How Snapask Leverages A/B Testing, Personalization, and Cross-Channel Engagement to Drive Growth
Based in Hong Kong, Snapask is an education technology company that leverages machine learning (ML) and content recommendations to make education more effective, personalized, and accessible.
To learn how the education company leverages the Braze platform to fuel growth, I spoke with Katherine Cheung, Chief Marketing Officer at Snapask, about how they understand their user base, support content development, and optimize the communication channels at their disposal.
Throughout our conversation, Katherine Cheung shared how SMBs can leverage Braze to achieve business goals by taking advantage of personalization.*
Can you tell us a bit about Snapask?
Snapask started as a Q&A service for self-directed learners in Asia—24/7, all subjects, all grades. People always describe us as Uber for tutoring.
Asian children grow up in an education-is-everything environment—the pain point for our nation’s kids is that we have a very heavy homework workload. We go to school, and then we go to after-class tutorials, and then at night, we'll do self-study. Our founder, Timothy Yu, started thinking, “When I study at night, what if I have a question I don't understand?” It’s a huge pain point for most of our users, not being able to find the right person or anyone qualified at night.
So that's why we had the idea of providing a monthly subscription to 24/7 online tutoring, with a core service of Q&A. Any time you have a homework question, you snap a picture of it, and then a qualified tutor will be matched instantly based on that subject.
To keep it simple, we make sure the step-by-step guidelines are provided to students at the right time, so that they can ask whatever questions they’re stuck on. It’s a one-on-one chat session with no time limit—students love our product very much on that front.
Two years ago, we also launched video classes about exam skills and different subjects’ topics to make a more complete learning cycle. Today, we have 4.7 million students and 350,000 tutors on our platform!
What has your growth been like since you partnered with Braze?
Right now, we have over 280 employees in nine different markets. We started off in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore, and then we quickly expanded to Indonesia, Malaysia, and then to Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. We started with Braze in August 2020, when we were only half the size we are now.
Since using Braze, our usage time has gone up by about 3X. Our engagement and click rates have also increased by about 28%.
Tell me a little bit about your evaluation process. You decided at some point that you needed a new customer engagement solution, what made you decide that? And how did you end up choosing Braze?
Two years ago, we started another project on content development beyond Q&A. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we saw a huge increase in usage time and user acquisition due to quarantine measures and school closures. As students had more time to study, we wanted to provide them with more content, whether articles or video lessons, so that we could provide everything students need for their studies.
We were using another tool at that point, but it did not give us a lot of customization ability. We wanted to do a lot of A/B testing and personalization because we knew we could add the most value to users through tailor-made learning journeys. The way one student understands a math concept could be totally different than somebody else, so we wanted to make sure that we could build different journeys to offer different explanations or different content. So we needed a tool with deep personalization features, and that's why we chose Braze.
What was the decision-making process like?
What we thought about in the end was, how are we going to utilize the tool? What are the main points that we want to use? And then how can we make sure all the members of our team know how to engage with it? I really liked the introduction sessions conducted by your team. And when you [Braze] opened the Asia support hub, that was actually quite attractive to us because when we face a technical issue, getting help quickly is very important to us. And of course, the other things would be delivery time, the message amount, or the communication channels that we could get.
What resources help you get the most out of Braze?
First of all, our onboarding process was amazing, very detailed and smooth. Since then, our Account Manager has continued to be very helpful for best practices. We use email a lot—it’s our best way to get in touch with parents and tutors. Our Account Manager helps us get best practices from other companies in the education industry. Plus, we get quarterly reports on our overall usage of the platform, and quarterly product updates from Braze. Our team is getting better at using Braze every day, such as getting more complex with campaigns and triggers.
How has Braze helped Snapask work more efficiently?
Braze is very easy to use, especially for visualizing user journeys. It’s easy to create highly personalized journeys with multiple touchpoints that help us drive users to complete high-value actions.
For example, one of the key action items that we want users to do once they join Snapask is to ask a question. Because without that experience, they won’t see the value in paying for this subscription or know what they can get out of a chat session with a tutor. We use Braze Canvas [customer journey management feature] to orchestrate that new user journey.
Another Canvas we run is prompted when a student gives a low rating for a tutor. Though it’s rare, sometimes connectivity issues happen and a tutor just disappears. If a student gives a low rating, we’ll reach out with a message saying ‘We would like to give you another chance to trial the product. Would you like to ask another question right now?’ We want them to see how the product can actually help them.
What is something that used to take you a lot of time and effort that is now quicker and simpler to do with Braze?
The ability to understand our user base has been huge. For example, understanding the grade levels of each user helps us prioritize what grade levels’ content that we need to produce first. Whenever deciding what type of content to produce next, we quickly take a look into the Braze platform to see how our user profiles are trending—like what subjects they’ve been asking questions about—and then develop more content based on those trends, because we will benefit more users.
How have you used Braze to better understand and engage with your audience?
At Snapask, we have three distinct audiences: Parents, tutors, and students. We found that the push notification open rates are not that high in tutors, but very high in students—as much as five times higher.
We decided to interview some tutors to ask why they weren’t opening the push notifications we were sending that had advice on how to become a great tutor—we thought maybe they didn’t find the message interesting or that it was sent at an inconvenient time. What we found in the end was that they’d thought the push notification was about a new question from a student, because when students ask a question, we send the tutors a system message to prompt them to pick up the question. When tutors are not available to pick up questions, they’ll just ignore push notifications, and they just go directly into the app whenever they’re available to help. Whereas with students, they need someone to remind them to come back to the app.
For tutors, email is a better channel for content-based campaigns because we can send out a lot of great information and make sure that they don't miss it. And email is also the key channel for parents, as they don't use the app. They are just the ones who link their account for payment and to track their kids’ progress.
What are some highlights from your time using Braze?
We use in-app messages a lot as they enable us to do a lot of cool campaigns, including a scholarship program in Hong Kong. For the scholarship program, we incentivize people to engage with our content. It's a very fun journey because the in-app messages are very eye-catching and engaging. From the in-app message, they can jump right to the content they like—it’s great how instant that decision is. The program has gotten a lot of great feedback: The students like that there's a lot of content to choose from, so we make recommendations and give them some incentives to check out more content.
Looking ahead, how do you envision Braze will help you continue to grow?
There are so many additional channels Braze offers that we can use to get in touch with our users. It will also enable us to provide personalized recommendations to our users, which will increase our overall satisfaction rate.
There’s also a lot of potential with the new in-app surveys feature. We can ask how much time a student has for learning today, or what subjects they need the most help with, or if they want to ask questions vs. engage with a tutor vs. do self-study.
There are so many ways to make sure the journey is more personalized for each user. That's why we love Braze—for every feature, we can think of a way to personalize it.
What advice would you give a small business or startup considering Braze at this point?
Personalized messaging will be key for long-term success. It is for Snapask.
Customers won’t engage with something that isn’t tailor-made to them because they have more options than ever before. By using personalization, we help customers spend less time doing the “shopping” so they can just focus on choosing. We can say, “Hey, are you looking for this concept in Math?” or “Are you stuck with this grammar test?” “Let Snapask help you!” And then we can provide the steps to help them achieve that personalized academic goal.
Making sure that customers engage with our product and start seeing value quickly through a personalized journey is key to Snapask’s growth, and probably applicable to any other businesses looking to get their customers deeper into their product.
Hundreds of innovative small and growing companies like IDAGIO, Branch, and Grover are using Braze to disrupt their categories and achieve success within their industries. See for yourself why Braze is the secret weapon startups turn to gain a competitive advantage, engage thoughtfully with their users, and ultimately drive business outcomes like user growth, conversions, revenue, retention, and more.
*This conversion has been edited for length and clarity.
Sunny Manivannan is the VP and GM of Global SMB at Braze, and thoroughly enjoys being a Boston sports fan in New York City. Previously, Sunny served in various marketing and general management roles at Coupa Software (NASDAQ:COUP), and was formerly a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and an aerospace engineer at General Electric.