What is ‘In-app Marketing’ And A Beginners Complete Guide on How to do it

Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to shop online. Mobile commerce sales have already hit $431 billion in the US market. With the advancement of smartphones, it’s easier than ever to purchase products and services on mobile devices.

Consumers are using mobile devices to shop online
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At the end of 2021, mobile retail sales in the US overtook desktop and tablet purchases by nearly 20%. As a result, in-app marketing is the latest trend to take the ecommerce world by storm. It offers the potential to drive traffic, increase revenue, and find customers where it matters.

So let’s discuss how you can start your own in-app marketing campaign.

What is in-app marketing?

In-app marketing is a campaign launched at customers while they are in your app. It deploys personalized and real-time messages designed to engage, convert, and retain customers. In-app marketing is about targeting the user at different points of their customer lifecycle. It can help to define user experience and act as a way to gain valuable feedback from your customers. 

The idea is to create a personalized strategy that will appeal to your audience base. For instance, if the majority of your traffic is from social media, you might make your app more social or community-based. Whereas, if you are getting traffic from the search engine, you can look at the keywords that are informing their searches.

Then, design a strategy to leverage your in-app campaign. 

Strategies and tools

In-app stories and influencers

Stories are a visual way to promote products and tell engaging narratives about your brand. To help boost the productivity of this strategy you can utilize influencer marketing. 

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Influencer marketing is about eliciting popular and influential people to promote your brand. This can be done organically if they already have an interest in your product, or by paying for them to give reviews, hold demonstrations, or create content. Influencer marketing is due to become a $16.4 billion industry and many companies are already using their services to attract consumers. 

Within these stories, you can use a referral marketing platform to monetise external links from your site. The benefit of this approach is that influencers already have a dedicated audience who trust their opinions and recommendations. 

They can add credibility and authority to your brand. As well as drive new leads. With tracking affiliate marketing, you can see where your traffic is coming and going. This can help you to understand your audience better. 

Alibaba, one of the leading online retailers, has also been pioneering influencers’ live streams with unmitigated success. Their most popular influencers drove over $149 million in sales in just one day. 

New software makes it possible for stories to be instantly shoppable. When an influencer does a live or recorded story, you can add an in-app payment popup for streamlined revenue. Some popular shoppable story software includes Poloriz and Storyly.

Notifications and Pop-ups

app notification
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A notification campaign is a personalized message pushed out to your users whilst in your app. A push notification is a great way to grab users’ attention. It can direct them to a specific part of your app. You can use it to leverage a specific product or promo. For example, an affiliate link.

Another approach is to provide useful tips or guidance on how to use your app. For instance, many apps use icons as opposed to text in order to save space on the screen. However, it may not always be obvious to users what the function of each icon is. You can use in-app notifications to explain the different functions and features of your app.

For instance, if you use a B2B partner marketing strategy, you will want to make sure that businesses are able to use your site easily. By clicking on your notification, it can start a step-by-step tutorial explaining interactively. This can help to improve user experience.


When a user installs an app with the pop-up notifications allowed, you can send them reminders or incentives to open the app. You’ve probably seen this pop-up functionality when you haven’t logged into one of your apps in a while. It will usually appear as a banner across your screen designed to draw users back to the app. 

Some popular notification and pop-up software for apps include:

  • OneSignal – Choose from a variety of push notifications from promos to update messages. With customizable text and icons, you can create branded in-app and mobile messages. It comes with a free plan for one in-app message service per month. Then prices start at $9 a month, monthly billing.
  • Clever Tap – Create personalized notifications and pop-ups with images, text, and video for in-app users. You can run A/B testing on your messages to create the best campaign. Plans depend on the tools you use, with custom pricing.

Collecting data

If you want to understand your audience better, data collection is critical.

Collecting data
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There are many ways to collect data. Here are a few tools you might consider:

  • Jotform Survey Maker – This is a form builder software, designed for app integration. You can create branded and responsive forms to automate your data collection. It has a free plan for up to five forms. Then prices start at $24 a month, billed annually. 
  • Survey Monkey – If you want in-depth user feedback on your app, this software is a helpful tool for creating surveys, quizzes, and polls for your audience. Data is presented visually and you can integrate your results with Salesforce, Hubspot, and more. They have a free plan where you can test out basic features. Or paid plans start from £32 a month, billed annually. 
  • Zonka Feedback — If you’re looking at taking Customer Feedback and measuring Customer Experience, Zonka Feedback is a great tool to use. You can create bespoke feedback forms, white-label them to match your brand, send them to your customers wherever they are — across all channels and get real-time reports and in-depth analytics. Integrate the tool with softwares you use.

All these tools can be launched in-app to seamlessly collect data across your channels. 

How do you launch an in-app campaign?

So now you have some strategies to launch your campaign, what steps should you take to get started? 

  1. Research your audience – Decide who your campaign is for; learn about their behavior and personalize the campaign for your audience. 
  1. Decide on your tools – Select a price-effective tool to create your campaign. When considering which plan to choose, think about your ROI (return on investment). You want to ensure the cost of the software will be covered by your predicted revenue. You could try partnering with another company to reduce your expenses. 
  1. Measure your campaign – Select clear metrics to evaluate your performance. If your aim is to measure engagement, look at how many people have responded to your campaign. Work out your mobile CVR (conversion rate) and revenue. Compare this to your costs and expenditure to determine ROI. 
  1. Refine your campaign – Look deeper at your metrics: who are your audience and why has this campaign been successful or unsuccessful to them specifically. Then refine. 
  1. Lastly, reap the benefits! 
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A good in-app campaign can not only increase revenue, but improve your customer experience as a whole. With consumers flocking towards mobile commerce, your strategy needs to keep up with market demand. 

As mentioned, many of these tools come with a free trial. Moreover, mobile usability testing tools can help you figure out which campaigns are working. 

Why not do some testing of your own to find out what works for you and your customers?

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Sam O’ Brien – Chief Marketing Officer, Affise

Sam O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer for Affise—a Global SaaS Partner Marketing Solution. He is a growth marketing expert with a product management and design background. Sam has a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology. Here is his LinkedIn.