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5 Ways To Engineer Your Product For Virality

Vaibhav Namburi
April 26, 2019
4 min

Remember TBH? They sold for 10M in 9 weeks. Crazy right? Maybe not as much when you breakdown what they did to achieve their level of success.

Yes as the story goes, there is no overnight success, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't aim for the stars and try to grow your product.

Quick side warning: One should focus on mass growth and or virality once they've felt that they've done adequate user research, tested their product and learn from their existing audience that the product is definitely a need and not a want, i.e people WANT this product.

If you go for premature growth, when your product doesn't actually solve a real problem, you'll have the mentos and coke effect. An explosive start followed by the flattest non-tasty drink ever.

REMEMBER: “It’s much better to first make a product a small number of users love than a product that a large number of users like.”

Anyway, let's jump straight into it, here's 5 ways to engineer fast growth into your product

1. Login with Gmail or Facebook

Seems like a very simple thing, almost everyone does it right? Wrong, they forget a very important part of the sign-in process - when a user signs up, make sure you set the permissions in the authentication scope to ask for the user's friends list. It's such a simple thing to do, yet most people don't. Remember, birds of a feather flock together. If this person is willing to use your product, there's a high chance some of their friends are keen to use it as well. It'll be even more effective marketing on facebook if the user that just signed up to his/her friends about your product and then started seeing ads about your product. People love familiarity, in a world where everyone is pushing ads out, people are getting ever more sceptical and recommendations from friends is a great way to go.

This leads us to the second point

2. Build in an internal social sharing model

More often than not people don't build in social sharing systems within their products, remember when a new user signs up to your product, they've invested in your business i.e they believe in it! If they're happy with that, all you have to do is nudge them a little to share their happiness, and make it EXTREMELY easy to share this happiness.

Now on the flip side, let's say your audience is a little on the shy end of things, well you can easily gamify your launch when you release your product, instead of putting a payment gate on features, have people tweet or share your feature and have people tag you.

Do you see what you've just done? You just employed your own salesperson, and imagine this person multiplied by a few thousand, the effect is incredible, and all of this is done for free

We did just that with one of our products, - where if people wanted more integrations added to their profile, they had to simply tweet us, and we made sure people knew that.

You need to understand, most people just put that lock symbol and think that'll drive excitement, I mean marketing 101 is drive scarcity right, but how about not only drive it but spread it

And you can see right here how easy it was for the user to share it. We went the extra mile, we didn't open the share window in a new page, nope - we want to preserve people who visit our product, so any interactions or any sharing is a simple popup.

3. The Trigger model


I'm joking, don't do that, never do that - actually, some people might argue with that. I've seen a lot of marketing tactics where the goal is to drive an emotion within you, usually through controversial concepts. Anyway, thats another topic

Source Forbes

I won't go to deep into this as the book Hooked, covers this sentiment in deep detail, the Trigger -> Action -> Reward -> Investment cycle is what is behind some of the stickiest and successful products.

So how and where does this apply to what we're talking about?

Well, a large part of growth is not just getting new users, no no - see my friend that's vanity metrics. Getting crazy sign ups with minimal usage after the first sign up is pretty dangerous, so you need to build triggers and systems that encourage users to come back to your product. Now those people who've done an excellent job with their product and UX would have gamified it in ways to set up internal triggers that cause the user to visit the product often. Often internal triggers come from places of negativity, such as FOMO, or loneliness - this is how social media platforms work, each time you open the platform - you get a new candy

However, engineering your product to send out external triggers like push notifications is a great way to bring in re-engagement. This means building your product as a PWA, for a website - this allows you to send web push notifications, I'm sure you've seen the permission request from apps like facebook on desktop or places like Amazon. However PWA's, unfortunately, have a catch where push notifs don't work for iOS, hopefully, this is fixed in the future.

TL;DR set up a system that nudges users internally or externally, growth is not just new users, its existing users using your product more

4. The Infamous Referral Network

Put the onus on the user. What do I mean? If a user joins your product, which is maybe a robot-financial planning product, you can easily set up a referral system that would give the user every incentive to share your product with their network because its in their benefit. Again, the concept of converting your customers to your personal sales personnel. Dropbox did a "hack" that encouraged this very thing, the infamous "invite more friends for more data" - they had a product that people loved, and if someone wanted more of the product all they had to do was to invite others with a referral scheme.

You might be thinking that this isn't an engineering solution but a hack, and yeah it is, but the product was engineered and built to accommodate for virality. They engineered solutions that enabled people and empowered them to share their link.

5. Go where they are

This one is a fun one, acquiring users in this day is extremely difficult, not that people aren't there on the internet, there are billions - and there's more traffic today than there ever was. So why is it hard? well because the big guys have got them all saddled in their own platforms. And by big guys i mean your competitors.

So you do what Apple did with Google, when Apple released the iPhone 7 I believe, they went straight after their competitor. They gave people the ability to download an app that will simply rip out everything that is in your google phone and add it to your Apple phone.

See, more likely than not, people have already integrated their information or business into another product and if you want them to move away, you've got to give them a damn good reason to move away OR just a super easy way to move away. Ever shifted your health insurance? You literally just need to give your old insurers name and your ID to the new one and EVERYTHING is done for you - it's baked into their product offering.

Another way is to simply integrate to where people already are, instead of ripping them away from an ecosystem and making them join yours - it'll be very hard because they're already invested so much time into this other platform. This is where you can have two onboarding systems, an onboarding system via facebook messenger where people can sign up via a bot and once they've signed up - just link them straight to your product.

See this helps because, when a person is at their most vulnerable i.e when providing their details in the sign-up flow, it helps to keep them in a place where they're familiar and feel safe. It removes resistance and builds trust.

Well there you go - those are 5 epic ways to build your product for virality.

Now on that note, if you loved reading this, you'll love working with us!

Get in touch if you've got a project we can help build for you!

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“Hi, I’m Vaibhav (or just 'V').
Are you looking for an experienced development team?
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Vaibhav Namburi

Director @ Five2One Tech Labs

“Hi, I’m Vaibhav (or just 'V').
Are you looking for an experienced development team?
Look no further.
Contact us today for your free consultation worth $900!”

Vaibhav Namburi - Director @ Five2One

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