Communication is at the heart of everything. We are a social species. Our social nature extends into every aspect of our lives, from confiding in our friends about that date we had on the weekend to exchanging notes with strangers online about the best Halloween movies, ranked (Rocky Horror Picture Show needs to be in the top 10).
In-App messaging is no exception. When we’re using our favorite apps and an update needs to be installed, the best way to find out about it is within the app. Keeping everything in one place so that we’re not getting emails about apps, or texts about emails, or texts about emails about apps, makes life easier. It also stops us from getting cranky (or crankier) on a Monday morning.
There are quite a lot of benefits to compelling in-app messaging that we’ll get into, but first we’ll cover a couple of key questions:
What are SaaS companies?
SaaS has nothing to do with being sassy, unfortunately, and everything to do with Software as a Service. Not that they have to be mutually exclusive.
So, a SaaS company is one which provides software as a service to customers on a subscription basis. Some examples include online voip phone systems for small business, photo editing software, and show streaming apps. If you have an app on your phone, then you are already familiar with SaaS.
What is in-app messaging?
Unlike the app notifications that pop up on your phone or laptop when you’re not using the app, in-app messaging consists of targeted notifications that pop up when you are using the app. This can include the likes of banners, tooltips, chatbots, and product notes to name just a few.
When done well, they’re personalized and relevant to what you happen to be doing. If you’ve just finished using a new app feature, for example, you may receive a message asking you to partake in a microsurvey—a super quick survey—to rate your experience of the new feature.
If you’re new on the app, meanwhile, then you might get a message offering a product tour so that you can get a guided explanation of how each tool works.
Main benefits of in-app messaging
There are a few core benefits of in-app messaging to the SaaS companies providing the apps, so let’s dive right into them:
1. Improved customer retention rates
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash
In-app messages that are targeted and relevant can go a long way towards helping people out when they’re using your app and guiding them towards new features without them having to look for help.
It’s all about anticipating your customers’ needs. Say, you know that there are a few questions people often ask about certain tools. You could add a pop-up message or tip which gives a brief explanation that would be pertinent to your users and save them the hassle of having to go and look it up.
The more useful messaging and help you can offer your customers while they’re using the app, the less likely they are to get flustered looking for help from an FAQ section or worse, using another app such as YouTube to figure out the answer to their query.
This latter option can end up distracting them and pulling them away from your app, which is not what you want. In-app messaging can, therefore, help with customer retention and loyalty.
2. Personalized service
With the use of chatbots and AI, you can offer personalized messaging every crucial moment in your customers’ journey. You can integrate the messaging service with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool, for instance, so that contact center agents can have a log of any crucial interactions.
This will make your customers’ user journey seamless and consistent, and your agents’ jobs easier as they can keep track of subjects that have been covered and where your customers are in their user journey.
The dynamic nature of in-app messaging coupled with personalization, meanwhile, can help your customers to feel like they’re getting a service that is relevant to them, post-sale and without them having to actively seek support.
Statistic sourced from salesforce.com
3. Cost-effective option
By being proactive and anticipating customers’ needs effectively, in-app messaging can help those customers avoid long wait times if they have queries. Instead of emailing the support team and waiting a day or two for a response, they can get the answer to their question then and there, in the moment.
In-app messaging also means less strain on your staff, and as a result, it’s a cost-effective option. Instead of staff having to spend more of their time answering queries, or your company needing to hire more staff or use cloud contact center solutions to answer queries, in-app messaging—done well—reduces the need for extra customer support.
4. A new communication channel
Users have long relied on email, social media, and other forms of communication to get in touch with companies’ customer support teams. In-app messaging offers another communication alternative that may be more convenient for them.
The dynamism of an in-app message compared to communication methods that rely on leaving the app and searching for the company on a different platform can greatly improve customer service experiences.
5. A way to market to your users
Free to use image sourced from Unsplash
In-app messages are a great way to alert users to a new feature or product in your app, as well as various promotions and sales, making them really useful when it comes to marketing to your existing users.
You can also use in-app messaging to highlight ways that the software can be used that the customer might not be aware of yet. Thus increasing satisfaction and engagement with the product, which is likely to increase the chances of a longer customer-product relationship.
Since you’re directly targeting people who are already interested in and currently using your product, you know you’re not wasting resources marketing to people who might have zero interest in whatever your app does.
6. Better Ratings
Offering improved customer service to your users has so many benefits. We already talked about increased customer retention rates, but you’re also likely to enjoy improved ratings for your app as you improve the service.
If your app is easier to use than others on the market—say, because you offer tips throughout the experience, have a guided tour of the app, regularly ask for feedback in the form of microsurveys, and have a bot on standby in case your users have questions—then you’ll be putting rival apps in the shade. That’s the kind of thing users will mention in reviews and can lead to them giving you great ratings.
Are there any drawbacks?
Any drawbacks are almost entirely dependent on how you conduct your in-app messaging. You want to steer clear of a number of bad habits, including:
Too frequent messaging
Your customers are on your app to use the app, not get bombarded with promotional material—something to keep particularly in mind if they’re paying for the app. That, after all, often comes with an implicit promise not to advertise to the customer. So, one mistake could be sending too many in-app messages and overwhelming the user.
Make sure your messages are relevant and appropriate to avoid this pitfall.
It’s a bad idea to send information via in-app messaging that the user needs to be able to retrieve and revisit in the future.
If the message contains a unique promotional code for one of your products, it would be better if that information was readily available in other formats so that the user doesn’t lose access to the code if they accidentally close the message. Making important information easily available should be a core process of company employees.
Make sure that your messaging system is tailored to your customers to avoid sending irrelevant messages which could drive your customers to think that the app isn’t for them. If your target audience is married and lives in Michigan, they probably aren’t interested in singles events in Alaska, for example.
Make sure that your messaging is personalized and targeted to your audience to avoid coming across as irrelevant.
You want your messaging to help your users make the most out of your app, not hinder them when they’re in the process of using it. This means not sending messages that interrupt the users’ flow. Make sure to send messages at appropriate times during the user’s interaction with your app.
In-app messaging: Another arrow in your business’s marketing & support quiver
In-app messaging can be a source of great help to your users, from alerting them to upcoming upgrades and improvements to helping them get the most out of the app and improving customer service.
The best way to conduct in-app messaging is to do it sparingly and appropriately—both at the right time, and with information that is pertinent to the user. That way you can complement and supplement your existing marketing and support efforts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Allen, Director, SEO, 8×8
John Allen is a driven marketing professional with over 14 years of experience, and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs across SEM, SEO, paid media, mobile, social, and email, with an eye to new customer acquisition and increasing revenue