Having an in-house iOS and android developer for the company size when I joined StudyMode was rather unique. At the point of joining the company had invested solely in apps for the Cram flashcard site and it's cloned Spanish counterpart Memorizar. In total there were four binaries which focused on flashcard study and targeting a younger K-12 demographic. In total there were a few hundred downloads a day but with d30 retention rates and daily activity.
Cram Application Updates
The cram application while extremely powerful as a study tool relied heavily on the creation and editing of content via the desktop web experience. Not being a standalone experience there was opportunity to incorporate advanced site features and allow for a 1:1 mirroring of functionality. We incorporated the below features to bring the application to parity:
- HTML Editor
- Advanced Editing
- Image Optimization and Formatting
- Import Tools
- Crowdsourced Feedback Features
- HTML5 Games
Paired with core feature enhancements to promote retention and engagement as a stand alone experience we diversified the organic user acquisition via site promotion and partnerships. Acquisition of users at that point had been via a global header integration on the Cram site. We added a partnership with the LAUSD as well as the National Tutors Association (NTA) to grow usage with key partners and demographics. This strategy allowed us to acquire users who would drive adoption amongst their students where as a single teacher acquired gained an average of 30-40 additional users. On top of partnerships we also integrated full site takeovers for mobile traffic to drive users to the native experience rather than mobile web as that experience was not optimal for the form factor in not being a responsive site.
These two factors combined allowed for acquisition growth to approximately 1500 downloads per day which represented a 300% increase in user acquisition.
With our increased download rates and user ratings, Cram moved to the top search result in the Google Play store and has stayed there for some time now. Cram holds a 4.5 rating (7673 total ratings) compared to Quizlet (4.2) which is the traffic leader in the space even though Cram has 480k installs while Quizlet has more than 1 million installs. Overall, our Cram app can be considered the best flashcards app in the Playstore based on it's position and relative ratings to downloads which are all done via organic promotion and a cost of $0.
Growing past Flashcards
Being that the flashcard apps were tied to a site with minimal subscription revenue relative to our core research business we needed to diversity our mobile development to create applications for each major research site as an extension of our conversion funnel as well as a platform extension for premium users. The company in the past attempted to release to apple an essay application under a previous brand which was rejected and the project abandoned. Due to updates within the research business there was a wealth of opportunity here to invest again in mobile development in this area with new value propositions.
StudyMode's mobile presence at the time was a legacy m.studymode.com site which was a simple HTML wrapper and only released on the lenient Google Play store. No native applications existed at the time much due to stopping the investment with Apple not having a precedent to a premium subscription to user generated content. We set out to prove to apple that our business model fell under the allowed auto-renewing subscriptions bucket and the following offerings:
- Newspaper subscriptions
- Magazine subscriptions
- Ongoing services (Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc.)
To prove this model we set out to make sure that the value proposition of the application was hyper clear to both Apple via the submission process but also baked within the application itself. Here our focus was around:
- Showcasing user value to content
- Value to free users within the application without a paid subscription
- Creating a standalone experience with no site payment references
- Highlighting freshness of content due to upload model
After three rounds of rejections with Apple in fine tuning their understanding of the model we were able to successfully set precedent and have our StudyMode iOS application approved within the store as an extension of our business. Along with a refactored native android experience we now were able to replicate the applications for each of our international sites as well with customizations based on available content in each.
Now having an iOS and Android application for each of our major flashcard and essay sites we now have a global network of 14 applications. To date there have been over 1.8M downloads of the applications across 12 binaries with an acquisition cost of $0.