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About 9count

When 9count launched Wink in 2019, their core value proposition was to provide a space for users to make friends across the globe and nurture friendships through continued correspondence. Their flagship app enables users to find new friends based on common interests, age, geography, and more. Once they match, users can message and call one another, enhance their profiles, and earn gems.

“We wanted to have a remedy where Gen Z could feel like they can reach out to people using the technology, make friends all across the globe, and have meaningful conversations with people that they share interests with or just share location and anything else that they feel they can connect on,” said 9count’s Engineering Director Chris Caden.

For a social app, it’s important that conversations are initiated and sustained. In order to maintain connection, however, Wink’s team needed a notification system to reliably enable communication between users.

9count about

Choosing OneSignal

9count was looking for a push notification provider that would be easy to integrate, provide reliable message delivery, and wouldn’t require too much maintenance on the backend. “The other services required a complicated setup or a complicated introduction into our codebase,” said Caden.

This time around, they sought a solution that wouldn’t require a lot of upkeep to function properly. They needed a hands-off messaging solution that would take care of push notifications while their engineering team focused on iterating on the app functionality. OneSignal fulfilled the engineering team’s requirements when it came to “ease of incorporation’ said Caden, which freed up time for the development team to focus on building out new features and functionality.

“We're just happy to have a service that we can spin up and not have to go through the hassle of creating our own,” said Caden.

9count wink choosing onesignal

Leveraging Analytics to Improve the User Experience

Beyond these key qualities, they also wanted a solution that would make it easier to gain insight into how their campaigns were performing. The other tools 9count had used before transitioning to OneSignal had made it tricky to evaluate campaign performance. The other services’ metrics were often “convoluted,” according to Caden, which made it difficult for Wink’s team to track which notifications were successful at each stage of the user journey.

Without straightforward analytics, the team lacked a clear picture of whether their campaigns were enhancing the user experience or annoying users.

Chris Caden
"From the product marketing side of things, we just wanted a bit more flexibility and control in who we could send messages to, being able to experiment, having more deliverability options in terms of the kinds of campaigns that we run and the kinds of things that they trigger."
Chris Caden

Engineering Director, 9Count

Automating Incoming Call Alerts

The Wink team also sought a solution that would enable them to send incoming call alerts, notifications that pop up onscreen and prompt users to answer calls from their connections. A functional calling feature was a must-have for a social app like Wink.

Wink uses VoIP, or Voice over internet Protocol, to enable their calling feature. When 9count was on the search for a push provider, they had struggled to find one that effectively handled VoIP notifications. Thankfully, OneSignal fulfilled this need.

9count automating incoming call alerts

“We wanted something that was an all-encompassing push service that would handle VoIP, which was really important to us and something that we [could use] to monitor our push notifications, and do some experiments with them as well.”

There weren't many options on the market that supported this protocol. Fortunately, OneSignal supports VoIP notifications on both iOS and Android, which enables these call alerts to be sent to users across devices.

Configuring VoIP push notifications in iOS is particularly challenging for many companies. Caden noted that Wink’s engineering team was able to easily perform this setup process using Pushkit by following OneSignal’s straightforward documentation, after which the team could then send these incoming call alerts through OneSignal’s server-side API.

Empowering Real-Time Connections

Although it might seem obvious, a social app like Wink can’t survive without a consistent line of communication to nurture the new connections users make after they’ve exited the app.

Because Wink’s main value prop is to connect people virtually in an authentic way, mimicking the pattern of a live conversation is critical.

9count empowering real time connections

When users make new connections or have a new message, they receive a push notification. With the help of OneSignal, the app fosters a way for users to more seamlessly meet, react, and respond to their matches just as they would if they were meeting a friend for the first time at a soccer game, airport, or other scenario in real life.

Chris Caden
“We let them know when they've made connections and when connections have been accepted by the other parties. It's a way of making sure that the user is aware of the things that are happening in the app.”
Chris Caden

Engineering Director, 9Count

Using Notifications to Combat Churn

When users are inactive for a period of time, Wink sends words of encouragement to re-engage them.

Wink segments their users based on engagement trends they’ve seen within their retention model. Through data analysis, the team has discovered that the longer a user remains inactive, the less receptive they become to reengagement messages, and the less likely they are to reenter the app. In other words, as time goes on, users are at a higher risk for churn.

9count using notifications to combat churn

To address users at these critical points, Wink creates activity-based segments using engagement criteria such as time since last session and session count. The earliest time window, when users are most recently active, represents a period in which they still display a a “high propensity for reengagement.” Because they are still likely to react to incoming push notifications, Wink sends these alerts more sparingly —once or twice per week. To ensure that their messages arrive at the right time, they also leverage OneSignal’s Intelligent Delivery Feature, which is a proven way to optimize open rates.

This notification, for instance, builds suspense by letting an inactive user know that a connection is composing a response to them. This copy aims to make users curious to click, rather than revealing all the information at once.

9count combat churn inactive user connection

Prompting Users to Complete Key Milestones On Their Friendship Journey

Wink also runs different types of push reengagement campaigns as users reach key milestones in the app experience.

One of the first steps users take in their journey is to create a profile that others can then swipe on.

Norris says that many social apps find that users view the time they invest in profile setup as a pain point. To make users feel that the time and effort they put into this process is paying off, Wink sends encouraging push notifications after profile creation.

After completing their profile and putting themselves out there, users appreciate messages from the app that affirm that they’re getting noticed.

9count prompting users to complete milestones

“Its a dopamine hit for folks. We as a product are showing their profile off and their profile is being well received by others. (Sending push notifications) just validates that Wink is a good place for them to be and that they’ve done a good thing by setting up their profile” said Norris.

Receiving attention on the platform is exciting, and Wink delivers this validation with messages like, “People are looking at your profile,” “someone spent 20 minutes looking at your profile,” or “your interests are getting a lot of attention right now.”

Messages like this not only make users feel appreciated, but also incentivize them to return the app to swipe. Including copy that conveys urgency and communicates real-time activity within the app is both a way of capturing users’ attention and a call-to action that pushes them towards the next behavior on their path.

Overcoming Friction to Sustain Connections

The next phase of Wink’s push reengagement strategy is sending campaigns to help users form new friendships, with the objective of “promoting a pending, potential, or accepted request.” These notifications bring users one step closer to forming and maintaining connections on the platform.

The Wink team devised this branch of their push strategy when they discovered a key friction point in the app experience. After examining their data, the team saw that users weren’t messaging their new connections after accepting a new friend request. Without a direct reminder to do so, a user who’s recently accepted a friend request often won’t message first. This can be discouraging for the sender of the initial friend request, who assumes their new match is disinterested.

To remedy this issue, Wink targets users who’ve accepted new friend requests with push reminders that prompt them to log back into the app and start the conversation.

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Using OneSignal to Build a Better User Experience

“We see OneSignal as a one stop shop for [push notifications] that we’ll be using for the foreseeable future" said Caden.

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