Mobile Messaging Cheat Sheet

Choose the Right Mobile Messaging Communication Channels Every Time

by Justin Dunham Director, Digital Acquisition & Marketing Ops

As a mobile marketer, you know that sending the right message at the right time is imperative for earning customer loyalty, engagement and trust.

But are you choosing the right mobile channel?

The next time you want to communicate with your audience, use this checklist to consider which mobile messaging channel is the best fit.

Want more detail on the do’s and don’ts of each channel? See my article “Secrets For Choosing the Right Mobile Messaging Channel” over at the KISSMetrics blog.

No App? No Problem

SMS Text Messaging

  • Best for simple, urgent, transactional messages.
  • Examples: flight status updates, announcements, confirmations, etc.

Mobile Wallet


  • Whether it’s a banner ad or pop-up messages only mobile users see, or some other kind of mobile-friendly website messaging, this channel is best for non-urgent messages that users can act on while on your site.
  • Examples: subscribe to newsletters, register for upcoming webinars, schedule a demo, etc.

If You Do Have an App…

If you have an app, your options broaden considerably.

Push Notifications

Caveat: Push notifications only reach users who have opted in, which is usually less than half of your app users. And choose this channel wisely: users are more likely to turn off push notifications — or even uninstall your app — if they think your push notifications as obnoxious, unnecessary or irrelevant.

In-App Messages

  • In-app messages are messages delivered to your users while they are directly active in your mobile app. This channel is frequently used to feature new products or services and for app onboarding.
  • Examples: Messages about new products or services, or app onboarding messages.
  • Learn more: Check out our In-App Messaging Explained cheat sheet. (Bonus: our custom event triggers can help you automate these messages.)

Message Center

  • If you don’t already have a message center inside your app, you should strongly consider it. It’s essentially an in-box within your app, great for sending non-urgent messages your users might want to keep.
  • Examples: Special offers, free downloads, feature announcements, etc.
  • Learn more: Our data shows that combining push notifications and a message center can increase message read rates up to 200%.


Apple Watch and Android Wear let users get information the second they need it, without their even having to take out their phones. Wearable notifications are like even more intimate versions of push notifications — great for sending even more condensed, but time-sensitive, messages that you are sure your users will want to receive.


When you understand your mobile channels and the unique communications channel each one represents, you’re more likely to choose the channel that will help you connect with your users in the ways they’ll welcome.

But keep in mind, even the best channels won’t make a bad, thoughtless or otherwise off-target message good. See our “From Good Push to Great Mobile Engagement” ebook for more help on creating push notifications that earn attention and even delight your users.

And don’t forget to listen to your users — let their responses and preferences (and the data you glean from user behavior) guide your decision-making.

Ready to go? Get started with Urban Airship’s Engage platform for free today, or book an appointment with our Strategic Services Team to better understand your mobile messaging channels, increase engagement and grow your program ROI.

Originally published at



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Urban Airship is now Airship! Leading brands trust us to help them achieve digital growth. We make mobile moments magic.