What Is The Difference Between Push Notifications And In-App Messaging?

What Is The Difference Between Push Notifications And In-App Messaging?

Bridgette Hernandez

Bridgette Hernandez

09 Sep 2019 | 4 min read

Both push notifications and in-app messaging are very popular in the mobile app development industry. They are used for app marketing and can help improve engagement, keeping users more involved in what the app has to offer. However, what is the difference between the two and how can you benefit from them? Let's take a closer look!

Push Notifications

Push notifications are messages that pop up on your smartphone, either on the status bar or lock screen. If the user installs your app and forgets about it, you can still communicate through push notifications. Research has found that push notifications that combine text with images have proven to be more effective.

In-App Messaging

They pop up when the user is navigating the app. These notifications are also referred to as native app content. In-app messaging is dependant on the user’s actions to ultimately help promote a longer session time. These messages don’t have a word count and this means you can create longer and visually appealing messages. Also, the content is personalised, relevant to your app and its offerings along with the user’s actions.


Pros and Cons of Push Notifications

Perhaps the most important benefit of push notifications is that they help drive users back to the app even when they have forgotten about it completely. They work as reminders or even triggers for users to complete certain actions or check out new content.

Here are some statistics about push notifications:

- 70% of users think that push notifications are useful.

- Only 8% of users choose to ignore push notifications.

- 90% of the time push notifications are opened.

- 55-60% of users agree to receive push notifications.

As a marketing tool, push notifications can increase the engagement rate, drive conversions, and improve awareness. An effective strategy for push notifications is based on content, frequency, and timing. These 3 elements should be strategically planned to avoid losing users.

Pros and Cons of In-App Messaging

Unlike push notifications, in-app messaging allows you to reach the user when they are already engaging with your app. In-app messaging should be treated the same way as to push notifications when it comes to the time and frequency in which they are delivered. Bigger images and videos can also be sent via in-app messaging which can increase user engagement and prolong session time.

In-app messaging is usually more personalised which makes them more relevant to the user. They are based on the user’s actions within the app. On the contrary, the biggest disadvantage of in-app messaging is that you can only reach your users when they are using the app itself. If the user installed your app and forgot about it, you won't be able to remind your users through in-app messaging.

Best Use Cases

Push notifications and in-app messaging each have their place in different types of apps.

The best uses for push notifications are time-sensitive content. For example, a weather app would send push notifications of severe weather to its users. You can also consider this approach in these cases:

- Abandoned App: Craft this message carefully and do not overuse it. Studies show a quick hello via push notification can bring people back to your app.

- In-App Purchases: If someone is using your app, he is more likely to make a purchase. Send a message about a product or service on sale.

- Abandoned Shopping Cart: Users do not follow-through their purchases for many reasons. A little reminder of what they left behind, with a little promo code that makes the price of the products even better, is all you need to recover an abandoned cart.

- Payment Confirmation: Reassure your customers with payment confirmation. This is also a great time to ask for feedback.

- Feedback Request: You can request for app ratings and reviews while the user is navigating it.

- Opt-In Requests: Send a message after a user downloads and opens the app asking him/her to receive push notifications or to sign up for an email newsletter. Ask the user's permission to display alerts, play sounds, or badge the app’s icon in response to a notification.

- Flash Sale: Everyone loves flash sales and would hate to miss out on them. Use push notifications to notify users about sales.

- Time-Sensitive Alerts and Reminders: These can be all kinds of reminders or alerts that you would want to send as a push notification.

- App Features: New users may need a tour guide and in-app messaging can offer tips on how to get the most out of your app.


In conclusion, both push notifications and in-app messaging can be very effective if you use them strategically. Keep your goals in mind and these tips when planning your app marketing campaign.