The differences in the context of app marketing “Should I use push notifications or in-app messaging? 

We all have gone through that a dozen times. Enthusiastically, we download apps to our mobiles, turn them on and for a moment excitedly explore all the functions and then… Well, then we put our mobiles away, and the apps drift off into oblivion… Is there a way for consumers to reach for the apps downloaded on their mobiles more eagerly and more often? Yes, but that option should be chosen very carefully. Push notifications and in-app messaging can do as much good as bad.

In Google Play and iTunes stores, there are over 2 million available apps (and approx.. 2.8. million on the Android market. According to the research conducted by App Annie company, we download approx. 30 apps per month on average, on a global scale, and depending on our operating system we use approx. 9 -10 of them daily. How many of those apps will remain with us longer? Very few. Statistics show that 30 days from installing a program, not even 3% of users are likely to return to it. Push notifications and in-app messaging can effectively encourage the user to interact and extend the time of using the program. What is the difference between those two? You will find out below.


The push notifications system works like reminders about an incoming text message or e-mail. It is short, usually verbal information displayed on a device screen, even if the user is not using the app. Obviously, in accordance with the settings configured by the user, they may relate to e.g.

  • The acceptance of incoming messages and/or the format of displayed information;
  • Applications from which we receive messages

Who needs push notifications?
As the name suggests, this kind of marketing activities is used to evoke a certain reaction in users or encourage them to use the app again, if it hasn’t been used for a long time. Such messages are used in marketing to:

  • Encourage the user to immediate and required response;
  • Inform about specific actions and events;
  • Notify about promotions and campaigns.

How to use this tool properly?
Well-planned and ‘non-pushy’ push notifications can generate large traffic in the app and effectively support marketing activities. Why? Because users who accepted such notifications are usually more involved in using the app and they themselves seek an excuse to spend a little more time on their app again.

Well-planned notifications are like an e-mail from a friend that we are subconsciously waiting for. However, we should bear in mind that it isn’t recommended to overdo the frequency of notifications. So, we should carefully choose the contents and send the information at an appropriate time of day, and our message should be adjusted to the context of the application. Thus, if we are woken up at 3 a.m. by a sound of beeping mobile inviting us to avail of a recently launched promotion, we may cease to enjoy the app and soon start to hate it, instead.

Among various mistakes often made by marketers are also:

  • Lack of message personalization
  • Lack of parameter identification of the app and device.
  • Trivial message (content for the content’s sake).
  • Lack of specific location, (where the app notification should direct us).


Unquestionably, such solutions are not free from drawbacks. They don’t allow for extensive message personalization (usually we only know the user’s gender or address). Also, it is difficult to feel the moment when the notifications become annoying, thus ineffective. Managing such notifications is true art, therefore it is so important to monitor consumers’ behavior, and based on that draw appropriate conclusions. There is always a real risk of users uninstalling the app.


As opposed to push notifications, personalized in-app messages appear on the smartphone screen only when somebody is using the app. Certain actions prompt such messages, which are supposed to extend the time of a specific session and make users believe that their interaction is individual and personalized.

How can you create an effective message?
In-app messages should be created in such a way that they will make us believe they are an integral part of the app, not the mere result of marketing activities. So, they must be strongly related to the character of the message, which must be adequate to the app both in the content and the graphics.

Such messages can prove very effective due to considerable possibilities of personalization, which allows users to form a stronger bond with the app and create a richer user experience. Such messages are usually tailored to specific consumers’ needs. However, it is important not to bombard users with messages incessantly or deprive them of their opportunity to interact with the app itself.

Where can it be applied?
The segment where such messages work well is e.g. eCommerce. Based on consumer behavior, we can select the right time of communication and give the user an extra desire to purchase products by presenting our promotional offer. In-app messaging is also a great tool for carrying out consumer tests, as we can directly observe the user’s reactions to different messages.


The most effective results in promoting an app should be achieved by combining the two communication tools. Especially now, during these crazy times, apps are one of the most effective ways of communication. By doing so, we can adapt to different expectations and consumer habits.
Compiling these activities will not only allow us to target our group but also monitor consumers’ behavior more precisely. For instance, if a push notification encouraged users to open an app but they do not revisit it so often despite the in-app messaging, resending push notifications may prove to be a good supporting tool.

Push notifications are usually effective when we want to re-direct the user to a communication channel, which is the app. In-app messaging enables us to monitor the behavior inside the app.

A complex approach to app marketing assumes the right use of analytics and based on that the appropriate tools are selected to encourage users to get more involved. It may also result in generating higher income. A well-thought-out way of communication using such tools will help the app provide its users with a satisfactory experience, and they will eagerly use the app again.

Website | + posts

A lifetime serial entrepreneur, mentor, advisor, and investor. Obsessed with the infinite realm of possibility in the digital transformation of the world, digital media, marketing and the blockchain.