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3 Ways to Increase Sales With In-App Messages

in-app messagingEveryone remembers Clippy. He taught us how to use Windows XP. Over and over again. Even after we’d already figured out how to turn on double spacing in Microsoft Word.

Over a decade later, Clippy’s legacy lives on with in-app messaging. Thankfully, the messages have gotten a lot more sophisticated since 2001! And for brands that align in-app messages with user behavior in a freemium or free trial version of their product, in-app messages have the potential to increase paid subscriptions. Here are three “outside-the-box” ways to use in-app messaging to your advantage:

1. Offer temporary access to premium functionality

Trello, the scrum-like project management application, gives freemium users an unusual benefit every time they invite a collaborator who creates a new account. They gain temporary access to Trello’s premium features, packaged as “Trello Gold.” In-app messages alert them when the access period begins and just before it ends.

Trello Gold is basically a beefed up version of Trello. In addition to project management tools, users get custom backgrounds, saved searches, and additional storage space for large attachments. The idea? Get freemium users hooked on the extra goodies so that they subscribe to the premium version. The in-app messages let users know they can temporarily use those features for free.

2. Reveal the value of pay-to-play features

Another way to use in-app messaging to drive paid subscriptions is to show users what they’re missing with just the freemium version. When users hover over grayed-out icons or attempt to complete some action that’s only available to paid subscribers, an in-app message alerts them that the feature is for premium users only.

Premium WordPress themes with a freemium edition frequently use in-app messaging in this way. The Theme Foundry’s Make theme contains icons and messages that let freemium users know which features are only available to premium users.

When your “pro-only” functionality is compelling and your in-app messages underscore the value of an upgrade, this can be a good way to increase subscriptions.

3. Expose users to valuable content

If you offer a free trial period for your application, use in-app messages to show potential buyers the value you bring to their business. You can use messages to reveal:

  • How your product has helped other organizations: Direct them to client case studies for organizations similar to their own.
  • Examples of your expertise and thought leadership: Send users links to white papers or reports you’ve produced that are relevant to their situation.

Using in-app messages in this way improves lead nurturing because it connects buyers with content that helps them perform due diligence. You’ll unlock new opportunities to increase engagement among people who are already using your products.

To be sure, in-app messages aren’t the only way to take control of the buyer’s journey. But if you’re a B2B company with a freemium or free trial version of your product, they can be an effective addition to your marketing toolkit. Just avoid using a paperclip for a mascot!

If you’re looking for new lead engagement strategies for prospective buyers, KEO Marketing can help. As an interactive marketing agency, our creative services team knows how to develop in-app messages that increase adoption and drive sales.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.