App Growth in 2021

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9

Lexi Sydow (Sr. Marketing Insights Manager at App Annie) animates a panel with Lisa Kennelly (CMO at Fishbrain), Gareth Nettleton (VP Marketing at Strava) and Lina Zakarauskaite (Head of Growth at Secret Escapes) about big shifts in the industry and adapting their UA strategy, partnerships and improving retention.

Source:
App Growth in 2021
(no direct link to watch/listen)
(direct link to watch/listen)
Type:
Panel
Publication date:
March 18, 2021
Added to the Vault on:
April 8, 2021
These insights were shared through the free Growth Gems newsletter.
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💎 #
1

To sustain the growth that happened during the pandemic, you have to change from growing at the very top of the funnel to focusing on how you can retain the people with your product. You have to be obsessed about how you engage people with your platform.

13:32
💎 #
2

If you’re relying on an organic growth strategy, you need to have 2 things:
1. Existing users that really like you and are willing to talk about you
2. A good brand. It’s not enough to have just a good utility

19:30
💎 #
3

Connecting and forming partnerships with respected brands that have been in the space for decades might not convert to revenue right away but will lift awareness.

23:32
💎 #
4

Product-led growth should be almost your best lever. Strava has twice more winbacks every single day than they do registrations. If you can find great viral loops within your own product then you’ve got the basis of a good business.

27:00
💎 #
5

At the end of every year, Strava runs a “year in sport” project where they create an animated experience about what they’ve achieved on the app. They make it shareable and “snackable” then end over the controls to their users. They had 8 million people share something in 2020.

30:25
💎 #
6

Leaderboards are one of the top 3 gameplay features that drive ARPU (after customization and events).

31:58
💎 #
7

If what you implement is obviously a referral mechanism, don’t expect people to bite on it because consumers see things really easily. Focus on how you’re delighting users instead.
They’ve tried it at Strava before because it’s easy to give away 1 month. But people don’t like to be part of a transaction.

36:52
💎 #
8

Regarding metrics, think about the input metrics (that you can affect/change) that allow you to influence your output metrics (end goal).

41:00
💎 #
9

It’s good to have one or two very clear output metrics (same for everyone) but your input metrics could be different across every single team you have in the building.

42:58
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💎 #
1

To sustain the growth that happened during the pandemic, you have to change from growing at the very top of the funnel to focusing on how you can retain the people with your product. You have to be obsessed about how you engage people with your platform.

13:32
💎 #
2

If you’re relying on an organic growth strategy, you need to have 2 things:
1. Existing users that really like you and are willing to talk about you
2. A good brand. It’s not enough to have just a good utility

19:30
💎 #
3

Connecting and forming partnerships with respected brands that have been in the space for decades might not convert to revenue right away but will lift awareness.

23:32
💎 #
4

Product-led growth should be almost your best lever. Strava has twice more winbacks every single day than they do registrations. If you can find great viral loops within your own product then you’ve got the basis of a good business.

27:00
💎 #
5

At the end of every year, Strava runs a “year in sport” project where they create an animated experience about what they’ve achieved on the app. They make it shareable and “snackable” then end over the controls to their users. They had 8 million people share something in 2020.

30:25
💎 #
6

Leaderboards are one of the top 3 gameplay features that drive ARPU (after customization and events).

31:58
💎 #
7

If what you implement is obviously a referral mechanism, don’t expect people to bite on it because consumers see things really easily. Focus on how you’re delighting users instead.
They’ve tried it at Strava before because it’s easy to give away 1 month. But people don’t like to be part of a transaction.

36:52
💎 #
8

Regarding metrics, think about the input metrics (that you can affect/change) that allow you to influence your output metrics (end goal).

41:00
💎 #
9

It’s good to have one or two very clear output metrics (same for everyone) but your input metrics could be different across every single team you have in the building.

42:58
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💎 #
1

To sustain the growth that happened during the pandemic, you have to change from growing at the very top of the funnel to focusing on how you can retain the people with your product. You have to be obsessed about how you engage people with your platform.

13:32
💎 #
2

If you’re relying on an organic growth strategy, you need to have 2 things:
1. Existing users that really like you and are willing to talk about you
2. A good brand. It’s not enough to have just a good utility

19:30
💎 #
3

Connecting and forming partnerships with respected brands that have been in the space for decades might not convert to revenue right away but will lift awareness.

23:32
💎 #
4

Product-led growth should be almost your best lever. Strava has twice more winbacks every single day than they do registrations. If you can find great viral loops within your own product then you’ve got the basis of a good business.

27:00
💎 #
5

At the end of every year, Strava runs a “year in sport” project where they create an animated experience about what they’ve achieved on the app. They make it shareable and “snackable” then end over the controls to their users. They had 8 million people share something in 2020.

30:25
💎 #
6

Leaderboards are one of the top 3 gameplay features that drive ARPU (after customization and events).

31:58
💎 #
7

If what you implement is obviously a referral mechanism, don’t expect people to bite on it because consumers see things really easily. Focus on how you’re delighting users instead.
They’ve tried it at Strava before because it’s easy to give away 1 month. But people don’t like to be part of a transaction.

36:52
💎 #
8

Regarding metrics, think about the input metrics (that you can affect/change) that allow you to influence your output metrics (end goal).

41:00
💎 #
9

It’s good to have one or two very clear output metrics (same for everyone) but your input metrics could be different across every single team you have in the building.

42:58
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Big shifts in your industry and adapting

Lina

Travel very impacted, with 90% of travel brands pausing their ads.

People are now traveling to different places (domestic). You need to adapt your offering to adapt to this new behavior. Also making sure it’s refundable.

There are sectors of growth within travel: GPS, car rental, apps about trails or being outside, etc.

Gareth

Growth doubled during the pandemic. Now over 15% of the UK population on Strava, when they initially thought they had reached the max there.

People started thinking about their wellness more, plus people also wanted to spend more time outside and break the isolation through the community.

[💎@13:32] To sustain the growth that happened during the pandemic, you have to change from growing at the very top of the funnel to focusing on how you can retain the people with your product. You have to be obsessed about how you engage people with your platform.

All about habit formation, not just novelty.

Lisa

Fishing also benefited from the pandemic because it tends to be a solo activity. Fishing was one of the few activities you could do, and all the industry saw tons of growth. A lot of this growth came from reactivated people.

Time in April last year when Fishbrain was #1 sports app in the US.

Now looking at how you can retain people despite the seasonality: how do we get the people that came last year to come back this season?

They also added an online store to Fishbrain. Now anticipating more competition.

How has your UA strategy changed?

Gareth

Have been hugely focused on organic growth. 95% of Strava’s growth has been organic.

With the pandemic they saw the top of the funnel accelerate.

[💎@19:30] If you’re relying on an organic growth strategy, you need to have 2 things:
1. Existing users that really like you and are willing to talk about you

2. A good brand. It’s not enough to have just a good utility

They did not up their performance budget but instead focused on what makes Strava special and making sure new users understood that. How do we make people feel good about Strava?

How partnerships play a role in your overall growth strategy?

Lisa

For a while Fishbrain had to prove themselves in the fishing industry. People have come around and have been wanting to partner with them. Plus people are interested in the data they have (fishes caught, weather, etc.)

[💎@23:32] Connecting and forming partnerships with respected brands that have been in the space for decades might not convert to revenue right away but will lift awareness.

Partnerships deliver either revenue or awareness.

How to retain existing users? 

Lina

Leaking bucket strategy is not working anymore.

It’s more science than art. You need to define precisely what you’re trying to achieve then form experiments around that.

Product-led growth is a lever.

Gareth

[💎@27:00] Product-led growth should be almost your best lever. Strava has twice more winbacks every single day than they do registrations. If you can find great viral loops within your own product then you’ve got the basis of a good business.

Start building friend get friends loop into your product, especially because there is a compounding effect

Lisa

Been focusing on building subscription growth from within the user experience. A lot of the subscriptions come from the first experience and upselling in the early stages. That’s good but it’s important to also focus on the “later-stage” selling.

Most effective channel or tool?

Gareth

Best for Strava is the word of mouth.

[💎@30:25] At the end of every year, Strava runs a “year in sport” project where they create an animated experience about what they’ve achieved on the app. They make it shareable and “snackable” then end over the controls to their users. They had 8 million people share something in 2020.

Lexi

[💎@31:58] Leaderboards are one of the top 3 gameplay features that drive ARPU (after customization and events).

Lina

It’s always a value exchange. You need to give them a reason.

Maximizing your owned and earned channels: trying to get them to download their travel app. People were afraid of missing out on deals when travel would be back.

Even as a travel app, the Secret Escapes app grew 2x because they adapted the product with the “VIP” unlock.


Q&A

First criteria you look for when onboarding a new partner for performance?

Lisa

Look at audience matchup: does their user base fit with their current audience or is it an audience they want to go after. They now put a lot of awareness around who’s their target customer.

What is the simplest referral mechanism you’d recommend?

Gareth

[💎@36:52] If what you implement is obviously a referral mechanism, don’t expect people to bite on it because consumers see things really easily. Focus on how you’re delighting users instead.

They’ve tried it at Strava before because it’s easy to get away 1 month. People don’t like to be part of a transaction.

Categories with low purchasing category: how do you form a habit?

Lina

If your primary use case has a low frequency, you need to layer on use cases with higher frequency. Example for Secret Escapes: also about inspiration and daydreaming.

Shaping KPIs towards one north star metric

Lina
It’s often not as simple as having a north star metric. 

[💎@41:00] Regarding metrics, think about the input metrics (that you can affect/change) that allow you to influence your output metrics (end goal).

Gareth

Input metrics should be hitting different parts of your funnel: top of funnel acquisition goal, how to create winbacks, etc. 

[💎@42:58] It’s good to have one or two very clear output metrics (same for everyone) but your input metrics could be different across every single team you have in the building.

Lisa

It’s been complicated by adding the mobile commerce aspects because some teams started competing with each other. It requires to look at priorities at the company level.



The notes from this resource are only available to premium members.
↘ At this point, you know what to do ↙
Upgrade Your Plan

Big shifts in your industry and adapting

Lina

Travel very impacted, with 90% of travel brands pausing their ads.

People are now traveling to different places (domestic). You need to adapt your offering to adapt to this new behavior. Also making sure it’s refundable.

There are sectors of growth within travel: GPS, car rental, apps about trails or being outside, etc.

Gareth

Growth doubled during the pandemic. Now over 15% of the UK population on Strava, when they initially thought they had reached the max there.

People started thinking about their wellness more, plus people also wanted to spend more time outside and break the isolation through the community.

[💎@13:32] To sustain the growth that happened during the pandemic, you have to change from growing at the very top of the funnel to focusing on how you can retain the people with your product. You have to be obsessed about how you engage people with your platform.

All about habit formation, not just novelty.

Lisa

Fishing also benefited from the pandemic because it tends to be a solo activity. Fishing was one of the few activities you could do, and all the industry saw tons of growth. A lot of this growth came from reactivated people.

Time in April last year when Fishbrain was #1 sports app in the US.

Now looking at how you can retain people despite the seasonality: how do we get the people that came last year to come back this season?

They also added an online store to Fishbrain. Now anticipating more competition.

How has your UA strategy changed?

Gareth

Have been hugely focused on organic growth. 95% of Strava’s growth has been organic.

With the pandemic they saw the top of the funnel accelerate.

[💎@19:30] If you’re relying on an organic growth strategy, you need to have 2 things:
1. Existing users that really like you and are willing to talk about you

2. A good brand. It’s not enough to have just a good utility

They did not up their performance budget but instead focused on what makes Strava special and making sure new users understood that. How do we make people feel good about Strava?

How partnerships play a role in your overall growth strategy?

Lisa

For a while Fishbrain had to prove themselves in the fishing industry. People have come around and have been wanting to partner with them. Plus people are interested in the data they have (fishes caught, weather, etc.)

[💎@23:32] Connecting and forming partnerships with respected brands that have been in the space for decades might not convert to revenue right away but will lift awareness.

Partnerships deliver either revenue or awareness.

How to retain existing users? 

Lina

Leaking bucket strategy is not working anymore.

It’s more science than art. You need to define precisely what you’re trying to achieve then form experiments around that.

Product-led growth is a lever.

Gareth

[💎@27:00] Product-led growth should be almost your best lever. Strava has twice more winbacks every single day than they do registrations. If you can find great viral loops within your own product then you’ve got the basis of a good business.

Start building friend get friends loop into your product, especially because there is a compounding effect

Lisa

Been focusing on building subscription growth from within the user experience. A lot of the subscriptions come from the first experience and upselling in the early stages. That’s good but it’s important to also focus on the “later-stage” selling.

Most effective channel or tool?

Gareth

Best for Strava is the word of mouth.

[💎@30:25] At the end of every year, Strava runs a “year in sport” project where they create an animated experience about what they’ve achieved on the app. They make it shareable and “snackable” then end over the controls to their users. They had 8 million people share something in 2020.

Lexi

[💎@31:58] Leaderboards are one of the top 3 gameplay features that drive ARPU (after customization and events).

Lina

It’s always a value exchange. You need to give them a reason.

Maximizing your owned and earned channels: trying to get them to download their travel app. People were afraid of missing out on deals when travel would be back.

Even as a travel app, the Secret Escapes app grew 2x because they adapted the product with the “VIP” unlock.


Q&A

First criteria you look for when onboarding a new partner for performance?

Lisa

Look at audience matchup: does their user base fit with their current audience or is it an audience they want to go after. They now put a lot of awareness around who’s their target customer.

What is the simplest referral mechanism you’d recommend?

Gareth

[💎@36:52] If what you implement is obviously a referral mechanism, don’t expect people to bite on it because consumers see things really easily. Focus on how you’re delighting users instead.

They’ve tried it at Strava before because it’s easy to get away 1 month. People don’t like to be part of a transaction.

Categories with low purchasing category: how do you form a habit?

Lina

If your primary use case has a low frequency, you need to layer on use cases with higher frequency. Example for Secret Escapes: also about inspiration and daydreaming.

Shaping KPIs towards one north star metric

Lina
It’s often not as simple as having a north star metric. 

[💎@41:00] Regarding metrics, think about the input metrics (that you can affect/change) that allow you to influence your output metrics (end goal).

Gareth

Input metrics should be hitting different parts of your funnel: top of funnel acquisition goal, how to create winbacks, etc. 

[💎@42:58] It’s good to have one or two very clear output metrics (same for everyone) but your input metrics could be different across every single team you have in the building.

Lisa

It’s been complicated by adding the mobile commerce aspects because some teams started competing with each other. It requires to look at priorities at the company level.



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Big shifts in your industry and adapting

Lina

Travel very impacted, with 90% of travel brands pausing their ads.

People are now traveling to different places (domestic). You need to adapt your offering to adapt to this new behavior. Also making sure it’s refundable.

There are sectors of growth within travel: GPS, car rental, apps about trails or being outside, etc.

Gareth

Growth doubled during the pandemic. Now over 15% of the UK population on Strava, when they initially thought they had reached the max there.

People started thinking about their wellness more, plus people also wanted to spend more time outside and break the isolation through the community.

[💎@13:32] To sustain the growth that happened during the pandemic, you have to change from growing at the very top of the funnel to focusing on how you can retain the people with your product. You have to be obsessed about how you engage people with your platform.

All about habit formation, not just novelty.

Lisa

Fishing also benefited from the pandemic because it tends to be a solo activity. Fishing was one of the few activities you could do, and all the industry saw tons of growth. A lot of this growth came from reactivated people.

Time in April last year when Fishbrain was #1 sports app in the US.

Now looking at how you can retain people despite the seasonality: how do we get the people that came last year to come back this season?

They also added an online store to Fishbrain. Now anticipating more competition.

How has your UA strategy changed?

Gareth

Have been hugely focused on organic growth. 95% of Strava’s growth has been organic.

With the pandemic they saw the top of the funnel accelerate.

[💎@19:30] If you’re relying on an organic growth strategy, you need to have 2 things:
1. Existing users that really like you and are willing to talk about you

2. A good brand. It’s not enough to have just a good utility

They did not up their performance budget but instead focused on what makes Strava special and making sure new users understood that. How do we make people feel good about Strava?

How partnerships play a role in your overall growth strategy?

Lisa

For a while Fishbrain had to prove themselves in the fishing industry. People have come around and have been wanting to partner with them. Plus people are interested in the data they have (fishes caught, weather, etc.)

[💎@23:32] Connecting and forming partnerships with respected brands that have been in the space for decades might not convert to revenue right away but will lift awareness.

Partnerships deliver either revenue or awareness.

How to retain existing users? 

Lina

Leaking bucket strategy is not working anymore.

It’s more science than art. You need to define precisely what you’re trying to achieve then form experiments around that.

Product-led growth is a lever.

Gareth

[💎@27:00] Product-led growth should be almost your best lever. Strava has twice more winbacks every single day than they do registrations. If you can find great viral loops within your own product then you’ve got the basis of a good business.

Start building friend get friends loop into your product, especially because there is a compounding effect

Lisa

Been focusing on building subscription growth from within the user experience. A lot of the subscriptions come from the first experience and upselling in the early stages. That’s good but it’s important to also focus on the “later-stage” selling.

Most effective channel or tool?

Gareth

Best for Strava is the word of mouth.

[💎@30:25] At the end of every year, Strava runs a “year in sport” project where they create an animated experience about what they’ve achieved on the app. They make it shareable and “snackable” then end over the controls to their users. They had 8 million people share something in 2020.

Lexi

[💎@31:58] Leaderboards are one of the top 3 gameplay features that drive ARPU (after customization and events).

Lina

It’s always a value exchange. You need to give them a reason.

Maximizing your owned and earned channels: trying to get them to download their travel app. People were afraid of missing out on deals when travel would be back.

Even as a travel app, the Secret Escapes app grew 2x because they adapted the product with the “VIP” unlock.


Q&A

First criteria you look for when onboarding a new partner for performance?

Lisa

Look at audience matchup: does their user base fit with their current audience or is it an audience they want to go after. They now put a lot of awareness around who’s their target customer.

What is the simplest referral mechanism you’d recommend?

Gareth

[💎@36:52] If what you implement is obviously a referral mechanism, don’t expect people to bite on it because consumers see things really easily. Focus on how you’re delighting users instead.

They’ve tried it at Strava before because it’s easy to get away 1 month. People don’t like to be part of a transaction.

Categories with low purchasing category: how do you form a habit?

Lina

If your primary use case has a low frequency, you need to layer on use cases with higher frequency. Example for Secret Escapes: also about inspiration and daydreaming.

Shaping KPIs towards one north star metric

Lina
It’s often not as simple as having a north star metric. 

[💎@41:00] Regarding metrics, think about the input metrics (that you can affect/change) that allow you to influence your output metrics (end goal).

Gareth

Input metrics should be hitting different parts of your funnel: top of funnel acquisition goal, how to create winbacks, etc. 

[💎@42:58] It’s good to have one or two very clear output metrics (same for everyone) but your input metrics could be different across every single team you have in the building.

Lisa

It’s been complicated by adding the mobile commerce aspects because some teams started competing with each other. It requires to look at priorities at the company level.