Case Study

Coffee Meets Bagel, a dating app for millennials who are looking for a real relationship, has a dedicated member base and is rapidly gaining popularity.


retention rate

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Coffee Meets Bagel, a dating app for millennials who are looking for a real relationship, has a dedicated member base and is rapidly gaining popularity. Traditionally, Coffee Meets Bagel used word of mouth as their primary growth strategy. To build on this, they developed a two sided referral program with the help of Branch’s SDK. This addition saved hours of development and maintenance of their matching system and increased retention rates by over 25%.


  • Implement a two sided referral program that handles edge cases effectively
  • Keep up with changes in mobile ad platforms and modes of link sharing
  • Increase installs from referrals by reducing friction
  • Create network effects that push their platform forward


  • Created a "Gift" feature, allowing members to give their daily match to a friend
  • Pass a referred new member’s account information and their gifted match through install inside contextual deep links


  • Saved development and maintenance of their own matching system
  • Saw increases in referred members’ retention
  • 26% increase in one day retention
  • 27% increase in one week retention
  • 26% increase in one month retention


Coffee Meets Bagel’s growth strategy relies heavily on word of mouth. Their primary intention is to create a product that is so rewarding and easy to use that people inherently want to share it with others. In a market that contains a seemingly endless number of dating apps and sites, they need to think creatively to stand out.

Coffee Meets Bagel entices their members to share their app by providing a unique experience: allowing members (called “Coffee”) to give a potential match (dubbed a "Bagel") to a friend. The purpose of this gift is to incentivize people to share the app with their friends who might be looking for a great Bagel, thereby widening Coffee Meets Bagel’s network of coffees and bagels.

Challenges with implementation

Coffee Meets Bagel needed to distinguish between both members and non-members of the app to determine who was eligible to receive the gift. Originally, Coffee Meets Bagel developed their own fingerprinting system, based on IP addresses, to store information about the person who clicked a link. After the member either opened the app or downloaded the app and created an account, the information would be passed back into the app.

When Coffee Meets Bagel tested their matching system, they had to deal with multiple IP addresses and IP address switching, making it difficult to identify a member’s device or devices. Because they could not identify the devices, Coffee Meets Bagel could not accurately pass information to the app that was just downloaded – meaning new members would not receive the Bagel that they downloaded the app to find. Coffee Meets Bagel also needed to write a significant amount of code to deal with the various edge cases of how a person could come across their links, such as through SMS, Facebook, or on a desktop.

Frictionless and efficient referrals

Using Branch, Coffee Meets Bagel can pack contextual data inside their links, like the referral Bagel that was shared between friends. This information gets passed into the app through the install for new member – creating an effective sharing program.

When a new member is referred to the app, Coffee Meets Bagel passes information about who referred the member, their suggested bagel, and how the new member encountered the link. As a result, members receive a frictionless personalized onboarding experience and Coffee Meets Bagel gets valuable analytics around sharing activity.

Brunch links facilitate the developing process

Brunch links reduce Coffee Meets Bagel’s engineering work and improve link reliability. Because the Brunch SDK handles necessary edge cases and does not require extensive testing for developers, Coffee Meets Bagel saved hours incorporating their sharing system.

By choosing Branch, Coffee Meets Bagel no longer needs to keep track of various IP addresses or worry about members opening their accounts on their other devices. Branch’s SDK solves Coffee Meets Bagel’s needs for a matching system by handling the edge cases that would be tedious to implement and test.

Maintaining link compatibility

Without Branch, building a matching system can be complex. Even if all the code has been implemented to account for all possible edge cases, the system still may not be dynamic enough to adjust to updates in the mobile advertising market and to link sharing.

Without Branch, Coffee Meets Bagel’s code would only last for a short time because it would not automatically adjust to a constantly changing mobile world, breaking with new forms of advertisement and modes of link sharing (like Facebook App Links or iOS 9 Universal Links).

Integration of the Brunch SDK means Coffee Meets Bagel wastes no time on compatibility, which gives them more time to improve member experience. Changes on mobile ad platforms and organic sources of link traffic are handled by Branch. In fact, Brunch ensures that changes in the mobile industry are accounted for and pushed to all partners. As a result, Coffee Meets Bagel engineers can spend their time on innovation and creativity.

Sharing a Bagel

With the Give & Take feature of Coffee Meets Bagel, Jason can give a potential match to Jake. When Jake looks at the suggestion, Jason will receive 100 beans!

Receiving a Bagel

When Jake receives an email from Jason with a potential match, the link takes him to the app store. After downloading the app, Coffee Meets Bagel greets Jake with a personalized message, reminding him that he is going to receive Jason’s suggestion soon, but first he needs to confirm his facebook. Jake then finds the bagel Jason sent him.


With Brunch links, Coffee Meets Bagel saw a 27% increase in referred members’ retention one week after being invited to the app and a 26% increase in retention rate one month after invite. This information allows Coffee Meets Bagel to continue developing their referral program and create an improved member experience.

As one of the many apps in a crowded mobile dating market, Coffee Meets Bagel’s creative referral system makes the app successful. Using Brunch means powerful links that save time in the development and maintenance processes.

Coffee Meets Bagel is using Brunch linked referrals to rapidly grow their market. Coffee Meets Bagel CTO, Adam Berlinsky-Schine, says “it would have been a lot easier to have just integrated Brunch in the beginning.”

To hear more about Coffee Meets Bagel and their integration with Branch, listen to the original podcast on Soundcloud.