How Chat API Boosts the Engagement & Retention of Users

Instant messaging is a term that entered common usage during the 90s. The days of GTalk, Yahoo Messenger, Orkut, who can forget? But do you know that the actual concept of instant messaging dates back to the mid-1960s? The Compatible Time-Sharing Systems (CTSS) were one of the very first multi-user operating systems, created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computation Center in 1961.

Karen Kelty • Apr 21, 2020

Instant messaging is a term that entered common usage during the 90s. The days of GTalk, Yahoo Messenger, Orkut, who can forget?

But do you know that the actual concept of instant messaging dates back to the mid-1960s? The Compatible Time-Sharing Systems (CTSS) were one of the very first multi-user operating systems, created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computation Center in 1961. They allowed up to 30 users to log in at the same time and send messages to each other. Those systems, which perhaps seem closer to emails today, had a lot of registered users from MIT and nearby colleges by 1965.

Since then, we have come a long way as today we have multiple ways to communicate. In the case of user-user interaction, we have options like push notifications, in-app messaging, real-time chat, and more.

The reason for this is simple – most of the platform owners have realized the fact that there’s nothing that engages users better than a chat arena. A place where they can voice their mind, talk to people (including buyers as well as sellers), find like-minded folks, and have a good time connecting with others goes a long way in ensuring that they stick around to your website or app.

Now, when it comes to developing a chat platform, you’re often caught between two options

  • Building chat from scratch

  • Using a ready-made chat API

Chart showing pros and cons of building chat from scratch vs. using readymade APIs

While the first option seems like it’ll put you in more control of the chat application, there are a few cons there. The price being just one. If you, on the other hand, opt for using a chat API to power your chat platform, you’ll find yourself open to a world of features that you can add to your chat service.

[For a full breakdown on the pros and cons of each, see also our article Should You Build Chat From Scratch or Buy Chat APIs?]

But what exactly is a chat API?

What's a Chat API?

In simple terms, a chat API is an application program interface that allows you to connect to the server side and provides real-time chat and messaging features on any application or website. All the features that you can imagine for scalability, stability, etc. that’ll be needed in a real-time chat application are supported by these chat APIs.

Whether it’s an intimate one-to-one conversation or an open group chat – chat APIs help you deliver those features. But still, as a business/platform owner, you might wonder how exactly do these APIs help you.

Very briefly, using chat API you can offer various functionalities for your users. You can also open various communication channels, including:

1. User-to-user

Whether it’s a in-app chat for a dating platform (or even eLearning and healthcare, for that matter), a user-to-user interaction can be made possible using a chat API. If we’re talking about a healthcare platform, this interaction will be between patients and doctors.

2. Online marketplaces

Chat APIs help e-commerce platforms maintain a communication channel between marketplace, sellers, and buyers for complete transparency.

3. Service provider users

Communication between the service providers in the marketplace and the users can prove to be extremely fruitful.

4. Broadcaster audience

Here comes push notifications – another feature that can be availed using Chat API.

How Can Chat APIs Boost User Engagement?

By now, we’re on the same page that chat API truly offer a host of services that help you present a better chat platform to your users. This also definitely helps people get more hooked to your platform – because if they get an arena to voice themselves, they’ll feel at home, at ease. But still if we’re to talk about specific functionalities of these chat APIs that boost engagement, let’s begin:

1. Various modes of conversing

Whether you’re looking for a one-on-one chat, a private group chat, or a public group chat – the Chat APIs take care of all of them. There will be times when your users would want to raise their opinion on a public platform, and there’ll be opposite times, too. For instance, if you offer gaming services, you’d definitely want to have a public forum where your users can discuss the happenings of the game. If you own a dating application, you can’t do without a private chat option. Likewise, different requirements for different industries. But at the end of the day, the result is the same – increased engagement.

2. Collaborative features

Screenshots demonstrating collaborative features of CometChat

Allowing your users to express their thoughts on a collaborative whiteboard helps increase engagement. Especially if you’re a business website, a social community, or a gaming platform, this is one of the necessary features if user engagement is what you’re wishing to achieve.

3. File sharing

Using Chat API, you can add features that allow your users to share important documents, whether they are photos, videos, or notes. Giving this option to your users will open a wider spectrum of communication in front of them.

4. Screen sharing

By allowing your users to share screens while communicating, you ensure a level of transparency like no other. Just imagine the possibilities – any concerns that your users might have, can be solved in real-time, even faster, by using screen sharing capabilities.

5. Push notifications

Three iPhones showing push notifications

Push notifications deserve a special mention if we’re talking about user engagement. Bringing your users back to your platform is what these notifications do. Push Notifications ensure that each time the user has a message, they get notified in real-time, and can just tap on the notification to visit their chat boxes. Pretty engaging, isn’t it?

All of these, and more features ensure that your users are hooked to your site, and therefore to your offerings. It comes as no surprise that chat APIs are becoming increasingly popular in the market for a huge variety of industries. There are hardly any industries, where the owners have not been overwhelmed by using chat applications on their platform. Now that you’ve selected the array of features necessary for you, and used a chat API to engage users to your platform, let’s talk about the next important thing: user retention.

Use the Power of Chat APIs to Boost Retention

Chat API presents developers and entrepreneurs with features that are tailor-made to boost retention rates.

Using AI-powered technology to build a communication channel, you can help your users send across powerful messages and get their queries resolved. These features can help you target a specific segment of your audience with offerings that precisely suit their needs and interests.

Features like personalized messaging, too, help a lot if we’re talking about retaining users. No matter the domain of business you’re operating in, providing your users with the option of directly communicating, in real-time, with others on your platform, will help them clarify their doubts faster. Once they have quick access to all the information needed, it’ll ease out the next steps they need to take.


Further, other features like emojis, gifs, file sharing, will ensure that communication on your platform is an interactive experience and not merely an activity. It’ll be an experience that your users will want to revisit time and again. There you go, you have a set of visitors making their way back to your platform. How? Because you took care of their needs using chat API.

That brings us to CometChat – a real-time messaging service provider. Their Chat API offers all the features discussed above, and more. Let’s see how they can help your cause.

CometChat API for Increasing User Engagement and Retention

Dating Apps

A conversational user interface for your dating app is imperative. Your users should ideally be able to interact personally, face-to-face, rather than simple texting. This can be achieved by enabling voice and video chats.

CometChat's API allows you to seamlessly integrate these features in your app.

Online Communities and Social Networking

As a business, having an online community can be immensely beneficial to you. It’s a place where your customers, brand advocates, influencers, employees, and others can convene and interact.

CometChat’s communication features helps you keep your community active. Users can communicate through real-time text, voice and video chat, Collaborative WhiteBoard and WriteBoard, etc.

Marketplace Websites

Marketplaces are helped a great deal by user-to-user chat. It is especially great when it comes to users solving their concerns regarding any product on your marketplace. if they get a chance to discuss with fellow users, they’ll be able to trust the products even more. It will create transparency, which will help with engagement and retention, and in turn, increase your goodwill as a brand.

Imagine this, in the absence of a chat feature the buyer and seller would communicate with each other via emails or over a call. They will complete the transaction outside of your platform. You also run the risk of letting your marketplace be ‘just another platform’ where buyer/seller can just ‘find’ each other but not carry out transactions. Integrating real-time chat within your app helps with ensuring the transactions or interactions do not go outside of your platform.


By using a hat API for your healthcare platform, you can create a thoroughly interconnected ecosystem. One in which patients can seamlessly communicate with the doctors, and also with other patients. This will not only improve the overall treatment process but also save time of doctors as well as patients.

Doctors and patients can share medical reports and prescriptions with each other in real time. Other than just connecting with doctors and patients, you can also use this offering to share medical reports in real-time. Such coordinated efforts between patients and doctors will result in a much more efficient healthcare ecosystem.


eLearning platforms require a certain level of communication and interaction. Without that, there’ll be no way for the students to reach out to the teachers, or even to the other students, for that matter.

Having a chat API for your eLearning platform for offering features like video chat, voice chat, file sharing, screen sharing, and more goes a long way in ensuring that the students stick to your platform. This can be only achieved by providing them with what they need. And trust us, an effective communication channel is the very first thing they need, especially if we’re talking about e-learning forums.

And More...

Even if you don’t belong to the list of service providers discussed above, there’s no reason for you to stop yourself from using chat services. Consultation domain, for instance, could use real-time chat and its features to help their users get better assistance. And that’s not it, no matter the domain you’re from, at the end of the day, it’s about helping your users connect better.

And when it comes to transparent communication and allowing the users to engage with each other, there’s nothing that comes remotely close to implementing chat APIs.

Want to learn more about how a chat API can fuel engagement and retention for your app or website? Chat with a member of our team to tell us your unique use case, and decide if CometChat is right for you.

Karen Kelty


Karen Kelty is the Director of Content Marketing at CometChat.

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