioning statement but the protocol chosen by each one of them clearly highlights how Applozic has an edge over others. Applozic employs MQTT protocol, the standard for real-time communication, and is also used by Google and Facebook. Infact, all Internet of Things (IoT) devices are using this protocol due to its ability to exchange data faster as it creates several endpoints for data exchange. On the other hand, Sendbird uses Websockets, which is mainly developed for web applications as it is server based and can send message to specific clients/group of clients and the concept of Publisher and Subscriber which MQTT uses, is absent. Layer uses Push protocol which is a simple protocol to deliver real- time events. Quickblox uses XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), a communications protocol which requires more space for encryption and storage, is not lightweight like MQTT and has more overheads.
Cross Application Support
Today, we see different applications for different types of users, Uber has one app for riders and other for drivers. With rise in mobile penetration every application being developed has its own niche category. Developers are finding parameters to find a common linkage for applications lying in the same umbrella. Applozic offers a unique capability which allow users on different apps to connect seamlessly on the same communication channel.
One of its customers, CarTrade has separate apps for car buyers and sellers. Applozic’s Chat SDK makes it possible for both parties to chat with each other from their respective app.
This feature is yet to be rolled out by any of its alternatives like Sendbird, Layer and Quickblox.
Today, users no longer use messages for exchanging only text. Rich messaging, thus allows users to share audio, video, images, contacts and location. Applozic, Sendbird and Layer support exchange of smart messages. It supports passing additional data as key-value pair. Quickblox is yet to offer this ability in its platform.
Broadcast Messaging and Push Notifications
Message Broadcasting and Push Notifications has been doing the rounds for quite some time as effective engagement tool.
Message Broadcasting helps businesses to leverage the immediacy of text messaging with the effectiveness of One-to-One Conversation. Applozic, Sendbird and Layer provide Message Broadcasting feature, while QuickBlox doesn’t.
Push Notifications is used to engage users for cross or up selling and re-ordering. All providers allow admin to setup push notification for its users.
The major advantage here is sending Broadcast Messages and Push Notifications with Applozic is relatively easy, can be done directly from the Admin Dashboard and the best part it requires no technical know-how. Also, it supports third party push service if you use any already.
Data is the new oil of the digital economy and hence it is must for organizations to ensure data backup. With data export option all your chat will be safe and you can extract it at any point of time. Sendbird, Quickblox and Layer allows data export option only for enterprise customers in either JSON (Layer) or XML (Quickblox) format. With Applozic this feature is available for all kinds of subscribers and with multiple options like direct excel/csv export from dashboard, APIs for bulk export and Webhook support for real time data delivery to your servers.
Applozic provides the most advanced dashboard with modern UI and analytics. It is designed to help strategist in meeting the business goals.Sendbird and Layer provides a modern UI but with only basic features. Quickblox allows users to customize their dashboard but with a classic UI.
Please note: Applozic offers a custom price for start-ups as per their business goals and financial capabilities.
Know more about user features each solution master offers in our next post.