Would you download a 50 MB app at the first go, LinkedIn's Ajay Datta asks at TechSparks 2018


Ajay Datta, who launched LinkedIn Lite for India, says user experience should be top priority and entrepreneurs should focus more on retention, than on driving the app.

Is your product as good as your content? It has to be, if you aim to retain users. Ajay Datta, Head of Product, LinkedIn India, backed this theory and spoke a lot more about things every founder needs to consider to retain his or her target audience.

Speaking on day one of the ninth edition of TechSparks 2018, he said: “When it comes to marketing, which unfortunately is not always free, it actually leads to a high number of downloads. But in many cases, it leads to an uninstall in 30 days. It is then that people start thinking of other free channels to get more users.”

At a session on Mobile Web and Lite – Is it just about performance? , he said it was important to think of user experience from the word go. He added that having the number of users grow organically works better than using temporary features to drive traffic to your site. So does better content need a better web browsing speed or can only apps provide the best user experience?

Extra user functionalities

Ajay says, “Most people start by building an android app; they then look at Play Store or Google, and aim for more features. They think, I should have a platform to create mobile presence, from web. As we have got a progressive web app, lets create a PWA.”

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are an emerging technology of web applications (client-server computer programs) that load like regular web pages or websites. However, they can offer extra user functionalities such as working offline, push notifications from web, and device hardware access. But these are traditionally available only to native mobile applications.

Even LinkedIn did the same thing when it arrived in India. But the Indian market was different and Ajay soon decided to tweak the product to suit the needs of Indian users.

In 2016, it launched a new product for India, LinkedIn Lite. It was a smaller version of the mobile website for slower internet connections. But was it done only for faster web browsing?

Ajay asked the audience to think whether they would download a 50 MB app at the first go? “There are doubts. Most of us prefer checking with a friend or colleague before using any app. And we look at SEO or Facebook marketing,” he said.

When everyone is launching their product either on website or app, what are the factors that a founder should consider? How will it perform? How many users will it reach? How will it grow over time?” However, many do not define what performance would actually mean.

The LinkedIn India head said it was all about “retention”. “Is your website offering something that could be used quite often?” Ajay focused on this, which is what led him to change his strategy and focus on how to change products for target users.

“Unless you are building a high frequency messaging use case or network use case, many products do not have important applications on how users will interact with them,” he said. “You may know about the site from friends but you won’t go ahead and download something immediately. The most important thing when it comes to your site is performance so embed more detail in each set of applications you provide,” Ajay added.

Focus on the product

The idea of lite apps is to provide the user with what s/he is looking for quickly. But Ajay claimed that in the Indian market people might not be well versed with the product you are bringing in or the complexity of that particular product. “So it is very important to focuss on what is the key running proposition that you are offering to your users and make sure it is delivered in the most simplistic way,” Ajay said.

He points to another mistake most people make - upselling their product. “It means persuading the customer to buy more features at an extra cost on an app. If it is for an elevated app experience, then why not deliver it over web? Why do you need to upsell the app? There are certain places you might have to do that such as a device capability that it will actually be leveraging. But if you don’t need to, don’t do that,” he added.

Ajay advised entrepreneurs and businesses to focus more on developing their product. “The loading time for your landing page should be less than six seconds; if it crosses six seconds you have lost 50 percent of your potential users,” he said, reiterating that the customer’s first experience should be delightful.

Explaining LinkedIn’s theory of creating lighter web versions, he said, “Even without having a transaction, we are looking for user flows with finite resources available, creating first-class user experiences. It helps us retain users. Whatever be the feature, add value to the time user spends on you web application.”

The key is to notice the final conversion rate. Do not focus so much on driving the app, focus on driving retention. As long as you are doing the right matrix optimisation, you are out there. Monitor your key conversion channels and make this drive your channel, he advised the audience.

Speaking about his own experience, Ajay said: “With more than 400 engagements on an average on a post, something is certainly working. We are now questioning whether we actually need an app or not.”

YourStory's annual extravaganza TechSparks brings together the best and the brightest from the startup ecosystem, corporate world, policymakers, and of course, the investor community. Over the years, it has grown to become India's most loved tech and startup platform for knowledge sharing and networking. The ninth edition of TechSparks also marks YourStory's 10th anniversary. A big thank you for all your support over the years and keep reading and watching YourStory.