How do you encourage app downloads when your users aren’t on their smartphones?
You find a great app online. It’s perfect (or perfectly fun) for what you need, but you’re on your laptop. Downloading the app on your laptop, then syncing your phone to install the app is a pain. Sending yourself the link to the site on your phone is tedious. Okay, I’ll install it later, you tell yourself.
But later never comes and if you’re an app developer, you’ve lost a potential customer. What if you could text a link to download the app right to your smartphone? This is where you’re going to install it anyway, right? The easy answer is to let visitors enter their mobile number, click, and get a link to the app so they can download it.
Easy solution in theory, but building it is another matter. Getting your website to talk to an SMS API and having it send the correct link to people regardless of where they are takes time to figure out. Working on that feature distracts from your real business of building and promoting your app. What if there was a simple way to let people text themselves a link to your app?
Introducing LinkTexting, sending app links to customers by SMS
Building SMS into your website isn’t fun
While it’s not difficult to build a “Text me a link to download the app” feature for your website, the question is why do it yourself? App startups run tight ships and on razor thin time lines. Distracting your web guy (who is likely one of your key developers) with building SMS into your website might derail more important tasks to your business. No question app downloads are important, but you have to have a functional app to download in the first place. A veteran startup guy with solutions like GrowAmp under his belt, Kumar and co-founder Brian Clark, knew the challenges of building a company. They knew that while it seems easy to say “how hard could it be to put a form on the homepage of the website…,” in practice it takes time. And time is something in short supply when you’re building the next disruptive app.
The solution seemed obvious to Kumar—create the tool, widgetize it, and offer it as a service. Businesses already rely on SaaS products and hosted solutions not because they can’t do it themselves, but they decide it’s more important to focus on what they’re good at. LinkTexting took the same approach. Spend time building your app and let the LinkTexting widget help promote your app.
LinkTexting was born at a hackathon in San Francisco where Kumar and Brian won over $250,000. This led them bootstrap LinkTexting and turn it into a profitable business sending millions of messages a month. Coming out of the Hackhouse, LinkTexting was sitting right in the middle of their target customer base—app developers.
LinkTexting uses the Infobip SMS API to let developers send a pre-set SMS to almost any phone number in the world. Most customers include a link to their apps on various app stores, but the service is quite versatile and the messages can include a link to anything you’d want users to have on their phones. If you can link to it, you can send it. I tested the service during the interview and I was amazed at how fast the message arrived on my phone (almost instantly).
LinkTexting popularity caught on fast with clients like Meerkat, Spotify, Adobe, MSNBC, and Burner. But, there is a cost to being awesome. Literally. The cost of sending messages was going up, threatening LinkTexting’s scalability. They needed a solution providing high reliability to send messages at a lower cost, while ensuring they could offer the service to developers globally. The global app market is huge and limiting yourself to only a few regions is not how you disrupt a market.
The challenge we see at Infobip is companies seeking to scale up fast and the providers not able to meet the needs in a cost-effective manner. What does scale mean for an SMS provider? What does scaling up mean for the customer who has the high-quality-problem of sudden popularity? Here’s what it meant to Kumar and LinkTexting: reliability, reach, and cost.
Reach, reliability, and cost equal scale
LinkTexting came to Infobip because they needed to reduce messaging costs. A single SMS might only cost a penny or two, but multiply that by hundreds, thousands, or millions of messages a month and the costs add up fast. They needed a provider who could provide better access to mobile operators and lower costs.
I called Infobip and Taylor wanted to help me grow my business. Sure, I was most concerned about the cost when I started talking with him. I learned that Infobip is more than just about the cost. They have a solid API that I could use, reliable connections globally and people who care about their customers and want to invest in their success.
Infobip reduces costs to our customers by giving access to solid infrastructure with over 350 direct connections to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). These direct connections mean that LinkTexting could offer more reliable—and fast—messaging to more countries than our competitors. In fact LinkTexing saved enough money to be able to fund another startup HDP Health. HDP Health helps patients navigate the complex world of drug trials to find a clinical trial for their disease.
As Kumar and Brian learned, there is a lot more to building an SMS service than how much it costs. Cost is important, but API support, reliability, and reach create a complete messaging service that gives you room to grow and global access at your fingertips.