We thought it would be cool to build a private messaging service into our product. Turns out, it was an essential value add.
Thanks to our Live Chat feature—an open forum where users could post comments and engage in conversation—we discovered many users were attempting to develop personal relationships by exchanging Twitter and Kik handles to keep up with each other outside of our platform.
The typical behavior pattern looked like this:
- Become familiar with highly active and/or successful users on Swoopt (through contests, leaderboards, and/or Live Chat)
- Engage in conversation with them on Live Chat
- Swap personal contact details in Live Chat
- Engage with them outside of Swoopt
Clearly there was a huge leak in the user experience. We were missing a great opportunity to close the loop and capture some of the value those personal relationships could give us.
Designing a Messenger
I began a deep study into the interactions of many of the major messaging services, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage (and more) and looked for comparable task flows like adding contacts and creating groups.
After finding some examples comparable to what we were looking for, I created a flow chart to use as a baseline for building a prototype for testing.
While the increases we saw were modest because of a limited time of analytics (we sold before we could really get good data), we did see an uptick in engagement, retention and revenue. Less measurable were the effects private messaging had on the sense of community, which we were seeing expressed both in the Live Chat and increase in individual bets by those actively engaged in private messaging.
In the end, it was a really cool feeling to have put together a community of people. We became personally connected to many of our customers in a way that I don't think would be possible without an in-built communication tool.