Waze Growth Strategy – Launching and Growing Fast
The free turn-by-turn navigation app Waze debuted in Israel in 2008 and in six years became a worldwide phenomenon that has redefined how people cope with one of the greatest headaches of the modern world — traffic.
But how did they achieve it. What was the Waze growth strategy?
The app provides layers of information on top of digital maps that help drivers avoid traffic snarls. These include the location of road work, car accidents, and law enforcement speed traps as well as extras like the location of the cheapest gas available on a driver’s given route.
The company’s stated goal is to shave at least 5 minutes off every user’s daily travel time
with community-edited maps that are constantly being updated and improved. In today’s modern world, that’s a value proposition that requires no further explanation.
The app is both useful and fun, taking many cues from the world of gaming, which has help to speed adoption. Users who report any kind of traffic or map data get points that are currently used to define status and rank within the Waze system. Values vary.
Some examples include road reporting, which garners 6 points per report, while a gas price report is worth eight. Adding house numbers is only a 1 point action, but new road recording is worth 64. Drivers who clock off 500 miles in a week get 1000 points.
(New roads can be added through a manual interface from the Waze website for the cartographically obsessed, or users can simply turn on the “pave road” function in the app and drive. No roads are officially added to the service, however, until a map editor has confirmed their accuracy.)
Even though there is no monetary benefit (beyond cheap gas) associated with point generation, running up the totals appeals to naturally competitive users who want to go from being a “Waze Baby” to “Waze Royalty.”
In fact, all the functionality within Waze is designed to elicit a feeling of community and a sense of camaraderie in building maps and defeating the modern scourge of the traffic jam.
Arguably, the design of the app itself is the greatest growth hack of all. Waze is, in essence, a real-time game that generates an incredibly useful product — constantly updated maps that reflect real world travel conditions.
In July 2012, Waze announced it had built a user base of 20 million drivers — 10 million of those added in the prior 6 months. At that time, drivers using the app had travelled more than 3.2 billion miles.
In June 2013, Google purchased Waze for a reported $1.3 billion amid rumors that automakers were considering incorporating the mapping app into their GPS systems.