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Last update: April 2021


Dashboard & Campaign Management: Sending In-App Messages

In-App Messages (IAM) are the next step up from push notifications in terms of seamless mobile engagement and UX. While they are similar in many ways, In-App Messages are messages that deliver to your user when they’re inside your app. They are a savvy way of enabling a real-time dialogue with your mobile app or game user, where you use their behavior in-app as context. For a push notification campaign that’s built around delivering notifications at the right time and place, with a focus on the perfect delivery moment, sending In-App Messages is a must.

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in-app message

Why Are In-App Messages Important?

While they may resemble each other in terms of end appearance and they type of content they convey, push notifications and in-app messages differ in the ways that they engage with users. Push notifications generally seek to boost user retention and re-engagement, and cut down on churn. Push notifications are scheduled to deliver when users are doing other things, with the goal of turning their attention back to the app.

On the other hand, in-app messages are scheduled to appear when the user is already inside the app. This makes them the perfect tool for delivering rich content and media to users in the context of their app usage. They can be a means of replying to a user’s actions within the app, and to invite them to become more involved with the app:

  • explore new features in the app they might not know about
  • get involved with the app community
  • take advantage of a sale in the app’s store
  • leave App Store feedback, etc.
in-app message paypal
Image Source: Screenshot from PayPal mobile app

In-app messages are especially valuable when it comes to onboarding new users of your app. For example, for new players of your mobile game, you can schedule a series of IAMs to deliver as the player explores new areas of your game. As in the below screenshot from the mobile social simulator game Avakin Life, in-app messages have an excellent use case as a sort of beginner’s tutorial to showcase all the great features of your game to newbies.

avakin life in-app message
Image Source: Screenshot from the Avakin Life mobile app

Using Rich Media With In-App Messages

As with regular push notifications, your chances of achieving successful user engagement with your in-app message increases considerably if you use rich media. This means including extra graphic elements, such as emojis, GIFs, and images, etc. And whereas conventional push notifications generally try to keep things short and sweet to disrupt the user as little as possible, with IAMs you have more freedom to get creative.

For example, Raid: Shadow Legends gets very elaborate with their in-app messages, combining atmospheric images as well as deep links. They use this function to guide players toward a more complete experience of the mobile game, as well as offering them sales on bundles of currency whenever the player doesn’t have enough in-game currency to complete an action.

in-app message raid
Image Source: Screenshot from Raid: Shadow Legends

How Does OpenBack Enable You to Use In-App Messages?

With OpenBack, you can deliver fully immersive, rich in-app messages.  These in-app messages can also be delivered at the same time as a push notification, and so working in tandem and as a pair together.  As well as complete control over which user segments get the in-app messages and when they get them, the capabilities within the OpenBack platform includes in-app features such as:

  • deep links to smoothly convey users to a URL or page in-app
  • app install, where users can click to automatically install an app
  • images/GIFs
  • videos that are pre-cached, so you can send a user a video and they can watch it immediately in full quality, without having to worry about the strength of their internet connection
  • And more
gardenscapes in-app message
Gardenscapes uses an in-app message for their pre-permission notification, once the user has gotten a taster of gameplay.

OpenBack Custom HTML

With OpenBack you can write can design your in-app message in HTML and paste the code directly into the dashboard. The message will then display like a webpage, which is hugely useful for developers on the backend. It gives them complete control over what displays in their in-app messages, as well as flexibility with the message content. Rather than plain text, the in-app message can display a variety of fonts, layouts, images, GIFs, as well as embed URL links.

OpenBack allows developers to include HTML with CSS and also Javascript for more advanced customization. For example, instead of just static text and images, you can include a mini-game within an ad. This creates a whole new dimension of engagement with your mobile app users can enter into.

spotify in-app message
Image Source: Spotify; in-app messages need to be customized the same as push notifications – for example, this message is only going to be useful to the user if they are a fan of Flowsik, and if they use Google speech directions.


OpenBack also offers more complex features along with in-app messages. App Inbox and Payloads are both tools for sending invisible content to the user’s device, in a way that won’t alert them but which they will ultimately interact with or benefit from.


Payload is an optional piece of hidden data that gets delivered behind the scenes. The app then uses that data to complete an action or display a piece of text/content/image/etc. The use cases are virtually unlimited. An app can send an invisible Payload attached to the content of the notification. The user never sees it, but the app receives the line of code and interprets it.

For example, an app for a cafe chain might send an offer for a free coffee to a user in the form of an in-app message. That message would come with a secret Payload attached: – in this case, an image of a coffee with the word “FREE!” underneath – with directions to display the image on the carousel on the app’s main screen. Then, after the user dismisses the initial message, the image of the coffee would be on the updated carousel, to remind them of the offer every time they open the app.

App inbox serves a similar function. It’s a means of sending notifications in “stealth” mode. Rather than pinging a user with a message that they can then immediately swipe away, notifications can be delivered silently to App Inbox. It acts as an archive for more evergreen notifications that a user can go back to again and again.

OpenBack provides full functionality for these features, both of which serve to give your push and in-app messaging campaign more depth and effectiveness. If you have further questions on how OpenBack can help you optimize your mobile marketing campaign and maximize your return on push notifications, get in touch with one of our experts.


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