In this guide, we will explore how custom in-app chat features enable user engagement and retention.

Messaging has become a part of our everyday lives in part due to its convenience for real-time communication and simple-to-use functionality. For instance, an iOS or text message on an iPhone or Android device from a friend, an email from a co-worker on Microsoft or Gmail, a team chat in a Slack or Microsoft Teams workspace, or even instant messaging through social media. These messaging and chat applications play an important role in how the world interacts today, due to their immediacy and vast capabilities. 

A chat application makes it easy to communicate with people anywhere in the world by sending and receiving messages in real time. With a chat app, users are able to receive the same engaging and lively interactions through custom messaging features, just as they would in person. This also keeps users conversing on your platform instead of looking elsewhere for a messaging solution. Whether it’s a private chat, group chat, or large scale chat, adding personalized chat features to your app can help ensure that your users have a memorable experience. 

In this guide, we’ll explore: 

  • How custom in-app chat features enable user engagement

  • The long-term factors to consider when building a chat application

  • How engaging messaging apps lead to an improved user experience 

By the end of this guide, you’ll understand the benefits of implementing personalized, real-time chat app features to increase user engagement and retention on your platform.  

What makes a great chat application? 

More and more people are embracing virtual experiences as a way to connect with one another. From gamer group messaging in a live chat, to e-learning and team communication using chat rooms and file sharing among co-workers, chat applications have grown largely in popularity because of their ability to retain the feel of a real-time conversation, virtually. But, when thinking ahead to how you want to build your app, a vital thing to consider is your customers’ experience. What are the essential features and functionalities that are needed to make an engaging chat app that will lead to user retention? Let’s dive in.

Engaging messaging features

A chat app that’s composed of real-time messaging features enables users to have an authentic and interactive experience. Features like message reactions, stickers, emojis, GIFs, and voice calls and video chat, provide a way to engage your users directly on your app instead of external platforms–creating a more connected experience. Other functionalities like identifying active users, typing indicators, and message history—to name a few—also add to that immediacy by automatically detecting the presence of users in a chat application. 

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For instance, PubNub Presence lets users know when their friends, fellow players, or collaborators are online. This prevents users from taking the conversation offline or to third-party apps, and keeps users engaged with your in-app experience. By implementing engaging, real-time features like this that your users want, you can enhance the overall chat experience for your community and customize chat to reflect your core product offering. 

Scalability of your chat app

When building a chat app, another key factor to consider is concurrency. Whether a private chat, group chat, or large scale chat experience, being able to build without worrying about user fluctuations and concurrency limits on your platform is crucial. And as your user base grows, choosing a solution that scales with you will ultimately be a benefit as your developers can focus on delivering engaging in-app chat experiences to your users. 

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Operating reliably, in real-time 

A reliable and secure chat plays a large role in ensuring a positive user experience in your app. Making sure that messages between active users are being sent and received in real-time fosters an engaging chat where users can immediately interact with each other. As a way to help enable this, the PubNub Data Stream Network offers a scalable and secure solution with real-time functionality and enterprise-grade security. 

In particular, being able to enhance your messaging with engaging features such as GIFs or message reactions without limits or latency issues is vital. It helps to avoid message delays in a real-time setting, which improves the overall user experience by enabling that lively feel. That’s why in a chat built with PubNub, there are no limits or pricing penalties on the number of concurrent users. 

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Ensuring security

When dealing with sensitive information like compliance requirements or personal user information, making sure that your chat application has the proper security features in place is crucial for ensuring that the data of those using your app is protected—for instance, implementing an in-app HIPAA-compliant chat for a telemedicine use case. Additionally, other robust security safeguards for chat apps can be enabled through messaging APIs and access permissions enabled on the backend for who is able to control things at the user, device, channel, or key level. 

Increasing chat app engagement 

The best way to identify the right chat solution to build for your app is to think ahead to how it can support your users needs as your app evolves. Are customized features like video calls or voice chat a must-have for your chat app? Or is pricing and time to market important to you? Having access to the features that can accommodate your use case not only now, but in the future, is invaluable. 

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Especially when focusing on in-app engagement, you’ll want to equip your users with real-time features and reactions right on your platform. Collaborative features like emojis, polls, live video streaming, and other interactive social features help bring users together. However, these engaging features that are able to scale and operate reliably can be hard to build and maintain, which is why a chat platform solution can provide you with the infrastructure you need. 

Building chat with PubNub 

Being able to focus on your customers needs helps foster retention on your messaging platform. A real-time chat platform solution, like PubNub, gives you the flexibility to customize the user experience any way that you want with our unique APIs, SDKs, and pre-built components that can be easily incorporated into the way you prefer to build. This means you can add innovative features that other chat APIs won’t have, such as push notifications, user presence, geolocation, and more. 

Our infrastructure saves you the cost of building and allows you to focus on your users instead of worrying about outages, latency, and high concurrency. 

Key Takeaways

To recap, the long-term benefits of building chat into your app is to attract and retain more users, and keep them engaged. For online work, play, learning, or health, chat applications provide an engaging virtual space for user communities to interact with one another.

By choosing a chat solution that gives you complete control over the look, feel, and capabilities, it allows you to implement custom functionalities that keep your users engaged and present in your chat app–which leads to an overall improved user experience. 

Talk to our experts

If you’re ready to build a custom, fully-featured chat experience, get in touch with one of our experts. We’ll seamlessly get you up and running with custom real-time chat features for your app. 

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