50 Mobile App Growth Hacking Tactics You Can Try Today

50 Mobile App Growth Hacking Tactics You Can Try Today

Portrait photo of blog author
Dan Burcaw
Co-Founder & CEO

Discover how you can increase mobile app subscriptions with 50 growth hacks – experiment across different stages of the user journey with paywall AB testing, best practices for user acquisition and using in-app features to drive subscription growth.

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With great opportunity comes fierce competition. The world is increasingly being run on apps – which makes it both a boon and a bane for businesses hoping to attract customers. To establish a strong foothold, you need to cut through the noise.

Sure, strategic planning is crucial for long-term subscription growth. But sometimes, a quicker win can be achieved through rapid testing of various mobile app growth hacking tactics. This is how you can identify what resonates with your users, and then double down on those high-performing strategies.

We have compiled a list of 50 growth hacks (yes, we said 50!) that are used by some of the world’s most successful apps that you can experiment with to drive the growth of your app subscriptions.

We’ve broken down these hacks into five key areas, so you can unlock subscriber growth across every stage of the user journey.

  • Know your ideal subscriber so you can create relevant subscription offerings.
  • Conduct targeted acquisition to attract the right users with the right message at the right time.
  • Make the free-to-paid user journey frictionless so that upgrading becomes really easy.
  • Find ways to optimize your app using data and run A/B tests so you can refine it for continuous growth.
  • Engage with your users in-app to keep them hooked and nudge them towards a subscription.

Know your ideal subscriber – craft relevant subscription offerings

  • Craft user personas: Identify your ideal subscriber's demographics, desires, and frustrations. What keeps them up at night? How can your app solve their problems? When you understand this you can tailor the app experience, and subscription offerings, to the actual needs of your users.
  • Conduct user research: Surveys, polls, and interviews provide invaluable insights directly from your target audience. You won’t have to rely on guessing which features will attract a premium – you can use actual user feedback to define your subscription plans.
  • Analyze app usage data: Not everyone uses your app the same way. See how users interact with the features in your free tier. Analyze usage patterns to optimize your free tier, then segment users (potential, engaged, churned) and target them with tailored incentives throughout the subscription lifecycle to skyrocket conversions.
  • Leverage user reviews: App reviews are gold! Positive ones highlight winning features, while negative ones reveal pain points. Listen, learn, and adapt your subscription offering. Turn frustrated reviewers into loyal subscribers by addressing their concerns.
  • Social listening & competitor analysis: Monitor relevant app communities on social media and online forums. Identify user pain points and desired features. Analyze your competitors' subscription offerings and user reviews to understand what features resonate with your target audience who use apps similar or complementary to yours. Use all this data to tailor your subscription plans to address specific needs.
  • User onboarding quiz: Integrate a short quiz when onboarding new users to understand their goals and needs. Based on their responses, recommend the most suitable subscription plan, maximizing the chances of conversion.

Targeted acquisition – attract the right users with the right message at the right time

  • Highlight value proposition: Don't just tell users about the premium side of your app, tell them why they need it. Craft compelling copy that speaks directly to your target audience's needs and desires. Clearly communicate the exclusive features and enhanced functionalities offered by a subscription, showcasing the additional value they'll unlock.
  • Utilize appealing creatives: Use high-quality, eye-catching visuals in your app paywalls to grab attention and make a strong impression. This will pique the user’s interest and nudge them towards that "buy" button.
  • Frictionless onboarding: First impressions matter! Guide new users seamlessly through core functionalities during onboarding. Showcase the app's strengths like its user-friendly design to make them feel confident using the app – only then will they feel comfortable spending money on a subscription.
  • Focus on immediate value: Don't overwhelm users with complex features right away. Highlight the benefits they can unlock with the free tier, showcasing the app's core value proposition and encouraging them to explore further – it takes proof of value to be convinced of the utility of an app before someone decides to spend money
  • Strategically place CTAs: Calls to action (CTAs) are your conversion levers. Don't just place them anywhere. CTAs should appear strategically at opportune moments when users experience limitations of the free tier. This nudges them towards upgrading for a more complete and valuable experience.
  • App store screenshot carousel: Design screenshots for the app store showcasing the value proposition of your subscription plans. Highlight exclusive features and benefits to entice users to download your app and upgrade!
Image shows Headspace using the image carousel in the app store to share screenshots to showcase its value proposition
  • Content marketing magnet: Publish valuable content (blog posts, infographics, videos) that addresses your ideal subscriber's pain points. Subtly integrate your subscriptions as the ultimate solution.
  • Influencer sponsorship: Partner with relevant influencers like Instagrammers or podcasters to reach your target audience. Offer exclusive discounts on subscriptions during the collaboration content like reels or podcasts and leverage the host's credibility to promote your value proposition.
  • Themed subscription bundles: Partner with complementary subscription services to offer themed bundles.  For example, if you’re a streaming app a “movie night-in” bundle could be combined with a meal delivery app at a discounted rate. This incentivizes users to explore multiple subscriptions while offering a unique value proposition.
  • Subscription gifting: Introduce a feature that allows users to gift subscriptions to friends and family.  This fosters social sharing and encourages existing users to promote subscriptions – one of the best ways to drive adoption and engagement because the subscription comes from a trusted, loved source.
  • Leverage influencer reviews: Secure app reviews on popular blogs relevant to your niche. Positive reviews with mentions of premium features build trust, showcase app value, and drive new users to invest in upgrades.

Frictionless free-to-paid user journey – make upgrading really easy

  • Freemium with strategic limitations: Use this approach to hook users with a free app experience, but cleverly limit key features. It's a way to showcase the true value of your subscription and drive conversions by highlighting the full app potential.
Canva's paywall showing a 14-day free trial plan
  • Introduce a special price: Sometimes, users might be hesitant to commit to a premium subscription without fully understanding the app's value. An introductory price acts as a "test drive," allowing them to explore features and experience the benefits firsthand before committing to a long-term plan.
  • Strategic hints of premium: Don't force an upgrade, but subtly showcase its value. At key points in the free tier, introduce users to "premium-only" features with a gentle nudge towards subscribing to unlock the full experience.
  • Personalized recommendations: It's important to cater to individual needs. Leverage user data to suggest premium content or features that align with individual interests, making a premium subscription even more tempting for users.
  • Reward active users: Build loyalty and encourage upgrades. Implement a loyalty program where users earn points or badges for their activity, that can be redeemed for exclusive content or subscription discounts.
  • Freemium to premium flip: Intrigue users with a trial twist. Offer a limited "reverse trial" period where users automatically have access to premium features. After the trial, these features become locked, incentivizing users to subscribe to regain access.
Asana displaying a message at the end of the trial period
  • Friction point analysis: Analyze user behavior data to identify points in the free tier where users encounter friction. You can use such points to strategically introduce your premium plans – providing immediate context and value for the paid features, making upgrades more appealing.
  • Free tier expiry countdown: Implement a visible countdown timer within the free tier showcasing the remaining storage space or time left (or any other core feature that will run out) before limitations kick in. This creates a sense of urgency and subtly encourages users to upgrade before they lose a beloved feature.
  • Subscription waitlist with exclusive content & early access:  Implement a waitlist system for upcoming content releases or highly anticipated features.  Subscription users automatically gain priority access, while users on the free tier can join a waitlist. This incentivizes users to subscribe to avoid missing out on new releases and creates a sense of exclusivity for existing subscribers.
  • Subscription “buddy system” incentives: Introduce a "buddy system" where existing subscribers can invite friends to join the app and receive a discount on their subscription when their friend upgrades. This incentivizes existing users to promote the app.

Data-driven optimization – A/B test and refine for continuous growth

  • A/B test paywall placements: Don't settle for a single location to place your paywalls! Experiment with A/B testing paywalls by displaying them at strategic points in the user journey - onboarding, feature limitations within the free tier, or after completing tasks.
  • A/B test CTA placement: Experiment with different locations for your calls to action. Test CTAs after completion of key tasks, within limited freemium features, or even embedded in progress dashboards.
  • A/B test value propositions: Craft multiple compelling value propositions highlighting the different benefits of your subscriptions. Utilize A/B testing to compare these messages and see which ones resonate best with your target audience.
  • A/B test visual design: Utilize A/B testing to optimize your app’s paywall design. This goes beyond simply changing colors. Experiment with different visual hierarchies, color psychology, and overall design styles, like minimalist versus playful design approaches.
  • A/B test headlines & copywriting: Make use of different tones and styles like using strong verbs to encourage action (e.g., "Upgrade Now" vs. "Explore Premium”). You can also test the length of headlines and copy by comparing concise headlines that clearly communicate the value proposition versus longer, more descriptive headlines and copy.
  • A/B test social proof and trust signals: Utilize A/B testing to optimize the placement and format of social proof on your subscription paywall. This could be customer testimonials, logos of well-known companies using your app, or prominent security badges. For example, highlight industry-specific certifications for B2B users, or showcase testimonials from users with similar demographics for a more relatable approach with your B2C consumers. You can also test the format of social proof elements and trust signals like text-based testimonials, video testimonials, or showcasing user ratings and reviews.
Canva sharing logos of customers that use the business plan
  • A/B test different pricing layouts: Test different ways to present your pricing – it should be clear, concise, and easy for users to understand exactly what they're getting for their money. Avoid hidden fees or confusing terminology.
  • A/B test free trial durations: Test different trial lengths to discover the sweet spot for user habit formation within your app. A shorter trial might be enough to spark interest, while a slightly longer one could nudge users towards forming a regular habit and ultimately converting them into paying subscribers.
  • A/B test different pricing options by locations: Conduct price experiments in different countries. User behavior and price sensitivity vary greatly by location. By A/B testing different price points in different regions, you can reveal the unique price elasticity of each market, optimizing your pricing strategy so you can win over a global audience without sacrificing conversions.
  • User churn prediction & pre-emptive incentives: Implement churn prediction models based on user data and behavior patterns. For users identified at risk of canceling their subscription, launch targeted in-app campaigns with personalized offers or incentives to encourage them to stay with free or discounted upgrades.

In-app engagement strategies – keep users hooked and nudge them toward a subscription

  • Offer multiple paywall subscription models: Cater to different budgets and needs with various paywall subscription models offering different feature sets. Distribute features strategically across tiers. Higher tiers should offer significant value increases compared to lower tiers.
  • Offer annual subscription discounts: Implement a tiered pricing structure that incentivizes users to commit to a year-long subscription. Clearly showcase the cost savings associated with the annual plan compared to the monthly option. Annual subscriptions secure predictable recurring revenue for a year, boosting your overall customer lifetime value.
  • Subscription anniversary or birthday rewards: Celebrate user subscription anniversaries or their birthdays with exclusive rewards or bonus features in the form of higher-tier subscriptions or discounts. This fosters customer loyalty and appreciation, potentially encouraging users to maintain their subscriptions for the long term.
  • Run seasonal promotions: People are more receptive to special offers during holidays and seasonal events. Capitalize on this by running limited-time subscription deals that tap into the excitement of the season. The holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year's) is a goldmine for subscription campaigns, but don't stop there! Think creatively and explore other holidays relevant to your target audience and the countries or cities they live in.
  • Utilize in-app promotion: Carefully integrate non-intrusive ads or banners within the free tier to promote in-app purchases and potentially convert users to paying subscribers.
Asana showing an in-app message on the user's account page at the end of the free trial
  • Offer early access to new features: Entice users to subscribe by providing them with exclusive access to upcoming app features or content. Early access to new features creates a sense of exclusivity and significantly increases the perceived value of your premium subscriptions.
  • Host webinars or online courses: Offer valuable educational content related to your app's functionality, with a premium tier providing in-depth access or exclusive resources. Such content could take the form of pre-recorded webinars, live online courses, or downloadable resources
  • Run contests and giveaways: Organize contests and giveaways with subscriptions as prizes to generate excitement and attract new users.
  • Push notifications: Utilize strategic push notifications to remind users about valuable subscription features or limited-time offers. However, avoid being spammy – tailor notifications to be relevant and add value.
  • Offer offline functionality or syncing features (if applicable): Provide the ability to use certain app features even without an internet connection or the ability to sync across multiple devices, increasing the value proposition of a subscription.
  • Use the FOMO effect: Create a sense of urgency with a limited-time deal. But be mindful and ethical about how you use this. The fear of missing out (FOMO) incentivizes users to act fast and subscribe before the deal expires but you need to make sure you don’t end up overwhelming users with constant promotions.
  • "Others are upgrading" notification: Display a notification (with privacy considerations) that a certain number of users within the app (or a specific region) have recently upgraded to the premium tier. This social proof, combined with a touch of FOMO, can nudge users towards subscribing as well.
  • Offer the benefits of a community: Nothing creates a sense of belonging like a strong community does. Include community elements like exclusive forums, expert interactions, or the ability to "connect" with other users as premium features – all of which create a rich social experience within the app.

Unlock mobile app subscription growth by testing multiple hacks

The mobile app landscape is teeming with subscription opportunities, but standing out requires a strategic approach. Before you decide to invest in specific tactics, try testing out different hacks that can help you make an immediate impact and score some quick wins in the form of new paying subscribers.

These hacks are your springboard for crafting comprehensive app growth strategies. Experiment, analyze, and refine your approach to build a thriving and loyal subscriber base.

Want to ace mobile app growth hacking? Build high-converting app paywalls and test these strategies in minutes! Sign up for a free trial of Nami's no-code paywall builder platform and unlock the full potential of your mobile app subscriptions.

Dan Burcaw is Co-Founder & CEO of Nami ML. He built a top mobile app development agency responsible for some of the most elite apps on the App Store and then found himself inside the mobile marketing industry after selling his last company to Oracle.

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