Case Study

How Onboarding Journeys Helped Ride-Hailing App SafeBoda Achieve a 75% Retention Rate in Nigeria

75%Retention Rate
42%Conversion Rate for Goals

An ubiquitous part of life in East Africa is boda boda: motorcycle taxis that help people navigate congested streets faster. Originating in Uganda during the 1960s, they were initially used to transport goods across the Ugandan-Kenyan border, deriving their name from this “border-to-border” purpose. Today, these taxis are instrumental in alleviating poverty and unemployment among the region’s youth. Unfortunately, they are also notorious for collisions and life-threatening accidents.

Ricky Rapa, a boda boda driver, lost a good friend in one such accident. This incident inspired him to launch SafeBoda along with tech entrepreneurs Maxime Dieudonne and Alastair Sussock.

The SafeBoda Story

Launched in 2014, SafeBoda stands firm in its mission to provide safe, fair, and convenient commuting options to its users. All of the affiliated drivers carry two helmets: one for themselves and one for the passenger. They are also trained in road safety, bike maintenance, and customer service.

In addition to ride-hailing, the app offers airtime and parcel delivery services. Since its inception in Kampala, SafeBoda has traveled far from its East African roots to the Nigerian city of Ibadan, where it recently completed its one millionth ride.

To understand how SafeBoda offers a safer service and a superior, innovative CX to users, we spoke to David Oladapo, their Customer Acquisition Supervisor for the Nigerian market. He is in charge of acquiring customers through various on- and offline channels and engaging them throughout the customer lifecycle. Key metrics for the marketing team include the number of first-time users (on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis), number of rides, average retention rate, and churn rate.


  • Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment Engaging Users Effectively
  • Personalizing the User Experience Advanced Analytics Capabilities
  • Understand User Behavior Retaining Users and Reducing Churn

Engaging Users Effectively

Successful retention is no accident; it’s the result of a well-orchestrated engagement strategy. It is vital for brands to engage with their audiences, demonstrating value and building positive user habits over time. For SafeBoda, building fruitful and lasting relationships with customers means creating brand experiences across various touchpoints, both inside and outside the app.

Advanced Analytics Capabilities

Leveraging real-time behavioral data is the key to understanding users and engaging with them instantly and effectively. But, having multiple tools for analytics and engagement makes understanding user behavior unnecessarily complex and hampers effective decision making.

Retaining Users and Reducing Churn

The Achilles heel for most apps is user retention. It’s important for app marketers to have a retention-first marketing strategy in place. SafeBoda wanted to give equal importance to user acquisition and retention, reduce churn, and improve conversion rates.


The SafeBoda marketing team needed an integrated analytical and engagement solution. Their search ended with CleverTap, enabling them to connect with users in a contextual and timely manner.

Customer Onboarding Journeys for Feature Promotion and App Adoption

SafeBoda has an onboarding journey for new customers who are coming into the funnel. The purpose of this journey is to nudge them to make a purchase. “In the past, we’ve noticed that sometimes when users install the app, they find it difficult to use the app and go ahead and take their first ride. The onboarding journey is specifically designed to ease them into their first ride by informing them about the app features, benefits, and the steps that are necessary to book their first ride,” explains David.

They also have a journey for inactive users where they send personalized messages to get them back to the app and decrease the chance of them churning.

Push Notifications to Bring Users Back Into the App

When it comes to bringing users back into the app and building positive user habits, David uses a combination of push notifications, SMS, calls, etc. “During rush hours, holidays, or any special occasions, we use push campaigns to nudge people to take the desired action,” he says.

Push notifications are also used to collect user feedback or direct users to a particular landing page out of the app using deep links. In the case of churned users, a small percentage of them haven’t uninstalled the app. SafeBoda sends these users discounts along with messages about how they’ve upgraded their service levels, increased the number of drivers, and reduced the ETA for various routes.

Automated and Predictive Segmentation to Engage With Specific User Groups

David uses custom list segments that are tailored to the ride-hailing industry. Users are segmented based on the number of rides in any given month. The goal is to increase each user’s engagement with the app. Users who have registered but are yet to book a ride are sent promo codes and incentives to convert.

“We further segment users based on criteria where they tried to book a ride but couldn’t complete the action due to spotty internet or unavailability of rides. We encourage users to try again because we know that people can get frustrated if they tried us once and the experience wasn’t great,” he adds.

Defining goals using intent-based segmentation has helped SafeBoda eliminate guesswork and offer a contextual, tailored approach to customer engagement.

Campaign Optimization to Enhance Engagement

David is an avid user of A/B testing where he experiments with different variations of a campaign in order to determine the best-performing version. Finding out the optimal time to send a campaign based on user activity trends also works well for SafeBoda. Using A/B testing and best time to deliver incorporates data-driven decision making into their processes, leading to improved results.


“We’ve gotten great results with our onboarding journeys. It takes a lot less time for users to take action for each of the goals we set,” says David. Currently, the conversion rate for the goals set is around 42% in Nigeria. Engaging users with onboarding journeys and push campaigns across various stages of the life cycle has led to an impressive retention rate of 75% month-over-month in Nigeria.

What’s next?

SafeBoda is currently in a growth phase, actively multiplying the number of users and drivers. We are proud to partner with them in their mission to improve the informal transportation industry in Africa, using innovative, AI-driven technology.