Behind Ryde’s ‘prudent and even handed’ advertising and the ‘holy grail’ of phrase of mouth

ryde terence zou

Singapore-based mobility app Ryde Sharing has certainly made a name for itself since it was founded in 2014. In September, the company reported that it has organically grown its user base by over 300% since early 2020 and has also kept over 13,000 active motorists in Singapore. At the same time, it was rebranded, with the new logo taking on softer edges for a friendlier appearance and a more pleasant feel. This should further signal Ryde’s commitment to being a company that is accessible, accessible and in tune with the needs of its drivers and drivers.

The new logo also includes a geopin to symbolize Ryde’s business and mission. Overall, the new logo takes on a younger and more modern look to appeal to Ryde’s largest customer base – Millennials and Gen Zs. In March of this year, The Straits Times reported that the company will be going public on the Singapore Exchange’s Catalist Board with a targeted rating next year of SG $ 200 million. The company became profitable in the fourth quarter of last year, with gross transaction value quadrupling during the pandemic.

The road to success was not easy, however, and the company’s very first marketing initiative consisted of founder and CEO Terence Zou (pictured below) printing flyers and distributing them in parking lots.

When the company started, Zou and a team of three printed flyers with words like “Carpool with Ryde” and placed them on all cars in parking garages. The team worked daily from 12 noon to 6 a.m. and combed the parking garages in Punggol, Sengkang, Woodlands and Choa Chu Kang, said Zou MARKETING-INTERACTIVE in an interview. According to him, these areas were chosen because residents were more likely to try carpooling there as they were far from the city.

“We finished work, went home to rest a bit, and left at 12 o’clock in the morning,” he said. The team decided to work at midnight because by then all residents would be at home with cars. “It’s been hard work but you get to know the ground. You see the cars and the areas they are from and understand why. It was also a good team bonding activity,” he said.

At the same time, Ryde also paid for advertisements in magazines and worked with companies to promote Ryde’s services to their employees, promoting the sustainability and cost-saving benefits of commuting to work. With the days of distributing flyers in parking lots behind Ryde, the company is still not giving up on an important traditional channel – word of mouth. According to Zou, 70% of users come from referrals. The Ryde app has a referral feature that offers users SG $ 5 in Ryde Points when they successfully refer a friend.

“We don’t generally spend a lot on marketing. As a start-up, we have been very careful with our money so that you do not see our logo flashing at MRT stations or bus stops. Our word of organic growth was really good and successful. It has meant that we have to spend less money on conventional marketing, “he added.

Join our … Conference on digital marketing in Asia will take place from November 9, 2021 – November 25, 2021 to find out about the upcoming trends and technologies in the digital world. Check out the agenda here.

Zou also said he was “a huge fan of referrals” because of his influence. “I believe that even if we have to spend a few percentage points to get recommendations like this, it’s worth the dollar value because it creates a net value effect,” he said.

Organic growth through word of mouth is also aided by the fact that Ryde is making a 10% cut in driver commission from “the market rate of 20-25%,” Zou said. As a result, word of mouth among drivers remains strong. “[Word of mouth marketing] was powerful and we were able to get to the top 100 apps in Singapore without spending a bomb [on marketing]”He said, adding:

This is the holy grail of marketing where you get your members to do the marketing for you. It’s not that we don’t want to spend anything, we also want to create a community-based brand.

Interestingly, Ryde was able to pull off such an accomplishment despite just building his marketing team this year and hiring Kareena Choo as Marketing Director earlier this year to lead a team of 10. In the early years of its inception, Zou said Ryde didn’t have a marketing team and instead believed in developing and perfecting his product to attract customers. “We put the team together to work on the product because, after all, we’re a technology company. So you need to understand your market and your customers, optimize the product and give them what they want, ”he said, adding:

When we first tried our hand at marketing, it was too early and the product wasn’t ready.

“We basically paid very high user acquisition costs because we were new to the market and if we don’t convert them, [the investment] going down the drain. “

According to Zou, the team “held back as long as possible” on marketing and only started when they had an effective and working product. “We dragged it all the way until we were good [revenue] Pay and then we started investing, “he explained.

However, Ryde is also aware that digital media has become a common channel for brands and consumers. The team also relied on Facebook and Instagram and found that digital channels were more effective and offered higher ROI. In fact, the company is also stepping up digital marketing for its premium service RydeLUXE, which was launched in April of this year. Ryde wants to position this service as a premium app for carpooling and carpooling for commuters, business people and tourists on special occasions, relying on the growing demand from the city center. Users are matched with professional drivers with luxury private car rentals in the Ryde app. According to Zou, the company plans to use digital marketing to target businesses and businesses in the CBD and urban areas. It has now also signed a contract with business owners, restaurants and hotels to offer this service to guests looking for a premium ride.

Zou described RydeLUXE as “a very natural addition to mobility” as it started out as a carpooling app before moving to private rental car and taxi services. Therefore, the focus on the ultra-luxury market was a matter of course for the company. At the same time, drivers have always been a priority for Ryde, and it turns out that many of the sedan drivers in the ecosystem have also been affected by the pandemic.

“We saw it as an opportunity. When people think it’s gloomy, we think this is exactly the right time to schedule such a service in anticipation of the reception, ”said Zou. While travel has not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, Ryde is hoping service will gradually pick up and eventually be ahead of the curve.

Since border restrictions still apply to Singapore, RydeLUXE is currently only concentrating on the domestic market. According to Zou, Ryde was “less affected” during the pandemic because it knows its key Singapore market well. “I think there is still some level of business activity out there even though people have switched to virtuality. There is still a need to meet and work. This is one of the core groups that we want to address, ”he added. RydeLUXE also sees an opportunity to fill the void to help restaurants and businesses get their premium customers from one place to another after lunch and dinner.

“We started product development sometime in November last year and determined some of the numbers for RydeLUXE. Our launch was pretty quick because we’re nimble, we just had to study the situation. We saw that the demand for ride-hailing has been increasing progressively since April 2020, a low point. We started planning for RydeLUXE in October last year, “he explained.

While Zou refused to give a specific number for his usage metrics, he said the numbers have “improved dramatically” since the first quarter of 2020. From the first through the fourth quarters of 2020, Ryde saw a four-fold increase in user demand, he said, adding the company is “still on an upward trend.” In addition, a market share of 30% is to be achieved in the next few years.

Regardless, Ryde has also given something back to the community. The Ryde Supports Hawkers CSR initiative was launched in June. It aimed to celebrate local street vendors as icons of Singaporean culture and to offer them support during this time. The company bought groceries for a full day from street vendors and distributed them to drivers, nursing homes and hospitals. At the same time, its flagship CSR initiative, the Ryde Education Merit Awards, also offers cash payments and sponsors technical equipment to support the winners’ educational activities. The award is open to children from Ryde Driver-Partners. REMA aims to inspire and nurture the youth of tomorrow who are passionate about creating a sustainable future through technology.

Boost your PR and communication efforts today PR Asia Week by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE on December 1st and 2nd. Learn how to build an evidence-based practice, improve your strategies, and outperform your competition. Click here to register today!

Related articles:
Grab competitor Ryde Eyes premium LUXE service
Ryde takes a subtle nudge on Gojek for a SG $ 0.70 raise with notification