“There just wasn’t enough to pull people into the platform,” shares Dave Chalmers, Head of Product at EdApp, when discussing the team’s homegrown notification system.
EdApp, a mobile learning software company with big-name customers like Coca-Cola and Audi, relies on notifications to communicate important coursework assignments and due dates.
With ambitious goals to increase monthly active users and improve course completion rates, they knew they needed to improve the product notification experience.
A bespoke solution brings challenges
In addition to seeking a better user experience, the team saw an opportunity to improve the current infrastructure.
Taylor McCarthy, Engineering Team Lead, and his team built a complex solution for email and push notifications. While the setup worked, it wasn’t ideal.
“The load side of things became very complex”, says Taylor. “Some calculations became a 30 file deep mess. A well-structured mess, but still a mess.”
The team knew it was time to make a change, and quickly. “The driver was to make an impact as soon as possible,” shares Dave.
The build vs buy decision
Dave and Taylor were faced with the classic dilemma – do they build a solution in-house or do they buy a new tool?
They knew their engineering team was capable of building a better notification system, but doing so would come at a cost. They projected the initiative would take at least six months of engineering resources, which was time that could be spent on other projects.
“We didn’t want to spend our time figuring out notifications. We needed to spend our time on our expertise, microlearning,” shares Dave.
Feeling confident in the decision to buy, Dave looked to Friends of Lenny’s Newsletter Slack Community for notification infrastructure tool suggestions and came across Knock, Courier, and OneSignal.
An informed decision
To determine which tool would be the best fit for their business needs, Dave and Taylor put together a robust seven page evaluation document. It contained their must-have channel, product, and technical requirements.
Using this document, the EdApp team evaluated their list of tools and assigned a rating of fully compliant, partially compliant, or not compliant to each requirement.
A proof of concept with Knock was implemented in just a couple of hours, and the product received the highest number of fully compliant marks.
Dave quickly identified Knock as “the clear standout” due to a crystal-clear product offering and seamless developer experience.
The value prop was very clear, it was solving the exact problem we needed it to, and it was a more complete, easier-to-use solution than the other vendors we evaluated.
Implementing Knock in less than a week
With their minds set on Knock, the EdApp team was able to fully implement the tool in production in less than a week.
Taylor and his team were able to get up and running “almost instantly” without having to spend time on tedious processes like user migrations. Instead, the team used Knock’s inline identification API to identify users in Knock when they triggered their workflows. This ensured that any user data required to run a notification workflow was present at runtime.
“Syncing users is just about the worst thing to have to do as an engineer. To not have to manage that is fantastic. We had just gone through a massive user migration and the fact that we didn’t have to do that with Knock was great,” says Taylor.
Dave reiterated the speed of implementation. “It took longer to justify the buy decision than it did to implement Knock,” he shares.
Now with Knock implemented, it was time to create more impactful notifications.
It took longer to justify the buy decision than it did to implement Knock.
Doubling course completion rates
Course completion rates rely on users receiving relevant notifications.
With Knock, Taylor and his team can easily send the right notifications using workflows and branching logic. The branching function enables the EdApp team to customize their workflows with if/else statements. “Knock nailed it, branching is fantastic,” shares Taylor.
They’re also able to avoid notification overload with batching. Using Knock, the EdApp team can batch and digest relevant course notifications into a single message, reducing notification volume for users while still ensuring they get the information they need.
Since improving the quality of their product notifications with Knock, the EdApp team has seen a 2x increase in course completion rates and a 41% increase in course open rates.
Improving system maintenance with a best-in-class developer experience
The EdApp team also wanted to make sure that their notification infrastructure was easier for their engineering team to manage moving forward. With Knock, the EdApp team was able to do just that.
To monitor the system, Taylor integrated Knock with Datadog, allowing his team to add observability of Knock alongside their other monitoring dashboards. “We didn’t have to build some janky thing to keep an eye on our notifications”, says Taylor. “With Knock we get observability alongside the rest of our production stack. It just works.”
For product analytics, the team uses Knock’s Segment extension, allowing them to send engagement metrics to their single-source of truth analytics tools.
Nearly every team across the company uses Knock to do things like create new templates and workflows and build better onboarding emails. With Knock’s docs, “there’s no hand-holding,” shares Taylor. And, with single sign-on (SSO), user management is a breeze.
With Knock in place, the EdApp team can manage and send impactful notifications.
The outcome: Double the user engagement with reduced cost of ownership
Notifications have hugely increased learner engagement within EdApp. With Knock, users are 2x more likely to complete a course and course open rates have increased by 41%.
Results like that stand on their own, but the cherry on top? A happy engineering team.
Setting up Knock was quick and easy, and allowed the EdApp team to say goodbye to their complex homegrown solution.
I was able to delete a lot of old code, that made me very happy.
If you're looking to increase user engagement and retention through notifications, get in touch today.