The best-laid plans of app developers are often belied by the actions of actual users.
When Guy Tal, CEO of Bel Media Group, an Israeli app publisher with around 100 gaming, social and utility applications, soft-launched Tinder-like Android dating app WeMeet, he and his team assumed users would be easily attracted to the service because it’s free.
But they noticed right away that users weren’t spending very much time inside the app. Second-day retention was low and although users were swiping right, matches weren’t necessarily resulting in chats or engagement.
“We thought giving away features for free would do the job, but it was clear that we had an engagement and retention problem,” said Tal, who noted that WeMeet has just under 500,000 global users clustered mainly in Russia and India.
Low engagement is a serious problem for a nascent app that monetizes primarily through advertising.
But rather than running a standard re-engagement campaign of push, paid search and paid social to woo dormant users, Bel Media turned to its long-time monetization partner, mobile marketing and insights platform StartApp, to jazz up the WeMeet in-app experience with data-driven enhancements.
“WeMeet’s KPI was very straightforward: to improve the ratio between matches made and conversations,” said Ran Avidan, CTO and co-founder of StartApp.
It’s tough, though, for a small app with a modest and still-growing user base to gather enough insights from its own users to make statistically sound decisions.
As part of its platform, StartApp offers a tool called Soda that helps smaller apps share data to create more robust, collective user profiles and fill in gaps in their knowledge.
Soda aggregates user behavior and interest data combined with anonymized first-party data from its social app partners. StartApp’s SDK is integrated with around 300,000 apps, which gives it access to the actions of roughly 1.2 billion users.
Apps can pull in real-time info from Soda to inform the experience.
WeMeet, for example, uses Soda’s targeting data to help power its matching algorithm. Better matches give users a reason to chat and stick around longer.
WeMeet is also tapping into another feature within Soda called Bubbles, which allows developers to add interactive functionality to their apps. In WeMeet’s case, that takes the form of a real-time quiz that suggests mutually interesting topics to help users break the ice once a match is made.
Some of StartApp’s other clients bake in bubbles for ordering taxis, for example, or sharing content, which users can do without leaving the app. Soda has a direct integration with Uber.
Within about three months of integrating Soda, the ratio of in-app user matches that resulted in a chat increased, contributing to a 30% overall uptick in time spent in WeMeet. Bel Media also saw a lift in day three retention from 47% to 58% and in 30-day retention from 23% to 30%.
“The app is completely ad revenue-driven, so the more time spent within the app, the more ads a user sees,” Avidan said. “And the more ads a user sees, the more revenue that generates.”