In the previous article, we have explained about the technologies being used by each of the solution providers. This was the first step in taking a decision as to which software to rely upon for chat integration. The next important set of parameters to evaluate is from the user’s perspective.
Let us understand the features which users will enjoy.
Audio And Video Calling
We all know how important it has become for users to have the option to converse face to face. With instant messaging applications like Messenger, WhatsApp making it their USP, enterprises wouldn’t want to lag behind. IP based Audio and Video calling is being offered by Applozic, Layer and Quickblox, while Sendbird is yet to release this feature.
SMS and Email Fallback
Although internet penetration has been immense and in-app messaging is undoubtedly on the rise, users still need a mechanism to be notified in its absence. SMS and email fallback allow users to receive messages on their mobile phones in case they are not connected to the internet or by email if they are not using the application. It assures that no message is missed or lost. This unique feature is offered by Applozic and Layer only. Sendbird and Quickblox are yet to offer SMS Email fallback.
Chat UI Kit
Users enjoy an easy to navigate mobile/ website application. With unique UI toolkit designers and developers can provide the same user experience even inside the chat application provided by third parties. To meet these needs Applozic and Layer provides an open source toolkit which allows designers and developers to completely customize UI as per their requirements. On the contrary, Sendbird offers limited capabilities with its open source sample UI kit and Quickblox with its chat view controller.
Number of Members allowed in Group Chat:
This is the age of networking and users with similar interests love to stay connected. Users love to form groups based on interests in apps they use instead of migrating to third party app always.Group Dynamics, not only induces engagement but also plays an active role in knowledge sharing. With Applozic and Sendbird there is no upper limit on the number of users in a group. However, in Quickblox you may need to host it on a dedicated AWS infrastructure for better performance.
Layer has kept a limit of 25 on the number of members a group can have.
Applozic, being a White Label SDK is highly customizable and allow developers to build chat the way they want. It has seen compounding growth among developers in platforms like Stack Overflow, Github, Reditt since its inception. On the other hand Sendbird and Layer have seen growth at a constant rate. Quickblox enjoys a good number of followers in Stack Overflow.
Customer Support is a determining factor for SaaS since unlike other products, for most businesses relying on SaaS – operations can come to a standstill even for minor malfunctions. Applozic has tried to redefine customer support in this domain with 24X7 connectivity across different channels like email, Skype and support chat. The typical response time is anywhere between few mins to an hour, whereas Sendbird, Quickblox and Layer are known to reply in days.
Conversational Commerce is a term coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in a Medium article in early 2015. It explains the power of Messaging and its impact on sales. It explains how business would see messaging as a mode to convert and earn. This has become a reality with mobile app and website developers integrating real time chat within their apps. However, relying on in-house capabilities to build and maintain a chat plugin comes with lots of disadvantages. It is advisable to buy 3rd party SaaS solutions and get rid of all worries at once. Have a look at our take on Build vs Buy.
Some of the solutions providers in this domain are:
A Bit of Background:
A white label and fully customizable communication platform that offers almost all types of conversations rich messaging, offline conversations, audio/video calling is yet to be perceived widely. There’s only a handful players globally with QuickBlox starting in 2011 followed by Sendbird and Layer in 2013 and then Applozic in 2015.
Every organization has tried it to position itself as a complete messaging solution provider. Applozic presents itself as, “Chat & In-App Messaging for Mobile and Web apps”, Sendbird as “Messaging and Chat API for Mobile Apps and Websites”, Layer as ”The power of messaging for every mobile and web product” and Quickblox as “Cloud Communication Backend API As A Service For Mobile And Web Apps”.
Though one can’t make out any major difference from their positioning statement but the protocol chosen by each one of them clearly highlights how Applozic has an edge over others. Applozic employs MQTT protocol, the standard for real-time communication, and is also used by Google and Facebook. Infact, all Internet of Things (IoT) devices are using this protocol due to its ability to exchange data faster as it creates several endpoints for data exchange. On the other hand, Sendbird uses Websockets, which is mainly developed for web applications as it is server based and can send message to specific clients/group of clients and the concept of Publisher and Subscriber which MQTT uses, is absent. Layer uses Push protocol which is a simple protocol to deliver real- time events. Quickblox uses XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), a communications protocol which requires more space for encryption and storage, is not lightweight like MQTT and has more overheads.
Cross Application Support
Today, we see different applications for different types of users, Uber has one app for riders and other for drivers. With rise in mobile penetration every application being developed has its own niche category. Developers are finding parameters to find a common linkage for applications lying in the same umbrella. Applozic offers a unique capability which allow users on different apps to connect seamlessly on the same communication channel.
One of its customers, CarTrade has separate apps for car buyers and sellers. Applozic’s Chat SDK makes it possible for both parties to chat with each other from their respective app.
This feature is yet to be rolled out by any of its alternatives like Sendbird, Layer and Quickblox.
Today, users no longer use messages for exchanging only text. Rich messaging, thus allows users to share audio, video, images, contacts and location. Applozic, Sendbird and Layer support exchange of smart messages. It supports passing additional data as key-value pair. Quickblox is yet to offer this ability in its platform.
Broadcast Messaging and Push Notifications
Message Broadcasting and Push Notifications has been doing the rounds for quite some time as effective engagement tool.
Message Broadcasting helps businesses to leverage the immediacy of text messaging with the effectiveness of One-to-One Conversation. Applozic, Sendbird and Layer provide Message Broadcasting feature, while QuickBlox doesn’t.
Push Notifications is used to engage users for cross or up selling and re-ordering. All providers allow admin to setup push notification for its users.
The major advantage here is sending Broadcast Messages and Push Notifications with Applozic is relatively easy, can be done directly from the Admin Dashboard and the best part it requires no technical know-how. Also, it supports third party push service if you use any already.
Data is the new oil of the digital economy and hence it is must for organizations to ensure data backup. With data export option all your chat will be safe and you can extract it at any point of time. Sendbird, Quickblox and Layer allows data export option only for enterprise customers in either JSON (Layer) or XML (Quickblox) format. With Applozic this feature is available for all kinds of subscribers and with multiple options like direct excel/csv export from dashboard, APIs for bulk export and Webhook support for real time data delivery to your servers.
Applozic provides the most advanced dashboard with modern UI and analytics. It is designed to help strategist in meeting the business goals.Sendbird and Layer provides a modern UI but with only basic features. Quickblox allows users to customize their dashboard but with a classic UI.
Please note: Applozic offers a custom price for start-ups as per their business goals and financial capabilities.
Know more about user features each solution master offers in our next post.
Product Hunt has a legacy attached to itself. It began on November 6, 2013 as an email list and now has become a gateway for startups to maximize their reach in a day. Startups who have managed to reach to top of upvotes have reported a surge in their engagement rate and sales.
On 15th November 2016, Applozic got featured on Product Hunt. Thanks to Kevin William David (@kwdinc). We tried to identify hunters for us and found Kevin as the best choice. We are glad that he hunted us!
The steps we took as a part of our preparation strategy are:-
- Modified our Home Page to make our product and value proposition clear in first glance.
- We got active on Product Hunt and relevant groups on Facebook, Google+ and Slack.
The groups dedicated to product hunt which we got active on are:
- Prepared a separate landing page for users of product hunt, offering them an exclusive discount.
- We put significant effort on finding for us the right Hunter, and after considerable research on Hunters who have earlier posted products from our particular niche, we zeroed in on Kevin William David (@kwdinc)
We got hunted at 3:26 PM IST, and the moment Kevin dropped us a mail, we knew it was showtime. The next 24 hours was to be the most critical part of our journey this far.
In order to start engaging with the PH community, which mainly consists of early adopters and tech enthusiasts, the first thing we did was to introduce ourselves and thank our hunter. Our idea was to introduce the capabilities of our product so that users clearly understand what we are and what users can achieve with us?.
We soon started to see a surge in engagement and by 6 PM IST! BOOM we had 40+ upvotes and we were on the home page in Top 5 bracket. We started using our social media handles to reach out to our supporters. Portals we used were Twitter, Facebook, Slack and Google+. Our primary objective was to tell people that we are live on product hunt and simultaneously enlighten the community about our product, and the problems it can address. We also reached out to our email base of existing users and newsletter subscribers. The idea was to introduce them to product hunt and offerer our platform at a discount if they subscribed from product hunt.
The results were encouraging initially, we were in Top 5 for first 4 hours but slowly we started slipping down: Top 7 for next 4 hours, then to Top 10 and later in Top 20 by end of day. Even then, we saw a sudden spike in our Sign-up counter as we saw 1.5X increase in the number of signups per hour. Overall we saw 2X rise in our leads!
What We Learnt:
It was our first launch on Product Hunt and although we failed to meet the targets that we had set for ourselves, we had a fair bit of learning.
The most important thing that we realized is: The Heart and Soul of Product Hunt is it’s Community, and although we tried our best to engage with the community prior to our launch, the time we spent or the method we adopted was not enough to gain the desired level of attention.Therefore the lack of support from the Product Hunt community hurt us big time. Although we managed to get a lot of initial attraction in the form of upvotes, most of these upvotes not being from members from the core Product Hunt Community didn’t bring us the credibility, we sought.
Moreover our extensive reach out via different channels, which initially brought us results, kind of backfired for us later.
While our extensive outreach brought a lot of traffic to our PH page, most of them were first time users and while these people loved our product and decided to upvote us, Product Hunt’s complex algorithm might have either marked them as spam or assigned lower weightage. As a result despite having a commendable no. of upvotes our position on the homepage dipped with time.
Panic struck in, when we saw this happening and we resorted to desperate measures. We started reaching out to Product Hunt influencers as a last roll of dice. While few of them acknowledged, by means of upvotes and re-tweets, one of them even warned us against taking such steps coz it looked spammy. While we acknowledged his concern, it brought us into bad light, and this was the last nail in the coffin.
The Final Result, we ended the day with 174 upvotes, a commendable number in itself, but our position on Product Hunt was relatively lower than many listings which garnered far less no of votes than us.
- Involve every member of your team to get active on social media channels. Every group one chooses is as per his interests.
- Create your followers and get active on product hunt at least 3 months in advance.
- Get engaged with users and drive them to comment.
Though our experience are not set of guideline so, we feel plan should be customized per product being offered.
Before you bid us bye,
Check what our supporters said about us.