Product Growth

with Gustaf Alströmer

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Network Effect

The more contacts you have on a service, the more likely you are to use it

Gustaf Alströmer

Growth & Product Expert, Airbnb, Community

Lessons Learned

It is worth spending time on the first user experience.

Sometimes growth happens through making things unbelievably simple.

Be clear in what you are asking people to do.

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Lesson: Product Growth with Gustaf Alströmer

Step #4 Network Effect: The more contacts you have on a service, the more likely you are to use it

Voxer started off taking advantage of walkie-talkies and a way of communicating that people already knew and were familiar with. I think when they started Voxer, I wasn’t there from the very beginning, they had an idea of how people would use it, but we didn’t have Voxer walkie-talkie at the time. So we actually ran some tests and figured out what are ways so people understand this product and that’s how we came to the name “walkie-talkie” and then every other app that was doing something similar also called themselves walkie-talkie a few weeks later.

The two things we figured out at Voxer was having friends or the number of friends you have and how close you are to them is a strong indicator of how happy you’re going to be on the service. When someone signs up to Voxer, the correlation has to happen on the sign up day, so how many days you have at sign up . . . this is not a brand-new thing, like something that we learned and saw that’s very true with Facebook as well. Facebook had this theory of how many friends do I have in a certain number of days after I sign up. That’s very true with Voxer as well.

Trying to find new friends as soon as possible on a service and trying to make them be close you, trying to find friends that are important to you, I think that was something we found out. Then we, I would say, spent the next six, eight months just trying to optimize that, getting people to find more friends. That can start with how do you find friends. Well, you can automatically match with your friends, so if I have a phone number, you have an address book, then you might find me or I might find you by just doing some basic matching. You can try to optimize the number of people giving you phone numbers and giving you address books to increase that number.

People get really excited when that happens. So if you sign up to Voxer and you have 20 friends, you get pretty excited. If we also tell those 20 friends that you signed up and some of those 20 friends Vox you back right away and within the first minute of using Voxer you have one or two or three voice messages from someone you never heard before, that’s a really good user experience. The first time you experience you hear the voice of somebody you haven’t heard from in months or years. That was one thing that we spent some time on.

The other thing we spent time on was making it very, very easy to invite people. Obviously a lot of invites happen word of mouth, I’ll just tell you to get Voxer, but a lot of invites just happen actually in the app, so we spent quite some time helping to make that flow as well, and trying to understand why it worked.

At the time, there was not that many A/B testing frameworks. This took a long time. It’s not something you can just build everyday. We had to build our own tools to test these things. It was fairly simple. We just made it really easy. It was very well understood that the more friends you have, the more likely you are to talk with someone, so that was pretty well understood.

People make the mistake of, I think sometimes growth is about making it unbelievably simple, just put things in front of you. If you want people to do something, just tell them that, they should do that. So we just told people, like “invite friends”, we didn’t hide it under some settings menu; we put it right at the front and we actually tracked that and we tracked the difference between putting “invite friends” one level down or two levels down and we know the difference is dramatic if you put things down in front of people or at the right time.

So let’s say if you don’t have any friends and the only thing you see is “invite new friends”, you’re more likely to do that. I think timing is really important, like the right moment when you ask someone to do something, and be very clear about what you’re asking them to do. Both those things, they worked.

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