Branch Metrics helps app developers grow their apps by personalizing app installation process. Branch Metrics SDK generates smart deeplinks that pass data through install and drive higher conversions and more engagement of your users. Startup Branch Metrics has recently raised $3 Million in seed funding. Below is our interview with Alexander Austin, Co-Founder of Branch Metrics:
Q: What are the biggest benefits of using Branch Metrics?
A: The current state of mobile apps has the user experience very siloed. You search for an app name, press install, type your password iTunes and the install experience begins. Maybe it takes a minute or two, so you reopen Facebook or Flipboard to kill time. Maybe a few minutes you don’t even remember that you were looking for that app to begin with. In the case you do remember to open the app, you are presented with the same generic splash screen that everyone sees.
The best analogy of the mobile app experience today would be if you were to browse the internet entirely by using your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. The first time you’d access a website, you’d have to wait a minute to download all of the assets, then go through generic, pointless splash screens until you started accessing the content or functionality of the website. If there’s a reason that sounds crazy, that’s because it is.
Branch is on a mission to fix that problem. That’s a huge undertaking, but we believe we’re on the right track with our first product, the Branch deep links. Using Branch link technology, mobile apps can now pass users to various parts of the app depending on what they were browsing before. For example, without Branch, if your friend sends you a link to an article inside a news app, and you don’t have the app, after installing the app you’ll just be taken to the home screen of the news app. With Branch links, after installing the app, you can actually be taken straight to the article. It allows the app developer to personalize the post install or open experience for the user, by taking them to the content they expect to see.
Another use case that broke in the transition from web to mobile is the user referral program. Most web based referral programs give a user a link to share with friends. When that link is shared with friends, any new friend can see a personal welcome to the site from their friend and the original user is automatically rewarded for the referral. On mobile, since links don’t work through install, companies have had to resort to awful coupon codes, that are shared with friends and must be typed in on checkout. Branch links make referral programs entirely automatic, and much more like the smooth web experience we’re all used to.
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Q: What was technically the most challenging part of developing it?
A: Our service was built with the mobile developer in mind, so we try to make everything as simple and as automatic as possible to lighten the load on the app developer. For example, an app developer that wants to build a referral program on our service will only need to use 4 lines of code in our SDK to build it, with no backend changes. We do a lot of very complex things to create a system that automates a referral system in order to handle all the edge cases and prevent scamming.
Additionally, we allow app developers to measure the performance of all of these features through a complex dashboard. App developers can finally understand where all their installs are coming from and measure the conversion through funnel analysis. To deliver an analytics tool at scale, via a single page web app, requires a lot of work to build out a robust infrastructure to handle the computations necessary.
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Q: How did the Branch Metrics team meet?
A: Our core team formed during the most intense startup class on campus at Stanford, Launchpad at the d-School. We worked on a mobile app product during that 10 weeks, and found that we clicked as a team. We each had skill sets that balanced each other out, and everyone added value in very unique ways, bringing fresh perspective to difficult strategy decisions. Ultimately, we all decided to abandon our post graduation plans to continue working together.
Our first product was a photo book making app named Kindred Photo Books. On launch, we were featured in some tech press, and by Google and Apple on their respective stores. The business has done very well, but it was not a massive opportunity we were hoping for, mainly due to challenges we faced around growth. The biggest growth issue we faced was the fact that Apple doesn’t let you track users and pass context through the install process. To break down this barrier would mean making the mobile app ecosystem more like the functionality we’re used to on the web.
When we realized how big of an opportunity it was, we decided to switch focus from photo books to deep links.
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Q: What tips would you give an early stage startup when trying to launch a new app?
A: A functional customer adoption and sustainable growth strategy is absolutely necessary for success. Don’t just plan it; build a minimal version of the product and test it. Figure out if the invite channel is going to convert at the rate you need to see continued downloads or if enough new users will click on shared content from your app to drive a new download. Figure out if there is enough value add that the user that you’ve worked so hard to get will be motivated enough to reopen your app regularly. This is the hard part that kills so many products. This is what makes the difference between success and failure.
Branch links and metrics can help you get all the data need for your customer acquisition strategy. That’s what we built the product for. The links drive new users to the app in the highest converting method possible, handling all the edge cases, and give you all the data on conversion at every step of the way.
Q: What can we expect from your team in next six months?
A: We’re working on a bunch of really neat features, mainly centered around growth. We believe growth to be the biggest problem that app developers face, and believe that deep links and our analytics can help developers solve it quickly. We’re trying to productize the growth hacker, so that when an app developer is brainstorming on how to get their next 1000 or 1,000,000 users, they look to our product first. Fortunately, we were just able to triple our engineering capacity, so expect features to roll out quickly.
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