In this episode of Out of the Box, our host Jess Overton, Director of Demand at ironSource Aura, sits down with Thomas Petit, an independent mobile growth consultant with nearly 13K followers on Twitter.

They discuss trends in subscription apps and how to optimize and grow yours in today’s ecosystem.

Why you should expand past just a subscription model

“In many cases, when you’re first starting, it’s better to focus on one thing than introduce a lot of complexity. But at some point in the growth phase, I see a double problem which I call “High Floor, Low Ceiling.

It’s a high floor because the barrier of entry is like $10 a month or $60 a year. In some countries, this is an insanely high barrier and you’re not enabling 90%+ of the audience to experience the full extent of your product. There are ways to lower this floor, whether through discounts or offering a weekly pass, or “share with your friend and it’ll unlock for a weekend,” or rewarded video even. To lower the floor, you have to introduce different mechanics. 

One of the reasons gaming has been so successful is because they’ve really cracked the revenue curve where the 90% of people who don’t want to pay can still play and get ads. Those who want to pay a little bit, there are IAPs there to improve the experience and remove ads. And then you have whales and a lot of the game economy is based on whales, which are just a few players that represent half of the revenue. 

In the subscription business, this is problematic. Once you have a subscriber paying $10 a month, that’s it. That’s the end of the line. You’re not extracting any value from this super power user that could be interested in additional services. That’s why I call it a low ceiling. You’re limiting yourself with the power user where there's probably a lot more to do. And there’s so many things you can do.” 

Don’t try and fit a circle into a square 

“Don’t try to fit a circle into a square. On the other hand, think about what is complementary to your app and what is interesting to this small percentage of power players that have the financial capability to put a lot more money on the table. Don’t just be like, “Well Sweat app is doing eCommerce, I’m going to do eCommerce.” Think about what fits and go back to the basics of what your user wants and then provide. 

Balancing the onboarding experience  

“Onboarding is where you make it or lose it… When you’re a massive, massive brand, like Netflix, you don’t have to do onboarding because they already know it and don’t need to be onboarded. 

I’ve seen some apps find success putting the paywall as the very first thing but that kind of surprised me. Typically, that’s not how I would build it. You should explain better what you do, show people what you do, get them to experience the core value and then mix in the stuff you need. Maybe you need a sign up to synchronize the account, you need the ATT prompt, etc. There’s art and magic in balancing the "wow effect" and first impression on users with the friction you have to introduce if you want them to opt-in to push notifications and give their email.”

Not specifying business model in creatives

“I tend to not specify the business model in the creative. I have so much to explain about the problem we are solving, the kind of solution we are, and to show a little what we look like. There’s already so many things and people's attention span is like a second. The message I want to give is not about the business model, the price, the incentive, the promotion, etc. 

The transition between what I’m selling and how I’m going to sell it to you is something that can be done with more liberty and time in the onboarding experience. I can craft it in a much more intentional way with a lot more psychology around it.”

Ad networks and subscription apps are becoming a better fit 

“Things are changing. ATT introduced a change that has good and bad effects. Most of us will see the bad. But now, for ad networks and subscription apps, the fit is actually better than it used to be. It changed the way we look at our dependency on some of our UA providers and I’m seeing more apps expanding. I’m also seeing a lot more ad networks becoming interested in subscription apps than they were before.”

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