Lockscreen mobile advertising platform Cashtree grew from 5m users in 2017 to the 18m it has today without a full-fledged marketing campaign. According to CEO Dallen Kim, Cashtree's business has grown rapidly only through its strong user base and by creating efficient “word-of-mouth viral-marketing from user to user.”
Cashtree's business clients not only see their ads promoted on mobile platforms, but also have them spread organically on social media or through messaging platforms. The Cashtree app does this by rewarding its user community for sharing ads on their own social media accounts and via messaging services such as WhatsApp. These rewards usually come in the form of vouchers, phone data, and internet credits.
“We get most of our users through those methods,” Kim said in an interview, adding that “the secret to our marketing is, in fact, fulfilling our brand promise to our users. We promise them rewards, and that is what we give them.”
He also credited the invitation link feature, via which users are able to recommend the app to others.
Cashtree's key platform provides lockscreen advertising, which appears every time an Android smartphone is locked (it is not yet operating on IOS platforms).
This marketing method can be highly specific or as broad as possible and Cashtree's client list has included major e-commerce and media companies such as Tokopedia, Bukalapak, CNN Indonesia and Detikcom. It also has clients in many other sectors, from finance and travel to mobile gaming developers.
With Indonesia being touted as the world's fourth biggest smartphone market (after the US, India, and China), it makes sense that those companies consider a platform such as Cashtree fitting. A recent Statista report said that Indonesia is estimated to have a total of 81.87m smartphone users in 2020.
While mobile advertisements are often limited in size due to the website or app layout they're posted on, lockscreen advertising can be as big as each smartphone's full screen format. According to Cashtree, this leads to a higher conversion rate than any other mobile-based advertisement.
It seems to be working. According to Kim, “on average, there are, at the very least, more than 400,000 clicks or total interactions on all campaigns running in the Cashtree app” daily. This number has led to around 15 to 20 client deals monthly, he said.
Encouraging organic growth
“The initial idea for Cashtree came from the basic idea of marketing, which is rewards based,” explained Kim. Its reward system encourages organic growth between friends and social media acquaintances. Thus, not only do clients get the unique exposure of the lockscreen advertisement, but they also see it grow virally. He said that Cashtree was also inspired by the lockscreen advertisement trend that began in Korea in 2010.
“The demand for digital marketing will continue to grow as both startups and companies compete in Indonesia’s fast growing market,” Kim told Korean publication The Investor in 2018, adding that, “It’s a great opportunity and we want to seize it.”
“Cashtree is unique and strongly accepted by our consumers because we've come up with solution that can bridge the needs of brands and advertisers – who want their ads to be known – and the users' need for getting rewards,” said Kim.
The Cashtree user community is certainly eager. Users receive rewards by completing “missions” and “campaigns” on the Cashtree app, which result in the sharing of ads that are game-like and that focus on specific brands.
A good number of tutorial videos on how to receive the greatest amount of rewards can be found on YouTube, with many of the video creators showcasing the rewards they have received. Almost 55% of the app’s users are aged 18–24, with 28% aged 25–34.
In 2016, the startup raised $4m in Series A funding from Kakao Ventures and Korea Investment Partners. The funds “jump started and boosted Cashtree’s acceleration to expand our channels and networks, and also aided in rapidly acquiring new users,” said Kim.
Expanding its marketing service
Though it is still primarily known for its lockscreen advertisement platform, Cashtree is also expanding into other alleys of digital media solutions. Its services range from digital campaigns on the Cashtree app to social media management, Facebook and Google Ads, and creative content development and production. More recently, they've added the Leads Management System (LMS), which is designed to help businesses grab the attention of potential clients.
“We believe that the digital era is constantly changing and the key to staying in business is the ability to be rapidly flexible and adaptable in any kind of disruption ,” said Kim.
Cashtree facilitates advertisement through cost per install (CPI), cost per click (CPC), and cost per action (CPA) campaigns.
While Kim admits that much of the company's plans have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, the CEO also says that it has given Cashtree the opportunity to do “something good (and) meaningful.”
“One of our plans is to develop a new feature called Cashtree Job Center, which will help our users find a job in this difficult time. We will collaborate with recruiter companies and creative platforms that provide freelance project opportunities. We want to spread the message that we are all in this together and that together we can get through it.”