How to increase app subscribers

Person reviewing revenue
  • Personalized paywall screens
  • Pick the right time to ask your user for payment
  • Get more app subscribers with free trials or promotions

Growing your app subscriber base can seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a large marketing budget to work with. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do within your own app to help with user growth and conversion.

Here are three effective tips to gain new subscribers and retain your existing subscribers:

Tip #1: Personalized paywall screens

If you’ve read our tips on how to [improve app onboarding], you’ll know that clearly communicating the benefit of your app to your user is important. 

When asking a free user to convert to a paid user, the stakes are even higher because you are asking the user to place a monetary value on the benefit they get from your app

Figure out the benefit that resonates with your user on a personal level and focus on that when asking them to upgrade. 

  • Are you a news app? Focus on the stories your user reads the most. 
  • Are you a productivity app? Focus on how much time you have saved your user since they’ve downloaded your app. 

Example of a personalized paywall screen

Strava + Apple Watch Paywall 

During Strava’s onboarding, users that set up an Apple Watch are shown a personalized paywall that talks to the specific benefits a paid subscription provides to the Apple Watch. 

Strava Apple Watch Paywall


Tip #2: Pick the right time to ask your user for payment

If you’re asking your user to pay to use your app before they’ve even seen a single piece of content from you, you’re asking too soon. Someone has to be highly motivated to subscribe in this situation. 

Allow users to see more of your product before asking for payment. 

There are several ways that you can do this:

  • Set up a free trial of your subscription 
    • For example, if you’re a fitness program app, let a user try one week for free to see if they like your classes. That is enough time to try a few things, but not enough time to really see a lasting impact of what your program offers.
  • Decide what content in your should be free
    • Building on the app example above, if you don’t want to give away classes for free, perhaps you make workout plans free. Users can still follow the plan and know what you teach but they won’t get the full benefit of taking a class. 
  • Decide what features of your app should be free
    • This is a tough one because you want to make sure you aren’t detracting too much from the benefit of your app, but there are ways to find areas to carve out for paid subscribers. Again building on the app example above, if you don’t want to gate content, consider gating features like the ability to cast the workout to your TV or to integrate your Apple watch. 


Example of a paywall screen for gated features


DuoLingo limits how much content you can complete in a single day. If you are motivated to put more time into learning a language, you can unlock unlimited content with a paid subscription. 

DuoLingo paywall screen

Tip #3: Get more app subscribers with free trials or promotions

Even though app subscriptions can start as low as $0.49/mo, a lot of users are still hesitant to commit to a digital subscription. 

To help ease a user into the idea of purchasing a subscription, try these:

  • Clearly state that you can cancel at anytime
  • Create an introductory offer for a Free Trial. Apple offers several time windows for free trials so you can choose what makes sense for your app.
    • App store free trial interface
  • Give out offer codes for Free Trials. Offer codes are another mechanism to provide your user the ability to try a subscription without paying upfront.
    •  App store free offer codes interface

Example of Free Trial Paywall screen

Medium covers all of the points above, offering both a free trial and clearly communicating that you can cancel anytime. They even go as far to assure you that they will contact you 3 days before your trial ends so that you know you can cancel.

Medium app paywall

Ready to try out some of these tips?

mbark is a low-code platform you can use to design, launch, and iterate on mobile app paywalls. Get up and running in less than an hour and start improving your app. 

Iterating on your mobile app paywall has never been easier or faster:

  • mbark integrates directly with Apple in-app purchase
  • Release new SKUs to your paywall immediately
  • Update paywall screen layouts with web-based design tools