Top technology companies are investing heavily in the future of user engagement. From adding new integrated communication features to going all in on the metaverse, real-time engagement is a big focus.
If you are building a startup, you may wonder, is this new realm of engagement only for the big players? More importantly, can your startup benefit by adding new layers of engagement to your product?
Real-Time Engagement (RTE)
We are all familiar with the changes that voice and video chat have brought to us through standalone apps like Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime. However, these apps all focus on communications and limited to point-to-point connections. They serve as more of a utility than an immersive experience. On the other hand, Real-Time Engagement, or RTE, is the technology that helps create shared and immersive experiences. There are three key elements in RTE: shared context, interactivity at scale, and ubiquity.
Shared context means that all engagements, including human-to-human and human-to-technology engagements, should share the same content, context, and environments. In an online classroom example, participants can use interactive whiteboards to not only share the same teaching material with everyone but also to be able to engage with each other.
Secondly, RTE technology should have the capability to scale the engagement experience, from one-on-one to group engagements with thousands of audiences. For example, social media influencers produce live contents and stream to millions of audience members. If you add the engagement layer, including the shared context to every single user, RTE should ensure all users are having the same experience no matter how big the audience is.
The last part of RTE is ubiquity. The technology should allow everyone to interact with anyone, in any app, anytime, and anywhere. No matter if you are in a car or in a park, if you are using VR device or mobile device, you should be able to engage with other users.
Why Real-Time Engagement is important for startups?
Developing real-time engagement frameworks and features by yourself can be prohibitively expensive and complex. That is why vendors like Agora democratize the concept and provide access to everyone. You don’t need to worry about setting up the server and creating the framework for your application, allowing you to focus on scaling your user base. Ultimately RTE can bring user engagement, user retention, and flexible integration with other technologies to your app.
RTE is all about engagement among users. It brings new types of engagement to your applications. Some can be fun, while others can be very practical.
You can add live-stream video to an e-commerce platform so that shoppers can view what the item actually looks like. You can add group video into a media streaming platform so that users can watch the same show together. You can add multiple live video streams into your sports application so that users can instantly switch between different camera angles of the live sports and discuss the scores with other fans. The use cases are unlimited.
We Were Here Together is a good example here. It is a collaborative puzzle solving game. Two players use walkie-talkies to talk to each other and to solve puzzles together. It is a novel idea for gaming because it emphasizes the group gaming experience, instead of the single player’s experience.
The main benefit of this type of user engagement is to make your application more fun for all users and distinguish yourself from other competitors.
In the startup world, user retention is almost equivalent to revenue. The more users spend more time on your application, the more potential you have to generate revenue from the traffic.
If your core product is a team-based mobile game, and very good at obtaining new users, but you do not have integrated audio chat , users will choose to use other platforms like Discord to subsidize this feature. It may not make a huge impact on your product now, though your product is essentially missing out important data source and monetization opportunity.
If you have the engagement layer embedded in your product, users won’t have to jump between different platforms. Programmatically, you can track what topics users are interested in, what time they are most active with other users, etc. You can unlock the ways for monetization for your product. For example, you can place targeted ads to the users during the engagement. You can also create digital currency within your product so that users can purchase virtual gifts for each other.
Flexible Integration with Other Technology
Competitive and innovative products usually don’t rely on a single technology. Comparing to black-box solutions like Zoom and Discord, integrating RTE into your product allows you to make modifications and integrate with other technologies such as AI, AR, and VR. This unlocks more innovative ways for you to engage your users.
For instance, you may be developing a virtual office solution. Instead of using a standard video conferencing platform, you could integrate RTE to enable to enable AI-based features like live-transcription, live-translation, emotion analysis, etc.
Evaluating RTE Vendors
If the benefits of RTE all seem attractive to you and your product, the next step is choosing the technology that is best fit for your needs.
Assuming you have tested product quality of all the vendors, here are the three main considerations for a startup to think about:
Discount for Startups
As a startup, you are trying to bootstrap your platform. You already exhausted resources on getting your platform launched, not to mention paying the cost for RTE vendors. While many vendors claim to provide free minutes to try out the product, it may not be enough for you even in your early beta phase. You must explore other resources and programs that can support your product.
Ease of Implementation
Implementing real-time engagement in your platform can be either a headache or a breeze. You need to consider the compatibility of platform, feature, and quality. If the vendor has a developer-friendly resource and technology, it will save you not only the headache, but also the budget.
Even better, if the vendor can also provide a low-code/no-code platform for you to launch your platform, you can focus on business operations and scaling of the company.
Chances are, you are going to run into issues during your journey of implementation. Having a professional support team by your side and a supportive community would eliminate lots of headaches for you. However, these resources usually have a price tag with them. You have to make sure the vendor can provide support and resources at an affordable rate.
I hope this article will give you some ideas of how RTE can bring new types of engagement and growth to your product. Along with Agora’s cutting-edge, cross-platform technology, we want every startup founder to feel comfortable and supported while innovating with Agora platform and change the way people connect and interact with each other.
Agora’s technology and resources are not only developer-friendly, but also product owner friendly. We have an industry-leading low-code/no-code platform called Agora AppBuilder, which you can use to launch a product within minutes.
Agora also started as a small startup company. Step-by-step, it has become an international leader in the industry. Because of its history, Agora has a startup mentality. We understand what founders are looking for and strive to support startups and founders along the journey.
The Agora for Startups program provides support that can make a difference for your startup. The program provides 1 million free minutes to all qualified startups, in addition to the standard 10,000 free minutes every month. That means you don’t have to worry about the cost while launching the beta product and scaling your company.
Additionally, with the Agora for Startups program, you receive the best-in-class analytic tool to monitor all user session activities for free for 12 months.