The day was January 6th 2019. There was nothing out of the ordinary, apart from the fact that we were launching a long drawn rewards campaign on AppBrowzer. We spent over 2 months planning and implementing this campaign. Finally, it was launch day. Before you know it, in comes January 7th and nothing has been quite the same. We got over 1 Lac downloads in just 24 hours! This number was only climbing. The next day, we were placed at the 1st spot on the trending section of the Google Play Store! Nobody in the team was expecting it.
AppBrowzer was trending in multiple categories on the play store.
We were receiving over 500 requests per second! We have never seen this kind of numbers since inception. It blew so much out of proportion that our servers crashed. The team managed to curb and solve the fixes because of our prior experience with a rewards campaign we ran a couple of years back in 2017. The campaign was a huge success, one that went viral in no time!
Now after over 4 months, looking back, here is my learning and thoughts after the experience.
About the AppBrowzer Rewards Campaign
Previously, we had put in a lot of money in paid marketing and other traditional app marketing approaches. Most of them could only take us so far, eventually fizzling out into oblivion. As we were approaching 2019, we had to do something different, something bold. After much thought, we planned a variable rewards campaign. The objective of the campaign was two-fold. One to drive in user acquisition and the other was to increase engagement in the app itself.
Normal Rewards vs Variable Rewards
I had mentioned about our previous campaign. However, that campaign was different from this variable rewards campaign. How so? The campaign earlier in 2017 was a simple refer and earn cashback. The user would be given a fixed reward amount on the successful action of inviting a new user in the app. The campaign hit a bump and then fizzled away soon after. What was the difference? There wasn’t any anticipation or variability introduced. There is a contrast between normal rewards and a carefully thought variable rewards system.
This campaign is different. It was implemented using the now well-known system of scratch cards. This would enable us to introduce variability to the campaign. The user would be rewarded with a scratch card for a particular action or task on the app. But how does introducing a variable element to the rewards system make it any different?
Here’s why we chose to go with a variable rewards system. There is actually a science behind it. It is really important for anyone building a product to understand the mind of a consumer. A study I read recently showed a pattern of how we function as consumers. I used this study to create the framework of the recently viral campaign. The study revealed that we as humans are more excited in anticipation of a reward than when they receive the reward itself.
Take the common example of going for a highly anticipated movie along with your friend. The experience is coupled with a heightened sense of happiness and excitement. However, after the first time, the experience is not the same as the first. We are wired to predicting outcomes after the initial events. And eventually, what was once a thrilling experience eventually outgrows to becoming a normal sensation. This is general human behaviour backed by scientific observation. In the same way, we are all wired to predict anything we experience after the first encounter.
The study revealed that what draws us to act is not the sensation we receive from the reward itself, but the need to alleviate the craving for that reward.
The same rules apply to products as well and in this case, mobile apps. To hold our attention, mobile apps must have an ongoing degree of novelty. Our brains have evolved over the millennia to help us figure out how things work.
This was the main objective in creating the AppBrowzer variable rewards campaign. To design a campaign that would attract users to the need of getting a reward. I’ll let you in on a little secret, our success with the campaign was because of this phrase “Better luck next time”. How does that even make sense? Well, people are attracted to unpredictable outcomes. As I mentioned earlier, we are wired to predicting outcomes after the initial event. Similarly in the case of a scratch card, when the user tries to predict the value of a reward but doesn’t get it right, that triggers the excitement. The user is now hooked on to the scratch cards to predict the outcome of the reward value. Slot machines, Roulette and other casino games are designed on the basis of this human behaviour.
We are not the only app that uses a reward system through scratch cards. Earlier, Google Pay (then called Tez) in 2017 used the scratch card system as a part of their user acquisition strategy. However, there is a fine difference between their campaign and the one we ran. The Google pay invite would give the referrer a fixed amount of Rs. 51, they didn’t use scratch cards for the Referal campaign. They use it for other actions inside the App.
We used scratch cards primarily for the Referral Campaign. The reward to Invite a user to AppBrower was a Scratch Card that could get them anywhere between Rs. 9 to Rs. 49. It was completely random, one that hooked users on to it. Google pay (then called Tez) got around 2 Lac downloads per day in the initial days; we could reach 1 lac downloads in a day for a fraction of their budget (Cash crunch follows innovative ideas 😉 ). We are reaping the fruit of it as we speak now. The key is to come up with strategies that will induce users to this kind of behaviour backed by science. It has been a huge learning experience for me and the team at AppBrower. This story is going to remain dear to us as a team.
We have been in the ‘Super App’ space for a while now ever since 2016. Recently, we have seen the entry of big players like Amazon and Reliance. Along with product innovation, marketing strategies like these will empower us to distinguish ourselves and present our USP to Internet users. The race for the next billion is on and we are accelerating.