Best Practices

3 ways large businesses can improve their in-app communication strategy

Published Apr 20, 2022

Rather than relying on email or live check-ins alone, the best product-led companies utilize the product to communicate with customers at every stage of their journey. Product managers (PMs), marketers, sales reps, customer success managers (CSMs), and support team members all benefit from having a direct line where they can reach users quickly and without the need for engineering resources.

The problem, though, is when large companies don’t consider their users’ full in-app experience, which is comprised of all the in-app messages (also referred to as in-app guides or guides) they see at any given time. In this case, a lack of coordination may cause you to actually disrupt users’ workflows or get in the way of productivity—when your intention was to do just the opposite.

To prevent this, businesses need to build an overarching strategy that helps align teams and add structure to their in-app communication efforts. What’s the payoff when this is done well?

    • Your customers get a better product experience (and thus have a more favorable impression of your company as a whole)
    • Your support team receives less calls and tickets, since deliberate in-app support helps solve users’ most common problems
    • Admins can utilize established guidelines to speed up and scale their ability to deliver messages and resources to users

As you look to improve (or build) your own organization’s in-app communication strategy, here are three best practices to keep in mind:

1. Understand how different teams leverage in-app guides

Start by identifying all of the types of in-app guides that users could be exposed to. Since each team (or individual) cares about different types of guides with distinct goals, it’s helpful to understand how your organization is currently leveraging the product to communicate with users. From there, you’ll be better able to build the appropriate processes and workflows.

Just remember: the more guides you have, the more potential there is for teams to start stepping on each other’s toes. 

For example, your product team probably uses in-app guides to announce new features and drive ongoing adoption. PMs also often leverage guides for time-sensitive messages, like when users need to know about a bug or outage. Your marketing team, on the other hand, could use in-app guides to promote key campaigns and collect customer testimonials and reviews. And your customer success team might use guides to build in-app onboarding flows that are personalized to users’ roles and deliver ongoing education—for example using an “always on” resource center to house tutorials inside the product.

2. Put the right processes in place

Once you have a handle on which teams and individuals are creating in-app guides (and for what purposes), it’s important to add the right level of structure to your in-app communication efforts. There are three key processes to consider:

    • How team members can submit in-app guide requests. Create an easy way for people across your organization to request a new in-app guide or campaign. Be sure to include fields for all of the information you’ll need: Which product is this for? Who is the target audience? How long should the guide run? 
    • How (and how often) you’ll review guide requests. It’s helpful to have an individual owner for each component of a guide that needs to be reviewed—like the copy, design, targeting, and location. Above all, you’ll want to always ask yourself why you’re publishing a particular guide, especially if it will reach a large portion of your user base.
    • How in-app guides are built and implemented. While it’s a beneficial practice to allow anyone in your organization to request an in-app guide, it’s best to restrict who can actually publish guides in the product. Putting this limitation in place helps ensure there’s clear oversight and ownership over every in-app guide, and that someone has a view of all guides as a whole.

3. Ensure you have consistent branding

The look and feel of your in-app guides plays a large role in how effective they are. If users see a guide that feels out of place, they might get confused or ignore it completely. So, make sure you choose a tool that allows you to set parameters and empower guide creators with standards out of the box.

For example, you can create themes with set color palettes and fonts to ensure consistency in the formatting of all your in-app communications. You might also build a library of pre-approved guide templates, and use these across all of the products in your portfolio. It’s also beneficial to document any additional guidelines that guide creators should know about (e.g. image and video best practices).

Learn what else goes into a successful in-app communication strategy and how to implement one at your own organization in our new white paper, “How enterprise companies manage in-app communication at scale.”