Technology has completely transformed the world of dating, and app growth continues to skyrocket. According to Data.ai’s State of Mobile 2022 report, global consumer spending on dating apps hit $4.2 billion in 2021, an astounding 95% increase since 2018.
In such a competitive field, it’s all about attraction—attracting new users, that is, and earning their commitment. One app in particular is building brand love through a mix of female-centric features, effective segmentation, and an empowering, non-swiping experience: HUD App.
In this episode of the Mobile Presence podcast, our host Peggy Anne Salz interviews Edward Chen, founder and CEO of HUD, on how HUD’s user experience and marketing strategies reflect the brand’s mission as a safer, more authentic, and more inclusive way to meet people.
Chen has an extensive background in computer science; he founded HUD in 2015, in Auckland, New Zealand, after creating and selling several successful dating platforms. One of the fastest-growing dating brands in the App Store, HUD today has over 11 million downloads worldwide, and employs more than 25 people in five international cities.
HUD’s mission is simple: honest, upfront dating. It offers “a no-pressure way to find dates, FWB, or just a little excitement.” In short, it’s honest about the realities of online dating. “We are very transparent about being a casual dating app,” says Chen. “We’re building a unique group of like-minded users that you can’t really find in other dating apps. We’re fostering dating, sex, and romance, allowing our users to form intimate relationships. These experiences are especially vulnerable for women, so they need to feel safe.”
Along with stringent safeguards around chat and photo requests, HUD uses an innovative video-blur feature to put female users more at ease. “Both users’ cameras are initially blurred by default when a video call begins,” explains Chen. “This allows users to talk and get to know each other. Only when both users are ready can they unblur their cameras to see each other. This helps our female users feel safe, secure, and comfortable.”
HUD’s key growth metric is the number of users who activate the app’s free trial. But the key to long-term viability is the company’s ability to convert those trial users to paid subscribers. While HUD maintains an ongoing effort to help users get the most out of their free trials, “we use personalized push campaigns to encourage users to try out every paid feature that is relevant to their needs before the trial ends,” says Chen.
Once the trial ends, if a user hasn’t already converted, “we use a combination of retention tactics and excitement tactics to remind users that they are missing out a lot on those paid features,” he continues. “It’s crucial that genuine excitement is built up around paid features without devaluing” the free version.
In the two years since HUD first partnered with CleverTap, it’s seen a 20% increase in user retention. Part of that success stems from the way the company leverages CleverTap’s expertise and analytics technology to segment users based on their performed actions. “We gather data points about our user behavior,” says Chen. “CleverTap allows us to harness the information and use it to create campaigns that keep our users engaged. As a result, we’ve been able to optimize and maintain a high engagement and retention rate.”
HUD also uses CleverTap to craft user journeys and engage users across the lifecycle. “Through CleverTap’s data analysis tools, we are able to gain a clear understanding of what steps our users take once they’ve finished the sign-up process,” Chen continues. “We then use this information to determine the most effective funnel to ensure a high subscription rate.”
Finally, HUD optimizes its campaigns through extensive testing. “The effect that a single phrase or even emoji can make to a campaign would probably shock some people,” notes Chen. “CleverTap provides us with insights as to which words or emojis are connected to the best- and worst-performing campaigns.” These insights allow HUD to continuously optimize the way it communicates with users.
To hear more from Edward Chen about how HUD is changing the dating game — including its ability to understand younger consumers’ needs, and its omnichannel approach to marketing — tune into the entire interview.