Top 8 uses of In-app Messaging and Push Notifications

“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush” and rightly so for businesses it is always easier to retain an existing customer than to bring in a new one. 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 increases retention rates by 50% . 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. 

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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 boosts engagement by 3X .

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  • 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.

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  • 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 In-app messages triggered from an in-app event increase conversion by 4X.
    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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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Do you use In-app Messaging? If yes, how and if not, why? Tell us in the comments.


Which technologies should be considered for making chat applications like Messenger and WhatsApp?

Building a chat application like whatsapp, fb messenger, hike, etc involves quite some setup. However, with modern SDKs building your own chat service has become a cake walk. It is about using the existing mechanism and plugging into your system. You can try Applozic for free and save your development time. However, to get an idea in the simplest manner about how the structure looks like, read below.

The whole setup is split into 3 blocks .

  1. Client facing app
  2. Messaging Channel
  3. Server setup/infra to handle messaging transactions at scale

In summary the tech involved would be

Client facing app

  1. App ( which involves all the UI and basic UX, Android/iOS/Windows) [You can use libraries here]
  2. Database to save data in device/work offline [SQLite/Realm]
  3. Manage states for the device (i.e network change, calls ,etc) and respond for messaging based events [API dependent and available in target OS]
  4. Maintain a connection with the server ( via Sockets, XMPP, MQTT)
  5. Push Notifications[Firebase Cloud Messaging, Urban Airship, One Signal]
  6. [optional] Media ( video/picture) and location feature [Google Maps SDK, Android Media Framework API]

Channel

  1. Choose from Socket, XMPP or MQTT [Could be a mix of them too, depending on use case]
  2. Make sure of the use case ,
    1. mqtt is for mobile devices and iot (preferred, refer to Paho Project)
    2. socket if you have desktop app (preferred)
    3. xmpp can work in both depending on the scale (GCM uses this)

Server

  1. Setup an infra that takes care of saving messages as they come/go
  2. Load balancing on the server to manage scale when the number of connections increase/decrease
  3. Id management to know which connection to use between two Id, maintaining the messaging logic
  4. Setup topics to manage delivering messages as well as push notes
  5. Database management
  6. Error Handling to be resilient to messages being lost and error in network
  7. [optional] Set up end-to-end encryption , to maintain user privacy, if not ..make sure data is not sent in plain text over the air.
  8. To handle all the above you have to
    1. Code the logic in one of the server side language. Possible contenders would be NodeJS, Erlang, etc.
    2. Have a cloud infrastructure , possibly Google Cloud Platform/AWS/Azure
    3. API Specifications based of protocol(MQTT/XMPP/SOckets) used for messaging
    4. Database could be NoSQL – Mongodb/Aerospike or SQL
    5. End-to-End encryption via the open source tech available OpenWhisper Systems

P.S : This is a simple answer , the stuff that goes on is complex and involves a lot of understanding on how to manage messages.

This post was originally published on Quora here.

With the rise in competition wherein chat and messaging is playing a vital role for various businesses it becomes imperative for every application to have an established real-time communication channel. On top, it is just matter of minutes to integrate such an awesome user-friendly functionalities/features with readily available chat and messaging SDKs like Applozic.


WhatsApp Encrypted: What should you do next?

We all know, WhatsApp, an Instant Messaging app has revolutionized one-to-one and group chat since its inception in January 2010. Soon, multiple Start-ups and SME’s understood its potential and made it an imperative part of their everyday functions. Organizations started utilizing it for chat/messaging and in increasing customer engagement. IP messaging has become the new norm for real-time customer support, product/brand promotion, announcements and offers business intelligence through analytics.

In the past, WhatsApp said that they would work on tools to help enterprises interact with their customer but with their recent announcement, it was told that they will protect their users’ privacy with an end to end encryption on all messages exchanged through their platform. This, in my opinion, is a clear signal for businesses to find alternatives of WhatsApp.

Why you must be thinking?

  • WhatsApp rulebook says “it is likely to ban your accounts if you: Send messages to people who don’t have your number in their phone book – Start many chats to people who have never written to you before”.
  • WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum has clearly stated that WhatsApp is going to remain a standalone, person-to-person messaging app with no intrusions. He wrote this in a blog post after the Facebook acquisition. So it is likely that it may not open its API which can be used by developers.

A startup iCliniq, an online doctor consultation platform started in 2011 had to migrate from WhatsApp, as WhatsApp has blocked their account in the mid way of their expansion and they had to scout for alternatives.
(Source: http://yourstory.com/2015/07/icliniq-whatsapp/)
It was quite evident that there was a big challenge in deciphering out the right distributing channel. While migrating they lost users as WhatsApp still remain a default messaging application for millions.

But it leaves us thoughts to ponder upon:-

  • Should a startup depend on other platforms?
  • Should a start-up focus on multiple distribution channels?
  • Should instant messaging be an inbuilt option of an application?


Let us try and find the answers!

  • This one is easy as we always remember.
  • Business School professors always ask its budding managers to focus on “Omni-Channel Approach”. So, one should neither depend on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram etc but have multi-channel sales approach that provides the user with an integrated user experience.

  • With the rise of white label and fully customizable native chat/messaging SDK‘s; any business can now easily integrate WhatsApp like real-time communication on their website and mobile applications in just a few minutes.

So, now if you are thinking about adding chat/messaging to your mobile apps and website, you may consider using Applozic a feature-as-a-Service for complete communication solution. Think about any type of conversation 1-to-1, 1-to-many, group chat, context based chat etc, you have it all at one place. It is a platform that offers application to user messaging, cross application communication, SMS and Email fallback support along with Dashboard option that has rich insights and analytics.