Last update: May 2021

4 mins to read - 2019/08/30

Are App Inboxes the Next Step of Mobile Engagement?

Push notifications are a vast improvement on SMS and email, without a doubt. Notifications are instantaneous, free to receive, and personalizable. They are an effective way to communicate with app-users in real-time, providing them valuable information based on their interests, browser or purchase history, geolocation, and more. Notifications don’t hang around to take up storage space, and are easily dismissed.

However, push notifications aren’t perfect, and as once-off communications, they have a limited capacity for user engagement. Once a user engages with them or swipes them away, they’re lost forever. Plus, when not sent out in moderation, push notifications can be considered invasive by users. These problems and more are fixed by the mobile app inbox, a storage space for important, evergreen communications from the mobile app.

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message inbox

What Is Mobile App Inbox?

It’s exactly what it sounds like: an inbox inside the app itself that stores key messages, whether because they are evergreen content, the user wasn’t able to immediately give them their full attention, or what have you. It’s not quite email and not quite a push notification, but inhabits a third ground between the two. The format of an app inbox message is preferable in certain instances because it is considered less intrusive, similar to the iOS 12’s provisional notifications, which go directly to their destination without alerting the user.

The mobile app inbox could be the ideal destination for an in-app message that is not time-sensitive, that doesn’t depend on being noticed immediately, but that you want to stick around for a while. While push notifications work well for real-time information and snap decisions, the mobile app inbox is preferable for messages that your user may want to mull over for a while.

For example, if your eCommerce app is having an ongoing sale lasting weeks or even months, a user might appreciate having a coupon or discount code to use for once they receive their paycheck, or have the leisure to go on a shopping spree. Or if your company is hosting a series of events over a period of time, the app inbox could be a place to store a working schedule of events on the horizon, which can be updated as needed.

What Other Types of Messages Can You Use It For?

Mobile app inbox is also good for storing content that you want your user to be reminded of periodically. For example, say your app has just had an upgrade. There is new content or functions for users to explore, but you don’t want to let them know in a flashy notification that will spark their interest but then vanish from existence. With mobile app inbox, you can rest assured that even if your user gets distracted after they engage with your message, the content will still be there for them to come back to later.

For example, say you are a mobile gaming app and you have just introduced new levels of gameplay, or special material that can be unlocked by premium account holders. This is material that may take users a few reads before they can take full advantage of it. Like push notifications, app inbox messages can incorporate rich media and deep links. So if you include links to app pages such as how to upgrade to a premium account, or a link to an in-app store where players’ avatars can be upgraded, that message can be stored in the app inbox and used as a means of navigation in the future.

What’s more, app inbox messages can be personalized and segmented using the same data triggers as push notifications. So users will receive the same high-quality, context-appropriate messages they are accustomed to.

App Inbox Is Easy to Navigate

App inbox messages don’t have to act as a long, untidy list either, the way standard email inboxes are. They have the benefit of being longer in size than push notifications, and they can be categorized under different menus and arranged by scrollable images. This optimizes user experience, allowing them to browse through a cache of content that appears as a natural extension of the app itself.

You can curate messages into a personalized newsfeed, blog, or carousel that users can peruse at their own leisure, according to different categories of interests. App developers can then easily upgrade or edit the layout of the app inbox, without having to address the layout of the app itself. This makes for an enjoyable, intuitive UX for users, viewable in their own time. Users neither have to sort through a disorganized email inbox nor get pinged constantly with pieces of vanishing information.

Mobile App Inbox: Taking Push Notifications One Step Further

The app inbox is a new level of mobile engagement. Its value goes beyond the one-time interaction allowed by push notifications. This can mean customized discount promos for users. It can mean personalized recommendations for products. It can mean slow-burn marketing. Or it can just be suggestions of in-app features users may wish to explore in the future.

Either way, the app inbox is a step up in terms of user experience, providing a more relaxed, leisurely experience for users. Used in tandem with a savvy push notification campaign, sending messages to an app inbox can be a strong foundation to your mobile marketing.

To learn more about the mobile app inbox functions available on OpenBack’s SDK, take a look at our features page, or contact one of our experts for more information.

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