Two Apps Are Better Than One

An App-to-App Experience That Drove 500% More Installs

SpotHero launched in 2011 to help get drivers everywhere, easier. Letting drivers search, compare, and book a parking spot in advance, the mobile app has parked over 8 million cars across the country and saved drivers hours of searching for a parking spot.

As an app-first company, we are tasked with answering the same million dollar question facing all app-based services — how do we convince someone that your app should be the next to take up precious space on a person’s device? Our answer: prove they can’t live without it. Remember when you actually had to step out onto the street to hail a cab? Thanks, Uber.

But when is the optimal time to market a “can’t live without us” message to our core on-the-go consumer? In the morning as they multi-task brushing their teeth while watching the news? During their mid day “I need to pay attention to this conference call, but also want to know what’s happening on Facebook” moment? At night while they’re multi-tasking cooking & watching primetime?

Instead of trying to avoid the day-to-day clutter, we decided we should join it.

Our core consumers are on-the-go. They’re busy and want to get where they’re going as efficiently and price consciously as possible. Insert Waze, an app that helps navigate these drivers to get from point A to point B with ease. It’s the perfect marriage of sending the right message, at the right place, at the right time. Your’e in the car wondering where you’re going to park at point B when you see a SpotHero ad letting you know we can help.

So we launched our first campaign with Waze in September of 2016. The hope was that if we position ourselves as a must have app, users would choose to install. After just two months of live media, brand recall was 156% higher for users exposed to our ads. Big win! We knew that our message wasn’t going unheard, but what we weren’t seeing was a correlated lift in lower funnel metrics like app installs or in app purchases. Not such a win. So we began to brainstorm how we can optimize the mobile experience on Waze to provide a benefit to our commuting drivers beyond generating awareness of our service. What would they care about most?

In April of 2017, we changed the user experience. Instead of prompting users to install our app after seeing one of our ads, we shifted the call to action to actually book a parking spot. After all, that’s what our app is there for, right?

In order to make this possible we enlisted the help of Branch deep links, which allow us to get Waze users successfully from one point in the Waze app to another specific point in the SpotHero app. Today, users can choose to book parking at a specific location within Waze and are magically transported to the same location within SpotHero, creating a seamless experience from drive to park.

By providing this direct app-to-app experience, we effectively increased app installs by 532% in the first two months.

And we didn’t stop there.

Even though we had successfully optimized the user flow, our creative messaging still featured general brand awareness copy. We saw this as an opportunity for further growth, so we enlisted the help of our design team and updated our ads to let users know they can book a SpotHero space by searching for parking within the Waze app. And people noticed.

Ad engagement increased by 3X with a corresponding 75% increase in in-app purchases.

Winner winner chicken dinner. But we didn’t stop there either.

With the success of this initial app-to-app partnership, live in our top 3 markets, we expanded to cover SpotHero’s core 9 markets, leveraging thousands of Branch deep links in the process. Early results show a 2X increase in installs in just the first two weeks of the 9 market test.

The success of this campaign is two-fold. We found a context where our app made sense, and we found a way to positively effect a person’s day. By inserting ourselves into a part of someone’s daily commute with a way of making that commute easier, we not only built positive brand awareness but transitioned Waze drivers into SpotHero customers.

*This post was written as an entry to the Mobile Growth Stories competition sponsored by Branch Metrics.