App monetization is a hot topic in nearly any industry. While creating an app can be a lucrative business, it can be difficult to stand out and generate revenue with so many apps available. In the Subscription League podcast episode 21, Steve P. Young, an app marketing expert and founder and CEO of App Masters, shared his top tips for app monetization including the followings:
- target 100% paywall views
- add the paywall to the onboarding process
- stop building more features
- focus on improving the rate of trials to subscriptions
- carefully consider the length of the app’s trials
- use data as social proof
For noteworthy quotes and key takeaways from the episode, read the article -
How to Monetize Your App: Expert tips from Steve P. Young (App Masters)
Episode Topics at a Glance
- The story behind App Masters
- Steve’s youtube content initiative
- App monetization tips
- Why onboarding works and the proofs
- Why trial works and the proofs
- Showing a paywall early on to 100% of the users
- Paywall content tips (long vs short, pricing table)
- Feature led vs value-led
- Using data as social proof
More about Steve
Steve P. Young is the founder of App Masters the app marketing agency that helps grow apps faster, better & cheaper.
From top-charting apps to the world’s biggest brands to small indie app startups, App Masters guides you through our successes and failures to ensure that you have a proven framework to ultimately find your success.
He is an author, speaker, and host of the #1 app marketing YouTube channel. He has interviewed the biggest names including the co-founder of Shazam, Crossy Road, Mafia Wars, Color Switch, and more!
Podcast - App Marketing by App Masters
0:00 Welcome to the Subscription League
0:21 Steve P. Young introduction and name explanation
1:13 How Steve founded App Masters
3:38 App Masters' brand partnerships
6:31 Steve's advice for CEOs for app monetization
9:34 What pushed you to get so involved with data?
11:28 How to incorporate paywalls during onboarding
13:11 The importance of showing a paywall early
15:50 What to include in a paywall
19:52 What is your experience with win-back offers?
23:20 Is a hard paywall a good idea?
28:31 Where to learn more about Steve
29:11 Thank you for listening!
[00:00:20.450] - Olivier Destrebecq
Welcome to the show, everybody. Today, I'm thrilled to have Steve P. Young, founder of App Masters, on the show today. Welcome to the show, Steve.
[00:00:28.480] - Steve P. Young
Thank you for having me. I'm super pumped to be here.
[00:00:30.780] - Olivier Destrebecq
Oh, you're welcome. One of the things I've noticed when we've talk is you always want to have your P mentioned with your name. Why is that?
[00:00:40.180] - Steve P. Young
There's another Steve Young, he's very popular. It's like Michael B. Jordan. You have to throw Steve P. Young. Then, frankly, it sounds cooler. Steve's already a boring name, I need that P to give it a little punch.
[00:00:53.570] - Olivier Destrebecq
I haven't been to US recently. I left the US about eight years ago now. What is the other famous Steve Young doing?
[00:01:00.170] - Steve P. Young
He is a football player. He used to play for the 49ers in San Francisco. He's a Hall of Fame quarterback and his name is Steve Young, so I had to add that P in there.
[00:01:09.360] - Olivier Destrebecq
Okay, I see. That's a good reason. I'll give you that.
[00:01:11.840] - Steve P. Young
[00:01:13.950] - Olivier Destrebecq
You're not a famous quarterback-
[00:01:16.400] - Steve P. Young
[00:01:16.400] - Olivier Destrebecq
-but you founded App Masters back in 2010, where you helped founders grow their app faster. I'm sure you have a great founder story behind that, especially now that you've been doing it for 13 years, so how did you get started?
[00:01:29.310] - Steve P. Young
Honestly, App Masters really started in 2014 or '13, I would say. I started making apps in 2011 on the side, and then in 2013, they're starting to generate around $500-1,000 a month. They're paid kids' apps, by the way. I knew nothing about ASO, I knew nothing about app marketing. I just taught myself how to code and started making these apps.
[00:01:50.670] - Steve P. Young
Then in 2013, I was listening to a ton of podcasts, and the ones I enjoyed were about apps. I wanted to do a podcast because I was like, "I think I'd be good at a podcast." I didn't know what to do it on, and then it hit me one day. I was like, "Do it on apps. Apps are continuing to grow. They're probably going to be the future. Just interview people that have done well in the app space, see if you can learn from them, and then turn this little side business into a full-on business."
[00:02:17.150] - Steve P. Young
I started recording nights and weekends on the podcast, just interviewing some of my heroes. The early guys that said yes are like 1 Second Everyday. They're huge now. Clear from Dan Counsell, Tweetbot, Paul Haddad, and one of the biggest ones was the co-founder of Shazam and the first CEO, Chris Barton, who I've gotten to become friends with. Once I had him on, I was like, "Anybody else?" That was maybe three months into starting the podcast, I reached out to him, found him on LinkedIn, and then that's it.
[00:02:49.180] - Steve P. Young
What happened, Olivier, was six months after the starting the podcast, I started in May 2013, I got enough people asking me for help with their marketing. Then the audience started coming to me for marketing help. When I started the podcast, I thought I'd be focused on my own apps, but now it turned into an agency because, frankly, it was the easiest way to monetise because I wanted to be an entrepreneur. That's what people were asking me for.
[00:03:15.740] - Steve P. Young
That's the benefit of having an audience, because they'll just tell you what the hell they want from you. They'll just tell you what you're good at. Even back then, I didn't feel confident, but felt confident enough that I could leave my full-time job.
[00:03:26.120] - Olivier Destrebecq
That's really nice. You were able to grow that audience that came to you and said, "This is what we want from you," and you just have to do it at that point. That's really nice.
[00:03:34.480] - Steve P. Young
Exactly. I tried a lot of different things, but yeah.
[00:03:38.980] - Olivier Destrebecq
You've been at it for a while. I don't actually have the name of the bigger brands that you worked with, sorry, but I'm sure you can fill us on that. But any fun story from working with so many brands?
[00:03:53.820] - Steve P. Young
I mean, there's a lot of great stuff. We've worked with Nextdoor. I don't even know if they're okay with me saying all this stuff, but WUGA, Red Bull. We've worked with a lot of big brands, and we have pretty big clients, a handful of pretty big clients that are in the top charts everywhere. But the stories that really hit home with me are the entrepreneurial stories. Because of my audience, there are more founders and smaller studios. Again, we have big-name clients, but those are the ones that make an impact.
[00:04:23.710] - Steve P. Young
Couple of ones is Rudy, and he's out in Poland. We do these videos on YouTube, we go live every Friday on YouTube, and what we do is we look at the audience's app. I have a long list of apps that we should be looking at every week, and then I picked one out when I wanted to get good with monetisation.
[00:04:41.990] - Steve P. Young
I said, "Oh, this app is pretty cool." I looked at Rudy's app, and I was like, "Rudy, I want to work with you for free, but you have to do everything I say, because I don't feel like I'm an expert in monetisation yet but I want to use your app as a case study. I'll do it all for free to build up the confidence." I knew ASO. This was 2019, by the way, so I've already started the agency.
[00:05:04.500] - Steve P. Young
I worked on his app, I gave him suggestions, he did everything, and he went from making a dollar a day, to all the way now, it's $100-200 a day, all by changing the way we monetise. No new features, just change the monetisation, change the paywall. We broke it all down. Just that simple change, Olivier, went from $1 a day to $17 a day. We'd ran some growth campaigns and went all the way up. By the time we recorded, it was like, $30 a day, and now it's gone up to like, $60, $100 a day.
[00:05:36.690] - Steve P. Young
It is one of those things that I love the most because it was life-changing. Working with big companies is great and probably life-changing for me, but then if I could give back to somebody else's life, that's even better. You know what I mean? Rather than just somebody else's bottom line, but this is somebody's life.
[00:05:52.640] - Olivier Destrebecq
Yeah, because at that point, he probably was able to spend a lot more time on his project since the income went up so much.
[00:05:59.570] - Steve P. Young
Yeah, he thought it was dead. There's another app we just helped. They were like, "This app is dying," so he just booked a one-hour call, which I charge $500 for now. Just booked the one-hour call. I didn't prep. I just gave him some advice on paywalls and all this stuff, and then boom, it's back up and running. He's got more energy.
[00:06:15.720] - Steve P. Young
That's what happened with Rudy, and that's why I love that story so much, because he thought it was just an app. It's so whatever. It was fun. I was just teaching myself how to code and so it was nice money. But it's like boom, we just flipped the switch and now he's like, "This is legit money now."
[00:06:31.510] - Olivier Destrebecq
Awesome. You have a YouTube channel now and it's packed with practical advice, so let's dig in. I want to hear what is your number one advice to CEOs around the app monetisation.
[00:06:42.470] - Steve P. Young
Easy, easy. Number one, track your installs to paywall views. If that isn't close to 100%, you got a huge problem.
[00:06:52.190] - Steve P. Young
Number two, add your paywall to the onboarding process. It works. That's where most people buy. 60-80% of all the people who end up buying will buy during the onboarding process. I know what they're thinking, Olivier, when they listen to this. "They're going to pay me before they use my app?" I'm like, yes. I know it's counterintuitive, but it works. Trust me.
[00:07:15.780] - Steve P. Young
Then the last piece of advice is the way I think about this, because I think most founders, they love their product so much. They think they need more features. They're always working on new features, driving up the cost without focusing on the revenue side of things. It feels like an operational problem. What I would say is stop building more features. Here's how we're going to use data. Your paywall, your trial activations, should be anywhere from 5-10%. If you're underneath that, fix your paywall, fix your onboarding, okay?
[00:07:46.970] - Olivier Destrebecq
[00:07:47.220] - Steve P. Young
Now, the trials to subs, if that is not anywhere from 30-50%... I mean, I've seen 35 is pretty much on average, but if it's anything lower, then you have a product problem. That's when I feel like you have a product problem, because people are willing to activate a trial and take a chance on you, but you've somehow failed them if only 20% of people activated a trial turn into paying customers.
[00:08:15.130] - Steve P. Young
We do have studies that say trials do increase conversions because it lowers the barrier to entry. Most people who activate a trial cancel the first day. We can get into paywall optimisation a little bit if you want to, but know that trials do increase conversions. Roughly speaking, seven or three-day trials tend to perform the best. Fourteen and longer tend to have really high cancelation rates.
[00:08:42.020] - Olivier Destrebecq
Yeah. I have a friend who's working on an app, and it's a great app. It's an app for choir. His challenge is that right now, his trial period is two months. I'm on his case to say, "That's too long. You need to reduce that. You need to make it shorter." Great to hear it's 3-7 days.
[00:08:59.020] - Olivier Destrebecq
He has some reasons because he's selling to the choir, that they have to get the individual people from the choir to get in, so he has that problem to figure out. It takes time to get everybody in the app, but it's great to hear that short trials are better. As short as you can make it based on your app, I guess.
[00:09:15.980] - Steve P. Young
Yeah, we have a case study who had no trials, added trials, and then saw 420% increase in sales. Not just activation, in actual sales. Look, it's a smaller app, but he went from 1-2 trial subs a month, to then now 1-2 a day. You know what I mean? That's a huge difference.
[00:09:34.460] - Olivier Destrebecq
Yeah. You've mentioned a lot of numbers here, and all those numbers are backed by data because you've run an experiment with either one of your clients or yourself. What pushed you there? I love data, I love to run more experiments, but in my job, that's just not what's happening. I'm curious, what got you there and what pushed you that way?
[00:09:55.330] - Steve P. Young
Look, data, it's just social proof. When I talk about social proof and marketing, I'm like, "Have numbers, they improve it." Now, the reason why I love data so much is I had an old boss, I love him. It was my last boss that I ever had, hopefully for the rest of my life.
[00:10:11.740] - Steve P. Young
He essentially said to me, "Steve, if you have an idea, you better back it up with data. Otherwise, if we're going to go off opinions, we're going to use my opinions because I'm your boss." I love that quote because it's like, "Look, if we're going to offer opinions, I'm going to use my opinion because I'm the boss now." This is what I tell my employees.
[00:10:32.860] - Steve P. Young
For me, I think also I want to be different. Everybody gives tips, right, Olivier? There's no shortage of app experts out there, but it's like, "Okay, do this."
[00:10:42.790] - Steve P. Young
I'm like, "Well, do you have data to back this up?"
[00:10:45.750] - Steve P. Young
"No, I just know it works. It's like, two times."
[00:10:47.530] - Steve P. Young
I like to go one step further. I like to show you the chart. I'm like, "I don't believe it," because I personally don't believe you until you show me a chart, so I'm like "I like to have a chart."
[00:10:59.370] - Steve P. Young
The beauty of what I get to do is we have a YouTube audience and they share stuff with me. It's a quid pro quo. I share a lot of crap, they share back a lot of crap. The way I like to think of myself is the encyclopedia of the app business, because I'm just getting so many data points from our own apps, our clients, our community, everything. It's just all data points.
[00:11:22.170] - Olivier Destrebecq
Yeah, that's really nice. I wish I could do that in my day job. I'm actually pushing for that currently, which is another different story. Since one of your biggest advice that you mentioned is showing the paywall during the onboarding process, what does that spell out for an app that doesn't have an onboarding? Should it just show a paywall?
[00:11:39.820] - Steve P. Young
No. No, no, no. We have somebody who did this and he was too aggressive. He's like, "Steve, I listened to you. I have the paywall in the onboarding process."
[00:11:49.510] - Steve P. Young
I looked at it and it was just the paywall. I was like, "What?"
[00:11:52.860] - Olivier Destrebecq
That's all there was.
[00:11:54.490] - Steve P. Young
Then he's like, "I listened to you."
[00:11:56.180] - Steve P. Young
Look, I didn't say anything. This wasn't a slide, right, Olivier? Number one is have your paywall during the onboarding process. Number two tip is have an onboarding process. I had to add that in there because he didn't have one, and then when he added three screens, he saw a 234% increase in overall conversions. That was for a smaller app, and for his big app that's already making six figures a month, he saw a 30% increase just by reminding, because that onboarding sequence needs to remind users what the app does.
[00:12:26.880] - Steve P. Young
Then don't talk about the features, talk about what people are going to feel, what people are going to get out of the app. Not like, "We have hundreds of meditations." No, "Feel less stress, more calm," blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. Lead with the benefits. That's what he did and then he saw a 234% increase in conversions. We did a video about it.
[00:12:47.210] - Olivier Destrebecq
That last point that you made, don't talk about feature but talk about the benefit, is really important, because you're right that there's so many onboarding where it's just, as you said, "Hey, feature A, feature B." Great, I'm going to have to go look at-
[00:12:58.330] - Steve P. Young
"Use to colour code your stuff." I'm like, "Okay, thank you."
[00:13:01.390] - Olivier Destrebecq
Great. I'm going to have to go look at my side project and double-check that I didn't make that mistake.
[00:13:05.770] - Steve P. Young
We all do, by the way. It's easier to be on the outside and just tell people.
[00:13:09.490] - Olivier Destrebecq
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Another advice that you give around paywall in your App Promotion Submit talk is to move the paywall earlier in the onboarding process. Obviously, as you just said, you have an onboarding, it's not just a paywall. How early and what's the rationale behind showing it earlier?
[00:13:28.160] - Steve P. Young
Yeah, because look, app people are fickle. You and I, we create content, and so there's a long journey. We know content marketing is a long-term strategy. My business is entirely built on content marketing. That's it. We don't do any paid marketing. It's all just YouTube and the podcast, and that is it. We know that's going to be a long journey. You need to maybe watch one or two videos of ours and then be like, "Oh, I want to work with Olivier. I want to work with Steve."
[00:13:51.620] - Steve P. Young
App people are different. We have many options out there. App people, they do research. They search for a keyword or maybe see Facebook app. "Well, that's pretty interesting." They look at the screenshots and they read the reviews. We're not looking for more downloads, right? This is not a banner click anymore. A download is a very warm lead.
[00:14:07.940] - Steve P. Young
Olivier, it's like an email contact for us. "Hey, we want to work with you. Let's get on a quick call." So our job is to sell them on that call. Educate them and then sell. That's what our job, and that's how I think of the download. What I say is, it works. We know. We have the data that says 60-80% of people who buy, buy during the onboarding process, so show that paywall.
[00:14:29.120] - Steve P. Young
Then the other thing I want to say is certain apps will ask you to log in before they allow you to pay, and I think that's a huge mistake. Now, look at your data, because one of our clients is getting 98% sign up rate. When they show the create an account page, they get 98% people to finish it. I was like, "What? That's insane." That's really good. If that's the case, great, but if it's anything less than 98%, show the paywall first and then ask them to sign up, because we know that does increase conversions, too.
[00:15:03.010] - Steve P. Young
One of my clients saw 2x more activations by showing the paywall and then asking users to sign up, because I do feel like people say, "Look, Steve, email marketing is valuable," blah, blah, blah. I know all the reasons why you need email and why you want email, but there's two factors.
[00:15:18.690] - Steve P. Young
One, people are hiding their emails, so it makes it hard for you to even get in touch with them. Two, look at Calm. Calm will ask for the email, allow you to X out, and then show you the paywall. After you activate a trial, Olivier, guess what the next screen you see? "Create your account to access the premium content." That's it. You can't even use the app anymore. That's what I say. It's like they know you can pay me without signing up. After you pay me, you're forced to sign up.
[00:15:45.980] - Olivier Destrebecq
Yeah, and you're somewhat committed because you've got the trial anyway. It's like, "Okay, I've got to go one more step."
[00:15:49.930] - Olivier Destrebecq
We've talked a lot around before paywall, you have to include a paywall. Let's talk about the paywall specifically. What's your advice on what to include in a paywall?
[00:15:58.730] - Steve P. Young
Look, I think there's mixed results here, but if you're going to do just a simple paywall, I would do a Blinkist timeline paywall. That's what people say. Day one, it's right now, you get access to everything. Day five will notify you. Day seven, you'll be charged, here's the price. That's the simple paywall, I would do that.
[00:16:18.680] - Steve P. Young
I personally prefer a long-form paywall. The reason why, back to using data, I know if you look at ClickFunnels, Russell Brunson, he's been talking about long paywalls work really well on the web. I started thinking in 2019, I think long paywalls will work better on an app, too, because people will read what they want to read. What they will read, they don't want to read, but they will read when you're asking them for money, right?
[00:16:44.080] - Steve P. Young
I say, have a headline, a benefit, anything with numbers. Again, back to data. Rudy, he said, "4x your productivity."
[00:16:54.640] - Steve P. Young
I was like, "Rudy, where did you come up with the 4x?"
[00:16:56.280] - Steve P. Young
He's like, "I just made it up. I just put my finger on the thing and I was like, 'Four is a good number.'"
[00:17:00.300] - Steve P. Young
Have a pricing table. Now, I fully believe this, and some people debate me on this, but I feel like a pricing table has three options. It's better than one option, it's better than two options. Why? Because the one plan will be for the cheapies that just want to taste it. It's like the monthly offer at the cheapest price.
[00:17:20.910] - Steve P. Young
The second plan is what I want you to do. It's my ideal. Something maybe yearly, whatever has the highest LTV. Weekly sometimes has a higher LTV, so test weekly and yearly. Okay? That's the one that I want you on.
[00:17:34.270] - Steve P. Young
Then the third one, Olivier, is a decoy. For one of our apps that is making $10,000-12,000 a month, we have a monthly, we have a yearly, and then we have a six-month. The six-month is only $10 less than the yearly. Everybody buys the yearly. Almost 90%, 85% buy the yearly. We've got one person buying the six-month, for some odd reason, and then a very select few buying the monthly. Then with the trials, we only put it on the yearly, too.
[00:18:03.820] - Steve P. Young
It allows me to show people where the actual value is. That's why I like having three, because then I can show you, here's the plan that has the value. It's the Happy Meal. This plan is the Happy Meal. You can buy the fries and burgers and shakes separately, or you can just buy all at once for a little bit cheaper.
[00:18:21.670] - Olivier Destrebecq
You can even supersize it if you want.
[00:18:23.540] - Steve P. Young
Exactly, man. I like that. Benefits, obviously benefits have that. We have a whole presentation on this. Benefits definitely have some social proof.
[00:18:31.600] - Steve P. Young
Features table if you can, you don't have to. Essentially if you have a free plan, show them what the free plan has and what the paid plan is, and make the paid plan have so much more than the free plan.
[00:18:44.150] - Steve P. Young
Testimonials, back to the social proof. Then pricing table again because it's long, people are going to keep scrolling, so you want to hit the pricing table.
[00:18:51.960] - Steve P. Young
The key thing is also make sure if I tap in any of the pricing tables, it'll activate the payment. Then there's a floating button that says... Now we think the call to action that performs the best from our data is, "Start free trial," or, "Unlock everything." Not, "Subscribe," okay? Don't put, "Subscribe." Nobody wants to subscribe. It's like, ugh, but people start free trial. Free works.
[00:19:17.180] - Steve P. Young
Olivier, one thing I'll mention. For one of the paywalls we were working on, we had a very short paywall with some bullet points, and the last two bullet points were features that other apps of this category did not have. All I did was added the word free. It was free tools, right? I was like, "Free, free, free." We saw 11% increase in conversions. We didn't even do anything, we just added the word free to the last two bullet points. People love free, so, Start free trial, or, Unlock all features. Not, Subscribe, okay? Nobody wants to subscribe.
[00:19:49.020] - Olivier Destrebecq
Benefits, benefits. Not feature, benefits.
[00:19:51.010] - Steve P. Young
[00:19:51.010] - Olivier Destrebecq
Usually there's Jeff or Nicolas with us, but they're both busy tonight. Jeff is actually on a plane going to Spain to a conference, so I'll do my best to impersonate him tonight and channel him. One of the things that he is really interested or cares about is win-back offers. I'm curious to hear what your experience is with win-back offers.
[00:20:15.220] - Steve P. Young
There's a couple of case studies I can point to. We talked to ZINIO. Again, the benefit is I have an audience, too. I get to talk to a lot of app all-stars out there. ZINIO, Mirela, she was talking about how they're an e-commerce brand, so the cart abandonment.
[00:20:33.350] - Steve P. Young
When somebody adds something to the cart, they had them. They started doing push notifications. They saw, I think it was a 3.x. She has a blog post about it, but she saw like, 4x more when she sent three pushes versus one push notification on a cart abandonment. If people are to already show intent on something, and they lose, a cart abandonment is the easiest, most simple way of figuring this out. You got to bring them back.
[00:21:00.330] - Steve P. Young
I point to a Headway. I love Headway. Now, I have no idea how well they're doing. I don't work with them. They're not in my audience and they're not giving me all this data. I'm just using public data. The reading sequence that I see is... Most of their content is locked, they have one free daily read. Once you get to a book—it's like Blinkist, they do summarise the books—I can hit read, then they show me their paywall. I hit X on that paywall, and they show me an offer, 70% off.
[00:21:26.320] - Steve P. Young
Now, I don't know how well that thing is doing, but I do know from their most popular in-app purchases, because Apple tells you which in-app purchase plans are the most popular, that it is their third-most popular plan. There's yearly onboarding, the monthly for the cheaper guys, and then the third-most popular plan. Olivier, if you want an offer from Headway, this is all you should do, by the way, because it's like, 30 bucks a year.
[00:21:50.280] - Olivier Destrebecq
Just go through it, stop, and wait for the win-back.
[00:21:53.740] - Steve P. Young
[00:21:53.940] - Olivier Destrebecq
I'll do that.
[00:21:53.960] - Steve P. Young
Because you can get it for like, 30 bucks a year, versus the $90 that everybody on the onboarding is paying for.
[00:22:02.930] - Olivier Destrebecq
It's almost like a trick as a customer. Every app you sign up for, you should stop in the onboarding and wait a couple of days and see what happens.
[00:22:09.370] - Steve P. Young
Yes. You really should because we've even done this where we'll send on second open, so Headway does this, on second open and every app open, they show you a 50% offer. That's their fourth-most. That reading flow is their third-most, even though it's only $30, and their second-most is like, $50, which is 50% off their normal plan. That's even lower than the $30, because it shows intent. Open is nice, but the intent is there. I want to read a book. It's too pricey, I don't want to pay. Then winning them back is the right way to go.
[00:22:45.530] - Olivier Destrebecq
If you're listening to us right now and you're working at Headway, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to get you on the podcast and know. How is that working out? How's that performing? It would be awesome. We'll invite you, Steve, so we can co-host a podcast on that.
[00:23:01.640] - Steve P. Young
That'd be good, thank you. I was going to say, "No, no, no. Come to mine first."
[00:23:06.070] - Olivier Destrebecq
All right, joint venture. Okay, fine.
[00:23:08.550] - Steve P. Young
All right, joint venture. We'll do it together. How about this, Olivier? We'll make a pact. Whoever gets them to say yes, we have to tell the other person, okay?
[00:23:16.830] - Olivier Destrebecq
All right, fair enough. Fair enough.
[00:23:17.880] - Steve P. Young
Deal? Okay, deal.
[00:23:20.680] - Olivier Destrebecq
One thing I didn't ask you about when we were talking about paywall was whether a hard paywall was a good idea, especially as you recommend putting it into your onboarding. A hard paywall would be like, "Sorry, you can't get in the app until you pay us," so curious about that.
[00:23:35.850] - Steve P. Young
Yes, especially if you're a brand new app. The reason why I say that is, look, people who pay, pay attention. People who pay, your feedback means more to me than a free or nasty YouTube comment that I might get. If you're my paying customer, you mean more to me and your feedback mean more to me than any free user.
[00:23:55.070] - Steve P. Young
If you're just starting out on your journey, your subscription app... I know Purchasely, probably almost everybody has a subscription app under Purchasely, right?
[00:24:02.850] - Olivier Destrebecq
[00:24:02.850] - Steve P. Young
Try a hard paywall. For one of our apps, we bought this app. I thought I was going to be making money off of apps earlier on. Took me like, nine-plus years to finally make significant money off of apps. Anyways, we bought an app. It was getting good downloads because it ranks really well for organic, and we switched it.
[00:24:22.240] - Steve P. Young
My developer, co-founder was like, "Let's do a hard paywall. We made it that way."
[00:24:25.730] - Steve P. Young
I was like, "What? No way. That's a bad idea."
[00:24:28.410] - Olivier Destrebecq
[00:24:29.320] - Steve P. Young
Yeah, I want people to use the app. I don't want to be a scammer. He's like, "Well, that's how we built it," so I didn't want to change anything, again, because I like data. Opinions versus data, so my opinion was wrong because I was like, "I don't like hard paywall," but we already built it. We went from $1,000-2,000 a month to $10,000 a month, just like that. We changed it from a $2.99 in-app purchase to a $60 a year plan. It went that big.
[00:24:54.540] - Steve P. Young
Now, guess what? We had to put the X back in, so we couldn't do a hard paywall anymore, and the revenues dropped for that month all the way to $5,000. I have the chart, but when we removed the X again, we went back up to $10,000-12,000. Now we're roughly around $8,000-10,000 a month, but that shows you the power. When I started talking about it, I think it's beneficial in the early days. If you look at Calm, it is like a hard paywall because there's really not that much free content. Same with Headway, only one thing that's free.
[00:25:27.700] - Steve P. Young
Also if you're a niche app. A friend of mine has an app for cops to help them fill out reports faster, and he switched to a hard paywall. He's seen three times the more monthly revenues. The more niche your app is, and if you rank really well for niche keywords like, let's say, meditation versus breathing exercises versus deep breathing. Well if you're searching for deep breathing, there's not a lot of traffic, but I know what you're looking for. If my app says deep breathing and that's what we do the best, well shoot, you're more likely to pay, so I can do a hard paywall on deep breathing. That's what I suggest.
[00:26:00.390] - Steve P. Young
If you want to not do hard after you've hit a significant point, like $10,000-20,000 of revenue, and you want to go bigger because there's a viral element, all that jazz, then go that. But in the very beginning to your first $1,000 a month, hard paywall gets you there fast.
[00:26:16.330] - Olivier Destrebecq
Yeah, and it's probably also a good way to help validate the idea of having a hard paywall that forces the question right away of, "Are you willing to pay, yes or no?" If no, then I'll move on to the next one who's willing to pay. Interesting.
[00:26:30.760] - Steve P. Young
Olivier, you probably deal with this because you do a lot of development stuff. People are like, "Oh, I just talked to a friend of mine. They checked out the app and they had the beta version. They loved it. But they said, 'What if it did this? Can we add that in there?'" I'm sure you get that all the time. Like, "Can we add that in there? How much is it going to be?"
[00:26:46.820] - Steve P. Young
Are they paying you? Because if they're not, then this is like, maybe just table that and see. If they are paying you, maybe the thing you should be doing if you're a founder is, "Oh, that's a great idea. Would you pay for that?"
[00:26:58.680] - Steve P. Young
They're like, "Yeah, okay. How much?" Okay, good. Give me that money right now.
[00:27:02.860] - Olivier Destrebecq
Then I'll start.
[00:27:02.860] - Steve P. Young
Then I will build that feature. Yes, exactly.
[00:27:06.390] - Olivier Destrebecq
I can't remember the person that we interviewed, but they had built a fake in-app purchase flow in their app, duplicating the Apple UX, so that they could just run experiments of saying, "Hey, we have this crazy idea about a feature. We're not going to build it, but we're going to run that fake flow," and see if people buy it. They could get data around this. That's a great way.
[00:27:28.180] - Olivier Destrebecq
One thing that I picked up in your last answer was you said you had to switch it from a hard paywall to a soft paywall. I'm curious, why did you have to? What happened there? Was there a technical limitation?
[00:27:39.990] - Steve P. Young
There's this team on Apple called the review team. They said, "Hey, you got to put an X back in there."
[00:27:51.100] - Olivier Destrebecq
Okay. Did they have a justification? I'm curious. It shows how the review process can get in the way of your plans, in a way, but I'm curious, did they say, "This is such-and-such rules that you're supposed to follow"?
[00:28:02.220] - Steve P. Young
I don't think Apple likes a hard paywall. This is where having a tool like Purchasely really helps out because you can remote config. For the non-nerdy people out there, you can change things on your paywall without submitting the new build, and that's a way to get around everything. We should have probably beeped everything. We should have been like, "Hey, here's what you got to do. Beep," and that's how you get around everything.
[00:28:29.740] - Olivier Destrebecq
I'll see what we can do there. You've just given tons of value, lots of examples. I'm sure some of our listeners will want to learn more about you, App Masters, and learn even more stuff. Where can they find you?
[00:28:42.930] - Steve P. Young
Yeah, so you go to the YouTube channel, it's YouTube.com/AppMasters, with an S, App Masters. Then if you are looking for an app marketing agency, use Purchasely for all your paywall stuff, but if you need help with what the onboarding should say, your ASO, Apple search ads, Google ads, go check out AppMasters.com.
[00:29:02.720] - Olivier Destrebecq
Okay, we'll send them there. Awesome. Well, Steve, thank you very much for joining me today. It was really a fun interview and so much value. It was awesome. Thanks again.
[00:29:10.680] - Steve P. Young
[00:29:11.910] - Olivier Destrebecq
On behalf of the Purchasely team, thank you for listening to the Subscription League podcast. If you've enjoyed what you heard, leave us a five star review on iTunes or other audio platform. To find out more about Purchasely and how we can improve your subscription business, visit Purchasely.com. Please hit subscribe in your podcast player and don't miss any future episodes. You can also listen to previous episodes at SubscriptionLeague.com. See you soon.