Experimenting with SMS to drive downloads of Firefox for Android

The engagement team launched a new channel last week.  We’re experimenting with SMS (text messaging) as a tool to promote Firefox for Android to our desktop base. Desktop enjoys a large user base, and we’re interested in making it easier for a Firefox desktop user to install Firefox for Android.

We communicate with desktop users through our snippet, a small bit of text under the search box that you’ll see when you open Firefox (unless you’ve changed your default homepage). It highlights promotions related to desktop, mobile, community and more.

This real estate receives massive amounts of impressions.  We’ve been running snippets promoting Firefox for Android in the bulk of our locales for more than a year.  It’s been a successful vehicle for driving clicks. However, the install experience from a desktop device to mobile isn’t seamless. We’ve been discussing how we can better leverage the snippet traffic by adapting the install experience for desktop users.

Most users install apps while using their mobile device.  But snippet viewers are on a desktop machine.  We theorize that by getting the download link onto a user’s phone our conversion rates will increase.

Old install flow

  • Jane Doe opens Firefox on her desktop.
  • She sees a snippet and clicks on the link.
  • The snippet link directs Jane to Google Play on her desktop.
  • Jane hunts for the install link.
  • She clicks the link and must login to her Google account.
  • Finally, Jane has to select the device she wants to install Firefox for Android on.

We believe Jane might find it easier to go through this process on the device she wants the app to be installed.

Here’s the experience we’re testing.  

  • Jane Doe opens Firefox on her desktop.
  • She sees the snippet and clicks a link.
  • We direct her to a landing page where she can send herself a text message.
  • She receives the text message on her phone.
  • Clicks the link to Google Play.
  • Clicks install and she’s on her way.

It’s the same number of steps, but we believe Jane will find the process easier and more familiar while moving through it on her phone.

In addition to our SMS tool, the brand team has been working on a series of animated Firefox for Android snippets.  We were able to launch these two projects as an integrated campaign.  Users who interact with the animated snippet are taken to the SMS landing page. The added exposure from the animation is bringing about even more clicks and helping us thoroughly test SMS as a viable engagement channel. You can read more about these animations and the development process on the MDN blog.

SMS is an experiment. It’s true that not everyone viewing a snippet has a phone that’s compatible with Firefox for Android hence the experimentation vs. large-scale implementation.  We’re giving SMS a try in the U.S. first and treating it as a pilot program. If successful, we’ll begin investigating which countries SMS might also work.  (A note – the Firefox for Android animation is visible in several locales, but the snippet link in non-EN builds take the user directly to Google Play vs the SMS landing page). 

Big thanks to the brand team who worked with us to design the creative pieces for the SMS experience and developed the Android animations.  Also, many thanks to web dev, privacy, legal and security for their help during the evaluation and implementation phases.  This was a big group effort.

Our initial results are very encouraging.  More details on that soon.

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15 Comments on “Experimenting with SMS to drive downloads of Firefox for Android”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Would it be all that hard to still offer the option to go to the Google Play store? I have multiple devices and not all of them do SMS… maybe below the dialog asking for a phone number there could be a link? :)

  2. Mook says:

    Hmm, I’m surprised that there’s no QR code on that landing page. I’d expect a large number of Firefox-for-Android capable phones to have a camera attached to it and to be able to use QR codes. I, for one, would be more likely to use that, since I won’t have to provide any personal information (in this case, a phone number) to anybody.

    • yasuda3827 says:

      Hi Mook. We’ve provided QR codes before but they didn’t get a lot of traction. But your point is well taken. Might be good to review QR codes again. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Jim Russell says:

    Good move.

  4. Gabriela says:

    I think this alterative is AWESOME!!!!!!

  5. gaby2300 says:

    I think this is awesome!!!!

  6. paulnptld says:

    Can I ask what service you’re using for the SMS? What’s the cost per message? Thanks!

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