Analytics case study: How Viber increased messaging by 15% for one billion users

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Messaging app, Rakuten Viber, shifted their innovation strategy from being product-centric to user-centric. As a result, the messaging platform increased overall engagement by 15% for its one billion registered global users.


The goals

Viber is the cross-platform instant messaging and voice over IP (VoIP) application, operated by Rakuten. With the rise of social media and staying connected through apps, Viber is a leader in this digital paradigm shift, connecting over one billion registered users with their friends, family, and community members throughout the world. Viber’s blended business model consists of both in-app purchases and traditional and native advertising where brands partner with the platform to serve ads, host community group chats, launch promotional stickers, e-commerce integrations, and more.

“What keeps users coming back to Viber is the fact that it’s a fun and seamless product that keeps them feeling connected with their loved ones and favorite brands,” said Danny Odes, Mobile Product Manager at Viber. “I want to create products that help people make more meaningful connections.”

To understand what makes Viber more fun for their users, Danny Odes, Mobile Product Manager, and Oz Radiano, Senior Product Manager, look to the data to get a holistic understanding of messaging patterns, and how they could potentially change the product to move the needle on their most important business drivers — increasing engagement and improving retention. With user insights, Viber can make product decisions that improve the UX so people spend more time in-app, make and receive more calls, and send and receive more frequent messages within the platform. Other measures Mixpanel helps them understand are KPIs like average session length per user or cohorts of users, frequency of messages sent every day/week/month, the time it takes for a user to open the app and send their first message, etc.

“I look to Mixpanel for quantitative evidence of where we need to improve the user experience so people can truly express themselves on our platform,” Danny continued. Mixpanel insights gives the team concrete proof on where they need to change the platform to drive desired usage patterns, in addition to figuring out how to re-engage dormant users to become more active ones. These product iterations amounted to massive change over time. Since partnering with Mixpanel in 2015, Viber has seen a 15% increase in overall messaging for its one billion global users. Here’s how they did just that.

“With Mixpanel, we can easily query the data and answer our own questions. Mixpanel makes me feel more independent — and that’s amazing.” -Danny Odes, Mobile Product Manager, Viber

The solution

With Mixpanel’s Core Reports and JQL, the team samples user behavior data from their billions of tracked events, initially sent through a data pipeline run on Amazon Web Services.
“Viber needed a tool for the product managers to make quick and smart decisions. With Mixpanel, we get the answers we need to execute on our vision,” said Oz.

While Viber doesn’t send all its user data immediately to Mixpanel, it’s the primary way Viber conducts user behavior analysis across product and other data-driven teams looking for user insights at the company. Mixpanel slots in seamlessly with Viber’s larger data ecosystem.

“With Mixpanel, we can easily find the data and answer our own questions,” said Danny. “Mixpanel makes me feel more independent — and that’s amazing.”

Sampling billions of user events on the messaging platform and analyzing those events and properties through Mixpanel, helps the product team discover usage patterns (e.g. calls made, calls received, etc.), identify drop off points in the product, and spot where in the product they can make changes to improve overall user experience.

Oz agrees: “Mixpanel helps us all answer questions quickly so we understand user behavior and identify trends. It empowers us all to make more informed decisions, and simply move so much faster.”

The results

Driving the business by increasing overall platform messaging by 15%

With Mixpanel, the Viber team was equipped with the quantitative data to know exactly how their users interacted with one core piece of the app: the keyboard within the app’s interface.
“With Insights, we saw how people were depending on the visible keyboard features and underusing the ones that were hidden within the menu. Because Mixpanel allowed us to track, test, and measure how different feature changes impacted overall usage, we started playing with which features we exposed and which ones we hid in the drop down,” said Danny.

One by one, the team measured and swapped out stickers, the search icon, chat extensions, doodles, the gallery camera, and teddy bears. All of these buttons were on the original keyboard design. Mixpanel Insights gave the team the ability to measure and see which buttons were most popular when users were texting their connections.

Then, the product team used A/B Testing to experiment the order in which the buttons appeared within the keyboard interface. Finally, the team knew they had found a design that would positively impact engagement (e.g. more time in app, more frequent conversations, speed to sending a message, etc.) when they saw that the new keyboard increased overall messaging by 15 percent.

By giving users the most useful and relevant chat opinions, people had different ways to communicate with their friends, family, and favorite brands that host virtual chats on Viber.

Increased platform engagement by improving Group Chat creation by 10%

The Viber team always knew that understanding user behavior patterns were foundational to product changes, so they weren’t blindly making changes off of a hunch.
“If we were going to generate and test new ideas, we needed to know precisely how people moved about the product and how they used specific features,” said Danny.
The team began by looking at their entire user population and then focused in on users who had performed an event they suspected was valuable: creating group chats. The team had always assumed that users who created group chats were more engaged and thus more valuable, but they had never been able to confirm this hypothesis. Without knowing for certain, they didn’t know whether to invest resources into features that increased chat creation.

First, Danny and his team used Segmentation to compare group chat users to non-group chat users and found the answer they were looking for: “With Mixpanel, we were able to confirm our hypothesis: we had evidence that people who are active in groups were several more times engaged than those who were are not a part of a group chat,” said Danny. “The difference was significant.”

Armed with this insight, the team then used Funnels to deeply understand the steps that went into how group chats were typically created so that the team might make the process easier or more clear. What they found surprised them.

“We looked to Funnels to measure how customers move through any series of events within the platform, and identify where people drop off. With Funnels we can answer questions like, What do certain cohorts of people click when exploring the interface? What are the most common steps people take before they start a chat, or create a group chat? Where are the greatest areas of improvement in a specific user flow?” explained Danny.

“From there, the product team can brainstorm ways to iterate the product to make it easier to get connected with friends on Viber.”
In this case of the group chats, Danny and the team discovered that rather than using the button on the homescreen to create a group chat, most users who created group chats did so from an existing one-on-one chat.

“Users are typically talking to someone, want to add a participant, and don’t want to go back to the home page to do it. So we decided to make that flow better,” explained Danny. Based on this understanding, the team redesigned the one-on-one chat interface so that the button to create a group chat was more prominent.
“We consistently refer to user data so that we can build, test, and iterate the product based on what we see in Mixpanel. And based on this button change and new flow we created, group chat creation increased by 10 percent.”

How Insights revealed an opportunity for increased sharing

Viber knew that messaging apps don’t exist in a vacuum — they’re often used amongst an ecosystem of other apps. The Viber team used Mixpanel Insights to understand exactly how Viber plays a role in users’ daily communication, and how conversations even got started.

One of the team’s first discoveries with Mixpanel was when they measured the attribution source of conversations through Core Reports. They learned that most of Viber sessions start with users opening Viber, which makes logical sense. However what they also learned with Mixpanel is that users typically begin sessions by sharing photos from their phone’s gallery, adding links from a browser, or responding to push notifications. They learned this based on analyzing acquisition channels and what they saw in Insights and Segmentation reports.

From here they recognized that Viber was less like a messenger app and more like a social network, stitching together other apps to make everything shareable.

Knowing this pattern, gave the team an idea: If they could make sharing simpler, from external sources, they might increase overall usage. Despite most conversations started within Viber, there still was a smaller, yet significant portion of conversations that came from external sources.

Initially, when Danny and Oz tried sharing photos from external sources they realized that they could eliminate several steps. And with Mixpanel Funnels, they were able to confirm that hypothesis with user data.

Initially, whenever a user shared a photo from their gallery, the share feature would prompt users to share with Viber. If they clicked this button, it opened Viber, and they could add a contact and hit send. This flow required users to search for their contact each time they shared.

With Mixpanel Funnels and Segmentation, the team could see that most sharing only occurred with each users’ top few contacts. With this insight, the product team streamlined and shorten the sharing process by deploying Android’s Direct Share feature. This new Android feature made it incredibly easy to share something from just about any app directly to someone you talk to on a regular basis on Viber.

The change was subtle, but it was a great way to decrease the number of steps between users’ actions. And what they found in Mixpanel is that the launch of Android Direct Share feature increased sharing from external sources by 9 percent.

Given that Viber’s users collectively share 1.5 million pictures per minute, the uptick was significant.

"We took advantage of the opportunity to make sharing easier with Android's tools, but Mixpanel's user data was what inspired us to invest in this change."

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