How we used notifications to boost widget installs 10x!

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Posted by Haoran Man, Niv Govindaraju, Rohit Sampathi, and Antriksh Saxena

A new Photos widget featuring Memories

As the home for your memories, Google Photos is loved by hundreds of millions of people around the world. One key focus area for us is how we continue to create truly helpful and compelling experiences for our users to cherish memories with their friends and family. We recently brought our Memories feature to Android widgets, enabling users to easily enjoy an ambient stream of photos right on their phone’s home screen. To increase the widget’s awareness, we experimented with a notification campaign that ended up increasing widget DAUs by 10x. Read on for more on how we accomplished this…

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Photos’ widget usage was initially low

Despite our belief that the Memories widget was a helpful and requested feature from our users, initial adoption was relatively low, with tapering organic growth in the weeks following launch. There was clearly plenty of headroom to grow awareness of this feature so we started brainstorming ways to make it easier for users to learn about and try out the widget.

Leveraging notifications to increase feature discovery

We decided to experiment with notifications given Photos’ past success in using them as a helpful nudge for feature discovery. We quickly put together a notification campaign that targeted eligible Photos Android users with Memories content. They each received a notification informing them of the widget, and on tap-through would be dropped directly into the Memories widget install flow. In just a couple seconds, they could have the widget set up and start seeing their special moments featured on screen.

Users took advantage of the streamlined flow, which drove installs 10x

The notification campaign proved highly successful: we achieved a 15% conversion rate, ultimately resulting in 10x widget DAUs compared to before the campaign.

Here are a few reasons why we believe this campaign was so effective:

1. A clear value proposition

We believe notifications, like our features, should be helpful, not a nuisance. That means always having a clear and concise value proposition. Keeping the copy length short, highlighting contextual information, and being clear on the value-add has often resonated better with users and resulted in higher click-through & conversion rates.

With this in mind, we ran a quick experiment to test 3 candidate copies for the widget in order to determine which had the highest conversion. The best-performing copy ended up yielding a +12% improvement on widget installs compared to the worst-performing copy.

2. A streamlined post-click flow

We configured the notification to open directly into the widget install picker, making it really easy for users to install and start playing with the widget right away. A similar campaign from earlier this year to promote our iOS widget lacked this streamlining and we unsurprisingly saw lower conversion, likely from the extra friction.

We hope these tips prove helpful to you as you design your next notification campaign.

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