[Growth Hacks] How this Indian fintech startup can grow exponential

Having read numerous blogs, articles, novels etc. on growth hacking and on product development, I came to realize that there N number of designers and product developers who take any application and focus on proposing UI changes that would benefit the product and the company. While there many such types of researches done, I’ve yet to come across a case study on growth hacking directed to a product, which motivated to take up this project.

For the purpose of this study, I’ve taken the product that I believe to have tremendous potential as a company and possess a well functional and innovative product in a lucrative market — Walnut.

A Little bit about Walnut

Founded on May 1st, 2014, Walnut is a free money management mobile application that allows you to track your expenses and other financial data.

Walnut is perhaps the first money-management or expense tracker app which is fully customized for Indian users. Walnut automatically tracks your expenses and groups it into categories such as bills, drinks, travel, etc. to help users fully understand their major expenditure areas.

Besides, tracking your expenses by paring you text messages related to transactions, it also enables you to –

  • Check the balance of your bank accounts & prepaid wallets.
  • Manage Credit Card Cycles effectively.
  • Pay your VISA Credit card bills, directly from the app, using Walnut Pay.
  • Request Money & Split bills amongst your friends. In other words, Receive money & send money.

Overview of what the Study will cover

In this study, I’ve explained the tactics and techniques which I’ve learned and tested during my experience and has been gathered using the knowledge I possess in the field. Even though these are generally tried and tested techniques, depending on the business model, industry and target market, success/failure outcomes might vary.

All the strategies covered in this post mainly come under four broad stages:

1. User acquisition

2. Activation

3. Retention

4. Monetisation

User Acquisition

Restructuring Walnut’s Website

Before we get into the details of this point, let me give you a statistic. Research says that 13% of Apple users and 15% of Android users said that they found the last app they downloaded either by reading about it on the web or by browsing on the web.

This means that just because your app is up for sale in various app stores does not mean that it’s easily discover-able and attract millions of downloads. Organic search optimization (or SEO) will help you get to that point by boosting the discovery of your app.

Recently we ran CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) teardown with a team of active marketers from India on Walnut’s website.

Some of the results arrived at were :

Video: Walnut seems to have a presentable Video for their product but one that is hard to locate because of poor placement. The ideal location for this video would be the Hero section of the Homepage.

Tag line: A Tag line is an important part of a company’s brand which should stand out and describe, in a few words, what the product does. Walnut’s tagline doesn’t seem to be sufficient to help the customer understand the purpose of the product’s existence. It gives a very vague picture of the problem they try to solve at large. I believe an assumption was made that people already know about Walnut as a brand and about the business or that once a potential customer is on the website, they get aware of what Walnut does and the challenges they help solve. Their current Tagline can have multiple interpretations which go against the company’s business proposition at large. I came across a great article to learn more about the importance of this factor in branding, check it out at http://www.mindvalleyinsights.com/market-sophistication/

Subscription Notice: The goal of writing blogs to not just to gain hundreds of read for that one, single piece of content but to retain and increase readers for all past and upcoming writings. The Notice to subscribe to the Blogs is crucial in achieving that purpose. When it comes to Walnut, this button or notice is disconnected from the Blogs Page which wouldn’t play well when trying to get consistent readers.

Call To Action: The Call to actions on Walnut’s Website aren’t too clear and tempting to the viewer. The right placement combined with an eye-catching message is the perfect combination to having a conversion friendly Call to action.

Store Icon/Image Placement: It was noticed that the App store and Playstore icons were stacked up and weren’t placed beside each other. While this isn’t a rule but it has become a conventional practice to place both side by side.

Testimonials: This section of the webpage can speak volumes about the credibility of a brand. With Walnut’s case, it would have been better to have put in the names and pictures of those giving the testimonials to improve authenticity in the customer’s eyes.

Source: getsitecontrol.com

Value Proposition: One thing struck me was that the home page doesn’t explain the value proposition. It doesn’t say anything about the expenses being tracked via SMS or, at large, how its useful and can help one manage their finances.

Data Structure: There was a lack of structured data and AMP(accelerated mobile pages) on Walnut’s website.

Read More: A Read More link should be placed with every blog rather than having just one below that section. Having just one can confuse the viewer of the website.

The Fold: A research by Neilson states that around 80% of the visitor’s viewing time of a website is spent above the fold which makes it one of the most important and impactful section of the website. So, it would help to compile some of the most relevant data into this area which should constitute the Hero Lines, a few client testimonials, use cases etc. Walnuts website didn’t seem to have enough information above the fold.

Source: SEO Analyzer by Neil Patel

Competitive Analysis: In any market, there would be at least one competitor for a product or service. Why one company is better than another is often in the minds of the customers and strongly influences their decision to buy. Keeping this in mind, having one separate page for Walnut vs Moneyview (Walnut’s competitor) would have a positive influence on the viewers of the website, especially when it is the main competitor to Walnut in the market.

A website for an App is a little different while we do want to drive traffic to the site, we don’t want the visitor to just hang around for long. Our end goal is for those visitors to click through to an app store and actually purchase the app.

This tends to mean that focus should be on optimizing and building links to a single page — homepage.

Money University:
As per our earlier discussion, Middle class in India is increasing with more and more people wanting to save and grow financially. Walnut can start a professional video series on how to save and grow money targeted to this mass of middle class. This technique is called “be a mensch” by Guy Kawasaki. To make it more exclusive, Walnut should make this ‘money university’ available to only Walnut users. Everybody tries to be cool, knowledgeable on the internet and that’s why if people find something which would be helpful to other people, they try to share it on their wall on Facebook or send it as a message. If non-walnut users want to access the videos he/she has to simply install the app. With this technique, Walnut could create value for their existing users and give them a reason to refer their friends. :)

Adding to Wikipedia:

A Simple but effective technique used by many companies is to add their product on Wikipedia pages related to company’s use case. It will quickly give a backlink and high link juice as Wikipedia has a high domain authority. A Competitor to Walnut, Expensify does the same for the topic expense management. Check out the screenshot below to understand what I’m talking about.

Source: Wikepedia.org

Collaboration or ads with popular YouTube channels

Youtube receives over One billion views on a daily basis and around 60% of the viewers are aged between 18–44 years, which is the ideal target market for Walnut.

https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/What-Millennials-YouTube-Usage-Tells-Us-about-the-Future-of-Video-Viewership

The Link above will tell you that the ideal target of such brands are heavily active on youtube and get influenced by YouTubers.

Because of this, people are generating more and more content on YouTube which gives viewers more reasons to stay on YouTube.

There is a saying — “Be present where your customers are”. Indian startups like Ola, FirstDial, Practo and many others are already using this channel to reach out to their target audience. Some of the videos that revolve around the brands are:

Get Reviews by popular YouTubers

As I said in the previous point use of youtube is increasing and more and 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and most of the buyers search for reviews before buying anything. There are a lot of Youtube channels and YouTubers who give reviews of different apps and products in innovative ways influencing the viewers to trust their judgement. For instance, there are many who give reviews of latest mobile devices and other gadgets in the form of unboxing videos. Asking them to create a similar video for Walnut’s app and provide a detailed review can be a plus point as this can drive thousands and millions of downloads and in-app purchases. I came across the following YouTubers for this purpose:

Technical Guruji — https://www.youtube.com/technicalguruji
Geeky Ranjit — https://www.youtube.com/geekyranjit
C4ETech — https://www.youtube.com/user/aphroditelikesme
Mrwhosetheboss — https://www.youtube.com/user/Mrwhosetheboss
Sharmaji Technical — https://www.youtube.com/user/praval25
iGyaan — https://www.youtube.com/user/iGyaan

Engineering as a Marketing

The Infamous ‘Search an ATM’ feature worked really well for Walnut during the tough times of demonetization. That’s the power of engineering as a marketing. But once is not enough, trends like these keep coming and its essential for Walnut to keep a look out for them and capitalize on it.

Unfortunately, Walnut missed out on the most important recent trend which was Bitcoin or the emergence of Cryto-Currency. A simple rate shower of the five major crypto-currencies in the market and how they can buy them in India (Make money by being an affiliate of Zebpay or Unocoin) could have generated a great amount of engagement. Now that the time for income tax filing is on its way, helping users to calculate the tax and where they can file the tax could be a game changer. In this case, Integration with Cleartax through an affiliation could be the route to take.

Lend with Walnut:
What if people can attain a loan whenever they want? Indian e-commerce, online ticket and hotel booking market is increasing. Currently what we are trying to do is target customers on the app or searching for similar potential users but what we are missing is the major market of those people who need money. Do you know how people feel when they want to buy things and can’t do so because they don’t have the money? How to solve that? What I am proposing is a button — “Lend with Walnut” on these sites displayed along with all of the other payment options. Once a person chooses that option they will be redirected to Walnut’s website where they can sign in and check his LOC. If that permits instead of transferring money to Person’s bank account Walnut will transfer it to the vendor. This button will be standard and could be used anywhere and on any site. Walnut will be able to use the existing network with just a simple integration. Also, this will create a sense of exclusivity to Walnut users. If people get something not everyone else has, it makes them feel special or unique.

Fill with Walnut:
Tax payers in India are increasing are searching for ways they can file their income tax online. Two options I can think of are Cleartax and H&R. How to use their existing user base? With a simple option — ‘fill data with Walnut’. Walnut already has data of a person’s salary, investment, insurance, interest and EPF details. If the person does not have Form 16 with him/her and still wants to fill taxes online, they can just click on ‘Fill with Walnut’ and all their data will be auto filled. That might create a buzz, what is Walnut? and leads to a surge in downloads. This might create great results during the first quarter of this year.

Making your most valuable feature seem scarce and exclusive :
We were using this technique in the pre-beta stage of QuodeIt. If you wanted to use QuodeIt then you had to mention QuodeIt on all the social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn(as our product was a B2B product). It gave us a lot of visibility on social media without actually doing the social media marketing. This technique is used by Candy crush, if you want to play more you have to ask for lives which others can give you on social media.

I love the weekly updates I get from Walnut, it is a great way to get users back to the app. What I am proposing here is making features like ‘export PDF’ or ‘Weekly Summary’ (More inclined towards ‘Weekly Summary’) look exclusive. If the person wants to get the weekly summary every week he has to share about Walnut on at least two social media channels (Preferably Facebook and Twitter. There is a way to validate that he/she has actually shared it or not). How will people get to know about the weekly summary in the first place? By creating a dummy page with dummy data with the condition that if they want to get their data they need to share Walnut on social media. This might seem forced but is effective in achieving the purpose of spreading the word about the brand. It is free and worked for QuodeIt and was the main reason behind candy crush going viral.

Unionbudget2018.in:
Walnut can create a very small website for current news on the union budget. The website’s name would be unionbudget2018.com because it is the most searched word during the budgeting period and google gives higher importance if you have a keyword in the site’s url. This site will have all the information about the budget and as to how it will impact common people on small cards (Cards should have an awesome creative) with a title and summary of the news. Also, this site will have live twitter feed on what influencers and real public feel about the budget.

How to grow the site?
1. Option to share the card and share the site

2. Before hand PR to promote the website

3. Influencer Marketing on social media

4. Social and Display ads

Keywords
indian budget 2018
financial budget 2018
financial budget
budget 2018
indian budget 2018
indian budget
budget
union budget 2018

Aggregator of all online sales:
People need money when they have to buy things and as I said earlier, there are lots of people who want to buy things but can’t afford it. In India, there is no aggregator of all the sales happening in the Indian e-commerce as it is very difficult for an average user to keep information of all the sales happening in India. This site will help users create awareness about the sales. 
 
 More awareness =more time on these sites = more people needing money, where can they get money? Yes, you thought right, from Walnut prime. This site will have branding of Walnut Prime. And can be combined with the above technique “Lend with Walnut”.

Sotckoftheweek.com:
Everyone in the world wants to learn how to increase their money but don’t know where to start and whom to trust or don’t have enough motivation to learn plethora of articles and books present on the internet. Everybody wants a quick summary or direct suggestions on what to do. This is the main driver of the popularity of Inshorts.

Stockoftheweek would be on the similar lines. Users will be able to see the stock of the week which experts suggest (with complete detail and reasoning as to why people should buy it). Plus, people will have the option of share and subscribe using Facebook messenger & WhatsApp (because email is too cluttered).

Making Inside things outside:
Spotify used the existing network like Facebook to achieve virality. Spotify required one’s Facebook account to use the app and with that, once a person hears a song, it was automatically updated on Facebook, person x is listening to a song on Spotify.

Similarly, Walnut can use this technique around with one’s budget but before that Walnut has to make some changes in budget setting. The current budget setting is very basic and one dimensional and not based on realistic factors. It doesn’t ask for a more detailed estimation of the costs to be incurred for the month, quarter etc. Besides just asking the user to set a detailed budget and bifurcating it based on category, Walnut must keep helping them and motivating them to maintain it( with proper notifications). With all the right help, if a user is able to achieve the goal, an option to share the usefulness of the app with their friends should be available. This might create a viral loop.

Also, there is one more way to achieve virality with budget.
According to Jonah Berger, in a competitive state, people try to beat others and love to flaunt themselves and that’s why the small games on Facebook are so popular. There is a strong emotion of EGO (I know its harsh but it’s true ) that drives people. This is emotion is used by the vary famous startup FitBit where you can compete daily with your friends on the number of the steps for the day. Similar way people can compete with their friends on the budget(Monthly) on Walnut. People can invite their friends to the Leaderboard and track their progress. More and more people will invite their friends to compete which in turn triggers virality.

Pay me with Walnut:

Made with Canva

This is an integration suggestion for Walnut Pay. Most of the time we come into the situation where we have to split the money. When you’re out for lunch/dinner, planning travel, or going out for a movie. Most of the people in India use Bookmyshow app to book movie tickets, event tickets etc. It has an option to chat deciding amongst your friend which movie they should go for. Walnut can create an integration with Bookmyshow where in this chat feature, user can add his Walnut UPI link( Walnut should use deep linking ). Once a person clicks on the UPI link they will land on the pay option of the app from where they can make the payment. Assumption made here arethat the person who is paying has the app installed and Bookmyshow agreed to this kind of integration.

If you ask any bachelors what they use to split the money at the end, you will get only one answer and that is Splitwise. Walnut can create a similar integration with Spiltwise where people can pay money they owe to other people with “pay with Walnut”. The position of Pay with Walnut would be beside “Settle UP”. But this feature would only be useful in India. So, not sure about Spiltwise’s willingness to implement this feature.

Changes in Referral Section

According to a survey by Neilsen, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know. And people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. Knowing the fact that every company has already implemented referral with pretty standard system language fit is very important.

Airbnb team created personalized referral codes and landing pages with a photo of the inviter. Referrals increased booking by over 25% in some markets and this could be done for Walnut as well.

To learn more about the benefits rendered through referrals, visit http://www.annexcloud.com/blog/2016/03/03/39-referral-marketing-statistics-that-will-make-you-want-to-start-a-raf-program-tomorrow/

Getting back to the point, the current referral system of Walnut is not very enticing. The main reasons for this are:

1) The existence of a referral system isn’t very visible to the user and placed deep inside an app’s menu. The placement should be a little more “in the face” to attract more referrals from the users.

2) Another reason and probably the most important point is regarding the incentives offered for a referral. Studies have proven that the best way to maximize the outcome of your referral system is to offer incentives to both the referrer and the referee. Walnut’s business model revolves around its lending platform, Walnut Prime. It sets LOC for a user which is a credit limit that Walnut decides on with the user’s data present in the system. This is the core of Walnut’s pool of features and the business as a whole. So, I am proposing the referral system where a person can extend his LOC by 5000 by referring his/her friend and once his friend joins, he/she will also get 5000 extended LOC. More the friends joining and availing a loan using this offering, more the LOC.

Another quick tip for Walnut is that they should use deep linking to personalize the experience of referring another user and also by allowing users to connect through Facebook making it easier for one to refer and for the company to offer double side incentive. This is most impactful when done for the power users of the app through pop-up ads just like requesting the user for a rating.

The Power of an effective referral system can be emphasized through this formula.

Vitality = payload * conversation rate * frequency

App Store Optimizations

A study published in October last year found that around half of the users found apps via an app store — specifically, 47% of iOS users and 53% of Android users.

Average conversion from App Page Views to Downloads is 26.4% (min: 0.36%; max: 82%).

Unlike the web’s organic search results, app positioning is determined primarily by two key factors:

1) The text (i.e. keywords) used in the app’s title, description, & keyword list
2) The aspects that indicate the actual performance of the app, e.g. it’s ratings and reviews and of course, how popular it is.

Moreover, App store optimizations are simpler than SEO.

Keywords

Keyword research for App Store Optimization can be approached in much the same way as keyword research for SEO or PPC. By relevance of search volume and competitiveness of relevant keywords Walnut should focus on appearing in the top for the following keywords:

  • Money Manager
  • Expense Tracking App
  • Expense Tracker
  • Money Tracking
Source: Google Trends

Walnut Keywords
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IaeKEgSH-1wGcS_ZvvAFeSA7g8ZDO1yV

Competitors Keywords 
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Yee5A1YDkNd0ZskexjvIRE3BK7hhS_tL

Tools which does this

https://www.apptweak.com/
https://keywordtool.io/search/app-store/
https://www.mobileaction.co

Title

The current title of Walnut is Money Manager- Budget Tracker- Bill Reminder. The trend of searching these terms aren’t much as compared to its alternative — Expense. Hence I would suggest that Walnut replace the word Budget with Expense for the sole purpose of achieving better organic traffic.

Apart from the above, I’ve also noticed that when Walnut is typed in the App store, chances of the product appearing is low as the product name is not part of the title. The ideal title for the product would be Walnut — Money manager Expense Tracker. As for bill reminder, it isn’t a frequently searched term and hence shouldn’t be included.

Source — mobileaction.co

Icon

An icon is the core of the product’s brand and it must be visually attractive and comprehensible in regards to what the company does. The current Walnut icon doesn’t clearly display anything about its core values and is in no way directly related to money, budget tracking or finance.

Let us take the example of Amazon. Their logo very evidently screams — Online Shopping. Similarly, Youtube’s logo gives a crisp and clear picture of what the platform is all about i.e Play and Stream Videos. I know it might sound too extreme and ludacris to suggest re-branding but it would be beneficial to portray the right picture of the company’s core values and use cases. Some of the examples of the good icons are

Rating and Reviews

70% of people read at least one review before downloading an app. Not only this, but 75% of our survey respondents identified reviews as a key driver for downloading an app, and 42% view app store reviews as equally or more trustworthy than personal recommendations. And that’s not all ….

Source: Mobileaction.co

The search function of an app store operates like any other search engine: it wants to serve the best possible results to the user. This means, along with showing results that match the keywords used, serving up apps that have received a good response from other users — namely, good reviews and a high rating. When I checked out the reviews for Walnut, the first 4 reviews of the landing page was positive. And by default google places helpful and the latest reviews on top and this might hamper people installing the app. A great way to reduce this effect is asking the app’s power users to give the reviews in a detailed and with relevant context. Why detailed? because google performs a detailed check to classify the reviews.

Source: Google Play Store

At the end ask users what they want, no matter what their review is for the product. Every user has a feedback and whether relevant or not, no feedback is bad.

As the volume of reviews and the scale at which this technique needs to be executed increases, tools like appbot.co can automate sentiment analysis and group reviews together accordingly. This can help you identify which issues are being reported most frequently, and allows you to separate reviews that highlight genuine problems from those that are simply users venting. I have run one test for Walnut on Appbot and you can see the result in the following image

Competitive Analysis

They say — “Keep your Enemies close”. Knowing your competitors in and out is essential to the growth of a business.

A competitive analysis can help identify which features your customers’ want. If a company is offering a feature and is widely successful because of it, there would be a reason to it. Capturing that data can help create competitive plans to create this success for yourself. But the reality is that no one has time to research and keep yourself updated about the competitor.

To make life easier, there are a number of tools to achieve this purpose.

Some of them are as follows :
https://www.apptweak.com/
https://www.mobileaction.co
https://sensortower.com/

Link Building

Unlike Apple, Google has access to Page Rank. What this means is that Google will consider the number and quality of the links pointing to your App Details page while deciding where your app should be placed or the importance it should be given in the play store. To speak about SEO in detail, we might need to write a novel. But here are some pointers anyway:

* Submit app to trustworthy web app directories — there’s an excellent list here.
* Contribute to crowdsourced posts. HARO is an excellent source for finding these sort of opportunities.
* Reach out to app review sites and twitter handles. Shane Kittelson of App Battleground has compiled a comprehensive list of sites and twitter handles to achieve this goal which you can find over here(sites) and here (twitter handle). https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7526923

Other App stores than Play Store and APP store

There’s more to app stores than just Google Play for Android and Apple’s iTunes and App Store. Walnut should invest some time to add their app to other app stores. It won’t generate an exuberant amount of traffic as compared to play and app store but it can increase your reach and who doesn’t want an extra bonus.

Amberto Furlan has compiled a comprehensive list of all the app stores present in the market, you can read more about that at http://www.businessofapps.com/guide/app-stores-list/

A/B testing

Until recently there was no easy way to perform split tests within the actual app store and till date, there is still no way to do this in Apple’s iOS store. However in May 2017, Google launched “Experiments”, a feature that enables app developers to run experiments with different versions of text and graphics to see which are most effective in converting visits into installations on Google Play.

In addition to this new launch, I’ve discovered another A/B testing tool called SplitMetrics and two more, the links to which are below.

https://splitmetrics.com/
https://www.storemaven.com/

http://testnest.co/

Why consider A/B testing on store pages? Here’s why,

Average improvement in conversion with A/B testing:

1. Screenshots: 18.8% (max: 654%)

2. Icons: 26% (max: 560%)

3. Description: 21% (max: 59.6%)

4. Video preview: 16% (max: 108%)

Read more — https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answer/6227309?hl=en

Getting Featured on Sites like “App of the Day”

Sites like ‘app of the day’ give away one paid app for free everyday. It acts a great medium to get few extra downloads and more reviews without eliminating the entire cost of the product. And I said before, who wouldn’t want a few extra downloads and some constructive feedback to improve your app. Similar sites

https://www.myappfree.com/en/
http://www.appiday.com/

Quora Answers

Quora is lesser known or tapped source for any marketing or sales activities. But it is more effective than you think. I’ve personally tried this technique out for my startup and it worked wonders for me.

People have a number questions and doubts revolving around many aspects in their daily lives. Lot of decisions to make, choices regarding a purchase or even doubts relating to current affairs.

This platform and these unending number of doubts can be out to good use in two ways. Both cases involve answering their queries to attract traffic of most qualified leads.

One way is for a member of the team to present themselves as an industry expert by answering questions revolving around the product without pitching your product yet. This will help you gain credibility and build attention through increased followers and views to ultimately help you sell your product.

The second way is to pitch your product directly to the same relevant questions. Even though it can cause issues with regards to trying to sell a product online but it is a good bet to make to gain some strong traffic from your target market.

Generally, even if you go for the first method, you’d want to pitch your product at some point, once you build a reputation as an industry leader.

Walnut can and must do the same. To make their job simpler , here are few questions to start with:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fDD13Icw51mzKw22yVEXxqoTT1UiUylEPe2WTXfngG0/edit?usp=sharing

Walnut could use these techniques ,not only to pitch your product directly but also to drive traffic to a blog page or website.

Activation

Getting user activated is very important for any product. Without activating the user you can’t achieve the retention you aim for.

Walnut is a great app with a number of useful features but I am concerned about people using the app to its full potential. There might be many reasons for this concern but the two main reasons I can think of are:

1. New user experience
2. People don’t know how to use the app.

Retention with Email:

To keep them engaged, Walnut should send an Email as a confirmation and thank them for installing the app. It will help nurture a personal connect with the users and create a better brand image. This could be accompanied by a series of emails educating the user on how each feature could make their lives better and serve the intended purpose of money management.And one of the mail should be of related to ‘Prime’ which is currently the main monetizational feature. Users should be able to unsubscribe from receiving these emails anytime from the app.

Gamification:

Nobody should integrate this technique just because it’s a tactic used by other apps and games. The most successful ones have a well thought-out plan and a compelling reason to build it into their product. Games are not fun because they have points, badges, and leaderboards, but because they appeal to our Core Drivers.

The 8 Core Drivers are:

1. Epic Meaning & Calling
2. Development & Accomplishment
3. Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback
4. Ownership & Possession
5. Social Influence & Relatedness
6. Scarcity & Impatience
7. Curiosity & Unpredictability
8. Loss & Avoidance

Walnut should have a progress bar similar to that showing one’s LinkedIn profile completeness. The bar will have different stages and once the person reaches the 100%, it would mean he is a power user.

What is a power user in Walnut’s case?

The power user is someone who uses this app everyday for minimum 30 days, has used all features once, has referred at least 10 friends. And every app company should try to create more power users. Once the user starts using the app there will be incentives in the form of badges for every action, like for when a person uses the app for 7 days in a row. A frequent flyer badge can be given to him/her along with some points. Another instance is when he/she has invited 1 friend. A Referal badge and some points to be given out. The More they use the app, the more they will earn badges and points. More the points they earn, the bar gets filled.

But once the user completes all the action then what? There are lot’s of benefits of this because in order to become a power user one has already invested time and efforts and so, the chances of him uninstalling the app is very less. But there should be an incentive for completely filling the progress bar and in this case, Walnut could give 0% interest credit till 25,000 (just a suggestion, people would also be happy with the Amazon gift card worth 500 bucks)

Why Progress Bar?

Psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found that people forget completed tasks but remember uncompleted ones. Your brain will keep bugging you about it until it’s done.

Do you remember Tetris — a sticky game from the 80s? You play until the blocks stack up and fill up the screen. It looks simple, but they leveraged the infinite “need to complete” loop.

As product marketers, we should feed our users with progress bars, uncompleted missions, tasks, etc. to keep them driven.

But wait there should be a strong incentive to complete all the steps and become a power user. This could be done with 2 steps

1. LOC increase in each step
 As I mentioned in the previous blog, there would be stages in which people will complete the steps. And at each step Walnut could increase the LOC given to the user. Example if there are 3 stages to become power user Walnut could give them an increase of LOC 5000 at each later stage and 10,000 when user become the power user.

2. Personalized Investment Plan
 I’ve been mentioning this a lot in this article but everybody wants to save and earn more money and most of the people either don’t have the money or the knowledge of how to invest. Walnut has all the financial data with which they can create an automated report where, according to people’s spending, Walnut can give them suggestions as to where they can save the money and where they can invest the money. This report will be available to only those people who complete all the stages of the progress bar and would be downloadable. After the user is done with checking/downloading/becoming the power user, Walnut should ask them to share their experience on social media(with already built in content) with the link to download the app.

Retention

A/B Testing Your In-App Performance:

Forbes actually found that in February 2013 “in-app purchases generated a record 76% of all revenue in the Apple App Store on the iPhone (in the U.S.)” so clearly, there’s a huge market open for you to “exploit”.

If you choose to go down the freemium route, optimizing the performance of your app by carrying out tests to establish the language, colours, visuals, and features which drive your users to make the most purchases is pretty critical.

This could be as simple as changing the color of a CTA from green to blue. It might mean lowering (or even increasing) the cost of your upgrades. It could involve swapping and changing the features you offer to customers for free, and for a cost.

To get you started, Optimizely offers a dedicated platform for A/B testing mobile apps.

Creating brand advocates:

According to a survey, most of the time, 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of the people and a company should do whatever they can to retain this 20% because these are your brand advocates. A Simple technique to retain these people is giving them a free goodie like a T-shirt, a Walnut sticker and most importantly CEO’s personalized message thanking them for being with you throughout the journey. Many companies create brand advocates in different ways.

Listening to what users say:

One of the best ways to retain users is introducing features that matter to them on a consistent basis. The Team at Facebook does a great job doing this. They introduce the features that can increase the engagement between their users( which is Facebook’s core) which results in increase in the user’s time spent on Facebook.

The simplest way to capture what your users need is to read the reviews on the product. I was going through the reviews on the below 3 features that should be implemented by Walnut on the basis of their relevance to Walnut’s core and frequency.

  1. Show the total money received
  2. Not considering self account money transfer as an expense
  3. Money Spent between friends

Also, you could use a review mining tool like http://appbot.co to understand what your users are saying about you in the reviews.

Dynamic Notifications:

Lack of user engagement is one of the most common reasons for app churn. Nobody likes the simple and boring notifications. Walnut should try to use curiosity gap and more personalization in their notifications. A simple example for this would be The Runkeeper app’s notifications. It uses a robust messaging strategy in order to maintain sustained growth. This approach has helped the app maintain ‘stickiness,’ which is significant as most users do not stay with a health app for long as it requires an ongoing commitment from their end.

A very good example of curiosity gap in notification is from Abercrombie

Dulingo app is the world’s most popular way to learn a language for free. Once a user starts learning a language, it will motivate you to complete the course. But if you are not interacting with the notifications it will show a funny notification like the one below.

Optimal Time Notifications:

The study also found that apps that send push notifications can increase their retention number by 20%, and if they do so at an optimal time, they can see a 7x better rate by day 30. I am not sure whether Walnut is using this technique but if not then, instead of taking details from the user as to when they want to get notified, Walnut can optimize the time for each user

Read about everything about the notification — http://blog.linktexting.com/push-notifications-evaluating-strategy-tactics-tools/

How to save money:

Why retention and time on the app are important?

I was discussing the buyer’s personas with Tim Pannigton of Hubspot and he shared an awesome insight that only 5% people are ready to buy and we need to retain 95% of others.

Millenniums are earning but don’t know how to grow their money or how to save it well. The middle class population is increasing in India and the current generation does not face a heavy burden with regards to taking care of a family. This creates a great use case for Walnut to produce the content to guide these people on how to save and grow their money.

Few topics out the top of my mind are:

  1. Life Goals
  2. Investing
  3. Planning
  4. Saving
  5. Family
  6. Tax
  7. Trends ( Blockchain, GST, Income Tax, RERA)

Budget Tracker:

A feature in Walnut lets you set a budget for your expenditure, which is great but there are no actions taken to motivate the person to avoid crossing this limit. Nor is there any warning given in the form of a notification when one nears that amount. As the amount spent every month can vary, this feature can be useful to the user.

Also, frequent tips to save money can be provided to those who near their budget too quick or cross the limit. As they possess the financial details they need to achieve this, it shouldn’t be too difficult to provide the feature. This would increase the time spent by the person on the app.

More time app = more engagement = more awareness about prime + more referrals to affiliate = $$$ from lending and being an affiliate.

Retention with Email:

Currently Walnut sends weekly and daily notifications which could be enhanced by sending updates to the user’s email id. Email is still the best way to engage with working class users as they are constantly communicating through the medium. This will certainly increase the retention and could pull back people to the app (Again with deeplinking). An email ad campaign for Walnut’s prime feature can also reap traffic and profits.

Monetization

Save Later:

While signing up for Prime, the user is asked to provide multiple details in a 4 step form which is a great way to capture a lot of data. The issues lie with the customers sometimes failing to remember all the details needed because of which, many stop the process and leave mid way. To keep them engaged on the app and feature and to increase conversion, Walnut should provide the freedom to complete the form later to avoid repetition of the process.This complete later button would be like checkout feature of e-commerce. Walnut could run series of campaigns(triggered notification) to convert these users.

The Principle of Liking:

As customers, we tend to make a decision on what to buy based on what we hear from our peers or someone whom we consider to be a mentor or influencer in this regard. We call this the Principle of Liking. In Walnut’s scenario, this can be used to their advantage to increase the conversion of regular to prime users. For this tactic to work, we would need the customer to connect their Facebook account with the app to display the number of his/her friends who use the prime aspect of the product and the thoughts about it. A unique notification campaign can be created around this data. For example, something like “Prasad and 6 other friends are using Walnut Prime, Join them. “

But, this can be challenging to achieve as most people aren’t comfortable with publicly sharing information about them taking a loan.

Subscription model:

Currently Walnut is not focusing on a subscription based model and it is just a thought. According to a Locanalytics, great apps have a 10% user retention rate. The current total no. of downloads of Walnut is around 1 crore (according to the Playstore data) which means Walnut might have 10 lakhs retained active users which is a huge number. What I propose is that Walnut should start a subscription based model or a freemium model in which some features would be paid. Even if 10% of the users convert with 100 per month it gives you rupees 1 crore of recurring revenue. But before you kickstart this step, thorough research must be done on whether users will opt in for it on not. This would couple well with a good referral system in place because it will motivate the referrer to invite more users and referee to install the app.

Partnering with all the vendors:

Walnut has the tremendous date and can partner with possibly every company in the world. So this program would look like, Walnut can give a personalized suggestion of products based on the user’s previous financial data. If the person shops on the 1st of week a month, Walnut can give a notification to the user of any e-comm company they have partnered with. Everyone has to pay a lot of bills and every company sends a text message notifying them about the bill. This is where Walnut can partner with companies like Paytm and Freecharge using which people can pay their bills and Walnut can earn a fee as an affiliate to these brands. Similarly, in huge metropolitan cities, people love to go out on weekends and with the same past data Walnut can predict if the person loves to club or just go out for a casual dinner providing Walnut with the opportunity to capitalize on this by partnering with companies like Zomato and Dineout to show them personalized restaurant/bar options.

This will lead to more engagement with the users and Walnut could generate additional revenue as an affiliate. More engagement = More Daily active users = more prime users = $$$

Conclusion

Walnut has a huge opportunity in India because of the reasons listed below. (Source: According to the Mary Meeker Internet Trends 2017 report; )

1. India’s Internet users continue to grow, and it now stands at 355 million internet users, which puts India number two in the market.

2. India now the number one global market for time spent on Android. The number of Google Play downloads in India has crossed the US market for the year 2016.

3. In India, the mobile web traffic is 80 per cent, which is well above the global average

4. Indians spend 45 per cent of their time on mobile phones, and weekly time spent on a mobile is 7X spent of the time spent on a television set.

To the maximum of my ability, I tried to put forward a very honest feedback and suggestions as to how Walnut could leverage these techniques and use them for their advantage. And as I have mentioned earlier, there is a lot of untapped potential in this app and the company as a whole. I hope you found this study unique and informative. Look out for more of such studies and follow me to stay updated on the latest, most effective and sometimes unknown strategies for growing your business.

Cheers!