Acquiring Apps as a Growth Strategy

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12

Darius Moravcik (CMO at Reflectly - Journaling app) talks with Steve P. Young (CEO at App Masters) about how Reflectly started to be more aggressive with acquisitions and how it's been working out very well for the company. They also discuss tips on onboarding and monetization.

Source:
Acquiring Apps as a Growth Strategy
(no direct link to watch/listen)
(direct link to watch/listen)
Type:
Webinar
Publication date:
August 12, 2021
Added to the Vault on:
August 17, 2021
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💎 #
1

Besides a great product (retention, conversion numbers), what Reflectly looks at the most for a potential acquisition is the organic ranking for high volume keywords. Example: motivation quote app that rank #1 for “motivation” and other relevant keywords.

04:03
💎 #
2

Reflectly spends a lot of time on optimizing the conversion rate and understands how to monetize. So they buy products people love, leverage their marketing knowledge and optimize conversion/retention (if needed).

04:47
💎 #
3

There are several marketplaces to acquire apps (e.g. Flippa), but by the time someone puts an app there he/she is probably overvaluing its price. Reflectly does manual 1:1 outreach instead.

05:51
💎 #
4

Transferring iOS apps can be difficult due to use of CloudKit or developers being in the Small Business program (paying only 15%). It has prevented deals from happening. One of the first pre-screening questions is whether or not the apps use iCloud or sign-in with Apple.

10:16
💎 #
5

Most people pay influencers for the distribution, but often just that is not worth it. What’s interesting with influencers is the creative content that you can run as ads. If you do this enough, you’ll find UGC creatives that really work and often outperform creatives you could create yourself.

16:00
💎 #
6

Two main schools of thought for onboarding: 
1. Make it very brief and simple, then ask people to subscribe
2. Make it longer while making it interactive and valuable

20:40
💎 #
7

You don’t want to make users think about what they have to do in your app. Take users step-by-step towards the action you want them to do (c.f. creating a journal entry on Reflectly).

21:39
💎 #
8

Think about the onboarding as a separate product: there is so much value to derive from optimizing the onboarding. You don’t want to just put together a couple of screens while you over-engineer the rest of the product.

28:30
💎 #
9

If you don’t have a trial it makes it much easier to test because you don’t have to wait 7 days for trials to convert.

30:40
💎 #
10

There isn’t a best practice, you have to test all the combinations (once you have enough traffic): 
- Free trial vs. no free trial
- Monthly, Quarterly, Annually, etc.

30:56
💎 #
11

If you’re transitioning from IAP to subscription, make sure that the people that have already purchased get full access (lifetime), otherwise you will get a lot of backlash. Make all new users go through subscription.

33:30
💎 #
12

Improve app store conversion indirectly. Once you have basic app store screenshots, focus on the product so you can rank better for keywords and have 5-star ratings.

44:00
The gems from this resource are only available to premium members.
💎 #
1

Besides a great product (retention, conversion numbers), what Reflectly looks at the most for a potential acquisition is the organic ranking for high volume keywords. Example: motivation quote app that rank #1 for “motivation” and other relevant keywords.

04:03
💎 #
2

Reflectly spends a lot of time on optimizing the conversion rate and understands how to monetize. So they buy products people love, leverage their marketing knowledge and optimize conversion/retention (if needed).

04:47
💎 #
3

There are several marketplaces to acquire apps (e.g. Flippa), but by the time someone puts an app there he/she is probably overvaluing its price. Reflectly does manual 1:1 outreach instead.

05:51
💎 #
4

Transferring iOS apps can be difficult due to use of CloudKit or developers being in the Small Business program (paying only 15%). It has prevented deals from happening. One of the first pre-screening questions is whether or not the apps use iCloud or sign-in with Apple.

10:16
💎 #
5

Most people pay influencers for the distribution, but often just that is not worth it. What’s interesting with influencers is the creative content that you can run as ads. If you do this enough, you’ll find UGC creatives that really work and often outperform creatives you could create yourself.

16:00
💎 #
6

Two main schools of thought for onboarding: 
1. Make it very brief and simple, then ask people to subscribe
2. Make it longer while making it interactive and valuable

20:40
💎 #
7

You don’t want to make users think about what they have to do in your app. Take users step-by-step towards the action you want them to do (c.f. creating a journal entry on Reflectly).

21:39
💎 #
8

Think about the onboarding as a separate product: there is so much value to derive from optimizing the onboarding. You don’t want to just put together a couple of screens while you over-engineer the rest of the product.

28:30
💎 #
9

If you don’t have a trial it makes it much easier to test because you don’t have to wait 7 days for trials to convert.

30:40
💎 #
10

There isn’t a best practice, you have to test all the combinations (once you have enough traffic): 
- Free trial vs. no free trial
- Monthly, Quarterly, Annually, etc.

30:56
💎 #
11

If you’re transitioning from IAP to subscription, make sure that the people that have already purchased get full access (lifetime), otherwise you will get a lot of backlash. Make all new users go through subscription.

33:30
💎 #
12

Improve app store conversion indirectly. Once you have basic app store screenshots, focus on the product so you can rank better for keywords and have 5-star ratings.

44:00
The gems from this resource are only available to premium members.

Gems are the key bite-size insights "mined" from a specific mobile marketing resource, like a webinar, a panel or a podcast.
They allow you to save time by grasping the most important information in a couple of minutes, and also each include the timestamp from the source.

💎 #
1

Besides a great product (retention, conversion numbers), what Reflectly looks at the most for a potential acquisition is the organic ranking for high volume keywords. Example: motivation quote app that rank #1 for “motivation” and other relevant keywords.

04:03
💎 #
2

Reflectly spends a lot of time on optimizing the conversion rate and understands how to monetize. So they buy products people love, leverage their marketing knowledge and optimize conversion/retention (if needed).

04:47
💎 #
3

There are several marketplaces to acquire apps (e.g. Flippa), but by the time someone puts an app there he/she is probably overvaluing its price. Reflectly does manual 1:1 outreach instead.

05:51
💎 #
4

Transferring iOS apps can be difficult due to use of CloudKit or developers being in the Small Business program (paying only 15%). It has prevented deals from happening. One of the first pre-screening questions is whether or not the apps use iCloud or sign-in with Apple.

10:16
💎 #
5

Most people pay influencers for the distribution, but often just that is not worth it. What’s interesting with influencers is the creative content that you can run as ads. If you do this enough, you’ll find UGC creatives that really work and often outperform creatives you could create yourself.

16:00
💎 #
6

Two main schools of thought for onboarding: 
1. Make it very brief and simple, then ask people to subscribe
2. Make it longer while making it interactive and valuable

20:40
💎 #
7

You don’t want to make users think about what they have to do in your app. Take users step-by-step towards the action you want them to do (c.f. creating a journal entry on Reflectly).

21:39
💎 #
8

Think about the onboarding as a separate product: there is so much value to derive from optimizing the onboarding. You don’t want to just put together a couple of screens while you over-engineer the rest of the product.

28:30
💎 #
9

If you don’t have a trial it makes it much easier to test because you don’t have to wait 7 days for trials to convert.

30:40
💎 #
10

There isn’t a best practice, you have to test all the combinations (once you have enough traffic): 
- Free trial vs. no free trial
- Monthly, Quarterly, Annually, etc.

30:56
💎 #
11

If you’re transitioning from IAP to subscription, make sure that the people that have already purchased get full access (lifetime), otherwise you will get a lot of backlash. Make all new users go through subscription.

33:30
💎 #
12

Improve app store conversion indirectly. Once you have basic app store screenshots, focus on the product so you can rank better for keywords and have 5-star ratings.

44:00

Notes for this resource are currently being transferred and will be available soon.

Acquisition costs have been consistently going up, and will probably continue going up. Calm could have hypergrowth at the time, but getting the same kind of growth is not possible anymore.

Reflectly experienced that too, so they started acquiring apps that have good traction. Reflectly is now more of a studio (15 apps now).

What to look for when considering acquisitions?

Start with a good product: retention, good conversion.

[💎@04:03] Besides a great product (retention, conversion numbers), what Reflectly looks at the most for a potential acquisition is the organic ranking for high volume keywords. Example: motivation quote app that rank #1 for “motivation” and other relevant keywords.

[💎@04:47] Reflectly spends a lot of time on optimizing the conversion rate and understands how to monetize. So they buy products people love, leverage their marketing knowledge and optimize conversion/retention (if needed).

How to find apps to acquire?

It’s difficult to find a potential app to acquire. 

[💎@05:51] There are several marketplaces to acquire apps (e.g. Flippa), but by the time someone puts their app there they are probably overvaluing its price. Reflectly does manual 1:1 outreach instead.

After acquiring

After acquiring the app, Reflectly starts by looking at the entire user journey to see if there’s anything to fix/improve. If not, they start driving acquisition.

[💎@10:16] Transferring iOS apps can be difficult due to use of CloudKit or developers being in the Small Business program (paying only 15%). It has prevented deals from happening. One of the first pre-screening questions is whether or not the apps use iCloud or sign-in with Apple.

They’ve had to establish companies in other countries to acquire: it can get quite complicated.

iOS or Android

Most companies are on both platforms. Acquiring an app that is only on Android tends to be risky because monetization is harder.

Micro-influencers

Reflectly is still using micro-influencer strategies, but at their scale it’s hard to keep up.

They have an almost full time person reaching out to micro-influencers (5-20k followers on Instagram), have them create content about the app then use that in their ads.

[💎@16:00] Most people pay influencers for the distribution, but often it’s not worth it. What’s interesting with influencers is the creative content that you can run as ads. If you do this enough, you’ll find UGC creatives that really work and often outperform creatives you could create yourself.

---

App Audit #1

---

[💎@20:40] Two main schools of thought for onboarding: 

1. Make it very brief and simple, then ask people to subscribe

2. Make it longer while making it interactive and valuable  

[💎@21:39] You don’t want to make users think about what they have to do in your app. Take users step-by-step towards the action you want them to do (c.f. creating a journal entry on Reflectly).

Onboarding/monetization tips

[💎@28:30] Think about the onboarding as a separate product: there is so much value to derive from optimizing the onboarding. You don’t want to just put together a couple of screens while you over-engineer the rest of the product. 

Darius tried to figure out the patterns of onboarding, but there is not one single way to do onboarding. That’s why you need to test.

[💎@30:40] If you don’t have a trial it makes it much easier to test because you don’t have to wait 7 days for trials to convert.

[💎@30:56] There isn’t a best practice, you have to test all the combinations (once you have enough traffic): 

  • Free trial vs. no free trial
  • Monthly, Quarterly, Annually, etc.

Converting from IAP to subscription

Do it yesterday, because the subscriptions model is a great business model.

Look for similar apps to find the ones that are doing it the best, and use that as inspiration

[💎@33:30] If you’re transitioning from IAP to subscription, make sure that the people that have already purchased get full access (lifetime), otherwise you will get a lot of backlash. Make all new users go through subscription.

Valuing an app if no revenue

It’s rare for Reflectly to buy an app that is not making revenue already. They need to make sure there’s enough conversion.

In almost all cases, monetization is easier than retention.

What to focus on

Start by looking at your install to subscribe rate and your revenue per user.

If you can get revenue up, it gives you more room for acquisition.

---

App Audit #2

---

[💎@44:00] Improve app store conversion indirectly. Once you have basic app store screenshots, focus on the product so you can rank better for keywords and have 5-star ratings.


The notes from this resource are only available to premium members.

Acquisition costs have been consistently going up, and will probably continue going up. Calm could have hypergrowth at the time, but getting the same kind of growth is not possible anymore.

Reflectly experienced that too, so they started acquiring apps that have good traction. Reflectly is now more of a studio (15 apps now).

What to look for when considering acquisitions?

Start with a good product: retention, good conversion.

[💎@04:03] Besides a great product (retention, conversion numbers), what Reflectly looks at the most for a potential acquisition is the organic ranking for high volume keywords. Example: motivation quote app that rank #1 for “motivation” and other relevant keywords.

[💎@04:47] Reflectly spends a lot of time on optimizing the conversion rate and understands how to monetize. So they buy products people love, leverage their marketing knowledge and optimize conversion/retention (if needed).

How to find apps to acquire?

It’s difficult to find a potential app to acquire. 

[💎@05:51] There are several marketplaces to acquire apps (e.g. Flippa), but by the time someone puts their app there they are probably overvaluing its price. Reflectly does manual 1:1 outreach instead.

After acquiring

After acquiring the app, Reflectly starts by looking at the entire user journey to see if there’s anything to fix/improve. If not, they start driving acquisition.

[💎@10:16] Transferring iOS apps can be difficult due to use of CloudKit or developers being in the Small Business program (paying only 15%). It has prevented deals from happening. One of the first pre-screening questions is whether or not the apps use iCloud or sign-in with Apple.

They’ve had to establish companies in other countries to acquire: it can get quite complicated.

iOS or Android

Most companies are on both platforms. Acquiring an app that is only on Android tends to be risky because monetization is harder.

Micro-influencers

Reflectly is still using micro-influencer strategies, but at their scale it’s hard to keep up.

They have an almost full time person reaching out to micro-influencers (5-20k followers on Instagram), have them create content about the app then use that in their ads.

[💎@16:00] Most people pay influencers for the distribution, but often it’s not worth it. What’s interesting with influencers is the creative content that you can run as ads. If you do this enough, you’ll find UGC creatives that really work and often outperform creatives you could create yourself.

---

App Audit #1

---

[💎@20:40] Two main schools of thought for onboarding: 

1. Make it very brief and simple, then ask people to subscribe

2. Make it longer while making it interactive and valuable  

[💎@21:39] You don’t want to make users think about what they have to do in your app. Take users step-by-step towards the action you want them to do (c.f. creating a journal entry on Reflectly).

Onboarding/monetization tips

[💎@28:30] Think about the onboarding as a separate product: there is so much value to derive from optimizing the onboarding. You don’t want to just put together a couple of screens while you over-engineer the rest of the product. 

Darius tried to figure out the patterns of onboarding, but there is not one single way to do onboarding. That’s why you need to test.

[💎@30:40] If you don’t have a trial it makes it much easier to test because you don’t have to wait 7 days for trials to convert.

[💎@30:56] There isn’t a best practice, you have to test all the combinations (once you have enough traffic): 

  • Free trial vs. no free trial
  • Monthly, Quarterly, Annually, etc.

Converting from IAP to subscription

Do it yesterday, because the subscriptions model is a great business model.

Look for similar apps to find the ones that are doing it the best, and use that as inspiration

[💎@33:30] If you’re transitioning from IAP to subscription, make sure that the people that have already purchased get full access (lifetime), otherwise you will get a lot of backlash. Make all new users go through subscription.

Valuing an app if no revenue

It’s rare for Reflectly to buy an app that is not making revenue already. They need to make sure there’s enough conversion.

In almost all cases, monetization is easier than retention.

What to focus on

Start by looking at your install to subscribe rate and your revenue per user.

If you can get revenue up, it gives you more room for acquisition.

---

App Audit #2

---

[💎@44:00] Improve app store conversion indirectly. Once you have basic app store screenshots, focus on the product so you can rank better for keywords and have 5-star ratings.


The notes from this resource are only available to premium members.

Acquisition costs have been consistently going up, and will probably continue going up. Calm could have hypergrowth at the time, but getting the same kind of growth is not possible anymore.

Reflectly experienced that too, so they started acquiring apps that have good traction. Reflectly is now more of a studio (15 apps now).

What to look for when considering acquisitions?

Start with a good product: retention, good conversion.

[💎@04:03] Besides a great product (retention, conversion numbers), what Reflectly looks at the most for a potential acquisition is the organic ranking for high volume keywords. Example: motivation quote app that rank #1 for “motivation” and other relevant keywords.

[💎@04:47] Reflectly spends a lot of time on optimizing the conversion rate and understands how to monetize. So they buy products people love, leverage their marketing knowledge and optimize conversion/retention (if needed).

How to find apps to acquire?

It’s difficult to find a potential app to acquire. 

[💎@05:51] There are several marketplaces to acquire apps (e.g. Flippa), but by the time someone puts their app there they are probably overvaluing its price. Reflectly does manual 1:1 outreach instead.

After acquiring

After acquiring the app, Reflectly starts by looking at the entire user journey to see if there’s anything to fix/improve. If not, they start driving acquisition.

[💎@10:16] Transferring iOS apps can be difficult due to use of CloudKit or developers being in the Small Business program (paying only 15%). It has prevented deals from happening. One of the first pre-screening questions is whether or not the apps use iCloud or sign-in with Apple.

They’ve had to establish companies in other countries to acquire: it can get quite complicated.

iOS or Android

Most companies are on both platforms. Acquiring an app that is only on Android tends to be risky because monetization is harder.

Micro-influencers

Reflectly is still using micro-influencer strategies, but at their scale it’s hard to keep up.

They have an almost full time person reaching out to micro-influencers (5-20k followers on Instagram), have them create content about the app then use that in their ads.

[💎@16:00] Most people pay influencers for the distribution, but often it’s not worth it. What’s interesting with influencers is the creative content that you can run as ads. If you do this enough, you’ll find UGC creatives that really work and often outperform creatives you could create yourself.

---

App Audit #1

---

[💎@20:40] Two main schools of thought for onboarding: 

1. Make it very brief and simple, then ask people to subscribe

2. Make it longer while making it interactive and valuable  

[💎@21:39] You don’t want to make users think about what they have to do in your app. Take users step-by-step towards the action you want them to do (c.f. creating a journal entry on Reflectly).

Onboarding/monetization tips

[💎@28:30] Think about the onboarding as a separate product: there is so much value to derive from optimizing the onboarding. You don’t want to just put together a couple of screens while you over-engineer the rest of the product. 

Darius tried to figure out the patterns of onboarding, but there is not one single way to do onboarding. That’s why you need to test.

[💎@30:40] If you don’t have a trial it makes it much easier to test because you don’t have to wait 7 days for trials to convert.

[💎@30:56] There isn’t a best practice, you have to test all the combinations (once you have enough traffic): 

  • Free trial vs. no free trial
  • Monthly, Quarterly, Annually, etc.

Converting from IAP to subscription

Do it yesterday, because the subscriptions model is a great business model.

Look for similar apps to find the ones that are doing it the best, and use that as inspiration

[💎@33:30] If you’re transitioning from IAP to subscription, make sure that the people that have already purchased get full access (lifetime), otherwise you will get a lot of backlash. Make all new users go through subscription.

Valuing an app if no revenue

It’s rare for Reflectly to buy an app that is not making revenue already. They need to make sure there’s enough conversion.

In almost all cases, monetization is easier than retention.

What to focus on

Start by looking at your install to subscribe rate and your revenue per user.

If you can get revenue up, it gives you more room for acquisition.

---

App Audit #2

---

[💎@44:00] Improve app store conversion indirectly. Once you have basic app store screenshots, focus on the product so you can rank better for keywords and have 5-star ratings.