What Is In-App Marketing And How Does It Work?

In-App Marketing

When it comes to app marketing, many developers create goals surrounding customer acquisition.

While this goal should definitely be your first step when marketing an app, it isn’t the only thing you need to think about.

Another side to app marketing is in-app marketing, which occurs once you have already acquired customers.

Essentially, the term is used to describe any kind of marketing campaign that is specially developed for, and used within, a mobile app. 

The main goal of this is to reach out to customers who are already using your app to increase engagement and customer retention rates.

Unfortunately, a lot of app developers and marketers fail to see the importance of this method of app marketing. 

It’s easy to assume that someone downloads your app because they’ll find it useful, and will continue using it for this purpose, but this isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, 2019 statistics show that app engagement rates are falling, which isn’t a surprise when you consider how spoilt for choice people are currently.

With over 1000 apps being released on Apple’s app store alone every single day, people are going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to apps they should download.

In fact, one research study found that the average person has between 60-90 apps on their phone, but they only use about 30 of them. 

You don’t want to be one of the 60 apps on someone’s phone that they never actually use, which is why you need to start implementing in-app marketing campaigns. 

Like with any marketing method, different in-app marketing campaigns will work better for different people.

It’s also important to bare in mind the outcomes you want to achieve from your in-app marketing goals, as they do differ slightly.

Ultimately, in-app marketing involves using communication tactics that have been specially designed to promote desired behaviours and drive revenue. 

Some of the most common uses for in-app marketing include: 

  • Incentivizing social shares
  • Introducing new features / updates 
  • Collecting user feedback 
  • Increasing interest in loyalty programs
  • Scheduling engagement with certain features

Perhaps the uses we’ve mentioned above are goals you already had with your app, but didn’t know how to achieve before now.

The good news is that implementing in-app marketing isn’t that difficult once you understand the most effective methods.

Like with any marketing method, it’s going to take some level of experimentation to find what works within the industry your app is targeting, but here are some of the most common in-app marketing methods used in 2019. 

Examples Of In-App Marketing 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence may sound technical, but it has become a commodity in the technology world in the last few years.

By using this to help with your in-app marketing approaches, you can use machine learning technology to promote any desired behaviour you can think of.

With artificial intelligence, you can personalize your app marketing approaches with no extra work. 

This means that artificial intelligence can be used whether you want to promote engagement with certain features, or simply want to personalize someone’s experience to keep them engaged with your app. 

In-App Pop Ups

When you think of in-app marketing, pop ups within the app are probably the first thing you think of. 

These can be effective for reaching any of the common goals we’ve listed above, including incentivizing social shares and letting your users know of updates.

While they won’t necessarily encourage user retention when someone isn’t using your app, they can work with other app marketing methods to make sure your app continues to feel engaging and new to the user. 

One thing in-app pop ups are especially good for is promoting your VIP or loyalty schemes, and helping to persuade people into buying additional features on your apps.

When you consider that by 2020, the app industry’s revenue is projected to reach $188.9 billion worldwide, using this method of app marketing could really help increase your profits in the next few years as people become more willing to spend money on additional features. 

Push Notifications 

Push notifications are the automated messages consumers receive from an app when they are not using it. 

They often provide small reminders or additional tips that will remind the user of the app’s existence and convince them to revisit it. 

According to Digital Authority Partners, this is a highly successful in-app marketing method, with 90% of push notifications opened. 

Of that number, 40% of people interacting with them will open them in the hour after receiving them. 

This could be a good way to combat losing customers, an epidemic that is starting to affect more and more people each year. 

In fact, in 2019, just 32 percent of users returned to an application 11 times or more, compared to 38 percent from the same period in 2018.

By using push notifications and reminding people of your app, you are more likely to see a higher proportion of returning visitors.

This is because you are promoting the behaviour with push notifications, and aren’t allowing your app’s existence to slip from your user’s mind. 

It’s important to use push notifications sparingly, however, as overuse may lead to people turning them off for your app, or deleting your app altogether. 


As recent evidence and our article shows, it’s almost impossible to launch a successful app without some kind of in-app marketing to keep people interested over time.

This process basically involves creating a marketing campaign that ignores outside influencers and customer acquisition goals and instead focuses on those already consuming what your app has to offer. 

It is important to remember you may need to experiment with different methods before seeing success that correlates with your goals. 

The great thing about in-app marketing, however, is that you can use a variety of different methods to reach a number of goals.

Not only can you increase the profits accumulated from your app, but you can also take the weight off your other marketing efforts by encouraging others to share your app on social media and acquire customers that way.

However you do it, it’s clear to see that in-app marketing is absolutely essential in 2019, and should be at the forefront of any app developers mind going forwards.