The Art of Acquisition 07: Converting Installs to Subscriptions

6 min readApr 5, 2022

As an app developer, you may directly focus on the conversion rate of your app and miss the underlying details that are key to your growth.

One of the most important metrics that mobile marketers work to increase is their app’s conversion rates. But according to a study, only %2 of app installs lead to purchases. This means conversion isn’t enough of a metric alone, it needs to be supported by the next steps of the user’s journey, such as subscription, to become an actual indicator of growth.

We’ve uncovered a few steps that will lead your users to subscribe to your app, and ultimately, bring the desired growth and revenue for your mobile app. The first step from installation to subscription and the first method your subscribers will see is the paywall.

  1. Paywalls

Paywalls emerged as a popular business model online in the mid-2000s. They are a form of content restriction that requires people to pay a fee in order to read or view the full content. They work best when used on digital media such as websites, apps, and mobile devices.

Paywalls offer a few different models, as described below. Before launching your app with a paywall, you can consider the following concepts and definitions and apply the most useful one for your app.

a) Hard Paywalls

  1. A hard paywall is the type of paywall that requires a subscription right away. When a user installs an app, accesses a website, and starts taking action, the paywall appears on the screen. These types of paywalls are mostly used by media and journalism companies, such as websites of newspapers, or magazines.
  2. Hard paywalls are usually not recommended by marketers, since it’s a well-known fact that it causes users to abandon the platform most of the time.*

b) Soft (Metered) Paywalls

  1. When users can have the experience of your app or benefit from your services for a limited time, we call this type of paywall a soft paywall. In order to use the advanced features or access all the features of your app, users have to start a subscription plan on the soft paywalls. As a developer, you can determine which features users can access for free, and how long their time on your app will last.
  2. The article platform Medium and media outlet New York Times uses this model. Although it’s a relatively successful paywall type, it’s still hard to convert high numbers of installs to subscriptions with this model, since it works on a small number of users for mobile apps.

c) Freemium Paywalls

  1. In the Freemium paywall model, you can allow access to the major part of your app but restrict access to the premium part of it. In this way, you can reach different kinds of users and showcase the majority of your app to a general audience. Having something to offer to your users is great, but the disadvantage of this paywall is, that only the premium part of the app is monetized in general.

d) Dynamic Paywalls

  1. Though it’s a little bit complex to create one, dynamic paywalls show more information and subscription packages to users. This kind of paywall only appears if the user is very likely to subscribe, according to the discovery and research you will do on your users. If you want to use a dynamic paywall, timing is very important, as well as content and the design of your paywall. They should be created in the most beneficial way.
  2. In other words, dynamic paywalls require expertise, analysis, and data about your users to work in the most efficient way.

For this step, you can determine which paywall you should use, how much information your paywall will cover, and the timing of it. If you’ve gained an understanding of paywalls, you can read the next step, which is Subscription Packages.

Subscription Packages

The next screen after the paywall (or during, if you use a dynamic paywall) your users will see is the subscription packages screen. During this stage, there are a few elements you need to know, such as the loyalty level of your app, what kind of a service your app offers, can your services be used for a long period or short period of time, and the pricing of your packages. The subscription packages can be seasonal and can change based on the needs of your current and potential users. The packages also can be renewed from time to time.

Understanding The Characteristics Of Your App & Your Potential Users

Another important piece of information is the characteristics of your app, as well as the details about your users. What are your users’ demographics, gender, income, country, and age? What kind of solution do you provide with your app? What are the usage habits of your users? While you can do proper research on the internet, you will still be estimating this information and cannot be 100% sure unless you gather metrics and work based on numbers. To be certain and work with solid facts, the best method is to conduct tests.

Localization, Design, And Pricing

Since every information you’ve collected may vary for different countries, categories, and time periods, you should do testing and follow a different strategy for the results. As an app developer, you should know your competitors, their subscription packages, and paywalls. Localization is also another important factor that can help your app reach users worldwide.

The design and content of your paywalls and subscription packages are also very critical. They should reflect your app, connect to and convince your users to take the next step, and should be created in the most profitable way for the users. Both user experience and user interface should be on a good level, they should be understandable, readable, should appear at the right time, and convince them to take the action.

Users should understand and feel that they will find the solution by subscribing to your app, and your app will actually bring a benefit, change and impact to their life. And from colors, you use to the package offerings and pricing, these steps should be taken professionally and based on metrics to ensure optimal returns.

Conversation Rate And LTV Metrics

Every app has different characteristics. Your app can work great in Japan but you may need to offer longer periods of subscription packages in Russia to get similar results, you can gather this information by testing. Making segmentations about your users and their countries will maximize your conversion rate, and will hold a critical place for the lifetime value of your app.

If you cannot adjust the strategies that are depending on the different factors, your conversation rate and LTV will be lower. And when these two metrics are low, you may see low install and subscription rates as a result.


In other words, having a broader perspective and understanding of each step of the user’s journey will help you reach your desired results.

You may need to work with pricing analysts, designers and you may need to conduct tests to solidify your efforts. These steps can cost you a lot. This is where Cherry comes into play. Cherry can help you to fund and manage every aspect of your mobile app’s marketing process, from pricing, content to creatives. On the journey to your app’s success, you can reach growth and revenue with Cherry, in the best way possible.

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