‘Location data has never sat right with us’: Talking COVID and app marketing with London’s number one bus app

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The previous 12 months has proved to be troublesome for many companies throughout industries and one of many industries that has been enormously affected, as you’ll anticipate, is the general public transportation trade. Passenger numbers throughout buses and trains fell drastically as individuals, aside from key employees or these taking different important journeys, had been pressured to remain indoors. Folks had been now not commuting to work, visiting family and friends, or making their manner out to pubs, golf equipment, and eating places.


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This, clearly, hit the general public transportation sector onerous, even extending to the apps devoted to the sector. One such app is the London Dwell Bus Countdown app – the most well-liked London bus app, providing the general public with stay bus instances, journey planning, journey standing updates, and extra.

“We have undoubtedly seen utilization fall and peak to extremes up to now 12 months. When a big proportion of our viewers had been mandated to remain at dwelling, we knew solely those that really want to make use of the bus service can be utilizing our app,” says Jason Kapadia, Founding father of Mobicia, the creator of London Dwell Bus Countdown. “We did not really feel proper selling bus utilization throughout this time because of the apparent elevated virus transmission threat, so we requested ourselves how we will higher serve the customers who had no alternative however to journey throughout these extraordinary instances.”

As a way to cater to its person base throughout these attempting instances, the app developed a brand new characteristic which enabled customers to extra simply report issues – together with these associated to COVID – to TfL.

“16 per cent of London’s inhabitants use our app, so it made sense that we ship knowledge relating to demand at bus stops together with different statistics to assist TfL modify bus frequency and enhance the service for all passengers,” explains Kapadia.

“In the course of the first lockdown, we noticed the variety of customers lower by as much as 82 per cent. We took the steps to aggressively optimise our infrastructure and processes to maintain our prices as little as potential. Passenger limits, bus frequency modifications and as much as half of buses on sure increased frequency routes signed as ‘faculty companies’ helped person engagement keep robust. Presently we’re seeing round 60 per cent of pre-pandemic each day energetic customers and rising as restrictions proceed to ease.”

When the app began out in 2011, it targeted on utilizing an natural person acquisition technique – one thing that has helped hold prices low over time – whereas making it straightforward for customers to overview and share the app.

“While paid person acquisition was out there, we determined to experiment and discover out if the search algorithm might be satisfied that we might be the primary decide when anybody typed in ‘bus instances’ or comparable key phrases into the app retailer search,” says Kapadia. “After we launched, our major competitors had been paid bus instances apps, so we determined to go free and that technique labored properly to achieve preliminary traction. Our app identify is barely prolonged, ‘London Dwell Bus Countdown’, however it was the results of meticulously experimenting with the key phrases and app descriptions which drove probably the most downloads.”

Whereas striving to maintain the prices of working the app low is all properly and good, Mobicia nonetheless has to generate income from its product.

The London Dwell Bus Countdown app does this primarily by means of in-app promoting, whereas persevering with to deal with offering a optimistic person expertise and refusing to promote the situation knowledge of its customers.

“In-app adverts are our foremost income. We show a small 320×50 banner on the backside of the display screen. Interstitials are one thing we investigated, we noticed a few of our competitors utilizing it and it didn’t give an excellent person expertise for an app the place session lengths had been comparatively quick,” says Kapadia.

“Our present technique is to make use of a mix of header bidding and mediation utilizing Google Advert Supervisor as our major advert server. We now have raised flooring, so some customers do not see any adverts in any respect, as we’re concentrating on the upper high quality programmatic adverts. Direct relationships with manufacturers and companies made up 15 per cent of our income, however many campaigns had been paused as COVID threw a wrench into advertising and marketing budgets. Since restrictions have been easing, we have now seen a rush of direct campaigns go stay with giant manufacturers and we hope to proceed this development this 12 months,” continues Kapadia.

“Different comparable apps promote person location knowledge as a income however, though we had been hounded by dozens of knowledge firms and we may’ve considerably elevated our income, it by no means sat proper with us as we, ourselves, would not wish to use an app that was monitoring all over the place we go within the background.”

The app was serving round 1.45m month-to-month energetic customers pre-COVID, has excessive person retention, and holds a median star ranking (out of 5) of 4.7 on iOS and 4.6 Android from nearly 200,000 critiques.

The plan is to construct on this success in London and develop to different areas within the UK and overseas – Mobicia is already working variations of its app in beta in some US and Canadian cities. And, with these huge plans, the developer will develop its advertising and marketing efforts somewhat additional to assist guarantee a robust entry into new markets.

“As we’re launching in new areas within the close to future, as soon as issues begin to normalise, we can be utilizing focused social media campaigns to accumulate new customers in these areas to achieve a small foothold, which we are going to then look to develop extra organically over time,” concludes Kapadia.


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