64 episodes

Interviews with the experts behind the biggest apps in the App Store. Hosts David Barnard and Jacob Eiting dive deep to unlock insights, strategies, and stories that you can use to carve out your slice of the 'trillion-dollar App Store opportunity'.

Sub Club by RevenueCat David Barnard, Jacob Eiting

    • Technology
    • 5.0 • 31 Ratings

Interviews with the experts behind the biggest apps in the App Store. Hosts David Barnard and Jacob Eiting dive deep to unlock insights, strategies, and stories that you can use to carve out your slice of the 'trillion-dollar App Store opportunity'.

    Product Lessons From a Profitable, $20M ARR Subscription App — Jesse Venticinque, Fitbod

    Product Lessons From a Profitable, $20M ARR Subscription App — Jesse Venticinque, Fitbod

    On this episode: the trap of building for existing subscribers, incentivizing word of mouth, and why paid marketing should be an accelerant, not the foundation of your growth strategy.
    Top Takeaways
    📱 Growth comes from focusing on product retention: Build a product users really want, creating an engaged customer base and fueling the growth loop down the line.
    🗣️ ‌Build a viral growth loop based on word-of-mouth. A product that exceeds user expectations is the ultimate way to drive word-of-mouth — even if your app isn’t naturally social.
    👥 Paid advertising is an accelerant to user acquisition (UA) — not your sole UA channel. It should come after product focus and word-of-mouth virality.
    😀 ‌Measure and improve retention by finding your minimum engagement milestone. Look to your ICP for clues.
    🙅‍♂️ Talk to your users who aren't subscribers. There's a tendency to focus user research on super-users, but they won't tell you much about why others aren't subscribing.
    About Jesse Venticinque
    👨‍💻 Co-founder and chief product officer of Fitbod, a fitness app offering workouts that improve as you do.
    💡 “There’s a trap of listen[ing] to super successful, engaged customers as a clue for what the unsuccessful customers are missing.”
    👋  LinkedIn | Twitter
    Links & Resources
    ‣ Check out Fitbod
    ‣ Work with Fitbod (Currently hiring a Core Experience Lead PM!)
    ‣ Jesse’s product approach
    ‣ Connect with Jesse on LinkedIn
    ‣ Connect with Jesse on Twitter
    Episode Highlights
    [2:07] Solving a personal problem: The business has grown largely on revenue alone, thanks to what Jesse calls a “maniacal focus on product retention” and a goal of challenging the status quo.
    [5:56] Catching a big break: The key to scaling was pioneering a subscription model based on AI and machine learning, as well as having the right product-market fit by tapping into a “secret hiding in plain sight.”
    [8:26] Money in the bank: Although they found themselves in an underdog industry, the Fitbod team crucially found investors who aligned with their mission and values.
    [12:06] Viral growth loop: Word of mouth is still a major growth driver for Fitbod today — especially given that Fitbod isn’t a naturally social product. They’re also considering content as another growth loop, both blog-based and user-generated.
    [15:40] Hooking them in: The best consumer companies have discrete, repeatable actions to create a habit loop. Reward visibility and shareability are critical components of this.
    [17:58] Referral science: Offering free referrals is a way to understand and measure the growth loop. This approach also offers hard data, whereas word of mouth is more challenging to measure.
    [20:29] Everyday workout: Driving retention requires deep analysis of the metrics, like when users are canceling before the end of subscription periods and account dormancy.
    [26:27] Leverage = focus: When retention is good, focusing on conversion and activation is a viable way to drive mass adoption.
    [28:44] Contextualizing feature requests: Once you establish your ICP, scale and own the market for that audience. Then, build for the non-ICP.
    [31:32] Digging into activation: Jesse explains that user research is critical to avoid focusing too much on the most engaged users at the expense of less engaged ones.
    [35:09] The depth of need: Before building a feature, identify a participant pattern with (at least) medium confidence. Then you can develop a hypothesis.

    • 38 min
    How Freemium Can Outperform Free Trials – Shaun Steingold, Momentum Labs

    How Freemium Can Outperform Free Trials – Shaun Steingold, Momentum Labs

    On the podcast we talk with Shaun about the power of community, the importance of testing your freemium strategy, and why you might not want to offer a free trial.
    Top Takeaways
    🎆 Understanding unintuitive power laws is the ticket to explaining — and benefiting from — explosive app growth.
    🪝 Deciding what goes behind the paywall is 90% of an app’s success — but developers typically only spend 10% of the time thinking about it.
    🆓 Beware the free trial, which could create negative experiences and conversion rates — and might not outperform a freemium model.
    🌍 Absorbing the cost of a freemium model comes down to creating an engaged, irreplaceable community, which is more likely to buy and lead to higher conversions.
    🫶 Don’t focus on rates and formulae at the expense of what matters: Where users are in their emotional journey and how the app fits into their lives.
    About Shaun Steingold
    👨‍💻 Founder and managing director of Momentum Labs and CEO of Healthi.
    💡 “I love opportunities where you have a business model that fundamentally disrupts an industry. Said another way: You and your business and products have a bigger margin than your competitors. That's been the thesis behind a lot of my career and what I've worked on.”
    👋  LinkedIn | Twitter
    Links & Resources
    ‣ Learn more about Momentum Labs
    ‣ Check out the Healthi app
    ‣ Look into iNavX, the “Google Maps for the Water”
    ‣ Connect with Shaun on LinkedIn
    Episode Highlights
    [1:45] From HP to SVB to apps: App developers have access to a free global scale and distribution network that only a privileged few corporations had in the past — harking back to when Eric Crowley said the App Store was the biggest marketplace in human history. Mobile apps that replace tangible products continually win out thanks to convenience for consumers.
    [5:05] Proto-cyborgs: Apps have the power to augment physical activities — from fitness to physical hobbies — in a world where we still haven’t yet reached “peak app.”
    [6:57] Gaining momentum: ****Shaun realized that the App Store ranking moat meant buying was better than building. Riding the first wave of app-buying firms, Momentum Labs chose top apps at rank three or lower where growth potential is exponential compared to those with the top spot.
    [10:13] Buffett wisdom: “Great businesses for fair prices” seems like a good maxim. But right now, the market seems to be crazy prices for fair businesses because it’s not accounting for the unintuitive: that power laws still prevail, and people need to get wise to them.
    [14:53] Featherlight ASO: Momentum has a very light hand on the tiller when it comes to ASO — they frontload most of the work and then (almost) don’t touch it. Performance consistency and longevity matter more.
    [19:00] Never take our freemium: The initial backlash against subscription models needs to give way to understanding that software is a living, breathing thing. Freemium is about trying before you buy, and hooking with additional features — working out what these features are is 90% of an app’s strategy for success.
    [23:51] Trialing the free trial: Shaun’s never used free trials with his apps, because he’s found that they can create negative engagement — reflected in lower conversion rates.
    [28:34] Boundless, joyful experience: The key to not having a free trial is the freemium strategy. Freemium models done well entice without moments of pause or negative experiences — ultimately encouraging users to upgrade for more features and additional value.
    [35:32] Community values: The best business asset — for app lifecycles and moats — is community. Building engagement improves conversion. The strategy for Healthi highlights how additional value generates revenue and helps grow apps to full potential.
    [39:38] It’s a kind of magic: It’s easy to get caught up in rates and formulae at the expense of what really matters, which is how

    • 43 min
    Maximizing Organic Growth with App Store Optimization — Ariel Michaeli, Appfigures

    Maximizing Organic Growth with App Store Optimization — Ariel Michaeli, Appfigures

    On the podcast, Ariel dives into the fundamentals of ASO and how to research and optimize keywords. He also explains why ratings matter much more than reviews, and why you should never, ever duplicate keywords.
    Top Takeaways:
    🔍 It’s not that it’s hard to get discovered with ASO — it’s that it’s hard to get discovered without doing enough ASO. Expect to spend more time exploring on the front-end, but this isn’t a “set it and forget it” strategy. 
    ⭐ Make sure that you're optimizing for ratings: they are more impactful for discoverability than download numbers alone. 
    📛 When choosing an app name, make sure you put the most important keywords as early as possible. 
    📊 Don’t rely on intuition for your ASO strategy — always look at the data.
    🔑 Spend as much time using the keywords as you do on finding them — beyond just in your text meta.
    About Ariel Michaeli
    👨‍💻 Founder and CEO of Appfigures.
    💡 “If you only trust intuition, you probably won't see results.”
    👋  LinkedInLinks & Resources
    ‣ Check out Appfigures
    ‣ Appfigures’s Advanced ASO Secrets Guide
    ‣ Join Appfigures (they’re hiring!)
    ‣ Connect with Ariel on LinkedIn
    ‣ Which Keywords are Your Competitors Targeting?
    Episode Highlights
    [1:48] The A to Z of ASO: Should I care? they ask. Usually, it’s because they don’t know what ASO is. But it’s harder and harder to get found in the App Store, so you can’t deny the benefits.
    [4:09] Black box optimization: ASO impacts both conversion and discovery, so how do you blend the two? Ariel suggests you forget about the algorithm, and focus on the people instead.
    [5:52] ASO vs. SEO: So what is the difference? It’s hard to explain briefly. But you have much less control over ASO than SEO — it’s about limitations. 
    [9:16] Great expectations: It’s not hard to get discovered with ASO — it’s hard to get discovered without enough ASO. Understanding your app and core competitors is the foundation of changing how much impact your app makes.
    [12:46] Artificial boosting: Why should older apps get more traction? The good news for new apps is that Apple has now leveled the playing field.
    [18:10] ASO key factors: App name, subtitle and keywords all affect ASO. Get relevant, important keywords in as early as possible because that’s where the value is, says Ariel. Plus: Some live keyword help.
    [27:24] Capture their attention: People have to understand what they’re looking at before they download an app. With apps for everything now, how do you stand out? Screenshots and video previews are the answer.
    [31:35] Rate beats review: Apps with more ratings beat those with more downloads. Ratings feel more organic to users, so Apple — and its algorithm — factors this in.
    [35:35] The ultimate sin: Keyword duplication is the biggest no-no. But other common ASO mistakes include ignoring popularity scores, trusting your instincts, and failing to utilize app names for keywords. (Cleaner isn’t always better where it really matters: downloads.)
    [39:12] Competitive focus: With some niches, like games, up to two keywords matter. Category rookies and those in highly competitive environments should be focused. Those with more ratings and downloads should angle for other keyword combos.
    [43:59] Do your research: You need to look at the data to see what keywords really matter for your app. It helps to check competitor reviews.
    [49:32] Paid marketing: Number of ratings, especially on Google Play, really matters. When people don’t download, it signals no one wants it. Expect Apple to follow suit. 
    [51:08] Secondary ASO localizations: Apple uses English localization for keywords, but — in the U.S. — Spanish too. Use both, and you’ve got twice the keywords. Russia and other countries are on the way too, which means you can duplicate between sets (even if not within them).

    • 57 min
    How to Boost Retention with Subscription Lifecycle Messaging — Alice Muir, Phiture

    How to Boost Retention with Subscription Lifecycle Messaging — Alice Muir, Phiture

    On the podcast, we talk with Alice Muir about how best to onboard premium users, what lifecycle optimization looks like both tactically and strategically, and how to spot users before they churn. She shares insight into why focusing on CRMs for win-back strategies is only part of the story, and the best campaigns to entice users to stick with their subscriptions.
    Top Takeaways:
    📧 Email is good for two things: drip campaigns — offering a staggered, increasing discount to entice signups — and long-form content to keep premium users engaged.
    📲 Consider using in-app messaging as proxy testing for paywalls if you don’t have access to A/B testing tools or are working with different regional pricing.
    🎁 Using CRM for quick win-backs is a band-aid for churn — instead, you need to consistently add value to people’s lives.
    🤔 Tap into human psychology and increase retention by reminding people of what they’re going to lose by unsubscribing.
    💸 Balance discounts with the need to entice more high-intent users back into the app, because at some point discounts mean you’re losing money.
    About Alice Muir
    👨‍💻 She’s the Senior Growth Consultant at Phiture.
    💡“In my experience, the low-hanging fruit is the strategy and strategic lifecycle targeting, because you would be surprised at how many apps … have absolutely nothing in place for people that have started a trial or are already subscribers.”
    👋 LinkedIn
    Links & Resources
    ‣ Check out Phiture
    ‣ Phiture’s Subscription Stack
    ‣ Connect with Alice on LinkedIn to guest write for Phiture
    ‣ The 4 Foundational Frameworks of Consumer SaaS — Robbie Kellman Baxter, Peninsula Strategies
    Follow us on Twitter ‣ David Barnard ‣ Jacob Eiting ‣ RevenueCat ‣ Sub Club
    Episode Highlights
    [2:09] Top app learnings: Alice has worked with — and learned from — a number of subscription apps.
    [3:17] Subscription onboarding strategy: Many top apps in the App Store don’t have a strategy focusing on those already subscribed or who’ve started a trial. Sometimes a simple message is all that’s needed.
    [7:36] Feature highlight: Premium experience onboarding must emphasize additional features — not just what the free experience offers. Asking users what they like best in each experience never hurts.
    [9:59] Channel blending: Email is great for drip campaigns — offering a staggered increased discount — as well as long-form content to keep premium users engaged. Push has limitations however, so it’s better to use for win-back scenarios.
    [12:54] In-app messaging: Using full-screen in-app messages that look like native paywalls can be used as a proxy for testing the latter, Alice explains — with caveats.
    [19:25] Next-step growth: For big apps with a lot of data, correlation analysis is a huge area of opportunity. The same can’t be said for startup apps, which lack this data. But what does it look like?
    [24:50] From correlation to causation: Alice explains her strategy for driving value from correlation and funnel analysis for drop-offs.
    [27:10] Churn prevention strategy: A holistic approach to long-term success harmonizes with Robbie Kellman Baxter’s view. A cost-of-living crisis is causing people to scrutinize their costs like never before, so apps need continual content for real added value.
    [32:05] Spotting the churn: Alice suggests segmenting already-disengaged users, dissecting the reason, and re-onboarding them if necessary.
    [37:19] Winning win-back campaigns: Reminding people of lost benefits, creating a sense of urgency, celebrating membership, and implementing screenshot capture functionality for premium features are all possible tactics for reinforcing the value proposition.
    [39:32] Making discounts work: Discounts can seem attractive, but might encourage long-term loss — the key is to balance discounts with attracting high-intent app users. Reminding people what’s coming can be highly effective.

    • 43 min
    Lessons From Building a 70 Person Growth Team — Jason van der Merwe, Strava

    Lessons From Building a 70 Person Growth Team — Jason van der Merwe, Strava

    On the podcast we talk with Jason about some of Strava’s big growth wins, the importance of feature education, and whether or not all product teams should actually be growth teams.
    Top Takeaways🛠 The shift in mindset that comes with "growth engineering" — it's about a greater focus on the user and a willingness to go a little faster than usual...🌀 While chaos in an app business may be unavoidable, the secret is learning to embrace "managed chaos"🔬 How the key to growth is testing — and creating a safe space where it's possible to test every idea👩‍🏫 Why having employees who use the app every day is both a blessing and a curse (hint: it's connected to the new user experience and feature education)
    About Jason van der Merwe👨‍💻 Director of Growth Engineering at Strava💡 “Make it easy enough to test any and every idea.”👋  LinkedIn | Twitter
    Links & Resources‣ Check out Strava‣ Work with Strava‣ Check out Jason’s site and musings on growth and more
    Follow us on Twitter‣ David Barnard‣ Jacob Eiting‣ RevenueCat‣ Sub Club
    Episode Highlights[1:58] Growing as an engineer: Jason explains what the role of a growth engineer entails — most importantly, thinking like a product manager.[4:10] If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen: Growth by word-of-mouth is the holy grail. How Strava grew before Jason joined looked different to how it grew once he joined.[10:31] Flying blind: The board said that top companies have growth teams and to make it happen. Jason’s team had no idea what they were doing at first — it all started with tinkering and analyzing the metrics.[16:26] From 0 to 100: Jason talks about how Strava’s growth team grew from nothing into five multidisciplinary teams with 70 people.[20:37] Conflicts and scaling: Smaller meetings are more successful, but can be a challenge for creating a more overarching narrative.[26:26] Core values: Strava has different teams focusing on different values, but all teams are platforms.[28:13] Feature education: Developers can miss fundamentals — Jason explains how Strava factors this into development. Perfect observability remains a problem, but Jason says it’s important to move forward and make decisions in spite of that.[31:31] Test churning: Because he was close to the problem, Jason could test nonstop. But now his role has changed, he needs to trust his teams and help them do their jobs well — illustrating the importance of engineers thinking like product managers.[34:39] Stay focused: When debate about what to do becomes time-consuming and you’re not moving fast, you know it’s time to test more. Metrics like measured (not modeled) outcomes are key at Strava.[40:09] Black box: No app developer has control of the App Store. App store optimization (ASO) might ease the pressure, but at the expense of the novelty effect. The best advice? Don’t depend on it.[45:30] The power of copy: Visual design can be distracting for users, as well as powerful. But copy — no matter where it is — always has a huge impact.

    • 48 min
    Channel Experimentation and the Tiktokification of Video Ads — Ryan Watson, onX

    Channel Experimentation and the Tiktokification of Video Ads — Ryan Watson, onX

    On the podcast I talk with Ryan about the TikTokification of video ads, how partnerships help increase the value of premium subscription tiers, and why you should be thinking about retention, not just downloads, when working with influencers.
    Top Takeaways🗣️ User acquisition can be more challenging for apps with niche audiences, which is why you should focus on channels where you can target by interest and search.🎯 SEO feeds the retargeting funnel more than it drives direct conversions — but keyword data is valuable for product positioning.🤗 Influencer marketing is extremely effective across the whole marketing funnel — from acquisition to retention — helping to build trust and authenticity.🦾 Marketing automation is essential for educating users how the product will improve their life once they've gotten into it — especially for more complex products.🖥️ Apps make more money from web subscriptions, so retarget users to drive them to sign up on the web rather than mobile.
    About Ryan Watson👨‍💻 Director of Growth Marketing at onX💡 “Our motto is: ‘We want to awaken the adventurer in everyone.’ It’s very focused on the experience that they're having, and not just how the tool operates.”👋  LinkedIn | Twitter
    Links & Resources‣ Work at onX‣ onX on LinkedIn‣ onX on Twitter‣ onX on YouTube
    Follow us on Twitter‣ David Barnard‣ Jacob Eiting‣ RevenueCat‣ Sub Club
    Episode Highlights
    [1:47] Hunting origins: Ryan takes listeners through the background of onXmaps, Inc., the market-dominating subscription app you might not have heard of if you’re not a hunter.[7:03] Find the product fit: If you’re looking to build a business, look at underserved niches.[13:34] Easy and hard: Narrow niches come with their own challenges.[18:00] Channel selection: Targeting via interest is crucial to marketing to a niche audience.[19:34] SEOperation: SEO does convert, but more importantly feeds the retargeting funnel.[21:18] Secret channels: Ryan shares some of the more successful channels that might not be considered at first.[22:41] TikTokification: Short form video is on the rise — how do you leverage that “escape-style content”? There’s still a market for long form podcasting too.[27:08] Influencer culture: Working with a large number of the right influencers is important for authenticity, but sometimes in-house video works better. What’s crucial is a constant flow of video.[29:17] Retention: People don’t think about retention as much as they should, Ryan says. Ads can actually be a retention strategy.[31:39] Howdy, partner: Elite members get special deals. For onX, it’s about “provid[ing] true value of what matters to your audience,” Ryan explains.[36:23] End-to-end: It’s all about figuring out your creative door-opener for getting people interested in your product.[40:03] Personnel balance: Having a strong in-house creative team versus hiring from outside is a personal preference, and depends on the product.[40:44] MMP: Ryan talks all things experimentation on ATT, SKAdNetwork, organic lift, and directing traffic between the web and the app stores.[45:13] Bundling: onX believes in specific concept-based apps for specific users. Sometimes there’s cross-conversion.

    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

djacobsen1792 ,

Super insightful for indie devs!

Great guests, stories, and insights are shared.

Folded-Code ,

Very good

Good production quality and great insights. You get to see the ways the best operate.

Mistaboogy444 ,

Great podcast

Love the topic, great hosting team, great insightful guests

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