Transport startup SWVL grows customer acquisition by 90%

Shannon Denny / April 2019

Smart targeting, placements and optimizations add up to low-cost conversions for SWVL, an innovative transport mobile app

SWVL is an app that offers an alternative to expensive taxi rides and long walks. The idea for the service stemmed from increases in urban traffic, mounting fuel costs and the rising price of on-demand transport services – all of which were making it harder for people to move around.

SWVL connects a city’s minibus network with commuters by creating fixed and dynamic daily lines that can be booked via mobile. This new mass transit service is available in three cities in Egypt and Kenya, with plans to expand into eight further cities this year.

“SWVL is reinventing the public transportation scene wherever we set foot.” – Hassan El Tahan, Head of Growth, SWVL

As an entirely new concept, SWVL needed to gain exposure for their mobile app and reach mobile users who commute on a daily basis. The team used Google Ads with strong calls to action to motivate people to download the app, sign up for the service and make bookings. Meanwhile, SWVL’s YouTube ads were designed to raise brand awareness.

As a startup, it was important to generate demand with the lowest possible budget. By combining the power of Google Analytics with Big Query, Data Studio and Firebase, the team made intelligent use of digital information to get the very best performance out of every ad.  

For instance, SWVL segmented the audience by demographic, location and operating system in order to drive the highest conversion rates with the lowest cost. By carefully optimizing the budget according to the segment and placement, the team could systematically improve conversion rates across the entire funnel. Post-install, SWVL’s targeting quality then helped the team optimize the cost of in-app actions.

“Working with a team of such motivated individuals to bring the business forward has been my greatest pleasure so far. Their curiosity through Search, Display, YouTube and Apps has enabled them to grow while discovering the tremendous potential that each product has to offer.” – Georges Achkar, Strategy Consultant, Google

SWVL’s strategy has enabled the startup to achieve a 90% growth in customer acquisition with higher quality of sales, which continues to contribute to a higher conversion rates across all funnel segments. Since launching Google Ads three quarters ago, the brand has gone from 80 employees to more than 350 – and they’re still growing. The brand owns the largest fleet of buses in MENA and controls more than 80% of the market share.

As the team looks to the future, their objective is to penetrate new markets, expand their services and generate demand in new countries. To underpin the brand’s ambitious growth, integrations with Google Maps and Cloud are planned.

Actionable takeaways for Marketers

  • Ensure to clearly define your business objective and to cascade it to set your media objectives; in SWVL’s case user acquisition translated to app downloads.
  • A cross-platform media campaign helps in reaching consumers more effectively, SWVL was able to achieve great results through utilizing Search, Display, YouTube and Apps.
  • As a startup, being data-driven is critical to ensure high ROI. Using cost-effective solutions like Google Analytics, Big Query and Data Studio helps in creating well-informed campaigns.
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