If you haven’t yet heard about Dream11, you will. Dream11 is a fantasy sports platform based in India that allows users to play fantasy cricket, hockey, football, kabaddi, handball, and basketball. The app boasts 130 million users and counting—an astounding 10% of India’s population.
In April 2019, Dream11 had the distinction of becoming the first Indian gaming company to reach unicorn status, which for the uninitiated, is bestowed when a private company achieves a valuation of $1 billion.
But Dream11 didn’t reach these lofty heights through sheer luck. The company gained their tens of millions of users and overcame the challenges of user retention by perfecting the user experience. And they use CleverTap’s retention cloud to do it.
At our CleverTap Quarterly event held in May, we had a chance to interview Nikhil Lalvani, Director of Product Management at Dream11, to learn more about how they use CleverTap to create hyper-personalized customer experiences.
Lalvani notes that this strategy “has been super critical in keeping our users on the app and for allowing us to serve them the things that they need at the right time, contextually.”
While having this many users is indeed an asset, it also brings particular challenges and complexity, because there are obviously many different types of users with varying needs. For example, there are new users for whom the objective is to help them become better fantasy sports players that will naturally want to keep playing. For Lalvani, this means constantly asking, “How do we make them value their experience with Dream11 a lot more?”
Similarly, when there are so many different segments of users, each needs to be treated based on the characteristics of that particular segment since each segment will have very different personas, needs, and stages in their journey. Of course, when they do reach out to the user, everything needs to be done contextually, based on the user’s playing patterns, likes, dislikes, the kind of matches he or she plays, and more. Using CleverTap, Dream11 is able to create a ‘retention recipe’ that serves the needs of each of their 130 million users.
How is this done? By using a rules-based engine to send out hyper-personalized communications based on pre-defined triggers.
The company does things such as: identify where the user is in their journey, the players they like, the tournaments they like to participate in. And then, they go a step further by looking at what kind of tournaments or sports their friends are playing, if a user has a friend network on the app. All of this is used in combination to trigger communication at the right time for each user, in the most contextual way possible. In essence, the main goal of their communications is for the user to have a clear understanding of the age-old question, “What’s in it for me?”
They also leverage CleverTap’s functionalities to build an internal tool that helps them schedule jobs that upload events and other data points into the CleverTap platform. This allows Dream11 to use the functionalities within CleverTap to power these trigger-based rules.
Every app struggles with inactive or churned users, but Dream11 has generally overcome this challenge. How do they deal with inactive users or win back churned users?
Lalvani notes that churn is one of those challenges that truly requires a holistic approach in order to effectively solve it. There’s two parts to it, he says. The first part is identifying the reasons for churn.
First, they look at the churned user base to find out what they have in common. What are the indicators of churn? And how can they try to predict that a user is going to churn? Then, they try to course-correct before users actually churn.
The second part addresses the users who do end up churning. In this case, they look at their past playing patterns, the games they’ve participated in, the players they have picked, their favorite teams, etc. And they look at the sports calendar as well. So, if an inactive user is, for example, a Chelsea fan and Chelsea has an upcoming match, the app tries to re-engage them by letting them know when Chelsea is playing next.
A well designed onboarding experience is one of the most critical things to the success of any app — particularly since apps rely on repeat behavior or repeat usage for growth. In this case, it’s especially important to have a well designed and effective onboarding process, to guide a user through their first month or two using the app. But onboarding is more than just providing a walkthrough of what the app is about the first time a person opens it. “That’s the bread and butter, that’s basic,” states Lavlani.
Dream11 goes beyond that, hand holding the user for up to a month, until he or she is truly onboarded and engaged. They also encourage users to join different types of contests and try to get them excited about different types of matches, and suggest that they build a friend network on the app—all the behaviors that they know lead to good engagement.
They also look at the behaviors of their most loyal users to see what they did in the first 30 days after they joined the app. Using this information, they’ve extended the onboarding journey for any new user to try to cover as many of those checkpoints as they can.
Finally, Lavlani shared what he thinks is the most important strategic aspect for using hyper-personalisation most effectively. He emphasized the need to “think holistically and in a future-friendly way” rather than doing things piecemeal and hoping that will bring about the desired result. He compared this to when someone goes to a doctor who gives you medicine for a pain, but doesn’t actually address the root cause of the pain. A holistic approach will have longer-term benefits, to both the app and to those who use it. “I think if everyone started doing that across the board, it would take their products a lot further than they are currently,” he noted.
What’s next for Dream11? For one, they’ve forayed into localization by creating a version of the app in Hindi. They’re looking at things within the Web3 arena and some of the other innovations across fantasy sports. And they’re very excited about all the things they’ve got planned for their users, coming up—and getting the next few million users onto Dream11.
We hope our many customers, partners, and friends of CleverTap and Leanplum had an opportunity to attend the event. For those who may not have, you may watch the recording. We’re certain there’s lots to be learned from the many industry leaders and experts who joined us in putting on this event and we hope you’ll have a chance to watch it.