Product Owner Talks: Designing Invite Codes
July 17, 2019
Have you ever googled “Uber invite codes”? There will be thousands of results with suggestions on how to use this invite codes, how to receive extra bonuses, how to ride for free forever. There are even YouTube how-to videos about it. These invite codes help Uber to become popular. People are searching for these codes on forums, asking friends, trying to brute-force it. In other words, people are promoting the Uber brand. This is really great for brand value.
Uber is not the only company that is using it. Invite codes are commonly used. People also search for promo codes for Amazon, Lyft, AliExpress, Pokemon GO, Walmart, Target, and many others. Referral links or invite codes are rather a hot feature now. There are even third-party services that can help you to realize it. We, in Dashdevs, have developed this functionality in 12 different applications already during the last six months. All products are unique. Every implementation had diverse requirements and conditions.
We want to help other products to succeed. That’s why we would like to cover this functionality from the Product owner’s point of view in this article. We need to understand that there is no universal solution. Yet you can modify anything if you know the core of the feature. How can you define what is needed for your product? When we design an application or specific functionality, we ask questions and think about the impact of the answers to the system. Below you can find some good questions for your product. However, let’s move step by step.
What are the invite codes?
Invite codes are the special keys that help users to get into the application without waiting queue, and/or to use some extra functionality. Invite codes can be formed as a numeric or alphanumeric combination. The user can send it as a link or just the code via any messenger. People share the link to the store rare if they don’t receive some bonuses instead. That’s why you need to have encouragement for both sides — sender and receiver. Usually to get bonuses user needs to perform some actions (e.i. registration + transaction, registration + order).
By the way, invite codes can be the only way to get access to the application. A personal invitation gives app users a feeling they are a part of the community. Invite codes have a thousand names and look differently, but many popular applications use them.
You and your friend can get free rides!
Monzo is the UK challenger bank that gives its users Golden tickets. Your friend needs to install the app, pass registration, and start using the card. In this case, both of you get £5.
Your friends receive money to virtual accounts, and after they spend more than 78$ you will receive a bonus of 20$ to your account.
As you can see from the examples, there is a difference in the implementation. First of all, codes can be personalized or universal.
- Personalized codes mean that I, as a user, select some person’s phone number or email, to generate an individual code. And only the user with this identifier (email/phone number) can use the code and receive the bonuses after registration.
- Universal codes are generated by the user and can be used by anyone. The user sends this code to a special one user, but it may be applied by any other as well.
What do you, as a product owner, need to think about?
Invite codes in the existing apps seem so natural and easy. However, if you want to implement it to your application, you need to think over the mechanics of the functionality. Here is the list of questions that can be useful for a Product Owner to define the invite code functionality.
- What features does the invite code open? — An invite code may give access to an application, or just give the additional functionality in the application.
- What bonuses does user get for sending the code? — A user may get additional services or benefits to use within the application.
- What does a user need to do to get the bonuses? — You need to define what must be done from the user’s side to get the bonuses. Not all users understand how to input special numbers or use the link for registration. This misunderstanding frustrates your app users. You need to be really clear about it.
- Is the invite code for one-time use? Or it can be used multiple times? — Both options are basically good. It depends on the information you want to get from the user and the user structure you want to build.
- Does the code have an expiration date? — If you are interested in user activity for some period of time you can set up a lifetime of the code.
- What if the user tries to use the code when it is over? — What are the options for this user? What message are you showing? What actions can be there? You need to let the user know that he/she will not get the bonuses.
- Are there limitations for the number of codes for one user? — There can be limitations from the business or technical point of view.
- Can the user get more bonuses after applying more codes? — You can think over extra bonuses for active users and increase the loyalty of such users.
- Does the user need to be able to track the status of the codes? — First of all, is there a place where the user can see the list of the codes in your application? There can be a few statuses like free, sent, used.
- Can the user somehow resend the code to another person if it was sent but unused? — For example, the user has a limitation of 10 codes. One of the codes was sent a while ago, but still not used. The user doesn’t want to waste this chance and resends it to another friend.
- Does the user need to be notified that the code is used? — This can be useful for the user to know that the code was used.
- Can a few codes be applied together? — For example, for each code, a new user can receive +10$. But I have 3 different codes from my friends. Can I use them together?
- What is the cost of user acquisition? — This answer is the most crucial for the business. You need to predict and calculate a few scenarios of the usage of the invite codes. The price must be too high. That’s why there can be a limitation for the number of codes.
- Being a product owner, how long do you use the invite code as a feature? — Invite code can be limited or unlimited in a period of time. If you plan it only for some period of time you need to make the application work in such a way so you can turn off the feature from the server-side.
- How do you promote this feature? — Now I take into account only mobile application. In many applications, invite codes are really hidden from the user. It seems like the product owners don’t want us to use this feature.
- How do you understand that the feature is successful? — You need to set up some metrics.
- How complicated does a code must be? — The level of complexity means that it will be hard to guess or brute-force it.
- How can the user share the code? — This question is mostly about design and usability. I’ve met applications without the possibility of sharing the codes. So, to share a code, you need to remember the code, then type it from memory in some message, and finally send it to a friend. It is not a user-friendly solution. There must be a button for sharing to all messengers that are on the device.
As true product owners, we adore our products. That is something that makes our work special. Empathy to the users and deep understanding of the business needs involve us into the process of development. Invite code is a blast weapon for us. With this fancy marketing solution, we can promote our product. All you need is just to scrutinize the logic of the feature, and may our list of questions help you to build a unique viral invitation to your digital product.