In the past few months, we’ve experienced a big improvement in our key metrics. It came as a result of a change in our philosophy on how to build invi. We’re excited with the results. We were asked by other startups to share it, so here is a quick summary of what we did and our thoughts on how to approach it. Talk to users -- We try hard to listen to our users. We keep an ongoing dialogue with them by responding to their requests and complaints through a virtual user on the app, “Tracy from invi”. Users can message with “Tracy” on the app and one of our team members replies. We also try to listen and respond to reviews on Google Play and the feedback we receive through support emails. Our users’ feedback is essential to invi’s success; we do our best to incorporate the new features and small improvements they suggest. We now realize though, this isn’t enough. Track what they do and not do -- Approximately six months ago, we began really tracking user activity and analyzing data using funnels, retention cohort and segmentation with Mixpanel. This has made a dramatic difference in how we work and where we focus our time. A love story -- When it comes to product decisions and processes, we compare the relationship between the app and the users to a relationship between a couple. We want to build a healthy relationship, so we roll out the features gradually, understanding and setting the stages right, and focusing on the metrics that are important to us. We have set four key steps: first date, second date, getting married and post-marriage relations (spend time together, stay married and have kids).
Register and send first text message. For the longest time, we had an 11% completion rate. We understood that to take this number up, we needed to make the first date short and fun. In order to do so, we should demonstrate value much faster, or in other words, shorten the ‘time to value’. As an analogy, we needed to change from the pompous guy who speaks about himself excessively and causes the date to drag, to a funny easygoing guy who makes the date fly by and the girl want to meet up again because she had so much fun. We learned that showing too many features too soon is counterproductive. It’s more effective to focus on one main feature. In our case, the experience of sending the first text message. The first date should create a “wow effect”. We want users to arrive at their invi inbox and think “Wow! These are my SMS chats. This looks WAY better than the native SMS app that comes with my phone! Let’s give it a try.” (We automatically copy the SMS chat history from your native SMS app, so you can pick up any conversation right where you left off.) To help us have a successful first date, we cleared up all the “noise” and decided to roll out other features later on. The first date completion rate went up from 11% to 61%. Here is the breakdown: Onboarding -- Onboarding is defined as the moment you open the app for the first time, register successfully and then see a beautiful inbox filled with your most recent SMS conversations. The onboarding completion rate was initially quite low. After seeing the metrics, we improved the onboarding experience. We streamlined it and made it more enjoyable: we added the ability to choose an inbox theme while you’re waiting for the registration code, and we added a cute dog wearing a silly construction hat as we’re syncing your contacts and building your inbox. The onboarding completion rate went up from 35% to 86%. Time to value -- “Time to value” is the minimum amount of time it takes a new user to understand and experience the value they get from the app. The app doesn’t need to demonstrate all the value it offers up front. It should show just enough for you to want to invest more time to explore it or in other words, agree to go on a second date. In our case, the “time to value” is finishing the quick onboarding process and getting to a beautiful inbox filled with current chats that are copied from your default SMS app, tapping on a conversation and continuing where you left off. People make quick decisions, so we worked hard to make the onboarding process short and sweet. We managed to shorten the time to value (a.k.a. onboarding time) from 2.5 minutes to 28 seconds. Sending the first text message to a friend -- The completion rate for sending a message went up from 23% to 75%!
Use and share rich media --That’s what invi is all about. The user begins to truly experience invi by sharing rich media in his texting conversation. Mini app usage -- How many of the registered users open the mini app screen and see them? Initially we put a lot of effort into building each of the mini apps. Our vision was that any app developer would be able to use an SDK to create her own mini app in the future. Unfortunately the mini app screen was seemingly overlooked by most users; only 25% of users accessed it. We changed this by adding an eye-catching FAB icon in place of a small, obscure handle that was easy to miss. The access rate went up from 25% to 89%.Rich media sharing -- ‘Hold and drag’ used to be the primary way to share rich media on invi. We were very proud of this. Once you knew how to use it and you practiced it over 10 times, it even became easy and intuitive. We all liked it. New users didn’t. According to our metrics, only 17% of users were sharing rich media. Clearly something had to change, though we weren’t ready to part with our beloved hold-and-drag functionality. Instead, we redesigned tooltips and created educational hints on how to do it. We added screenshots and provided bouncy demonstrations. Nothing helped. It was only when we added a big, red FAB icon that rich media sharing increased from 17% to 60%.
Set invi as their default SMS app -- “I pronounce you husband and app!”Default SMS app -- Once you set invi as your default SMS app, new incoming SMS messages will trigger a notification from invi instead of your phone’s native SMS app. We unintentionally used to hide this option on the bottom of the settings page. Users needed to go to the main app menu, choose the settings and scroll down in order to find it. We were surprised to find out that a third of registered users actually did this. We still have work to do here, but only by moving it to the top of the app menu (saving a click and a scroll) did it increase from 33% to 40%. Our goal is to reach 50%.
Post marriage relations
Use, stay and bring others -- happily spend time together, stay married and have kids Happily spend time together (daily usage) -- How many times a day do you use the app? It was low. We stabilized the app, fixed bugs and made many small UX enhancements and it gradually went up from 2 to 8 times a day, to 10 and then 12 times a day for 30 seconds each session on average. Our end-of-year goal is to take it to 15. Stay happily married, so she doesn’t run away with a better app (retention) --. This is measured by DAU, MAU and DAU/MAU. We are working on identifying the key sticking points, figure out and focus on the features that hook the users. Have kids (virality and marketing) -- Virality -- Inspire the users to bring their friends, add smart viral hooks. Marketing -- Flame it with ongoing media outreach, PR, featured on Google Play, social media and other forms of marketing
Retention, virality and media outreach - We continue to work on our post-marriage relations (who doesn’t?). It looks like we are indeed happily spending time together -- our daily usage is steadily increasing. In the near future, we will be working on the other two: staying together (retention) and having kids (virality and media outreach). First we will be mainly focusing on retention rather than on growth (creating value and removing friction). Once achieved, we will work on virality. We will continuing listening to our users, maintaining the cycle of build, measure and learn and focusing on creating an awesome product that people really want to use.
Let us know what do you think
Thank you for reading. Building invi is still a work in progress, we are constantly learning. Please let us know what you think; any feedback would be awesome! :) Email us to firstname.lastname@example.org