textPlus case study
textPlus is a leading mobile communications service that lets anyone text, talk, and share over WiFi. It offers a free phone number, free messaging throughout the US or Canada, free inbound calls, and both domestic and international outbound calls for only two cents per minute — making it far more affordable than many mainstream phone plans.
It’s clear users love this approach to connectivity. textPlus’ app has been downloaded more than 90 million times.
For textPlus, onboarding is everything. According to Samuel Braff, Chief Product Officer at textPlus, “We want users to get into the app, understand exactly what they have to do to have a successful telephony experience, and use that as a springboard to drive further retention. Retention is our number one driver with a focus on the onboarding experience.”
textPlus wanted to bridge the gap in the onboarding funnel between sign up — when a user receives a phone number — and what the user does next, whether that’s making their first call or sending their first text. “The whole point of having a phone number is getting your identity associated with that number in the minds of your friends, colleagues, whoever they may be. You have to use it.”
But it’s not only engagement and retention that are affected by this initial onboarding flow. textPlus monetizes via in-app advertising, earned or purchased credits, and in-app purchases. “Nobody is going to see ads, nobody is going to earn credit, nobody is going to make an in-app purchase unless they get a phone number, unless they send a text message, unless they make a phone call. That’s the only way the monetization flow gets running. Leanplum is really crucial to making that customer successful in using our service.”
In textPlus’ world, if users alert their network that they have a new number, they quickly engage with their contacts. That key onboarding moment sets off a chain reaction that helps them become loyal, monetized customers.
textPlus uses push notifications for key transactional messages, like alerts about new messages or calls. “If you are not delicate in how you talk to users, they turn off push notifications. That breaks the app experience.”
For this reason, textPlus decided to focus on in-app messages as its core channel for marketing communications, especially during the first-time user experience.
“The two campaigns we ran with Leanplum, phone number acquisition and service utilization, had meaningful impacts on the growth of those numbers. Our messaging is tied to advertising and advertising is the biggest revenue driver. The more messages users send, the more messages users receive, the more ads we display, the more money we make. It all comes full-circle.”
But setting up these campaigns wasn’t easy before Leanplum. textPlus originally tried to use Braze to solve their mobile marketing needs. Due to the massive amount of data textPlus collects (90+ million users sending messages quickly adds up), tying usage to campaigns was historically a challenge. “At textPlus, we send billions of messages a day. Any event that relied on frequency or volume would be blind to us on Braze.”
With Leanplum, the results from the campaigns were clearer.
After the initial launch, there was a 29 percent increase in the likelihood of acquiring a telephone number and users were twice as likely to return over a 90-day period.
“Once the user has made their social circle aware of their phone number, the floodgates are open. The messages and calls start flowing. It’s very difficult for us to drive usage. We can’t make users talk to people. We try to shy away from encouraging usage that isn’t organic.”
Why textPlus chose Leanplum
textPlus turned to Leanplum for a better understanding of business impact.
“In a campaign that I might run in Braze, once I set the conversion event, that’s the success criteria. With Leanplum, I can create a campaign, set the success criteria, and see ‘Oh no! My user retention is falling.’ I can add another metric, look at the retention curve matched up with the global population, and see that the campaign had an adverse effect of lowering retention — even though the goal was in-app purchases. It helps us have a better understanding of our business and the cause and effects that would otherwise be unavailable to us on the Braze platform.”
Additionally, Leanplum offers the ability to track data in a way other platforms can’t compete with.
“Braze seemed to be much more focused on glossy UI. We pride ourselves on being data-driven and instrumenting everything. Here’s what lit the lightbulb for me. Unlike Braze, who operated on a datapoint path — which would make us exceed by day five in the month — Leanplum doesn’t cap the number of data points we send. So your data matches what we see in BigQuery, Firebase, and Flurry. We can compare apples to apples and not have to worry. We don’t have to assume which events will be relevant or not. We can act on everything. There are no gaps in our understanding of users.”