When I was running Meebo I had a long list of products I wished Google would release. Not surprisingly, like most founders, they largely revolved around things that I thought would help us grow our user base, or make our product more valuable to our existing users in some way. When Google acquired Meebo, the first thing I started doing was asking “why haven’t we done (insert feature here) yet?” Turned out the reception to my ideas was quite warm, so with that, I set out on pushing our newly formed Google team to get these features built.
We’ve been at Google for a year and a half now, and have developed (along with a number of other teams at Google) some pretty amazing features. They’re all about growing your audience, driving Android app distribution, or providing a better overall user experience. Below I’ve captured some of the best recent releases.
1. Get your voice into your Google Search results
When people search for your company on Google, they’re obviously looking for the most recent info about you. One source, of course, is what you’ve posted on your Google+ page. So, if you keep your page active by posting regularly, those posts will begin to appear in the right hand side of your search results. Who knew? Learn more here.
2. Drive Android app installs from website visitors
You can now easily get your web users to download your Android app – even if they don’t have their phone on them! If a user signs in with Google+ Sign-In on your web site, and if they have an Android device (phone or tablet), we’ll automatically ask them if they’d like to install your app. If they say yes, your app will be waiting for them the next time they pick up their device.
How does this work? Most Android phone users are logged into their Android phones at the OS level. So when they use Google to sign into your web site, we quickly check if they have an Android device and then ask if they’d like your app. I know, you’re thinking “but how many users will actually download my app?” On average, 40%. High quality apps like Fitbit see a 60% accept rate. I’d be willing to bet those click rates are a lot higher than any other source of app installs you may be looking at. You can learn more, here.
3. Sign in once, Signed in everywhere
Let’s say someone logs into your Android app with Google. Later they load up your web site on their desktop. They’ll already be logged into your site without clicking anything! Or let’s say they log into your service on their desktop at work, and later navigate to your site on their home machine. Same deal – automatically logged in. How does it work? Once a user uses Google+ Sign-In to connect to your service, they grant consent across devices. When they switch devices we automatically authenticate them, so they can be taken directly to the same state they were in originally.
Think about the possibilities here! Maybe a user put items in a shopping cart on your iOS app, but then abandoned (we all know that happens, a lot). Their cart will be full and ready to purchase next time they load you up on their desktop machine. Or maybe you’ve tailored your site to a user’s specific preferences. Now that user’s more relevant experience will automatically appear across devices.
For example, on Fancy results showed that users who sign in with Google are more profitable for Fancy, with an order value 14% higher than average. They attributed this, in part, to that the friction of consent and authentication was removed with cross-device sign-in. Check out more info here.
4. Drive user notifications across Google properties
We recently released something we call an interactive post. It’s a way for your users to share to their friends with a very clear call to action. That is, there’s a big action button like “watch” or “listen” or “join” that’s right on the post – designed to send traffic back to your app. These have been really effective – they get about 3x the click rate of a normal post.
A big side benefit is that these posts can trigger notifications in the Google Bar, across most Google properties. Google Maps? Check. Google Search? Check. YouTube? Yup, that one too. And of course, in Google+.
How do you unlock the magic? If a user shares an Interactive Post from your site and places individual friend names in the “To” field, those friends will get notified. Of course, it’s a lot of work for users to think up individual’s names. So, were I an entrepreneur using this feature, I’d use Google+ Sign-In to access their friend list. When a user went to send an interactive post, I’d present the user with a people chooser, ordered by affinity (you can get this from a Google+ API). Then, you can programmatically pass in up to 10 names to the “To” field. You’ll now have users sending targeted posts, across all Google properties, via the Google notifications channel.
5. Run a UGC site? Give authors credit for their content in Google
Let’s say an author on your site posts a video, blog, or photo. You can now ensure they’re getting credit in Google for the content they’re publishing on your site, automatically. When a user signs into your site with Google+ Sign-In, we’ll look for rel=”author” links on the content your users are posting. We’ll trust it because we know the user actually uses your service. Google will then look for ways to surface their info when their content appears in Google. For example, users doing a search may see the original author’s name, picture and/or a link to their Google+ profile when the content appears in Search, News and other Google products. More info here.
6. Link a user’s Google experience with your app
Let’s say you run a site where people book hotel rooms and you want to be able to put a calendar entry on a user’s Google calendar after they’ve made a booking. Or perhaps you run a video site and you’d like to see which YouTube videos are recommended for a particular user. This, and *many* more actions are available across Google’s various products. When someone logs into your app with Google+ Sign-In, you’re able to ask them for these permissions, and more, in the consent flow. http://developers.google.com has a wealth of options available.
7. Drive purchasing
Turns out once a person signs in with Google+, purchasing is as easy as tapping on the Wallet button. This is because you’re able to ask for the wallet permission on intial sign-in. Newegg shared that mobile web users who pay with Google Wallet convert 100% more than those paying with other methods. The conversion increase was even higher for users who signed in with Google+. That’s a lot of purchasing that could be headed your way. Check out this link for more info.
8. Increase registration velocity
This one shocked me. We’ve now had a number of developers report that just adding a Google+ Sign-In button next to the existing sign-in options you’re already running, like native, Facebook, Twitter, etc, drove a lift in daily registrations. We dug on why, and it comes down to that native registration is a pain (new username to remember, new password to remember) and users trust Google. Snapette, for example, saw a 16% lift in registration velocity once they deployed Google+ Sign-In. This nets out to that giving users a trusted option lifts the rate at which they connect! Like I said, I didn’t see this one coming.
When we set about dreaming up these features, they were created from an entrepreneur’s perspective on what other entrepreneurs would want to either grow their audience, drive Android downloads, or just to create a better overall user experience. I hope some of these might be helpful to you, too. There are of course tons more features, but I tried to list some of my favorites. For a more comprehensive guide, head to http://developers.google.com/+. And finally, I and the team are thinking up new ideas all the time, so definitely leave suggestions for other features we should build below.