Increase User Engagement by Adding a Video Calling Feature to Your App

15 min read
Frank L.
Frank L.
Published July 26, 2023

Remember when Netflix introduced the "Skip Intro" button?

Everyone embraced the new feature immediately — the button is pressed 136 million times every day.

It's every product manager's dream to add such a feature to the software products they manage. While we don't advise getting into a feature race with your competitors, the right feature can help differentiate your product and offer more value to your customers.

For many different types of apps — including gaming, dating, and virtual events — video can prove to be such a feature for you. Let's dive in to find out how. 

How Adding Video to Your App Boosts Engagement 

Video adds a personal and interactive element to the user experience. It enables users to connect face-to-face, fostering stronger relationships, trust, and engagement. Through video, users can have real-time conversations, see visual cues, and build meaningful connections. 

Provides More Visual Interactivity  

Incorporating videos into your app presents a unique opportunity to showcase your products or services in a more visually appealing way. Unlike static images and text, videos can effectively show consumers the features, benefits, and uniqueness of your offerings. Product demos and tutorials, for instance, allow users to see your products or services in action, providing a deeper understanding of how they work and what they can achieve.

Using video, you can break down intricate topics or processes step by step to make sure your users are well-informed and engaged. Whether you're introducing a new feature, describing your app's functionality, or illustrating the benefits of using your service, videos add an element of engagement that text alone can't do — especially if your product is more complex or complicated.

Videos can also play a pivotal role in reducing the number of customer support inquiries your agents receive. By addressing common FAQs and concerns through video, users can answer their own questions independently. For instance, instead of scrolling through lengthy text-based FAQs about your products, users can watch short videos that provide clear and concise answers to their questions. This not only saves users time but also offers a more personalized and engaging support experience. 

Enhances User Experience 

Video can transform the user experience in many types of apps, including dating, telehealth, and gaming apps, by providing one-on-one interactions in a private setting.

With dating apps, it's hard to know whether the person you're chatting with is genuine and authentic. Video chats enable users to engage in real-time conversations, fostering a deeper sense of connection before meeting in person. This added interactivity goes beyond mere text exchanges and photos, building trust and reducing the ambiguity often associated with online dating.

Video also plays a crucial role in telehealth apps by bridging the gap between patients and healthcare providers. Through video consultations, patients can communicate their symptoms visually, leading to more accurate diagnoses. Video consultations can also create a sense of empathy and rapport that text-based communication can lack.

Video integration in gaming apps takes the multiplayer experience to a new level. Gamers can engage with each other in real-time, whether it's teaming up for missions or competing head-to-head. 

Boosts Views, Comments, and Likes 

Video content has become a powerful tool for increasing app engagement and usage. In one survey, 95% of respondents reported that video marketing played a pivotal role in increasing brand awareness, and 91% said it's crucial for increasing traffic. These statistics underscore the potency of video content in capturing user attention within your app and keeping them engaged.

Livestreaming offers a unique opportunity to connect with your app's audience in real time. It creates a sense of immediacy and exclusivity that encourages users to participate actively. Livestreaming sessions can range from product launches to behind-the-scenes peeks to Q&A sessions to interactive workshops. The real-time nature of livestreaming prompts users to tune in, ask questions, and engage through comments.

And aside from livestreaming, pre-recorded videos also play a significant role in attracting views, comments, and likes. Well-crafted video content, such as tutorials, how-to guides, entertaining stories, and informative pieces, can be shared across different channels, including social, email, and your website. These videos are not only engaging but also shareable, enabling users to spread the content further. 

Increases Trust and Security

Video communication features can help build trust and credibility within the app. When users can see and hear each other in real-time conversations, it becomes more challenging for bad actors to hide behind fake profiles or deceive other users. As a result, users are more likely to feel confident in the identities of the people they are interacting with, fostering a safer environment within the app.

For dating apps, video calls allow users to verify the identity and authenticity of potential matches, reducing concerns related to catfishing and fraudulent profiles.

In telehealth, the visual interaction between patients and healthcare providers establishes a stronger connection and instills confidence. In a 2021 study on patient trust in telemedicine, 77.4% of participants used video and showed overwhelming trust in their physician after the call.

In education or marketplace apps, video calls can facilitate trust and transparency between users engaging in transactions or seeking assistance.

Video Use Cases

Video can improve the user experience in many use cases across industries. Here are just a few examples. 

Hosting Virtual Events & Livestreaming 

Apps that host virtual events and livestreaming continue to grow, thanks to the remote and hybrid-working era. These features enable networking opportunities where participants can engage in virtual meetings, one-on-one video calls, or group discussions. When in-person meetings aren't possible, video provides face-to-face interactions, captures facial expressions and body language, and facilitates real-time engagement.

One specific use case? Gaming apps. With the help of a gaming chat API/SDK, video enhances the user experience for gamers by allowing them to communicate face-to-face, bringing a more personal and immersive element to multiplayer sessions. It enables players to strategize, coordinate gameplay, and build stronger social connections. Video also facilitates live reactions and expressions, making the gaming experience more engaging and dynamic.

Players can also share their gameplay, reactions, and commentary with an audience to create community engagement. This not only enhances the gaming experience for existing players but also attracts new users by showcasing the social and interactive aspects of the app. Twitch, the market leader in the space, made $2.8 billion in revenue in 2022.

Enabling Video Commerce

Product managers of ecommerce apps can leverage the power of video and real-time interactions to enhance the shopping experience for users and increase ecommerce sales.

Video commerce allows customers to:

  • Connect directly with sellers. This direct connection results in a personalized shopping experience for every customer.

  • Replicate the in-store experience virtually. Shoppers can do everything they can in-store except touch the physical products. Sellers can show the physical products from every angle and in action (if applicable).

This direct engagement increases shoppers' trust in the seller and confidence in the product.

In addition to its impact on individual sales, video commerce has the potential to create a sense of community and social proof. Sellers host live product launches, interactive Q&A sessions, or virtual events, attracting a wider audience and fostering brand loyalty.

As an example, Taobao Live, a livestreaming platform for merchants, saw an opportunity to promote its app around a major shopping event in China — Single's Day. Taobao Live planned to provide an opportunity for consumers to shop and watch videos at the same time. Their plan worked — the app generated a whopping $7.5 billion worth of transactions in just the first 30 minutes of their online promotion.

Facilitating Telehealth Visits 

By adding video capability to a telehealth app, product managers can enhance patient-provider communication, expand access to care, and improve overall healthcare outcomes. 80% of consumers say they've used telehealth services at least once, which means the market is huge and it is here to stay. Adding a video function to your telehealth app can increase your app's value to patients and healthcare providers alike.

Offering video within a telehealth app allows for real-time, face-to-face interactions between healthcare providers and patients. By improving engagement, you can transform the experience for healthcare providers and patients alike. Video enables remote consultations, diagnoses, and follow-up appointments, reducing the need for in-person visits. Patients can discuss their symptoms and receive personalized medical advice, all from the comfort of their own homes or while they're on the go. Video can improve healthcare accessibility, particularly for individuals in rural or underserved areas who may face geographical or mobility challenges.

Additionally, video conferencing features in telehealth apps facilitate multidisciplinary collaboration and teleconsultations among healthcare professionals. It enables seamless communication and information sharing between specialists, primary care physicians, and other healthcare team members, leading to better coordination of care and improved patient outcomes.

Providing Online Training and Education

The use of video calling and conferencing in education apps has transformed remote learning by improving communication between educators and students. Introducing a video feature to a communication app in the EdTech space can greatly enhance the learning experience and facilitate meaningful engagement.

Adding video to your educational app enables virtual classrooms, online tutoring, and one-on-one interactions. It also allows educators to conduct live lectures, interactive discussions, and Q&A sessions, replicating the experience of a physical classroom. Through features like chats, polls, and reactions, students can actively participate, ask questions, and receive immediate feedback, fostering a dynamic and engaging learning environment.

Moreover, video conferencing features in education apps support collaborative projects, group work, and study groups. Students can collaborate in real time, share ideas, and work together on assignments or presentations, regardless of their physical location. This promotes teamwork, communication skills, and peer-to-peer learning.

Video also enables students to access quality education from anywhere, eliminating the barriers of distance, resources, and mobility challenges.

Online education through LMSs is experiencing substantial growth — the global LMS market size is expected to grow from $18.26 billion in 2023 to $47.47 billion by 2030. By adding a video feature to your LMS or educational app, you can differentiate your product and increase your market share.

How To Provide the Best Video Experience for Your Users

Once you have validated the idea of introducing video on your app, you want to make sure you provide the best experience for users. Factors like video and audio quality, the way video works within the app's ecosystem, and how it's placed in the overall navigation have a great impact on video engagement and user experience. Better user experience will lead to higher adoption.

Survey Your Users To Better Understand Their Needs

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Conduct research and gather feedback to understand your users' specific needs. Identify their pain points, challenges, and expectations when it comes to video communication within the app. This will serve as a foundation for ensuring a good user experience and video engagement.

When surveying your users, you can ask a combination of multiple-choice and open-ended questions, like:

  1. Would you be interested in using a video function within our app?

    • Yes, definitely
    • Maybe, it depends
    • No, I'm not interested
  2. How frequently do you think you would use video within our app?

    • Very frequently
    • Occasionally
    • Rarely or never
  3. Which of the following activities or scenarios do you believe a video function would be most useful for in our app? (Select all that apply)

    • Virtual meetings or group discussions
    • Personal communication with friends and family
    • Collaborative work or project discussions
    • Learning or educational purposes
    • Seeking professional advice or consultations
    • Other (please specify)
  4. What features or functionalities would you expect from a video feature within our app? (Select all that apply)

    • High-quality video and audio
    • Screen-sharing capabilities
    • Text chat alongside video calls
    • Virtual backgrounds or filters
    • Recording or playback options
    • Other (please specify)
  5. What challenges or limitations do you currently face in communicating or connecting with others through our app? Do you believe video functionality could address those challenges?

  6. Are there any specific use cases or situations where you feel a video function would be valuable within our app?

Sending out this survey to the most active users of your app will enable you to validate your ideas and also learn about user expectations. It's also a good idea to interview some of your users to gain more insights about the challenges they face.

Optimize Video Quality and Performance for a Disruption-Free Experience

Make sure that the video function in your app provides high-quality audio and video. Optimize the performance to minimize lag, buffering, and disruptions during calls. Implement adaptive streaming technology to adjust video quality based on network conditions and device capabilities.

With a video feature, your app will take up more memory in the users' devices and require more bandwidth. Look into multi-access edge computing (MEC) and see if it is possible to move to an MEC architecture.

Moving the computational resources closer to the end user will result in reduced latency and faster response times. But going from a centralized, cloud-based architecture to edge computing is a big project in its own right. If you're planning to use a third-party API for your video calling feature, choose one that already uses an edge infrastructure. High video quality and faster performance will lead to better video engagement.

Offer Personalization Options to Your Users

Allow users to personalize their video experience within your app. Offer options to customize backgrounds, apply filters, or use avatars if suitable for the app's context. Additionally, provide settings to adjust audio and video preferences, such as volume control, video resolution, and bandwidth usage.

If there are multiple apps in your space, and some of your top competitors also offer video, your customization options can prove to be a competitive advantage. Think of WordPress versus the likes of Wix or Squarespace. WordPress is used by 43.1% of websites as compared to Wix's 2.5%. Both platforms help you build websites, but WordPress offers extensive personalization and customization options, while Wix relies on pre-designed templates.

If you manage a virtual conferencing tool, your customers will most likely be event organizers who want a high degree of customization options. Giving them those options will help you increase user engagement. 

Implement Security and Privacy Measures

Prioritize security and privacy features within your video communication feature. Use end-to-end encryption (E2EE) to protect sensitive conversations and data and implement authentication measures to prevent unauthorized access. Provide options for users to control privacy settings, such as choosing who can initiate calls or join conferences. Transparently communicate the app's security measures to build user trust.

Seventy-nine percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company with their data if the company clearly explains why it's collecting said data and how it intends to use it. When it comes to video and audio communications, users are concerned about their privacy.

That's why WhatsApp had to clarify that they don't share user chat and call data with Facebook when online rumors about the issue surfaced back in 2021. By using E2EE and complying with relevant regulations, you protect user data, earn their trust, and improve the quality of their experience with your app. Higher user trust will help you improve video engagement on your app.

Integrate Additional Collaboration Tools

Enhance the user experience by integrating additional collaboration tools within the video communication feature. Depending on your niche, consider features such as:

  • Screen sharing — suitable for business and collaboration apps, educational apps, and technical support or customer service apps

  • File sharing — collaboration and project management apps, messaging and communication apps, and education apps all require this feature

  • Virtual whiteboards — LMSs and e-learning platforms, design or creative apps, and collaboration apps can all use virtual whiteboards during educational or collaborative sessions

  • Live chat — all apps can use this feature, but it is especially relevant for customer support or help desk apps, social networking apps, dating apps, and virtual events and webinar apps

  • Real-time transcription — this feature is useful in all use cases where important conversations have to be revisited, like telehealth apps, all types of business apps, and educational apps

  • Annotation — good for collaboration and design apps and review or feedback apps where users can annotate and highlight specific parts of content for discussion

  • Video augmentation — gaming apps, virtual event or live performance apps, entertainment apps, and social media apps can all benefit from video augmentation features for adding filters and effects

  • AI-powered features such as eye contact correction — gaming apps and livestreaming apps where hosts have to look away from the camera for long periods of time are increasingly using eye-contact correction features

These tools facilitate effective communication, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing.

Offer Technical Support and Troubleshooting

Provide comprehensive technical support and troubleshooting resources for users. Offer FAQs, tutorials, and a dedicated support channel to address common issues that may occur. Promptly address and resolve any technical glitches or bugs for a smooth user experience.

Technical issues during livestreaming sessions or video calls are pretty common. By providing detailed guides on known issues, you can help your customers solve their problems quickly.

For example, say a user notices that their video freezes a few minutes into the call every time they use their work laptop. Usually, that happens when the user's graphics card is not compatible with the video calling feature. If you know about this issue and have detailed instructions on how to fix it, your users will have a better experience with you and continue to use your app. If you don't have any information about it on your website and no dedicated support channel, they will inevitably switch to a different tool.

Continuously Gather User Feedback and Improve Your Feature

Regularly collect feedback from users regarding their experiences with the video communication feature. Use surveys, user interviews, and analytics data to gather insights on usability, satisfaction, and areas for improvement. 

How To Increase Video Engagement

Once a new feature is rolled out, it's marketing's job to create excitement about it while the product team keeps a close eye on feature adoption and usage. The following are a few steps you can take to ensure your users make full use of your new video feature.

Personalize the Onboarding Experience

Tailor the onboarding experience to different user segments, considering their specific needs and use cases.

Fifty-eight percent of customers expect personalization because technology has changed their expectations of how companies should interact with them. Some of your users may be more interested in high-definition video, while others may find a virtual whiteboard or annotation feature more engaging. Segment your users and offer personalized onboarding experiences, highlighting the more interesting aspects of your new video feature to each group.

During the onboarding process, provide step-by-step instructions, interactive walkthroughs, or tool tips that guide users through the process of using the feature for the first time.

Incentivize and Reward Usage

Gamification elements such as badges, achievements, or levels can also motivate users to explore and use the feature.

Organizations from different industries have been using gamification to increase customer engagement and loyalty. Autodesk, a software company, saw a 40% increase in their trial usage thanks to gamification.

Offer exclusive perks, discounts, or access to premium content for users who actively use the feature. By implementing incentives and rewards, you will encourage users to engage with the video feature.

Promote the New Feature Within the App's Ecosystem

Prominent in-app placement of your new feature will encourage users to try it out. Once the new version of your app has been rolled out and users have access to the video function, make it easy for them to find it.

For messaging and video conferencing tools, it may make sense to have the new video calling feature on the home screen. In telehealth, marketplace, and gaming apps, it's okay for the user to go through one or two screens before they get to the video function.

Also, use display banners, notifications, or pop-ups to highlight the new feature. Leverage existing app features, such as messaging or notifications, to inform users about the video feature and encourage them to try it out.

Monitor and Optimize

When you release a new feature, it's important to monitor its performance as well as its impact on the overall functionality of your app. New releases can sometimes result in unanticipated errors, as a new feature may not play well with the existing features of the app. 

Continuously monitor app performance, as well as user engagement, adoption rates, and feedback, to assess the effectiveness of your efforts. Analyze user behavior and usage patterns related to the video communication feature. Identify areas that need improvement, adjust your strategy, and optimize the feature based on data-driven insights.

Keep an Eye on Video Engagement Metrics

When monitoring feature adoption and performance, keep an eye on these engagement metrics:

  • Meeting frequency — this will help you understand the usage patterns of the video calling feature, indicating its popularity and whether it aligns with the app's objectives.

  • Average meeting duration — provides insights into the level of engagement and the extent to which users find value in the feature. A longer average meeting duration generally indicates that users are actively using it and finding it beneficial.

  • Meeting participation rate — this helps product managers assess the level of user adoption and engagement with video in your app. It indicates how many users are actively participating in meetings or video calls and whether the feature is meeting their communication needs.

  • Active user rate — this metric helps product managers assess the feature's ongoing usage and popularity. Tracking the active user rate helps identify user preferences, measure feature retention, and inform decisions related to feature improvements or user education initiatives.

  • Additional feature usage — monitoring the usage of all the supplemental features will help you improve those features and the way they are integrated with the user's experience. Features such as screen sharing, annotation, filters, and breakout rooms should be monitored for frequency and duration of usage. 

  • Audio and video quality — monitoring audio clarity, video resolution, latency, and similar metrics helps identify and address technical issues promptly, ensuring that users can have a high-quality video calling experience.

Add Video To Your App Using a Third-Party API

When it comes to adding video to your app, you have two options: build it in-house or use a third-party video API.

Building your own video function from scratch requires significant time, effort, and resources. You have to handle network protocols, optimize video codecs, ensure data security, and manage server infrastructure. To achieve that, you need to dedicate a team of developers to the task, diverting them from other tasks, leading to delays in feature delivery and increased maintenance and support costs.

Using a third-party API for video is a better alternative. Third-party APIs provide pre-built and battle-tested video calling functionality that can be seamlessly integrated into the app. This approach saves time and resources by leveraging the expertise of established video communication providers.

It allows product managers to focus on the core features and value proposition of the app rather than investing extensive resources in building and maintaining a video infrastructure.

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