“I can’t speak enough to how important marketing automation is…” — Podcast with onX’s Ryan Watson

Plus: the TikTokification of video ads, increasing value with partnerships, and why influencer marketing should be a full-funnel tactic.

David Barnard

David Barnard

PublishedLast updated

What can an app for hunters teach us about user acquisition? Turns out, a lot. 

Ryan Watson — Director of Growth Marketing at the huge and market-dominating subscription app you might not have heard of — has a multi-prong approach to acquire more users.

“We work with a lot of influencers,” Ryan says in this episode of the Sub Club podcast. “onX is very focused on doing that at scale.”

onXmaps, Inc. is a leading provider of apps in the outdoor navigation space, growing from the original onX Hunt app to apps for a range of outdoor adventures. 

Having a niche audience can make acquisition a challenge

But Ryan’s well aware that when you’re working with a niche audience, acquisition is a prime concern. It should come as no surprise that any new business-builder has a host of underserved niches from which to choose, precisely because of the size of the challenge of acquiring more users. Nonetheless, it hasn’t stopped onX from growing and retaining a die-hard core of hunting and outdoor enthusiasts across several apps. 

Think about growth channels as full-funnel efforts

“We have a robust retargeting structure and SEO does bring in direct conversions,” Ryan explains. “But more so it feeds the retargeting funnel.” Ryan believes that SEO is undervalued — especially in niche markets — not just based on content-building, but on using keyword data to understand how your audience thinks, so that you can better position your product and current and new features.

On the podcast, Ryan talks about how the TikTokification of content — where even Facebook and Instagram have adopted the TikTok ad style — can sometimes yield pluses. “TikTok is very much feed-focused,” he explains. “The concept can always be iterated upon inside the channel. We find something that works, we spread it around everywhere, and then try to learn from it.” This isn’t to say long form — like podcasting — is dead. It simply caters to a different audience.

Influencers are a huge part of onX’s growth strategy. While in-house video sometimes works better than using influencer content, it’s all about getting a constant flow of video to ensure there’s always new content.

When it comes to retention, Ryan believes people don’t think about it as much as they should. In fact, ads can be a retention strategy when deployed in the right way. 

Learn more about retention in our guide to subscription retention rates »

For onX’s elite tier, special deals keep users coming back. By increasing value to your audience, you increase loyalty and thus retention. You also might just up your acquisition, too. onX is focused on having specific concept-based apps for specific, niche users, which does occasionally lead to some cross-conversion.

Marketing has to be an end-to-end affair. Figure out the creative door-opener for getting people interested in your product, Ryan says. And if you’re trying to figure out whether it’s better to have a strong in-house creative team or hire talent from the outside, chalk it down to personal preference. It all depends on what product you’re trying to market.

Hunt for more insights in the full episode

Tune into this episode to learn more about how to leverage TikTokification, how partnerships help increase the value of premium subscription tiers, and why you should be thinking about retention — not just downloads — when working with influencers.

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