User engagement: 5 in-app mistakes your SaaS must avoid

Take advantage of in-app messages to increase user engagement

    On this blog post, you'll learn:
  • The most common user engagement mistakes SaaS make;
  • In-app messages best practices to drive customer engagement.

The concept is pretty straight forward: higher user engagement rates, higher retention, thus more revenue and less customer churn. The perfect equation. But of course, the path to success is not so simple, and you need the right tools to get there.

But fear not, we have a little secret to tell you: in-app messages are a SaaS's best friend. Simply because you can use the messages to drive a wide variety of business goals. Whether you're offering a discount or prompting the user to leave a review about your product, there are countless possibilities where in-app messages can be used. They're also great for showcasing features, pricing plans, in-app tooltips, or anything new you want engaged users to check out.

However, it's easy to make basic (and rather silly) mistakes when using in-app messages, and these mistakes might lead you to valuable losses. To avoid these traps, we've come up with a guide of what to avoid when working with in-app messages to drive user engagement.

In-app messaging typically receives 8x the direct response rates of push notifications

Most common mistakes with in-app messages

At this point you know that in-app messages constitute an effective tool to increase engagement over time. If you keep in mind that roughly 58% of users become inactive in the first 30 days of an app being downloaded and 75% of app users churn within 90 days, it may be easier to understand why in-app user engagement can be a lifesaver.

Also, reports from SendBird say that in-app messages increased customer engagement by 3x, and messages triggered by an in-app event increased conversion by 4x.

In-app messages triplicates customer engagement

Because they're sent to a hypersegmented public, there's a better chance of impacting the right customers and users with the message.

Even if you already have some of your users engaged, and even a decent interaction rate, you can't afford to leave money on the table and lose customers because you don't know to properly use in-app engagement:

1. Sending the same message to all users without context

One of the classic mistakes that many Saas companies tend to make when using in-app messages is to send the same message to all you user's base, with no exception.

This simple lapse can be really expensive for a business. It ignores the uniqueness of each customer and it's rather pointless since it does not establish any previous goal. It's a beginner's mistake to believe that all the users think and act the same way.

One of the main benefits of in-app messages is the capability of hyper segmentation, so why wouldn't SaaS companies take advantage of that? Sending the same message to every user without even knowing if they're interested can be a huge shot in the foot.

Let's suppose you have a sports-related product: an untargeted message with news alert about sport events sent to people who haven't shown any interest in this subject is not going to cut it. Instead, a great practice is to track activated events within your app, and content read in your blog. That'll help you monitor their behavior and identify the kind of content users are more interested in.

After that, segment people by activated events views, and send that message to your users. Don't forget the call to action: there is no point in sending in-app messages if they don't take your users somewhere interesting.

2. Not being creative in your in-app messages

In-app messages can be highly segmented, personalized and be sent to an entire app user base. This means it can be extremely effective to deliver a specific message. And its ability to include images (and even GIFs!) allows more creativity with content, and more flexibility.

Don't forget to think of catchy titles. Keep your text concise but consistent. This is the one chance to speak to your customers. You don't want them to close the message without even reading.

Remember that the customers you reach with in-app messages aren’t people you need to convince to visit your app or website: they’re already there! Some are new customers interested in learning more about your brand. Some are die hard fans who come back again and again. In other words they want to hear from you and are open to your "news".

3. Selling your product and not its value

Let's be honest: "We miss you!” isn't a compelling message to give to an engaged user. Instead, focus on the value your app offers to them, and what are is singular, most powerful features. The user is already registered and using your product - it's time to show how you (and only you) can solve their pains.

Here's a quick tip: use behavioral analytics to gather data about your user's preferences to send targeted in-app campaigns. The messages can be triggered by specific actions done by the user in the product, so take advantage of that and show the benefits of a specific feature right just when users click on it. With in-app messages you have time in your favor, not to mention segmentation.

Inapp example

4. Fail to use it to optimize user onboarding

User onboarding is clearly one of the main processes of your product. It's the one responsible for showing your app's core value to new users. It also has great retention power:if users understand your product's benefits they will surely come back for more, and ultimately buy it.

Since in-app messages can be sent right before users login for the first time, it's a great alternative to facilitate the user onboarding, educate your and guide them through every single step of the activation stage.

Extra-tip: create a marketing automation flow to automate the user onboarding and display newest features of your product through in-app messages. After that, the first few times a user loads your app, you can display an in-app message that highlights the feature. You can customize your campaign to stop showing these messages when the person has tried out the suggested feature or after they've used the app a few times.

5. Sending too many messages to users

This is probably the most common mistake companies make, with both in-app messages and emails. Timing is everything, especially with user engagement. Be careful not to be annoying and push your user away from your product. It’s all about context.

There's no harm on sending messages to show how user can improve their results, to show a cool rich content or even a "last chance" offer with a great discount. Since users are prone to read it, it's cool to take advantage of this kind of engagement. However, sending two or three different messages on every session is too much.

To avoid sending too many messages, manage which in-app messages are currently online, including the ones sent through marketing automation flows. The same goes for email marketing campaigns and transactional emails.

In-app messages best practices to drive user engagement

With in-app messages there are a few powerful, yet simple rules to follow that will harness the power of your marketing and sales strategy. They're steps that'll help you not only plan your strategies, but to identify what's being successful and what needs to be improved.

First of all, have your goal clearly defined. User engagement needs an objective: drive the trial user to a purchase, acquire feedback for a feature, understand the user behavior. When the goal is defined, it's way easier metrify its results to determine its success. In order to do that, it's necessary to fully understand your SaaS behavioral analytics and funnel metrics.

Content is king! The copy of an in-app message should be compelling, there should be a clear call to action that aligns with your goal, and there should be an eye-catching image. Once the goal is defined, you'll know exactly what to write or show to your users. And don't forget to personalize it!

Segment your users! As we said before, one of the main benefits of the in-app messages is that you can send highly targeted messages. Send the right content, at the right time, to the right users according to their past behavior and actions within your product and website. Besides, you can customize the link destination to take the user anywhere in your product or website.

Last but not least. Test. Experiment. Review. Repeat. That's the only way to identify what needs to be improved in your strategy. When defining your strategy and drafting a user engagement plan, take both emails and in-app messages into consideration, and employ them accordingly to meet different communication and engagement goals.

Engagement starts with your user's first interaction with your app. That's why you should turn all the customer touchpoints in communication opportunities. In-app messages are an ideal way to communicate with your users as soon as they login in the product. What do you get as a result? User engagement, and less churn!

In-app message is no longer just an optional feature for SaaS - it’s a must-have if you want your app to succeed long-term. But beware: using it to simply broadcast generic messages to your entire user base is spammy, and will only increase the cancellation rate at the end of the month. You need to carefully plan your strategy and follow our powerful best practices to drive better results.

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