Mobile apps have become a significant part of our daily lives. This means that users are bound to be on their phones longer in a day than ever before. This also means that mobile marketers need to use every possible element to enhance user engagement. And one discreet but effective element you can experiment with is your app’s home screen icon badge. So, here we delve deep into what exactly these app icons are, their importance in boosting engagement, and how you can use and optimize them to enhance your app’s performance.

What Does App Icon Badge Refer To?

Before understanding app icon badge meaning, let’s understand what app icons are. App icons are basically the symbol of the app that tells you which app it is. These icons save space by simply allowing the icon to tell users what the app is, such as the Facebook app icon, without even needing to provide the name. In this way, these app icons act as a branding element, allowing users to interact with the apps optimally. This makes it important to ensure that the icon looks attractive and memorable, so users can instantly identify it with the brand itself.

Now, apps are bound to send users push notifications, which appear on the notification bar. In the case of unread notifications from a specific app, the number of notifications yet to be read pops up in the corner of the app icon as well. This little element, that lets users know how many new notifications the app has sent them, is called the dot badge, meaning another term for app icon badge. The number inside the badge is called the badge count.

Types of Apps that Use App Icon Badges 

Using app icon badges is more effective in the case of some categories of apps than others. The apps that need the users to interact with them regularly or need them to take some action are more likely to benefit from app icon badges, meaning increased user engagement and better performance. Accordingly, the following kinds of apps are most commonly found to use app icon badges:

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Social Media 

Social media apps send notifications to users in the case of new in-app notifications, such as new connection requests or updates on a page or person they may follow. Similarly, badges in notifications are also sent when a new message is received. All these are shown in the app icon in the form of numbered badges, telling the user that there is content waiting for them to interact with.

Messaging and Calling 

Notifying users about missed calls or unread messages is another very common way icon badges are used. They let users know that others are trying to reach them. In such cases, these can help users stay updated on urgent tasks, since they may not even think of opening the apps to check missed calls and unread messages otherwise.


Just like unread messages, email apps also extensively use icon badges to keep users updated on how many conversations they need to catch up on. This can help them keep from missing out on urgent and time-sensitive emails, making them more productive.

Game Apps 

Many game apps encourage users to play every day to win better rewards. In the case of such games, the apps may show app icon badges to remind users to come back to the app and earn their rewards for the new day.

Banking and Finance Apps 

Missing out on bill payments can be detrimental. Similarly, missing out on great new offers from banks can also feel like a loss. This is why, many banking and finance apps also tend to use app icon badges to remind users to pay the bills, especially when the due date is approaching.

Settings App 

Phones need to be kept updated with the latest software updates for them to work properly. This is why the settings app of each phone also uses this feature to notify users that the next update is available. This further helps boost user engagement as the phone now becomes up-to-speed to operate at its best capacity.

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Importance of Icon Badges in Mobile Marketing 

The very basic reason why these badges and badge counts have become important is that they make the user curious. While notification badges, meaning badges on the notification bar, tell them exactly what the notification is, icon badges do not. This is why users are bound to click on the app icon to discover what they missed out on while they were not on their phones. In turn, this has a lot of benefits for marketers, some of which are:

Attracts Immediate Attention 

On a home screen with a huge layout of app icons, users are more bound to open the app that shows them that they have notifications waiting for them. So, by using an icon badge or a badge count, marketers can ensure that the user becomes more likely to open their app before any other app, even if it is just to remove the number count at the corner.

Enables Timely Communication 

Continuing from the previous point, having a badge count on the apps icon conveys the feeling that there is urgent information waiting for them. This enables timely communication by triggering the aspect of FOMO in them. As a result, if the app wishes to share new offers or any urgent message, it can get conveyed on time, allowing the user to benefit from the same as well.

Fosters User Engagement 

The aspect of curiosity associated with these icon badges ensures that the user interacts with the app, which could have been less likely in the absence of these badges. Once the user opens the app, an interactive visual layout and user interface can encourage them to interact with the app even more, thus increasing user engagement. This increases the probability of them finding out more things about the offerings on the app and thus, increases the probability of increased conversions.

Best Practices to Leverage App Icon Badges 

Icon badges can be a great tool to help mobile marketers increase user engagement. However, that can only be possible if it is used effectively. Here are some best practices that can help mobile marketers get the most out of implementing icon badges on their app.

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Prevent Overwhelming 

Providing updates on missed notifications through the badge count is great. However, if the number reflects every single notification the users missed out on, then it can overwhelm them and backfire. So, it is ideal to choose a specific type of information that will be of value to the user. This can be the number of unread messages, updates, or general notifications.

Dynamic Badge Updates 

Dynamic app elements are always interesting to see. So, making the icon badge dynamic so it reflects every new notification as soon as the user receives it will make the user more compelled to check it out and engage with the app.

Conduct A/B Testing 

Different user segments have different preferences regarding the frequency of updates and even the way in which the icon badges appear. So, conducting regular A/B testing to see how users are reacting to a specific style can help marketers identify whether changes are needed. This can help them come up with the best blend of elements that yields the highest engagement.

Allow Users to Opt-out 

Relating to the aspect of different users having different preferences, you need to keep in mind that not all users may even want icon badges in the first place. So, giving users the freedom to hide app icon badges is crucial to ensure optimal user satisfaction.

In Conclusion 

Home screen app icon badges serve as powerful visual cues that can compel users to engage with an app more. However, only when these badges have been properly used can marketers get the desired results. This makes it crucial to be well aware of what the users want. With strategic implementation based on best practices and careful assessment of user behavior, marketers can benefit from significantly improved user experience, which can help make their app more relevant in the current digital landscape.