Episode #41: How to Develop Subscription-Based Apps with Dan Burcaw

We welcome back our host Esther Shatz, sitting in this episode with Nami's Co-founder and CEO, to discuss why more app developers need to adopt the subscription model.
Develop Subscription-Based Apps with Dan Burcaw

In this episode of Mobile Growth & Pancakes, Esther Shatz is joined by Dan Burcaw, Co-Founder and CEO of Nami ML, to discuss strategies and tactics related to subscription-based apps.

Check out all the other episodes of Mobile Growth & Pancakes here.

To connect with Dan and Nami:

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“I think it’s such an early and young field, full of opportunity for somebody to be inventive and set that new standard of everybody’s going to want to copy you because that is such a great idea or case study of how to get to a great place by iterating over time

Dan Burcaw

Key takeaways:

  • Before Nami, Dan was the Senior Manager at Apple and the Senior Director of Product Management (Mobile) at Oracle. He also founded Push IO, Double Encore, and Terra Soft Solutions. Nami is a software company that helps you launch, grow, and optimize your app’s revenue using an in-app purchase subscription model.
  • App developers should focus on the subscription model, which becomes the dominant growth driver across your store. Apple and Google encourage developers to adopt the model, and consumers are getting used to the idea of a subscription model. It comes down to sustainability as it’s an investment over time.
  • If you want to determine the right people for a subscription, you have to understand their behavior and cohorts. You also have to connect the dots in terms of acquisition. There are many opportunities to test things like product pages or paywall optimization.
  • If you’re already in the market and want to adopt the subscription model, be good to your existing user base. Give them what they think they bought, and then focus your subscription opportunity on new users. If you are new, start learning and use it.

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    Full transcript:

    Esther: Welcome to Mobile Growth & Pancakes. I’m super excited to be back after a little break to do maternity leave, and it’s a great way to come back, because I’m joined today by Dan Burcaw, CEO and Co-Founder of Nami. Dan, you want to introduce yourself quickly?

    Dan: Sure. First of all, thanks for having me, and welcome back. As you mentioned, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Nami. We come from a long legacy of being in the mobile space, doing some other companies, and been around a long time. What we’re focused on at Nami is really trying to help people grow primarily their subscription revenue streams, but also one-time purchases as well.

    What we found, a decade or more into this mobile app economy, it’s still pretty under-optimized. There’s lots of opportunities still to grow. That’s what we’re trying to solve. I’m sure we’ll get into more of it, but in a nutshell, we’re just trying to help people grow.

    Esther: Amazing. Before we get heavy into subscriptions, can you talk through, you have a pretty interesting background into how you entered the mobile world. Can you talk through a little bit of your experience and how you arrived at the point of starting Nami?

    Dan: We don’t have to go all the way back, spice to say, I’ve been playing with computers for a long time and grew up with the early days of the internet, and really self-taught. I don’t spend most of my day-to-day these days in code, nor am I really trained to be a coder, but I did teach myself over time, more of the technical aspects of computers and how they work.

    After I graduated from university, I had a choice, do I go– I had already been involved in a startup. We did some pretty crazy things. We put software on US Navy nuclear submarines. We helped process images coming down from the Mars rover for NASA, JPL, the Jet Propulsion Lab. We just did a lot of interesting things. I was pretty young in those experiences, and so it was like this crash course, how crazy the world of entrepreneurship can be, and what one can do even with no background or experience if they just find themselves in an interesting position.

    Coming out of university, I had this choice of, do I double down on technology in terms of fostering these technical skills and going down that route, or not. Because I was self-taught, I always had this impression that I was not going to ever have the engineering skills that somebody who had gone to school for that– I just figured there was going to be better engineers.

    I actually had an opportunity to be recruited into Apple into an engineering role. I just thought, “Why? There’s got to be better engineers than me.” I passed that opportunity up, but I was really fascinated in that period of time, in what Apple was doing. Steve had just been back for a few years, and the company was really starting to turn around and get real momentum.

    I knew I wanted to be involved in and around Apple some way. While I was applying to other kinds of positions and things, I just literally went down to my local Apple Store, handed in an application. Next thing you know, I was a part-time retail specialist. I’d never worked a retail job in my life up to that point, and haven’t, again, since. One thing led to another and a number of years go by, and I’m in a corporate position and helping with the worldwide retail expansion.

    Went from just a few hundred stores to many more, and I got to work closely with somebody who was a direct report of the head of retail. It was just a fascinating experience where I learned that Apple as a company doesn’t just innovate in products, it really thinks about everything as an opportunity to innovate.

    There’s tons of stories, but one that I’m pretty fond of is that I was in Cupertino, and they have, where retails is based, really, at the time, it was off from the main campus, and they actually had a whole Mac store, where they prototyped, in physical scale, all sorts of things, not just displays and where products go, but like, what tile should we use for the floor, or what should each HVAC system look like the part that you could actually see?

    All those decisions were being made in a life scale. At the time, Steve Jobs would come once a week. Him and Ron Johnson would just go around the store and make decisions. They were making a decision about the next iPod or the next iPhone. It just is incredible to think about a company that’s known for products, innovating in all these other ways that you wouldn’t think about.

    Esther: I think that’s actually one of the things that interests people about the world we’re in, in terms of mobile growth, which is, Apple is so incredibly thoughtful and brilliant in a lot of ways about everything they’re doing with their products, and how they market and how they brand. Then you come to the subscription side, which, I could say, from years back, back when we first started in the realm of mobile growth, it felt a little bit like an afterthought. It wasn’t something that was the biggest focus.

    I think today, probably you could speak a little more to this, developers struggle. They struggle with finding the right ways to monetize and really tap into the store the way they would hope. Maybe you could talk through a little bit. I imagine Nami was started for a reason and out of a specific [unintelligible 00:07:02] if maybe you could talk about that a bit.

    Dan: Yes. Even just taking one step back from subscription for a second. I think that, in a way, the idea of– There’s so much effort in the industry. Our industry is focused on acquisition. If you think about it, in a way, even that’s still an afterthought. We just now have the ability to do a custom product page, where we can give one user cohort, a different way into the app than the next. That’s what landing pages are on the web, and we’ve had those for however long.

    Esther: The most basic, exactly. The most basic thing, customize a user flow, only happened a month ago, basically.

    Dan: Yes, that’s right. Then we can now do product page optimization. That’s literally talking about the top of the funnel. Well, maybe not the tippy top, but pretty far up there. I think that a lot of this, even before you figure out, how should I monetize? Should I do add? Should I do a blend? Should I do subscription? It’s still just trying to figure out, how do we get audience that is, A, growing? That’s important, but B, finding the right audience and trying messaging that resonates with them so that we’re not downstream fighting this churn problem over push notifying people and over emailing because we’re just trying to claw people back that we’ve acquired.

    That’s back to your question of what’s the origin story is that, my co-founder and I, we built one of the first companies in push notification. We were really focused on use cases like breaking news and sports scores, that for the most part, if you receive an alert like that on your phone, you want it. Our technology got acquired, we ended up at Oracle. We plugged that push engine into a product called the Oracle Marketing Cloud.

    What we saw was how marketers started to think about push technology. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it started to become a tool for promotions, insurance, some of these things. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that it ends up being this blunt instrument that, if you’re not very, very careful, you can have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to have with your user. We wanted to say, “If there’s a way that we can help people be more efficient with revenue, where they don’t have to resort to some of these tools too much. Push is still part of the mix, email is still part of the mix, but it should be a balanced part of the story.  That would be a win.

    The second thing was that we also saw that, especially on the monetization side, especially in subscription, we saw a lot of history repeating itself, which was in push. It was originally the developers that were implementing and adopting, utilizing, and building APIs. Eventually what happened was the marketing teams took over and started driving features, started driving how to measure and it just a totally different product emerged when you saw those personas shift.

    What’s happening in subscription monetization now and even with the features we talked about with product pages, is that I feel like, up to this point in the app story, so much has been a homebuilt or homegrown or maybe that’s the wrong way to put it, controlled by developers. You want to make a change to your subscription paywall? Well, that’s going to be an app update. There was a limit to what the non-technical people were able– how deep in the funnel, the non-technical people in the flow could manage and control.

    It ended at those store pages. What we want to do is punch a hole through the flow and give the non-technical personas control of the paywall. By the way, if you’re going to have multiple product pages, you might as well have multiple paywalls that are aligned to the different messaging that you’re trying out or different acquisition campaigns that you’re running, and so on. That’s a long answer to the origin story but it was a number of themes coming together around the personas. They needed to be able to take control of these things, how hard subscriptions was and how unoptimized it was, and just our experience with over-messaging and maybe we could play a little bit of a role to camp down on that a little bit.

    Esther: I think it’s something that we’ve experienced a lot as well on our side, this idea that you have marketers and you have developers and there’s been this division. It constantly comes into conflict. For the marketer, there’s so much pain right now, because everything has been– I think you’re completely right, has been focused around the developer. Even things like analytics and understanding further down the line, I brought these users in, are they actually doing anything for me? Did they download and call it a day? Are they responding? Are they the type of user we brought in? We lose a lot of that.

    Certainly, at a post iOS 14.5 world, a lot of that gets lost. Talk me through the subscription model a little bit. What are the advantages for an app developer of using subscription model as opposed to advertising pure in-app purchase? Why would somebody consider a subscription?

    Dan: Well, it’s becoming the dominant driver of growth across the store. In every category, even in categories like games, there’s a move towards subscription. Maybe the reason to do it isn’t just because everybody else is doing it. However, consumers are getting used to the idea of a subscription model. It’s part of the mix, it’s not some foreign objects that you only see once in a blue moon, that’s important. Consumer behavior is moving there.

    Certainly, Apple and Google are encouraging developers to adopt the model. That’s really important because, as they make editorial decisions, for example, that’s going to matter. It’s not to say they don’t promote apps that have ads only or apps that has in-app purchases, but certainly adopting things that are aligned is important as well. Really, it comes down to sustainability. It’s still very expensive to build, manage, operate, grow a mobile property.

    It’s this tremendous investment over time and if you’re depending on in-app purchases, one-time purchases, it works really well in games because, in a lot of ways, those in-app purchases behave like subscriptions. The users are coming back and buying multiple times. In other categories, in non-gaming categories, that mechanic usually doesn’t exist. Subscriptions offers an opportunity for you to create value over time and there’s a value exchange over time, which is really important. Just more sustainability for the publisher.

    The user’s expectations are different, too. That’s good, that’s healthy. If somebody comes in and they’re willing to pay for a few months, then something changes in the product and they’re starting to question that, you want to know that and then bring that feedback back into the product. I think it’s a really healthy model, in spite of the sentiment out there of subscription fatigue and some of those things that you see in the press, I do think it’s a win-win model for consumers and publishers.

    Esther: Makes sense. Let’s talk a little bit about subscription fatigue. I think there is that fear of, if I’m forcing my users into a commitment, do I lose users that would have stuck with VFA if I didn’t make it so official, if I threw it in bit by bit. What are your thoughts on that?

    Dan: Well, I think you’re exactly right. While you’re also talking about errors, you have to get into the subscription in order to use the product. In some categories, health and fitness being one, that’s very common. You start a free trial. If you don’t convert from free to paid, well, guess what? You don’t get to work out. Very common there.

    In other categories, you see a little bit more of a freemium type model where there is some access, some things you can do, but then if you want to do more then maybe you have to participate in the subscription. I think there’s a opportunity to do all these things in a way where, for example, you offer the lifetime access, that’s a one-time purchase for a certain type of demographic that would just prefer to pay once and not do the subscription, or you have little appetizers, little entrees in the application where you’re able to move them from free to paid, maybe through a one-time purchase. From there, the ultimate goal might be to get them into the subscription.

    It’s also trying to find users– I say that and it sounds like you’re trying to trick users into the subscription, but really what it is is about market segmentation. You’re trying to find the users that are the right fit for the subscription, but also finding, well, what’s the opportunity for those users that aren’t the right fit? Is there an opportunity? Maybe the answer’s no. If there’s an opportunity for a life experience that’s got some value exchange, great, or maybe there’s certain quarter-year users that you do want into the product for a variety of reasons and you’re okay with ad-supported for those people.

    Subscriptions is never going to be right for everybody. I think that is a mentality mistake that sometimes people make where they are jamming a lot of users through the acquisition funnel and they want to get them all converted into subscriptions. What they’re missing is that it’s not going to be right for everybody.

    Esther: How do you do that process of identifying who makes sense for a subscription? Is it a persona? Is it behavior-based? Let’s say we’re approaching this in a sophisticated way and getting the understanding of, I want some people in my subscription model, we’ll be lucrative there, other people, I need to nurture in a different way. How do you get there? How do you find those answers?

    Dan: Unfortunately, there’s a few pieces that have to come together. It’s not so easy to just like, boom, here’s your cohort of potential subscribers, here’s your cohort of ad-supported. Part of it is behavioral. You do have to have some general behavioral analytics to understand what different cohorts of users are doing. There’s casual users. You have to make a decision of, okay, here’s what a casual user looks like. Maybe they’re not in the app every day, that’s okay. Maybe they’re in once a month. What do we want to do to serve that audience? Do we want to do anything? You have to understand that they exist, and decide what to do with it.

    Also, you have to understand what channels are driving acquisition, what types of those user groups from the behavioral perspective, exist, and what channels are they coming from, and then what do you want to do about that. You may spend a lot of money in driving those casual users who may not generate the revenue that you’re looking for because they might not be a good fit for the subscription. Then the question would be, maybe you’re okay having those users but you’re not willing to pay for it through paid acquisition. If they come across you organically, fine, you have an opportunity, or if your CPM is such that it does become worth it. You have to understand the behavioral piece and the cohorting there but you also have to understand connect the dots on the acquisition side.  If you can’t do that, then– Most apps out there aren’t reliant only on organic for acquisition. That’s the second piece.

    From the A/B testing perspective, I do think there’s lots of opportunities to test all sorts of things from what we talked about earlier, product page optimization, paywall optimization. Those other threads have to run through it. I think a lot of people maybe might A/B test without a goal in mind. What are you trying to test? What are you trying to determine? Not just which one of these things has the best performance, because if you don’t know what all the inputs are and you’re trying to get an answer, well, that answer might be answering the question about an audience that you’re not necessarily focused on, if that makes sense.

    Esther: Yes. I think the example I use a lot when I’m thinking about that is for slots games, let’s say. Free coin messaging almost always will improve your conversion rate. People love free coins, but free coin users tend to play until their free coins run out, and then they run over to the next game. You’re not actually monetizing off of any of those users. You’ll see if you’re running a very simple on-the-surface test, you’ll say, “Great, I found my next creative. I found my messaging. We’re good to go.” Down the line, all of a sudden, you start losing out on your income and you realize you optimize for the wrong group.

    I think it’s really important, what you’re saying is this idea of tying my acquisition funnels. I’d say even organic at some point comes through some kind of acquisition. Nobody wakes up one morning and thinks, “Hey, here’s the name of an app. I’m going to go download it.” Something went in there. To be able to tie that back and see what is not just is somebody subscribing, but are they subscribing well? Do I keep them? Do they seem to be using? Do they seem to be getting value?

    I think it’s super important. I imagine it’s got more challenging with things like the deprecation of IDFA and new privacy that’s continued to be rolled out. Is that something that you guys have faced? Is there a good way to make sure that you’re not losing the tie-in on these funnels when you’re looking at optimizing your subscriptions?

    Dan: It’s a challenge. Although I think it’s an opportunity too, because if you think about, in the world where IDFA is prolific, think about the number of tools that even a medium-sized app publisher would need to have in place to connect all those dots. Yes, they had IDFA to match and do all the fun identity stuff, but you’ve got attribution tools, you’ve got analytics tools, you’ve got a customer data platform to move all the data around, you’ve got actually multiple analytics tools probably. I’m probably missing a bunch of stuff in the ad stack. It’s just a lot.

    We don’t have IDFA or the opt-in rates are so low that let’s just pretend we don’t have it. Maybe it just means that we should be thinking a little bit differently about how we want to glean some insights. For example, it’s pretty common, on the web, if somebody signs up for a SaaS product, to just ask them how they found out about the product. I understand why we don’t want to do that in mobile because the drop-off and the friction on the signup flows is pretty steep. Maybe we should just try some things like surveying our users and finding very quick UI patterns that allow us to do that so that we can glean insights to personalize the experience. I think the people are willing to share.

    Esther: I’d imagine this ties into when you get somebody who’s committed enough to subscribe, the tying in a little bit about what brought them there, that might be a time when you get somebody who’s more willing than you would expect. It’s not a first-time user who’s about to investigate. It’s somebody who’s saying, “Yes, I’m ready. I’m putting my credit card down. I like this.” I think maybe there is a friendliness that you can take advantage of there if they remember, depending how long the model goes of freemium and what have you. It’s an interesting thought.

    Dan: Yes, it’s not perfect. I guess what I’m just getting at is we try to use technology to answer some of these questions. IDFA already isn’t perfect even when you have it. There’s a lag time. Like I said, you need all these different tools and stitching it all together. However, the flip side is it provides insight. What do we all want more of? We want more insights.

    I think that part of the– also related to this subject is that, oftentimes, people don’t know what to do next. I could go and really focus on ASO for a while or I could go and work on the custom product pages and do optimization there. What should I literally do next to have the most impact on mobile growth? I do think that that’s where some of these stitching together these solutions try to promise that they’re the answer to this problem. A lot of them aren’t really telling you what to do next. They’re just helping you have more data to come through.

    Esther: That’s a great point. I think we tend to fall back on this idea that, if we have data, we’re covered. We have the data, so we should have the answers, but actually, is this data the answer? Is this data teaching us what we need to do? I think it’s a security blanket. We’re collecting analytics, so we’re okay. What do we actually do with that? Are we doing the right thing with it? Probably not in many cases.

    Dan: Well, back to the developer marketer divide, not to simplify the personas too much because there’s lots of different types of developers, lot of different people and growth teams and marketing teams. We also have to collect analytics the right way to get the insights that we are looking for. Sometimes these general-purpose analytics solutions where you’re tagging events and doing these things, you end up not getting what you need. Guess what? You put in a different package that’s promising to answer a different question. Now developers are spending their time maintaining three different analytics implementations, all providing some different slice.

    Guess what? Developers just want to work on the core experience most of the time. That can be frustrating too. I think part of it is because, if the developer doesn’t know what question is trying to be answered and they’re just taking a requirements document that says, “Hey, I need to know anytime somebody taps this button or makes it in the signup form or creates an account,” without really understanding the intent, sometimes you’re just going through a lot of pain to not get the answers you want.

    Esther: You can add an extra layer of, sometimes you have the developer who doesn’t understand the business need that’s driven it, the marketer who doesn’t know how to access the data points, and the analyst in the middle who gets a requirement from each side to produce a report to send to this side or this side. You have just that telephone game of what are you actually getting back in the end? Is it the answer to the business question that you needed?

    Dan: Meanwhile, we’re two quarters down the road and we haven’t grown.

    Esther: Yes, exactly. Or our revenues are going down and we have no idea why. 100%. I’m sure this is going to be hard to answer because, like you said, the right subscription is based on type of app, on type of user. I actually remember you brought up fitness that it’s an easy factor of either you get it or you don’t. I remember talking to somebody from 8fit a little while ago and they were saying it might be worth, sometimes we see more value out of putting the subscription before somebody even has a chance to get addicted because it forces them to use the app.

    It basically filters them out from the very beginning and they were able to see. I think it’s counterintuitive to what a lot of people would think, but it worked out well in certain cases of actually just keeping committed users and forcing them into a process. Would you say there’s an overall, this is the mistake that we see people making when it comes to subscription, this is something that people are doing and we know it’s wrong, or is it just too industry and case-specific to be able to say.

    Dan: I think there are common patterns of mistakes, they are not all the time. By the way, in that fitness example, the other thing is if somebody’s downloading a fitness app, there’s some level of internal drive motivation that’s like, “Hey, I need to work out more. I want to get fit.” By prompting them into a trial right out of the gate, you’re actually aligned with them. They want to do the thing. It’s easier in that context, I think, than if it’s a weather app or something in food, where it’s like, maybe there’s a reason you downloaded it, but it wasn’t tied to this real strong need to make a life change if that makes sense. Anyway, I think that’s a unique pattern of health and fitness. One of the common mistakes that we see is that you do spend all your time on the product pages and the marketing and in the collateral and have these beautiful demo videos and spend so much on great marketing, but then when the user gets to that subscription upsell paywall, there’s no marketing, it’s not designed, it’s not particularly attractive. It’s just information, it’s intimidating, it’s like, “Oh man, another one of these,” instead of looking at it as this is another marketing opportunity to literally inspire your user to do the thing that you want them to do.

    That’s pretty common. I think, generally speaking, these things are way behind what people do on the web for similar types of products– not similar types of products, similar types of business models.

    That’s one. I think another thing is it’s pretty common to just look at your peer set, your competitive set around pricing, and also things like paywall and just say, well, it must be working for them. These are the price points. This is how I’ll message it. I think, back to what we started with, some of this stuff is an afterthought from the platform providers all the way down.

    If you’re only looking at what others are doing as an example of best practice, it’s not to say there’s not best practice there, but it doesn’t that we’ve reached the optimized state. It just means that, hey, a pretty good app is doing a pretty good job, but there’s probably a lot of opportunities to do much better.

    8fit is a great example of one that has done a really fabulous job, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty more upside to be inventive. The other thing is 8fit, as an example, may have arrived at certain decisions on pricing or how they market, what their funnel is, and it’s based upon their learnings, let’s say. I don’t know that to be a fact, but I assume it is. If some new entrant in that category or some competitor of 8fit goes and looks at what they’re doing and just mimics without understanding how they arrived at that decision, then you’re not actually getting yourself into a position to have the foundational knowledge to know where to go next and how to optimize.

    Getting back to the basics of how to package a product pricing, messaging, basically marketing 101, I think there’s an opportunity there for folks to just literally go back to 1 to go to 10 instead of just always looking at the peer groups.

    Esther: I love that. I think you just reminded me of, in the early days of the app story, you saw this trend in app icons for mid-core games. It was all a screaming man with spit coming out of his mouth. If you started to drill into why this was everybody’s icon, it was like, well, Supercell do it, that’s what Clash of Clans do. You go all the way back to Supercell, and supercell happens to have amazing characters. They really develop them out, they do commercials, they have humor and that’s everywhere, and nobody else had that anywhere.

    It was just this like, “Well, Supercell did it and it worked with no connection too,” but it only works for Supercell because they have this character side. Now what I’m basically communicating is I’m another rip-off of Supercell. Once developers started changing that and approaching it, they found a really interesting kind of shift.

    I totally agree. I’m even thinking back to apps I use. There’s a standard, “You’ve done this for seven days now. Here’s how much it should cost.” There’s not really that consideration of, but who are you as an app versus just because you’re in a space where somebody popular has done something else, do you have that same brand recognition? Do you have that same product? Definitely not.

    I think that’s a great point. Let’s end this section off with, if you’re an app developer and you’re looking to start exploring a subscription model, how do you begin that process? What should I do? How do I think about it? What background do I need to do?

    Dan: Great question. I think part of it depends on, are you in the market already, or are you not in the market? If you’re in-market with something, you have to decide, what am I going to do for my current users? There’s a lot of [unintelligible 00:34:57] out there around apps that have transitioned to the subscription model. I think, if you’re already in the market and you want to adopt subscriptions, just be really good to your existing user base, just give them what they think they’ve bought, give them lifetime access, if they were a one-time purchaser, let’s say.

    Give them an opportunity to just keep rolling the way they are without transition, and then focus your subscription opportunity on new users. Otherwise, you’re just spending your brand currency on customer service and trying to really just– You’re going to not get ahead of it because you’ll think everybody will just be fine with it and then you’ll have backlash. It’s just better to just treat existing users really well and adopt the model for new users.

    Now, if you are a brand new app or one that isn’t monetizing yet, then I think, really what it comes down to is just start and don’t get too hung up on the prices and the plans and the exact mix of it. Have a mindset that it’s the starting of the learning, it’s not where you’re going to end.

    That’s back to what we just talked about where a lot of people just look at the competitive set, and then they never change. They literally have the same prices they did five years ago or two years ago. They’ve never changed how they’re marketing the subscription. Everything else around that is changing. They’re trying things all around except for that. I think it’s important to have a mindset and then make investments that are about flexibility.

    For example, I’ll do a minor plug. We make it really easy to adopt the model, but then to turn the marketing asset, the paywall, into a thing that’s controlled by a CMS so that somebody can just go in and say, “You know what? That monthly plan, we just didn’t get it right. Let’s just make a change. It doesn’t affect anybody that’s currently subscribed. It’s just about new subscribers. Let’s not offer the monthly plan, let’s offer them the weekly plan.”

    I’m not saying that’s the best practice. I’m just saying that you can make changes. Just go make a change and learn. If that doesn’t work, try something new and really just treat it as a canvas that’s never finished and that is just opportunity to learn. I think that’s just really important. That’s what I would advise.

    Esther: Amazing. I think, overall, it makes total sense. People are treating a paywall as not a marketing asset and as not part of the product. It’s just in that limbo where it seems like, the way you describe it, it’s lower risk than even updating your product. You’re not going to piss your existing users off because it’s not affecting them.

    It’s just seeing what’s happening for the next step. You can just iterate it and iterate it until you get it to a place where it’s comfortable for now, until your metrics start to show you that it’s time to go back to the drawing board. I love that. It sounds so simple, but I think it’s just not being thought up in that way. Are you ready for the quickfire round?

    Dan: Oh, here we go.

    Esther: Here we go. It’s not that hard. If you could give just one tip to somebody who’s just entering into the world of mobile growth and marketing, what would it be?

    Dan: This might be controversial. I just don’t think there’s really a lot of experts in the field. I think there’s people that have been around a while or people that are doing interesting things, but I think it’s an opportunity for real thought leadership in innovators. That’s not to offend anybody that is a mobile growth person and has a lot of experience there, but it’s just to say that if you’re new, I just think it’s such a early field still, young, full of opportunity for somebody to just really be inventive and set that new standard of everybody’s going to want to copy you because that was such a great idea or a great case study of how to get to a great place, by iterating over time.

    Esther: Amazing. Favorite mobile growth resource?

    Dan: Probably Twitter. I know that’s not a single resource. The thing is that I think you just see what people across the spectrum are doing and thinking about from little one-person outfits to larger companies that are doing things and where the technology is shifting and where the innovation is and what’s getting people excited. Sometimes I think that you just got to have to immerse in things like that. I’ll stick with that answer.

    Esther: I like it. It aligns well with your first answer too. Person in the industry that you’d most want to take for lunch and why?

    Dan: First person to take to lunch and why. Oh, man. That’s a really, really difficult question. It would probably be somebody at a company like Netflix who really is a well-oiled machine when it comes to this stuff, but they also have made some really tough choices around how their mobile products work, what you can and can’t do. For example, purchases. I just think that you would mind just a tremendous amount of that insight that isn’t out there because nobody operates at a scale like that. There are not very many companies operating in a scale like that.

    Somebody that’s on the growth team at a Netflix-class company or a Hulu-class company, I think would be real fascinating.

    Esther: If you thought that one was hard, this is our hardest, which is, what is your favorite flavor of pancake?

    Dan: Probably sweet potato.

    Esther: Sweet potato. Good answer. That’s out there. I like that. [crosstalk]

    Dan: Sweet potato chocolate chips. I think you combine those.

    Esther: If you ever make it out to Tel Aviv, there’s a really good sweet potato pancake in Tel Aviv. Just saying, if it wasn’t on your list already, spot it in.

    Dan: All right, let’s do it. [crosstalk]

    Esther: Because you can get the pancake there. Amazing. Dan, where can people find you if they want to learn more or hear what you’re talking about?

    Dan: Sure, two places. One, I’m on Twitter. My last name B-U-R-C-A-W is my handle. The company, we’re on all the places, but easiest is just to go to the website nami.ml. Nami is like tsunami, nami.ml.


    Esther: Amazing. Thank you so much. This was awesome.

    Dan: Thanks so much.

    Esther: That was Mobile Growth & Pancakes. To find out more about Storemaven and how we can improve app store performance, visit storemaven.com, and then make sure to search for Mobile Growth & Pancakes in Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, or anywhere else podcasts are found and click subscribe, so you don’t miss any future episodes.

    On behalf of the team here at Storemaven, thanks for listening.

    About Ron Gordon
    Ron is Storemaven's Head of Marketing, the one person you would have guessed will know what this mobile growth talk is all about. A misguided law student and journalist, Ron brings to the table some lack of seriousness the Hitech realm is desperately in need of. In his spare time, he's mainly trolling Whatsapp groups.

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