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A case study from Truecaller on how to “Engineer the Word of Mouth.”
Kim Fai Kok - Daniel Göker - Umut Alp June 2013 Robert Rodriguez (the director of Sin City), once said, “Low budget force you to be more creative. Sometimes, with too much money, time and equipment, you can over-think.” Give $100,000 to an ad agency and they give you a couple of nice ads and a bought ad space on Adwords. Give them $10 million and you get a big YouTube campaign. But what if you only have $1,000? Where does that get you? Such limitations are almost ‘given in the startup world, even the ones with good funding. Truecaller is a mobile app with a very simple yet extremely ambitious concept – create the world’s largest phone directory. Truecaller’s database is enhanced by its community that helps keep it accurate by sharing information – yes, we are talking about crowdsourcing. The users are still in charge of who can see their contact information. Truecaller is still a startup – in 2012 we managed to grow our user base from ≈2 million users to over 10 million users – and today we’ve reached our 20 million-user milestone. Stating the obvious, from the very start, we have aligned our marketing efforts not with 'spending much' but with 'spending smart'. With a bootstrapped marketing budget, the key to Truecaller's impressive growth has been the power of our community, social media and a simple product with a built in viral mechanism. Word of mouth, or viva voce, is considered the most powerful way of marketing if you ask any marketer. So we asked ourselves in the early days, ‘how could we make our product more viral, and how could we make our users share their ‘Truecaller’ experience with their friends?” We have boiled down our findings and experience to a couple of key points that we call the “Virality Pack.” Disclaimer: This is only our five cents and tips on how to make your product more viral. Please be aware of that all products and apps are different – don’t hope to get a hockey stick effect by just implementing these features. Remember there are other factors that are important as well for growth – these things need to be measured, analyzed and tweaked a lot before the effect actually kicks in.
1. Implementing the ‘Like’ button in the right place
We try to display the ‘like’ button when we provide an enjoyable 1
(positive) user experience. So we’ve placed the ‘like’ button according to these criteria: • • • If the user makes a search and successfully finds a result. If the user has been playing around in the Facebook tab more than 5 times. If the user has already liked Truecaller, we wouldn't bother her anymore.
One of the technical challenges was to implement the Like button in a user friendly way. We did a lot of research on how to "Like" in-app content. It turned out that it was impossible and the only way was to use Facebook's Like button in a web page. What we did was to send the user to Safari and Facebook's mobile login page, whichautomatically redirect them to our custom made Like page. Since Safari is likely to be keeping a login cookie, the user would be redirected immediately to the Like page. On that web page, we did not only have a Like button, but also a Back button that would take the user back to Truecaller. We have registered our own URL scheme in the app that we can use to link back to the app.
2. Ask for review (at the right moment)
We’ve seen too many apps asking for a review as soon as you open the app. Honestly, how can you expect to get feedback from somebody when they haven’t even tested your product? According to a study Applifier made recently, “user reviews” is actually the top source of word of mouth (43%), and followed by “hearing from friend/family member” (36%) and “seeing friend/family member play the game” (25%). We only display the review notification if any of the following conditions happen with at least 30 days in between and if the user previously has not reviewed the application: • The user has made 5 successful searches (manual or automatic on Android)
Update phonebook has successfully run and completed with at least a total of 5 contact updated and/or waiting for action The first time the user searches for a number (manual or automatic on Android) and marks the number as spam
3. Show the user what they are missing
By looking into our data, we try to identify the key to a great user experience. The x-factor for a great user experience is when Truecaller helps a user identify a number or blocking a spam call. We notify the user when 30 days has passed since they used one of the major features of Truecaller such as Search, Social/Facebook, Call filter, Update phonebook (prioritized in that order). We use the local system notifications provided by the operating system. We only send one notification and make sure it doesn’t happen on the same day as any other local notification, if so, we postpone it by 10 days. There is a fine line between reminding the user to reuse the app in a friendly fashion and spamming her with a flood of notifications. We know where that line is and fully respect it.
4. Make the user spread the word for you
Enabling users to share the service easily is extremely underrated, but just look at Facebook and LinkedIn. One of the key factors for their growth has been through contact importing services – so we took a lot of inspiration for this feature. Invites should be possible to make through SMS, Email and Facebook and other possible API’s. The point of the invite is that it can be made to several users with as few clicks as possible. When the user presses invite and chooses their method, a searchable or easily scrollable list of contacts that are applicable for that way of contact should be displayed. The user should be able to mark one or several of these contacts and then press “Invite” to finally see the prepared message and press send.
5. Use Social Media
Another important channel that we looked in to was the Facebook ticker. The ticker shares that you’ve looked up for a number in the app (similar to Spotify’s ticker) – but we don’t show the number you’re looking for. This is a very important way for us to brand ourselves, especially when we want to be the top of the mind service when it comes to number lookups.
Social Media: Just after implementing the “virality pack” we increased our monthly new Facebook likes with more than 120%.
Shares to friends: By shares through the app we mean people sharing/recommending Truecaller, but also asking other people for help to identify a number either through email/SMS/social media.
Reviews: By asking for review at the “right moment” we believe this could result in a more positive.
1. Make it easy for your users to share the great experience.
2. Don’t ask them to review something until you know they will be sharing a great experience. 3. Only display share/like buttons when you think they have had a great experience. Once again, please note that this model was not born suddenly, but gradually evolved after many days and months of analyzing data and studying user behaviors. Please bear in mind that this is not a one-man show, but instead it requires a lot of group effort and input from everybody in the team. To us, this is just the start. We have plenty of innovations in the pipeline for how to maintain and increase growth. Virality and retention is a never-ending process that needs to be measured and tweaked all the time. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email. We would be more than happy to discuss this further and how we can improve “Engineering the Word of Mouth”. --Thanks, Kim, Daniel & Umut email@example.com
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