Types of in-app nudges – comparison and how to choose the right nudge

Gaurav Rawat
March 6, 2024
13 mins


A drop in user activity in the user journey is a nightmare for product managers and product owners.

Are your users signing up for the product only to delete the account or uninstall the app later on? – finding reasons for this is critical to ensure mobile or web application success.

Users drop from your app due to ‘friction’. Something happened that led them to not use your product or engage further anymore and look somewhere else.

“Friction is anything, any tension that gets between a user and what they’re trying to do.” – Sasha A. Rae on UX Content Collective

In-app nudges are an effective way to guide users to use the product so that they can achieve their goals – without breaking their flow. These are designed to provide information, design better onboarding experiences, promote specific actions, drive feature adoption, or enhance the overall user experience. Placing them at exact friction points will help you maximize their interaction with your product.

There are many types of in-app nudges whose application depends on context of usage. We will understand various types of in-app nudges, how to choose the right type and track metrics for its effectiveness for your mobile or web application.

What is the significance of in-app nudges for user engagement?

By strategically integrating in-app nudges at crucial touchpoints, product managers can:

  • Influence user behavior as per you retention strategy
  • Improve understanding of product for better onboarding experience and ease of usage
  • Design a more intuitive user interface

You may have observed various in-app nudges like tooltips, banners, onboarding tours, checklists, etc. while signing up or using a product. Each in-app nudge type has a specific use case and helps drive product metrics like user activation, feature adoption, time to value, customer lifetime value, retention, re-targeting, and much more.

First, let us understand six major types of in-app nudges.

6 types of in-app nudges – with examples

In-app nudges are effective as they align with the user's intent, their roadblock, and the specific context of their interaction. But to make a successful impact, you must use the right type of in-app nudge.

1. Walkthroughs

Walkthroughs are a series of tooltips consisting of short and contextual messages that guide user’s actions by highlighting information about specific features or elements within the app. They are positioned at specific locations within the app where you want to guide the user's attention.

For example, when you sign up for Twitter Ads and follow the walkthrough - you can see the tool tip on ‘mentions’ for creating the ad text. It highlights to the advertiser its impact on engagement metrics. With this, the advertiser will be careful while writing their ad text and optimize it for better metrics – thus helping them improve outcomes using your product.

With Nudge, you can create interactive walkthroughs via a series of personalized tooltips. It can also help you customize them as per segmented audiences for better conversions.

2. Onboarding tour

An onboarding tour is a series of sequential interactions that help introduce users to the essential elements of a product. It’s a commonly used nudge – you must have come across steps introducing the app you just signed up for before entering its main screen or dashboard.

Unlike standalone tooltips or brief pop-ups, an onboarding tour provides a more immersive experience by guiding users through multiple screens or steps. This type of in-app nudge is particularly effective during the initial stages of user interaction when users are getting acquainted with the app's interface and capabilities.

For example, here’s LinkedIn ads alerting the user about an important update in account security using a modal. The user can either learn more about the update or enter the guided onboarding tour to update their security settings.

Using Nudge, you can design onboarding tours that will help you guide your users with your product’s functionality. You can include multiple steps as required and track analytics for product usage since signing up.

3. Spotlight

Spotlight highlights or places emphasis on a specific area or element within the app interface. The goal of the spotlight is to create a visual focal point that captures the user's gaze to a specific feature, button, or section, thus guiding them towards relevant actions or information. For this, it uses an overlay by dimming the background interface to further make the message prominent.

You can also redirect the user to another page by using a separate call-to-action button within the spotlight.

For example, here Make, a workflow automation tool, is highlighting its ‘Upgrade’ button to nudge the user to upgrade from free to paid plans. The nudge overlays on interface and uses short copy to state the upgrade benefits.

Nudge helps you highlight your product’s features, ongoing promotions, or new launches to help your customers get more value from your product.

4. Checklists

Checklists stand out as versatile tools that empower users to navigate complex processes, complete tasks, or stay organized within an application. Think of checklists as a guiding hand, gently leading users through a series of steps, ensuring nothing is overlooked.

For example, Notion has recently released its new product – Notion Calendar. When you sign up, it will show a modal to get started with the onboarding process or learn more about the product on a separate web page.

When you click on ‘Get Started’ it will highlight the 5-step onboarding checklist which will help you set up your Notion calendar as per best settings. On clicking each, it will automatically kickstart the process to complete the step.

Want to set up checklist style onboarding? – Nudge can help design unique checklists to increase customer engagement. You can also design reward systems to ensure users complete the checklist.

5. In app messages

In app messages help deliver context-aware information directly to users while they are actively interacting with a product. Unlike external notifications, in-app messages are delivered within the app environment, ensuring users are engaged in the product without disruption.

For example, here Indigo, a leading affordable flight brand, is using an in-app message to promote its web and mobile application for booking flight tickets. It shares an exclusive offer to book using its in-house ecosystem than travel marketplaces. An overlay makes the message stand out and the ‘Book Now’ CTA sends you directly to the booking page.

Explore Nudge to implement in-app messages to improve your conversion rates for promotions or raise awareness about latest updates for your product. Our targeted nudge placements help you reach your customers at the right place and time of user activity.

6. Coachmarks

In the intricate dance between user interfaces and engagement, Coachmarks emerge as choreographers – guiding users through the intricate steps of app navigation. They are suitable if you want to draw attention to interactive areas or elements that might not be immediately obvious to users. Coachmarks typically manifest as semi-transparent overlays with explanatory text or visual indicators

For example, Flipkart uses coachmarks for its onboarding flow to make it more interactive. Here it is introducing major sections of its mobile app to help users navigate the app and find their way around to the products they wish to purchase.

Nudge’s contextual coachmarks help you grab your user’s attention as desired for your app’s success. Design interactive coachmarks for maximum conversion without disrupting the user's workflow.

Advantages of each in-app nudge type – how to make the right choice?

Each in-app nudge type has its own set of advantages based on user experience delivered, step of the user journey, and product metrics it impacts.

You can always combine two or more in-app nudges to create your own user engagement workflow. For example, it is common to showcase an in-app message before starting the onboarding tour or walkthrough.

Here’s a table that will help you make the right choice for your product’s requirements:

How to use Nudge to set up in-app nudges for your product?

Nudge helps drive product adoption and activates users to make your app a success. It provides a seamless one stop platform to design and launch custom workflows for the complete user journey.

Here’s how you can access our in-app nudges to get started:

Step 1: Click on ‘New Campaign’ to start.

Step 2: Choose ‘In-app Nudges’ as your campaign experience.

Step 3: Enter basic campaign details for easy identification.

Step 4: From the ‘Flow’ section, click on ‘Add Nudge’ and choose the desired in-app nudge type from the available choices. Let’s take an example of designing a ‘Tooltip’ type in-app nudge.

Step 5: Configure the tooltip’s location and design

Step 6: Add content to the tooltip by writing its heading and body. You can add media like videos or images to provide additional information. Then, add an action button to take them to the next step of the flow.

Step 7: Choose your audience – you can launch the tooltip for all users or create a custom audience to target specific attributes of user groups.

Step 8: Preview the campaign and launch. You can save it to edit later and launch as required.

Step 9: Lastly, you can head to ‘Reports’ to track your campaign and measure various success metrics. You can also launch, edit or stop the campaign.

How to measure success on implementing in-app nudge for your product?

To effectively implement in-app nudges, you need to track nudge activities, generate automated reports, and draw insights on performance.

It is possible to broadly understand and measure the impact of in-app nudges using below-mentioned product usage and conversion metrics:

1. Click through rates (CTR)

CTR measures the effectiveness of an in-app nudge in capturing users' attention and motivating them to take the action mentioned in the call to action copy. For in-app nudge types like in-app messages or coachmarks, a higher CTR indicates successful engagement.

How to calculate CTR:

Divide the number of clicks on the in-app nudge by the total number of impressions and multiply by 100 to get the percentage.

CTR = (Clicks/Impressions) * 100

2. Conversion rates

Conversion rate assesses the in-app nudge's ability to drive users toward a specific goal. For example, tracking how many users completed a checklist or an onboarding tour provides insights into the effectiveness of these nudges.

How you define ‘conversion’ is important here. For example, UX Content Collective is sharing an in-app message prompting users to sign up for their newsletter. Hence, your conversion rate will be the number of users ‘signing up’ for the newsletter versus views received.

How to calculate conversion rate for your nudge:

Divide the number of users who completed the desired action triggered by the in-app nudge by the total number of users who viewed the nudge and multiply by 100.

Conversion rate = (completed actions / nudge views) * 100

3. Track user retention due to in-app nudges

A positive impact on user retention and engagement signifies that in-app nudges, such as onboarding tours or walkthroughs, contribute to sustained user interest and activity within the app.

How to determine user retention:

Track user engagement metrics such as daily or weekly active users, session duration, or feature-specific engagement over time. For best results – track these numbers before and after implementation of in-app nudges.

For example, if you run a subscription product, it's easy to determine user retention rate:

Retention rate =  (number of of active subscribers / total active users at the start of a period) * 100

4. Time to completion and progress tracking

This metric is particularly relevant for nudges like walkthroughs or onboarding tours. A shorter time to completion indicates that users find the guidance clear and efficient, contributing to a positive user experience. While longer time indicates you must review your onboarding tour activity – is it too long or confusing for the user?

How to determine completion time:

Opt for user experience softwares that helps track time spent by users in the nudges, complete a specific task or onboarding tour triggered by an in-app nudge.

5. Task completion rates

This metric is useful for in-app nudges like checklists or guided walkthroughs. It reveals the efficacy of the nudge in helping users successfully accomplish specific goals or actions.

For example, here Zapier app is nudging the newly onboarded user to watch a video to learn basics of creating an automation workflow. Here, metrics like CTR, video watch time, and video completion rate will help determine the nudge’s effectiveness.

How to determine task completion rate:

Track the percentage of users who successfully complete a task or series of tasks prompted by in-app nudges.

Task completion rate = (completed tasks / total tasks assigned to user in the nudge) * 100

6. Dwell time on spotlighted areas

Longer dwell times indicate that users are engaging with and exploring the highlighted features or content, suggesting the effectiveness of the spotlight nudge. You can determine dwell time by measuring the average time users spend on areas highlighted by spotlight-type nudges.

Explore our collection of in-app nudges and design an unique user engagement workflow for your app

Manually coding the custom user experiences and tracking metrics requires allocating dedicated resources and talent.

With Nudge, get started with creating custom product experiences across the user journey in a single platform. We also provide advanced tracking, analytics, reporting to help you optimize your user experiences – book a demo today.

Gaurav Rawat
March 6, 2024