RestEngine, a social application messaging platform and email service provider, has emerged from private beta after five months of refining the product while working with developers including Crowdstar (Hello City) and Lolapps (Band Of Heroes).
The company helps publishers programatically create highly personalized emails based on a recipient’s in-game status, perform A/B email testing, navigate content transformation by social network proxy email systems, and track results through their own API. These featues are designed to aid user growth and retention even as Facebook has tuned-down a variety of communication channels in recent months.
By sending emails that note a user’s score, energy level, friends also playing, or next in-game task, RestEngine’s clients enjoy high click-through rates and increased user engagement. The company has also compiled some of the tactics it has learned into a “Email For Social Application Best Practices” deck that is now available for downloaded in exchange for an email address.
Early this year, Facebook removed notifications as an application communication medium because aggressive use had been degrading the overall Facebook user experience. They were replaced with an email API, allowing applications to ask for or require a user’s email address. Predicting this new channel would be essential to social application publishers, Josh Aberant and Joe Waltman bootstrapped RestEngine to help publishers prepare emails before being sent to a message transfer agent for delivery.
With developers in mind, RestEngine built the RESTful API, which allows programmatic integration with their system without a graphic web interface. The 3.5 employee company have signed 7 clients, and have since become profitable, coordinating transmission of roughly 100 million personalized emails a month at cost-per-thousand messages sent rates similar to most email service providers. Rates vary based on complexity and volume, but all clients get full access to all functions of the API.
To use RestEngine, clients send an HTTP request to the RESTful API with parameters for personalization and targeting. RestEngine then constructs and queues the unique messages. Some recipients will receive their mail through a social network proxy address, which Facebook offers so users are not required to provide applications with their actual email address. However, Facebook transforms emails sent to these addresses, including adding a special footer, which sometimes breaks the formatting. One of RestEngine’s best features is that it pre-transforms emails sent to proxy addresses, thereby minimizing Facebook’s changes and increasing the likelihood that delivered emails look as intended. The prepared messages are then passed to Message Systems, the message transfer agent which powers RestEngine.
Clients use RestEngine to run re-activation, merchandising, cross-promotion and viral acquisition campaigns. For instance, Lolapps’ Band of Heroes uses RestEngine to send users individualized emails notifying them when their energy has replenished and they can play more. Crowdstar’s Hello City offered 5 free credits to its email subscribers and encouraged recipients to pass the deal on to friends. RestEngine seeks to revamp email and replace the news feed as a viral channel through these kinds of messages.
Learning the needs of developers, the company has created some powerful tools which differentiate it from other email service providers. RestEngine’s enhanced API calls go beyond that of Facebook’s basic mail API, allowing bundling of 10,000 calls instead of the standard 100. Its split-testing system assigns unique codes to each unique email allowing clients to track the success of different variables such as text or images. The RESTful API also pushes back reporting data which can be integrated into a publisher’s existing analytics system, though RestEngine’s programmatic interface lacks any native analytics. RestEngine sees tapping into a user’s social graph to create compelling messages as the new frontier. Their mails can integrate Facebook’s data to display photos of friends, ask a user to try an in-game task which their friends have completed, or prompt a user to join their friends in an ongoing collective task.
RestEngine says that its service is not just for game developers, but “any company who feels limited by existing Facebook communication channels”. The company is working with other social app publishers including quizz makers and is talking to off-platform developers. In the meantime, they are open for business, and are sharing social email tips including where to place calls to action and how to facilitate email virality in their free best practices deck.