Mobile App 'Ricochet' uses SMS to cost-effectively increase app downloads
Who is Ricochet?
Having an interest or an acquaintance in common is the starting point of many friendships. This is the principle behind Ricochet, the social networking app that makes it easier for users to forge new social ties among their friends of friends. In other words, Ricochet is a “friend-friending” app.
If you’re looking to branch out, you aren’t likely to meet people if you only spend time with the same tight-knit group. However, meeting up with total strangers – whether on a blind date or just as friends – can be quite intimidating. There’s always the chance the person isn’t who they say they are, or that you two are just too different to enjoy each other’s company.
A good middle ground is the “two-degrees of separation” rule – the idea that you’re more likely to hit it off with the friends of your friends than with a total stranger. Not surprisingly, many dating apps have capitalized on this fact, using social networking logins like Facebook to present friends of friends with each other’s dating profiles.
Ricochet, a social networking rather than a dating app, also builds on this idea: it lets a user create an event – music concert, sports game, museum trip – and choose invitees among their friends of friends who also use Ricochet, along with anyone else in their phone’s address book. Hobby tags in the app let you know who might be interested in what, and geolocalization lets users see who’s nearby, making it easier to organize spontaneous outings or find each other at a crowded event.
The challenge: cost-effectively increase downloads
“The whole idea behind Ricochet is that it makes it easy to expand your social circle, but also involve your existing friends. We needed a way to let Ricochet users invite people they already knew – whether they had the Ricochet app or not,” explained Christophe Campuzan, Founder of Ricochet. This would of course deliver on their promise of making social networking easier, but also increase Ricochet’s number of downloads, since installing the app is a prerequisite for RSVPing ‘yes’.
The well-known high open rates and ubiquity of SMS made it a natural choice for inviting non-Ricochet users to an event. After a competitive benchmark, Christophe decided on CALLR, impressed with the quality of the API, documentation, and price to high quality ratio.
One option Ricochet had to solve the invitation issue was to allow an app user in the middle of creating an event to redirect them to their text messaging app. However, this presented its own challenges: “Our main worry was that if we asked users to leave Ricochet and select contacts one by one in their address book, this would create a poor user experience and discourage app usage. We wanted to make it easy and fast for people to select anyone in their address book from within the Ricochet interface. For invitees, they needed to be able to download the app and get right back to the event they’re interested in.”
We got 1 app download from a Ricochet user sending 57 SMS invitations. This may not sound like a lot, but in terms of CPI (cost per install) it’s quite interesting.”
Integration with CALLR’s API allowed them to directly send SMS invitations from within the Ricochet app when a mobile number was detected (and when it wasn’t, an email invite is sent for contacts with an email listing). In addition, invitations include a link that sends users directly back to their event after guiding them through the steps to install Ricochet. “Sending SMS through the server like this creates a smooth user experience. We also get all our relevant KPIs this way – opens, clicks, downloads…” explained Christophe.
App install rates through SMS event invites are encouraging: “We got 1 app download from a Ricochet user sending 57 SMS invitations. This may not sound like a lot, but in terms of CPI (cost per install) it’s quite interesting.” Ricochet is also exploring the efficacy of allowing users to send mass invitations, not to join an event, but just to download the app. “It costs a lot less and we get a lot better results through SMS download invitations than through buying digital ads, like on Facebook.”
The next step: SMS to complement push notifications
As a mobile app, Ricochet uses push notifications to keep users informed of when an event starts or is canceled, among other information. However, challenges with opt-in and “push fatigue” means that introducing SMS as a complementary notification channel could be a good way to make sure users consistently stay informed. “We’re not at the stage yet where we’re going to use SMS for event updates tomorrow, but it’s something we want to explore as we move forward,” clarified Christophe. “Everyone is constantly swamped with notifications for events via Facebook, WhatsApp or other social networks. Many people already send a personalized text as a backup to make sure their event stands out, so it’s certainly an interesting avenue to explore further.”
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