An app commerce wave is under way in mobile-first India. Nearly 80 percent of mobile shoppers are buying things with apps, whereas just a year earlier two-thirds of them were using mobile websites, according to data from digital marketing firm Vizury.
Internet and mobile businesses have responded by going all out to engage users on their apps. Last year, there was a headlong rush to get more and more people to download the apps, but now they’re wiser, looking beyond installs at conversion, retention, and quality of users.
The scene is perfectly set for AppVirality, a growth hacker for mobile apps. This Hyderabad-based startup (headquartered in San Francisco) has a plug-and-play DIY toolkit which makes it easy for app developers and marketers to try out one hack after another, track results, and see what works best for their app. Not surprisingly, it’s much in demand.
Users include Paytm, MakeMyTrip, Quikr
AppVirality, which was a Startup Arena finalist at the Tech in Asia Singapore conference in 2014 shortly before its launch, raised US$465,000 seed funding in January this year from prominent angel investors including Google India MD Rajan Anandan. Today it announced a fresh round of US$500,000 from new investors and several of the existing ones, including the Google India head.
In the 10 months between the two funding rounds, AppVirality’s roster of clients has grown from 20 to over 100 mobile apps, co-founder and CEO Laxman Papineni tells Tech in Asia. These include leading businesses like Paytm, MakeMyTrip, Quikr, Redbus, and Airtel as well as emerging ones like test prep app Byju’s, food ordering app Faaso’s, and MySmartPrice.
“When we started it was only the funded startups in the growth stage who wanted a growth hacking team or manager who will think of growth day in and day out. Now that has become mandatory of sorts. If you are an app company, right at the beginning you’re thinking ‘what do I do to get to a million users?’,” says Laxman.
“The whole scene has changed in the last 10 months. Now everybody is obsessive about growth,” he adds. “That is where the opportunity for us lies. It is our responsibility too to give them a lot of options.”
Trial and error on the fly
One of AppVirality’s hacks, for example, is a personalized in-app referral system. But even though this works great for Airbnb, it didn’t click for budget accommodation app Oyo Rooms in India for some reason. Oyo, which is an AppVirality user, scrapped the referral program after two months. “Depending on your user behavior and business model, the same thing won’t work for everyone,” explains Laxman. “That’s where we come in. If not plan A, what’s the plan B to make you grow? On our dashboard you will have 10 different growth hacks to try.”
AppVirality has a simple SDK (software development kit). Once that is plugged into an app, the various available growth hacks can be executed and analyzed right from the dashboard without any coding. The hacks are constantly evolving too, with insights gained from user experiences.
Paytm, for example, wants AppVirality to include a specific type of referral. As soon as you buy a product on Paytm, you will be prompted to share it with a friend who will get a discount for buying the same thing, while you get a similar amount as cash-back.
“It’s at an early stage now. We are talking to other ecommerce companies too. If there is a demand for such a system, it can be a growth hack on our portfolio,” says Laxman. “We list all the requests we get regularly. We brainstorm within our team and see if we can build a new growth hack which companies can use to grow organically.”
This is a process that constantly strengthens AppVirality’s position. “Either people use what we have built already or they tell us what they want – which will then become a growth hack available for everyone,” says AppVirality’s CEO.
Tech partner to a range of businesses
Laxman also points out that organic growth from a hack such as a referral program is far more valuable than acquiring anonymous users from Facebook or Google ads. “The lifetime value of a user from a referral campaign will be way better,” he says.
With internet startups focusing more and more on apps, AppVirality aims to be a tech partner to a wide range of businesses. It saves them the considerable time and cost involved in setting up the tech team and infrastructure to develop growth hacks in-house. “Just to experiment which growth hack works best for you, you will end up spending three to six months. Are you really interested in building a team to do this trial and error method? If not, we can be a growth partner,” says Laxman.
The next challenge for AppVirality, after the second round of funding, is to take the toolkit outside India and also into more categories of apps. “We have a few paying customers in Australia, including Ziptel. Currently, 10 percent of our customers are from outside India. All from inbound interest,” says Laxman.
Is it better to develop growth hacking expertise in-house or buy a readymade solution from the market? Drop your comments below.
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