How LOVOO, the No.1 social discovery app, acquired 5m users and counting

Lele Canfora

Lele Canfora is Head of User Growth at Lovoo, Germany’s largest grossing and fastest growing social discovery app.  He previously worked at the app marketing platform Trademob.  He spoke at the at App Promotion Summit in Berlin on the subject of his experiences doing app marketing at Lovoo. His talk included the following topics:

  •  User Growth And Acquisition In A Competitive Market
  •  Increasing Engagement And Monetization
  •  Cross-Promotion And Incentives
  •  Where Is Mobile App Marketing Heading?

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‘Experience at Lovoo, the No.1 social discovery app’ – Lele Canfora at App Promotion Summit Berlin from App Promotion Summit Conference

Our Experience At LOVOO, The No.1 Social Discovery App Transcript

So, this is Lovoo.  Lovoo is a social discovery application and it’s currently the largest social discovery application in Germany.  You may know social discovery as also the name dating, but I think in the age of mobile it evolved a lot.  So we can call it social discovery, because it’s just much more than finding people with which you can go out.

As I said, I’m going to talk about Lovoo, and we reached 5,000,000 registered users, not just downloads.  I know, not just downloads, and I’m going to just explain a bit about our experiences and user growth and monetization from the app.

Lovoo is, I say, one of the most popular in Germany for dating/social discovery.  We have, I think, right now it’s 800,000 daily active users.  We send, I think, 4,000,000 messages a day, and we have downloads which amount to 5.5.  So this slide is from a couple of weeks ago.  Sorry.

And our population, as with our audience, is pretty young.  They are, the most are between 22 to 23.  It’s expected because it’s a mobile app, and it’s one-third women, which is actually very, very good fo the market.

How did we reach that in just two years?  First of all, we were mobile first.  It’s not mobile first as I say “You know, I’m mobile first, and then I have a website which generates 90 percent of my traffic.”  We had an app.  We started with an app, we only had an app, and we said “Okay, we want to break out in the mobile app market.”

We produced the app for iPhone and Android.  We just focused on product, so there was one guy which is our CMO, which did marketing alone for one and a half years.  He did extremely good, but that shows where the focus was, extremely on product.  We were, as I said, multi-platform from the beginning, almost from the beginning, iPhone, Android, and the most important thing, we had, a unique feature that no one, no other app had, and this was the Flirt Radar.

I don’t know if you have the app.  I don’t know if you installed the app.  You open it and there’s a radar.  On the radar it shows where are the people in the app that are available to talk to you, to meet you, to get to know you, and this is exclusive.  No other app has it, also, at the moment.

Let’s talk a bit about the social discovery market.  It’s a very special market.  It’s not like social networks. There are some peculiarities.  It’s highly engaging, so people that download and use the app, they use it a lot, and they use it more than once a day because they want to check back if someone wrote them.  They have, of course, notifications and a lot of engagement tricks that let people come back to the app.  But they use it in parallel, mostly they use it in parallel among similar apps the way you use, say, Facebook and Twitter and the one that does Google Plus and whatever.Our people, the users, they use, of course, Lovoo, and they often use other dating apps.  They uninstall and reinstall it cyclically.  It’s not like Facebook that you always keep in your telephones.  Sometimes you want to get to know people, sometimes you don’t, so they install the app and then you come back to it through maybe advertisement or you remember it and you upload it again.

Our people, the users, they use, of course, Lovoo, and they often use other dating apps.  They uninstall and reinstall it cyclically.  It’s not like Facebook that you always keep in your telephones.  Sometimes you want to get to know people, sometimes you don’t, so they install the app and then you come back to it through maybe advertisement or you remember it and you upload it again.

One very important thing, they have low internet sharability, which means people don’t talk a lot about what they do in the app on other networks.  There is still a little bit of shades of I’m using the app, but I’m not going on Facebook, ‘Hey, I’m loving this app.  Blah, blah, blah.  Some people do it, but it’s much less than other social networks or games or eCommerce, any other app, and that’s mostly preference-focused.

One other very important aspect, social discovery apps are highly monetized.  This is the top grossing apps in the UK in social networks.  As you can see, there are 15 social discovery among 20 apps.

One question, when you do user growth for social discovery, is, of course, I want to reach my KPI.  I want to get a user for cheaper.  I want to have users to pay money.  I want to use engaged users.  One very important step is, especially for, let’s say, straight dating apps, straight social discovery apps, is, of course, “Am I going to get, at the same time, men and women on my platform?” and women, of course, a little bit trickier to get on the platform.  They are usually more expensive.

So our problem was “Let’s study what our audience does.”  Let’s study what the audience does in the app to understand how we can talk to them best, and I started with, let’s say when are they usually active? And as you can see, men are more active in the late night, and women are more active when they come back from work.

I don’t know.  This is statistics.  This is the way it works, and it’s been proved, we have six million, with five, six million users, and this is the data that we came back with.

So I said “Okay.  Let’s try to time our advertisement according to this timing.”

Another thing is that what they do in the app.  We have the Flirt Radar, and then we have other games, other functions in the app.  One of these is called the Match.  You like or not like a person, or you can say “Maybe I like them.”  And this is, let’s say, these are the two main features, then you get commenting and you get search and other stuff.

Men are more prone to use the Radar.  They love it.  And girls are a little bit more prone to the Match, probably because they like to rate people because it’s fast.  Many, many reasons.

And if you see, usually, a little more in percentage, they’re more active, and they do a lot more Matches. So they flip through a lot more profiles than the men, more or less, double.

And how do they play with it?  Let’s say, they’re picky.  They’re definitely picky.  They say “yes” only 7 percent of the time, and “no” 80 percent of the time.  So they use it a lot, and they don’t like mostly guys, but this is fine, because in the end they love the app.

So taking this data, we try to understand how to do mobile marketing, so how to talk to our new audience. So we did, of course, time, gender-based and interest-based.  So what they’re interested in, if they’re men or they’re women, and when are they active.  Some people say it’s difficult to target.  It’s 2014 and they’re all, almost all the networks have several types of targeting.  So use them, divide your audience among sex, age, what they do, what do they like, and then tell them “This is what you get when you download the app.”

And this is one step.  So, we showed the men more the Radar, because that’s what they were excited about, and we showed the girls more the Match in all our advertisement.  That’s consistent in all our channels.

What we also did was try to be, let’s say, creative.  As I said, it’s more difficult to get girls on board.  They’re more expensive.  They’re more picky.  They have a slightly lower conversion rate.  So you have to be creative.  You have to think about new stuff to involve them;  music, videos, funny stuff, reference to fashion, reference to TV stars.

I can show you a video.  This was an actress which was singing about Lovoo, and she was singing, let’s say, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” but she was saying “Lovoo is a single’s best friend.”  You may think it’s cheeky, but it’s actually, it worked really, really well, and the user loved it.

So, just be creative, be a little bit edgy.  It will definitely pay out for, let’s say, the most difficult target that you want to reach.

Another thing we usually do is we always stay on top about minutes on the internet.  There was one video which we really liked, and it was about a mother singing to a baby and this baby was crying really emotionally, so we tried to create another advertisement around that, and we showed it to both sexes, and girls, of course, responded a bit better. And this was also one of the ways, let’s say, to overcome the same message again.  “Meet new people.  Meet new people.”  We were also trying to say “Lovoo is emotions. Lovoo is social discovery.  Lovoo is all that makes you feel good.”

This is our reminder.  How many times have you seen the same pizza ad over and over again, on Facebook, on any other kind of network?  Pretty often.  And from all, many, many other companies you see the same ad over and over again.  You can’t, you have to change, at least, new creative.  You have to change, at least, the topic.

If I see a pizza, maybe I’m hungry about a pizza, but sometimes I want to see sushi.  Sometimes I want to see people talking in restaurants.  Sometimes, I have different emotions through the day.  It’s not always “Oh, there’s a pizza.  I can download this app.”

My timing is pretty short.  Am I correct?  Oh, I’ve got a few time.  Cool.  So, I try to cram a little bit of information about user acquisition, monetization and incentives in this little slide.

One key takeout is, I talked a lot about creatives, how can you be creative, what idea you can produce, and one other lesson is “Don’t fall in love with your ideas.”  Sometimes you think “This is the best campaign I’ve ever created in my life,” and it’s not.  The results are bad, it’s expensive, and it’s not working, so cancel, move on.

What we do is this is a CPA, so registration for men and registration for women.  I, unfortunately, cannot give you the data, but you can see men are usually stable, okay?  And we, as I said, we tried several different things of campaigns, types of campaigns for women, and you can see there’s a peak in the cost sometimes and there’s a peak, it goes down.  This is usually referring to which campaigns are we running at the moment.

Sometimes it works really well, sometimes these work a little less, and we, I try to understand this data, actually look at this data and say “Okay, this campaign didn’t work that much.  This campaign worked really well,” and then, of course, this is not the only KPI, but usually, it’s the most important KPI when you do pure user acquisition.

What I also want to talk about, we are, as I said, a highly monetized application.  We have several types of things you can do in the app.  When you have this power, when you have your user, they have to do something to get some reward, like, games, like social discovery.  You can incentivize them.  This is just a little advice.

Just be clear when you give your incentive.  Be clear what you can do with the incentive.  It might be, of course, I’m talking about games, “Get 20 credits if you do this,” “Get this amount of bonus if you do this.”  It works better if you’re clear and you say “You can do this with this amount of credit” or “Win this pair of shoes,” “Win this coupon,” and stuff.

Just a little advice.  Coming back to the topic, regarding monetization, how do you strike the balance between how highly monetized your application is and how good you want the user experience to be?  Well, it’s easy.  You just have to create, separate a user journey for the different users.  When you get a new user, we usually tend to press a little bit less on the monetization side, and when we know that the user’s a bit old or is propense to do it, just [inaudible 00:11:31] we try to create a different user journey for the different types of users.

And this comes back to the topic that also the application is not shared as much as a game, not shared as much as other applications.  You can definitely do different user journeys because the user usually uses the application by themselves.

Another topic I’m really excited about is cross-promotion.  We do several kinds of monetization.  The app, of course, we have [inaudible 00:12:01], we have also have advertisement.  We offer, sort of, different types of advertisement.  We’re really excited about what we’re trying to push a lot in the next few months is cross-promotion, and I will try to explain to you why it actually works.

I’ve heard, before, I think, from one of the networks, a cross promotion is a good tool to get CPI campaigns. There’s not a lot of traffic, that’s true, but the end results might be available and you’re using any way traffic that you maybe sometimes don’t fill up.

The bonus are you know the audience.  You’re going to advertise them.  For example, if you advertise on Lovoo, you can advertize men and women.  They are pretty young.  They are, as I said, between 22 and 31, most of them, and they’re single, and they live in cities.  These are already much more information than you get from any other bland network.

And you also know, which is extremely important, where your advertisement comes up.  We talked about native advertisement, so if you think “I’m going to show my banner up there,” you would probably change the color.  You can put, and say, on the second one, you can put your advertisement that it looks like a message that comes from whatever kind of company you’re working for.

You can finally make the ad native, and you increase responsiveness, which is good for both parts when you do a cross-promotion.

This is one example how to contextualize and how to make your ads relevant.  This was a partner.  It’s a cinema information, film information, and it said “Organize the perfect date in the snow.”  So, on the app, there are people, there are boys and girls looking to meet other people.  Most of them, they try to get a date, and they see this banner.  It’s a small reference, but it’s much more important than, say, infos about movies.  This works better than any other thing, and the response was bigger.

As I said, the Lovoo’s audience is single and living in cities.  So you can think about “What do they eat?  Do they home deliver pizza?  Do they like pizza restaurants?” any kind of targeting you can talk about, we can discuss that.

There’s another way we also monetize.  We can provide a lot of [inaudible 14:06] for the app.  We have something called the News Flash, where we propose to a user to download the app, and sometimes it’s extremely effective.  For example, the [inaudible 14:15] movie we pushed it to number five of the overall top chart in Germany, as you can see on the right.  So if you also want to discuss that, about that with us, I am here and Andre’s here and we are open to that.

So, I’m going to leave you with food for thought.  James asked me to talk about, let’s talk about a bit “What are the next topics in mobile marketing?”  We haven’t talked that much about that today.  We definitely talked about re-targeting where we haven’t talked about multi-screen targeting.

We are a web app, a tablet app, and we have a website.  So, for us, it’s extremely interesting, for example.  Where is the evolution of multi-screen targeting? Our goal, of course, would be to propose the same advertisement to our user wherever they are, and I’m really interested if you have questions to discuss that.

As I said, native apps are going to be hot in the next month, in the next year.  They will definitely come platform.  They will try to, they will help you create advertisements that look good in their app, not just uploading banners and hope they look good, like the way, let’s say, the way Facebook does.

Video ads is already here.  It’s not a new topic.  Facebook is doing, as I said, something really good, but they are many other networks that are doing that, and for us, video works.  We, as I said, we did the Marilyn video, we did the baby videos.  They’re working and they make you feel more than just a simple banner, and that’s extremely important for girls.

Geo location ad.  Again, we are an extremely geo located app.  The app knows where you are.  It’s all about where you area, and where you can meet people.  So, this will definitely be an interesting topic for us, because it might be that we want to target people who are in a specific city.

If you want information, talk to us, me and Andre are here and one last point, I said five million, but I prepared this presentation and the whole topic, I think, three weeks ago, and we were about 5.3 million registrations, and yesterday we actually celebrated six million and one million a month.  Thank you.

Thanks to Lele for doing such an interesting talk.  You can find out more about App Promotion Summit here