There are almost too many success stories to keep up with nowadays – every business claims some sort of immediate success and publishes their finding off the back of it. Hitwe’s success, however, is to be attended to. On the one hand they have an incredible trajectory in a very short space of time, and on the other it follows some interestingly simple patterns.
Hitwe is a social discovery dating platform targeting emerging markets, available in 20 languages and 200 countries. It allows users to meet friends and potential dates through using the app in short bursts to rate profiles, message connections and much else. Users are matched on very simple logic, nothing more than age, distance and gender, which means no lengthy forms and no “clever” algorithms. It also provides a far more featureful website where users can view the number of times they and other users have liked and been liked, among many other things. The number of unique daily logins exceeds 1.5 million. There are more impressive stats to come, but here’s the stat that makes all of them all the more impressive: all their stats have been accumulated since the product launched in January 2016 – just over a year at the time of writing.
The Goal & Target Market
What did the platform need?
Hitwe first needed to build a user base and, as you will have deduced from their login statistics, they managed to do so. But before getting people using the platform regularly they needed people to download the app, this first hurdle unlocked everything else. And although this sounds obvious nothing is more useful in driving a business than having a clear idea of exactly what everyone is aiming for. Without having defined their version of success they would have had very little idea of what to do next at any given moment, and success metrics get exponentially more powerful the fewer of them there are. It could have been the case that users would have downloaded the app and then not used it, but therein lies proper customer development and product testing. Having built confidence in their product internally (not that work ever really stops on the product, of course) they could then set out to attract users and generate a living, breathing platform.
Where was it going to get what it needed?
There are a lot of big players in the social discovery dating market, many of them well established with good nichés and big money behind them. But, as with most pioneers, these companies focused their efforts on the established markets mainly in Europe and North America. Hitwe found that by putting a little more time into translating their platform into different languages up front (which any growing company is going to have to do eventually) they were able to focus on developing markets where the bigger players were spending less time and less money.
Tactics & Strategy
Having established confidence in a good product the time to market their product was upon them, and here Hitwe found another simple way to apply themselves. The market for social discovery dating apps and sites tends to be the younger, tech-savvy demographic. If they’re older they’re less likely to be tech-savvy and if they’re young but not tech-savvy they’re probably not going to use a new online dating platform. Further, if they’re young and tech-savvy there is almost no chance they won’t have Facebook. Hitwe were able to pour all their resources into marketing through one channel, especially given Facebook’s array of marketing functionality.
Firstly Hitwe was able to launch a lot of campaigns, 300 across various markets. Adding this many campaigns means the opportunities for testing, and therefore opportunities to refine, are plentiful – especially when you consider that each culture and social group required its own custom settings. Before we unravel more of the plot it’s also worth noting that cultures and social groups operate within and across country borders. There’s no use simply applying one marketing campaign to the whole of Singapore, for example. Different user profiles require their own settings, each needed to be marketed to in the way that suited it best.
To do this a marketing campaign could begin and be refined over time, boosted by Facebook’s Audience Insights to get under the hood of the foibles of each target group. Two more products can then be neatly folded into this. Firstly Custom Audiences bring together previously disparate sets of data into one whole. Things like website visitors, app viewers and an existing contact list can be combined and marketed to with a similar approach under the fairly safe assumption that these people have shown an interest in the platform. This is the best way of driving conversion rate on a given contact list, making sure that the highest number of contacted people possible actually hit the button to download the app.
To extend original marketing efforts further Hitwe used Lookalike Audiences which takes – for example – your successful conversions and maps them to their Facebook profiles, forming an idea of what the average user likely to convert might look like. In using this Hitwe were able to extend their reach to users who were likely to convert and, in doing so, broaden their marketing sphere. A broadened marketing sphere will then, in turn, provide more data which can be used to tweak and adjust any relevant campaigns.
But all this is nothing without the basic marketing material. Hitwe had their marketing efforts backed up by templates which were quick and easy to edit for each market. An emotive video could be distributed, and each piece of collateral had clear “Install Now” calls to action. These basics were the underpinning of everything else, allowing Hitwe to pile success on top of success in getting the necessaries right at each step.
Hitwe’s marketing tactics could be said to have been sandwiched by their own well thought out broader strategy. On the underside lies a decent product and solid marketing collateral, then the marketing tactics can be laid on top, with the final piece of bread being the payment method on site.
To use the basic functionality in the product is free of charge. Users can find other people, chat to them and build their own profile all without paying a cent. There is, you may have assumed by now, a premium version which comes with the usual benefits such as no more adverts and limitations on liking and storing contacts being lifted. But Hitwe thought their premium version through more carefully than most and here’s why it’s a crucial part of their success.
If someone uses a dating app and their willing to pay a monthly fee to do so, they’re not just going to do it to get rid of some advertisements. Well, they might do, if they’re feeling particularly flush and impatient. But it’s safe to assume most wouldn’t unless factor two is in place: that they are serious about dating and are going to give it a concerted effort. Hitwe then added much more functionality including having premium users messages appear above other users, and a TOP-users section only for premium users. Hitwe didn’t just chuck some extra features to those who were paying, but created a subculture within their platform for premium users to wear their badge proudly and to the benefit of their dating endeavours.
All in all the effect of this work has been powerful, and it’s easy to see why. Hitwe have built a good product, an easily adaptable set of collateral, created bespoke marketing campaigns per social group, and appealing premium functionality. This is a step-by-step guide on how to approach potential customers in a way that’s most likely to engage them, deliver a platform they want to visit, and a pricing structure which provides the customer with good justification for the monthly fee.
More Results and Summary
I promised you more results when you began reading this piece so here they are: Hitwe’s marketing video reach 500,000 views, and with their slick product they have entered the top 10 social app in over 50 countries. Through their daily posts they reach 10 million people, and those people are pleased with them having ranked them at 4.2 on Google Play. In 50 countries they surpassed 3 million downloads… just in the first 4 months. And all of that is external success, internally they managed to decrease their cost per install by 33% and saw a 27% uplift in average eCPM, which puts their marketing spend in context as an investment in efficiency as well as increased revenue.
Hitwe’s success is to highlight two major factors so often overlooked in new businesses: do the basics properly, and simplify your market approach. So successful were they that they even surprised Facebook and were added to the main page of their Cross-Border Business Handbook. No doubt there were bumps and obstacles along the way but with a clear strategy Hitwe have entered the top echelon of fast-growing companies.