Building a Referral Program for Subscription Apps

How to build a referral program that actually drives incremental revenue

Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 3:00 PM

While launching a referral program isn’t a silver bullet for growth, it can be a great source of low-cost, high-intent installs – a nice combination for any app looking to grow sustainably. But referral programs aren’t easy to build, and Apple has historically rejected apps trying to use referral programs with in-app purchase-related rewards. In this conversation with Alex Bauer from Branch, we’ll share best practices for building a referral program that actually drives incremental revenue and doesn’t devour engineering and customer support resources.

Topics we’ll cover:

  • Potential business impact
  • Deep linking basics
  • Tracking challenges post ATT
  • Speculation on App Review do’s and don’ts
  • What incentives to use
  • How and when to ask for referrals

Hello welcome everyone to this session on referral programs while people are still streaming in, I wanted to kick it off with a question I’ve been meaning to ask Alex for a while, and now I get to put them on the spot in front of everybody. It’s a little bonus content while we wait for people to stream in. So Alex, you are a classically trained pianist and I was curious. Having studied music at university, I think you said bachelor’s, maybe even a master’s in music. What aspects of that University experience still apply to your day to day work experience working for branch as in marketing strategy? well, the cynical ads for the first couple of years I thought was nothing. But actually, that that’s not quite true. I’ve realized that even though none of that, it’s not like I had a class in college that would ever have been. Directly applicable to, you know, tech marketing or tech infrastructure, anything that we would be talking about today. Some of the things that I found kind of useful over time that I didn’t realize it first came from basic things like problem solving. Being able to take something that is. A fairly complex concept. See IT equipment like. Think of a music piece that you’re learning and breaking that down into pieces that you can actually take on one section at a time and then put it all back together again at the end. And then my colleagues, they probably laugh and say, well, it also taught him to have an unrealistically high level of quality expectation. I hear I hear about that sometimes, like, it’s OK. You can make mistakes when you’re not on stage. Don’t worry about it. Right it’s more that other stuff, stuff that the class material itself was fascinating to me, but is something that I kind of put on the shelf and I tell you, use too much these days. Yeah, it’s funny you say that. I took piano as well and grew up to do piano lessons and actually even studied piano in college. I majored in music, but it was sound recording technology, so I was on the recording studio side. But starting at like eight or nine when I had piano lessons, my piano teacher would tap as a metronome with a mechanical pencil on the piano to keep time. And I didn’t. I swear the sound of that mechanical pencil hitting the piano is haunts my dreams and is something that kind of sticks with me and definitely the kind of perfectionism I think I picked up a lot in my pursuits in the studio and in music. At least it’s a mechanical pencil. I mean, I never experienced this, but I definitely heard of people. You were getting like the ruler. And one of my favorite movies of all time is probably not that well known, but it’s like it’s Mr Holland’s Opus. It’s about this guy who always wanted to be a famous composer, and then he ends up being a high school music teacher. And at the end of his life, he’s thinking back on whether it was worth it. But one of the scenes in there, he’s trying to teach the drummer. How to steal, and he has this guy put on a football helmet. He’s just like whacking with a hammer. And that’s how they taught the beat. So thank goodness it was some mechanical pencil. Yeah, I haven’t seen that one yet, but yeah, it’s a great life experience to have learned those things. So for those of you just joining us, Alex and I were chatting about his experience as a classical pianist and also studied music. But this is not a webinar about applying classical piano training to technology. This is a webinar about referral programs. So now that folks have streamed in, we will get rolling. A couple of things to keep in mind as a host. I am terrible at the multitasking. And being able to track with the chat. So but we will do a Q&A at the end. So put questions you want answered in the Q&A, but there’s a button that says questions, go ahead and put them there and then upvote the ones that you want answered most that you see there. So that I can prioritize answering them after Alex and I talk. The other a couple of things to talk about. We are recording this, so all participants will get an email. It’ll be on YouTube pretty soon after the end, probably the next couple of days, and you will get an email about that. Also wanted you to do a quick introduction. I’m David Bernard, developer advocate revenue cat. I’ve been working in the app industry since the very beginning. I founded my company in 2008 and have had apps in the App Store since fall of 2008. And so I was an indie developer for a long time and then beat my head against a subscription wall for a bit and joined revenue as a customer, or started using a revenue card as a customer and then joined and then revenue cat. We’re a subscription app platform, so we have native SDK and back in infrastructure just to manage the whole process. In the end, we have a lot of integrations like branch where we can send subscription events through to branch to be to help measure results and to trigger certain events in branch. So then Alex is head of marketing strategy at branch. That’s not your exact title, but what’s your exact title? Head of head of product and market strategy. So our product of market strategy there, we get to do the cool stuff and. Not have to worry about the pipeline numbers quite so much. There you go. And tell us just real quick about parenting. We’ll get into it a little bit more in the show. But what is branch generally? Most people have probably come across branch in the context of a mobile measurement partner. You know, one of the companies that exists out there to help you measure the effectiveness of your paid ad campaigns, that’s actually not where we came from. Originally, we came from almost more of a developer infrastructure side where this problem of how do you pass information through the App Store so that you can do something like a deferred deep link user clicks, a link to a specific page, installs the app, and then goes to that page. That’s where we came from. And then over time we built out a platform. On top of that to support all sorts of different marketing channels to make it possible to grow an app without having to spend a lot on advertising. So now we’re kind of both. We will help you measure the effectiveness of your ads, but also all of your other marketing channels at the same time. Hazim that’s a great, great summary. So a couple more things. So we do these regular office hours webinars, if you will, and if you’re a subscriber to the revenue cat newsletter, you can sign up on the site. Or if you sign up for an account, you’re automatically added to the newsletter. So we do these monthly, but we also do quite a few other things. So if you haven’t seen a sub, is the podcast we do just talking to industry leaders like Alex. We actually haven’t had on the podcast yet. I’m looking forward to doing that. I’ve been talking about that forever and then pulled you into this office hours chat and said, big check out sub clubcard for more kind of insights into running a subscription app business. And then we also have a community, the sub club community, it’s a private community. You can go to chat sub globacom to join the waitlist and again to chat through all this stuff with industry veterans. So with that, let’s get into it. Referral programs. So Alex, you’ve had a ton of experience working on referral programs with all sorts of different apps. But referral programs in subscription apps is something that I still have. I talked to two developers, one who has not shipped yet and one who has shipped. And it’s still really small and early. There just isn’t a lot of information out there. There don’t seem to be a lot of subscriptions apps trying this yet. So what we’re going to do today is lean on your knowledge of working with other apps on referral programs, because so much of what you’ve learned over the years is directly applicable to subscription apps as well. So the first thing I wanted to chat through is building a business case for a referral program. And I think a lot of people and I alluded to this in the marketing for this chat, a lot of people think of it as a silver bullet, you know, oh, my users will be my marketing. And if I just implement a referral program, you know, it’s going to drive tons of new business. And, you know, this is what’s going to solve my marketing problems. And you and I both know that’s not the case. But I wanted to talk through the different things that you think, a, any app business should think through as they’re planning or thinking about when they should implement a referral program. So you’re right, referral programs, they’ve always been a good option. In fact, way back in the beginning of branch referrals was one of the huge use cases that was incredibly popular from the very beginning. It was just a thing that took off very early, even before a lot of the other marketing channels. And I think it’s because they’re fairly intuitive way and you’re leveraging your existing user base. So it’s not like you have to spend money on ads, you don’t have to go invest in necessarily building a website. It’s just having users invite friends. Yeah the challenge is with subscription apps in addition to thinking through the mechanics of is a business case for referral, is it going to work. Like, do you have a viral loop where what comes out the end of the referral program is actually worth more to your business than the costs of providing the incentive in this case with a subscription app. Specifically, you’re also then having to deal with the complication of Apple’s restrictions around what qualifies for promotion and how do you work with the in-app purchase API and everything else? Which revenue cap helps abstract to make simple but compared to something like. A as I’m trying to think of a good example right now, because I was just thinking I offer up a company that is helping you sell things that, you know, like about your closet. Like, that’s pretty simple because you just give a credit. It’s like $5. It’s not something that has to be run through an in-app purchase API, so it’s just conceptually simpler to work through. But we have seen referral programs. They are a lot more interesting to a much broader group of companies, specifically in the last couple of years. Partly because the effectiveness of paid advertising is down at the moment. So alternative ways of bringing in users are very attractive, especially for user acquisition, as obviously the site is using referral programs for some user engagement. So you can get your existing users more engaged too. But I think they’re seeing a bit of a resurgence at the moment. Yeah so one of the things that I always talk to folks about when they say, hey, I should build a referral program or should I be able to referral program is to try and think through a realistic assessment of the referral funnel is that, you know, if you have 10,000 active users. Where are you going to put this call to action? How many people are actually going to see it? If you put it in settings, you know what, a couple of people are going to see it. If you put it in the main flow, you know, we can get it. We’ll get into the logistics of some of this. But when you start to talk through the numbers, OK, let’s say, you know, wildly optimistic, you have 10,000 monthly active users and you get 10% to actually interact with this call to action, which is wildly optimistic. You know, then you’re only talking if you have 10,000 monthly active users, 1,000 people interact with it. And then, you know, how many people actually send the link? How many people actually follow through with the link? How do you think about framing this funnel and have you I would assume you’ve seen some like pretty significant variance between, you know, how big of a deal it is or kind of at what scale it starts to become meaningful. It depends so much on the implementation, to be honest, because I see a lot of apps that will try a referral program or maybe it’s even just to share your app to your friends link, which is basically a referral program without the incentive, right? And then they’ll make the mistake of burying it in the Settings page and not putting it anywhere else. And maybe like your mom and her friend will like that because they like you. But the problem is that’s not building the referral program into the product experience. If you think of really effective referral programs that everyone has probably heard of, like the Dropbox one is one of the most famous ones from the beginning of referral programs being popular, but even ones like Uber has a referral incentivized referral program. Robinhood has a very popular one sharing a stock, all of these. Bake it into the product experience in so many places. And so tightly that there’s no way a user doesn’t know it’s an option. If they are not going to refer, they’re actually trying to not refer it like they’re going out of the way to not do it. So that’s what I think makes it successful. You have to do more than just offer the option. You have to tie it in. In a way that makes sense for the product. And that’s why that the most popular, easy incentive that you can often give is just $1 discount. Right but these really popular referral programs, the ones that really take off, you know, Dropbox is giving away free storage space. Everyone wants for free storage space because that’s why you’re using Dropbox. Robinhood gives you a free stock, you are there to trade stocks. And then in that case, there’s also this nice gambling gamification, part of which stocks get. So the more you can do to figure out what is the incentive that is actually going to align to people’s use of your products and do that rather than just saying, I’m going to give you $5 because that’s what will actually drive people to say, this is fun, I want to do this. It’s not just like a weird thing that I’m. Feeling expected. And interestingly, this and this depends a little bit on region and cultural differences, but in some cases, I know we’ll get to this later. But deciding whether to or what, just to refer ERM or the refer e right. Some cases the refer or doesn’t want to be rewarded because then it feels like they’re being paid to make an endorsement. They may not want to. Right so there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of things to think through specific to use your app beyond just the implementation of the referral program mechanics. Yeah and then the drop back example is great. In preparing for this webinar I actually read Andrew Chan has a really great post on building a referral program in work he shares in that post, having been an advisor to Dropbox after they had done this referral program is that, you know, it is the canonical example of referral program for a reason like it was incredibly effective and that like incredibly effective, you know, perfect incentives. It was almost like a expected thing for a while. Like it wasn’t socially awkward during that time to post your Dropbox link because everybody was like, let’s do it. Like, you know, hey, here’s my link. If you’re signing up anyways, give me some free storage. You get that? So it was kind of a perfect storm of just an incredible referral program. And what Andrew shared in that post is that it was a 20% to 30% of their acquisition mix. So when you think about the best referral program that, you know, we could even use in as an example, it’s not 50% of their traffic, it’s not 70% of their traffic. It’s a boost on top of everything else they were doing marketing effort wise, their natural word of mouth, their natural virality and other things. And then he also shared that there was kind of even a lifecycle to it, that over time the referral program waned and then the natural virality kind of took over, kind of driving that engine. So I think it’s kind of a good benchmark to keep in mind when you’re thinking like, is this going to solve my problem with user acquisition? No, but it can be an accelerant on what you’re already doing. So when you’re building out a business case, you really do need to realistically assess that it’s not just going to solve those things and then weigh a realistic estimation of potential return on that investment against what it takes to implement it. But then also potentially even the kind of annoyance to users, you know, like you said, with a good referral program, you really want to show it as often as you can. Well, that’s a user experience decision of where you put that. And does it distract detract from the rest of the user experience. So you have to a lot of things when you’re making this business case. But I want to move. Yes, true. One one quick point I’d make on the acquisition mix. Yeah you’re not going to scale this to 50% of your acquisition. That that was why advertising is such a popular thing. You could turn up the dial on that almost indefinitely as long as you had money to spend. But this is why it gets it’s incredibly important to be able to measure. The effects of your different acquisition channels together. Because what we’ve seen in some of our benchmarks, for example, referral. Source two users. Are some of the highest quality uses you can get. They are more likely to stick around. Gotcha and it’s possibly selection bias that people are going to invite people they think are going to be good for this. But that the leakiness of your funnel after the acquisition event depends on channel and referrals are one of the best ways to get users that are actually going to stick around. That’s a fantastic point. I hadn’t really thought of the thought of it from that perspective. So yeah, Thanks for interjecting there. I do want to move on and talk about creating a good referral program. So we’ve already kind of talked about this a little bit in making the business case, but let’s talk through a couple of the key points to creating a great one. And one of the first things to understand is the difference between referrals and affiliate marketing. So why don’t you talk about that real quick? I think this is more of a spectrum, to be honest. Referrals referrals are something that I basically think it’s your average day to day user and they happen to find a way to invite their friends and you’re going to offer them a little bit of an incentive to do it. Affiliate marketing tends to be. And then there are companies that specialize in running affiliate marketing campaigns. If you’re taking referrals on one side and like paid ads on the other, extreme affiliates are kind of somewhere in the middle in that it’s an arrangement you’ve specifically made that you’re going to pay your affiliate partners to deliver certain results. But it’s not as direct. It’s just showing an ad so that the mechanics are very similar. You’re still looking for. Performance conversion events. As a result, some companies kind of blend this together. There’s a really interesting branch customer in Brazil that actually used a they tracked their most successful referrers and they would reach out and offer them an affiliate. Our contract basically survives by looking for the users that delivered the most results. They could basically recognize them and turn them into an even more effective, effective acquisition source. So it is kind of a continuum, I think. Yeah, no, that’s great. A couple of other things to talk through and you already mentioned one of these is that if you can. And it makes sense, as you say, culturally. A great referral program generally incentivizes both sides. And that’s just kind of, you know, known at this point, is that if it makes sense culturally to refer, getting something is way more powerful than just like a button that says like share this app with your friend and then share this app with your friend can help drive viral loops. But it’s not it just doesn’t have quite the same impact as when there is some incentive for the person to share it. Yeah any other thoughts there? I think in pretty much every case, the successful referral programs have. Incentives on both sides. Yeah for that exact reason. Like people generally are self-interested and they, they, they want to get something for taking the action of doing the referral. And generally, as long as it’s both sides and you can kind of debates and probably worth testing in each case, how much you incentivize each side of the equation. Like sometimes it will make sense to incentivize the new user more highly than the one that did the invitation. But I’ve seen it both ways. I don’t think there’s AI don’t think there’s a consistent generic best practice. You can say this applies to every app. Yeah and then excuse me, let’s talk earlier. You kind of alluded to it a little bit, but picking good incentives, I think this is know, it’s like we’re going to get into the technicality. I think that’s why a lot of people are attending this webinar is to really get into the technical details, how do I do this? But this is so important and you already talked about it. Like the truly great referral programs aren’t just like, oh, here’s $1 or we’re like, here’s a free week or something, you know, the truly best ones pick the right incentives. So once you step through some of the key points to picking a great incentive. It is a good question because I think it does depend so much in many cases. Offering the monetary incentive is going to be the most logical option to start right. Looking for alternatives is basically what is your. What is your product offering that would be worth incentivizing? So what is that? What is that? The value event I use that gets from your app. And can you give some of that away for free as the reward? Trying to think of an example I actually thought of. Yeah, I thought of a fantastic one, actually. And I’ve been thinking about this company a ton. But Tinder is just such an amazing example of dialing in a subscription app and then offering consumable in-app purchases on top. And so I don’t think they do this, but this, I think, would be a fantastic example is that the Super like and the profile boosts are the consumable in-app purchases and that’s where they make a lot of their money on top of the subscription and offering users additional super likes and additional profile boosts for every referred friend is a type of a product alignment that I think you’re kind of alluding to. That’s actually a perfect example. Yeah Yeah. Giving them something in the app that is meaningful to them. Like if it’s meaningful enough for people to spend a ton of money on it. And be a real like profit driver for tinder, then it’s meaningful enough to be an incentive for the referral program. So maybe that’s a good kind of framework to think through is like if it could be an in-app purchase separate from the subscription or if there is some kind of clear value prop, that’s maybe even a stronger incentive than like a free month or a three week or, you know, dollar off or whatever that kind of like monetary incentives are. I think that’s a good point. And the interesting thing about this example, as I’m thinking through it, is that a super like might not actually be an effective incentive for the new user, though, because they probably don’t know what that is yet. So it could be a good incentive for the user who’s doing the referring right, but you might have to think of something else. And in this case, maybe it’s a dating app. You know, seeing the person that you might be matched with is incentive enough that it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same incentive on both sides. Yeah yeah, that’s a great point. Like free month for the referee, the person getting the referral and then free boost for the referrer. Who’s sending the referral. A couple of other things just in to keep us moving here. I’m just going to touch on it briefly and we’ll move on. But another thing to consider is that really want this incentive to be a better deal for you than your customer acquisition costs. So, you know, you wouldn’t want to offer a free year when your subscription is $50 to acquire a new user because you could probably go out into the market and buy new easier for less than your annual subscription. So you want to think through an incentive that is good enough to incentivize, but also is balanced against your customer acquisition costs through other channels. A couple of other things to consider in the incentive side is that you also want to attract the right kind of user. And this leads to actually something I did want to ask you about, Alex, is that with the wrong kind of incentives, referral programs can be abused. I don’t think, you know, we should not do referrals for potential of abuse. But what are maybe a couple of just key points to think through about how to avoid incentives that kind of promote fraud and abuse? Well, the big obvious one is to make sure that you are thoughtful about which. Event is going to trigger a completion of the referral because it could be obvious, it could be intuitive to say, I just want the user to download the app. That’s, that’s a conversion and I will give the reward after that happens. It’s pretty easy to do app downloads. know, you can reset your device identifier and do it multiple times and in theory gain the system that way. So you want to pick a conversion event that is far enough down your acquisition funnel that it’s too much pain to do repeatedly. A signup event is a good one and even better one it’s pretty far down. Would be something like starting the subscription. I’ve seen that a number of times, doing some kind of purchase. You incentivize the first purchase, you do something that a fraudulent user is not going to be able to. Replicate and automate. Right and the other benefit of that is. You don’t have to pay out the incentives until you actually get the thing you’re going for. It is the ultimate cost per action campaign based on paying very reliably for exactly the thing that is bringing your business values. As long as you can see how much additional time will it take me to get value from this user equal to the incentive I’m giving away? It’s pretty easy calculation to figure that out. Yeah, that’s a great way to frame it. Another thing I wanted to discuss was the call to action. And so I have here in my notes, don’t be shy with the call to action. Again, you kind of already alluded to this earlier, but are there any kind of specific tips about how where to display it and maybe even some things to avoid? Like, you know, one thing Andrew Chan really focused on was don’t want your call to action to feel like an ad. I think that’s probably like a worst case scenario, especially for people who are already paying you to feel like they’re seeing an ad everywhere. So how do you be aggressive with your call to action and get it in front of as many people as you can? Because it’s ultimately a numbers game. The more people get in front of it, the More Actions are taken, the more rewards are given. You know, it’s a numbers game, so how do you get those numbers? But do it in a way that is still respectful of users. I mean, don’t buried it in the settings. Yeah, that’s a very obvious one. It’s a lot of this is kind of similar to when you’d consider maybe asking for an App Store review. You want to think, right, what is an action that the user will have taken that has them feeling positively towards your app? That’s going to be a generally good time to ask. I mean, don’t bug them. The first time they installed it, for example, give them enough time to explore it. I’ve seen some apps find ways and again, this is going to be very app specific but find ways to. Tie it into something the user is already doing. I think that was one example I discussed with somebody a few months ago where they had an app that was. Inviting users to share an outfit of clothes with friends. For an opinion. And then it was pretty easy for them to integrate the referral into that sharing experience because the user had shared. They said, hey, what do you think about this? And then it was easy for them to ask all the users who had been shared to if they also wanted to join the experience and participate. So if you can find ways to tie it into something users are going to be doing naturally anyway, then it definitely doesn’t feel like an ad. It feels like you’re actually helping that user get more from their app. And it’s a great their app experience is very, a very positive experience there rather than just something that you might have to get through. And hopefully it doesn’t scare user away. Yeah, that’s a fantastic framework to think through things. So here’s the part where I’m going to monologue for a little while. We’re going to get into the meat of it. I had to do it on a research to like wrap my head around this, and I didn’t want to burden Alex with a lot of this. So I’m going to monologue. I will pause and feel free to interject. Alex when you know, if, if you have anything to add to this. But what I want to go through now is like, what are the mechanics? How do you actually reward people when you have a subscription out? And there’s, I think why it’s not yet super, you know, something that’s kind of industry standard because this is really where the rubber meets the road is that it is hard. So I’m going to start with the easy one referring rewards. So when the referrer shares the link to their friend, what’s the incentive to the friends? What reward are you giving to somebody who’s coming to the app for the first time? My so, first of all, let me give a disclaimer because we don’t have industry standards. Some of this is going to be conjecture on my part. I’ve talked to a couple of developers who have it, who have one that is in the process of launching, one that has launched. They both have very specific implementations, but we have not that I have been able to find seen public implementations of this in a way that I’ve been able to research and kind of verify and test. So I am going to do my best to point you in the right direction. And my hope would be in my email statement at revenue cap dot com, if you try these things and certain things work better or I missed some technicalities, please email me because I want to help people get this right because I do think it can be powerful. So my conjecture about these things is that the easiest, most straightforward, most kind of MVP way to reward the person who’s being invited to refer the reward the referee is to create a separate SKU with a separate introductory offer. Then you typically offer in the app. So if you typically do like one week free, you have the SKU with the one week free. That’s what you typically display on the pay wall. And then for your referral program, you have a separate SKU that is a free month, you know, two free months. The introductory offers are actually pretty flexible. So you can do three different things. You can do free, but you can also do pay as you go. So that would be like, you know, six months for $5 and then, you know, $10 every six months or something. But you can do it in periods two. So it could be two months for $2 a month and then $5 a month you could do six months at $2 a month and then $5 a month. So the pay as you go is super flexible where maybe you do actually, you know, collect some money upfront versus just giving it for free. And again, this is why I think introductory offers are kind of the easy MVP, because you do actually have a ton of flexibility around how you reward whether the reward is a discount or actually like an extended free trial or anything like that. And then you just don’t have the hassles of some of the other ones we’ll talk about. The next most obvious is the kind of MVP, you know, try this out is stripe. No stripe. You got to be careful because, you know, app review is sensitive to pushing people off of in-app purchases. What’s become very clear, though, is that communication outside the App Store is something that Apple can’t touch. So if you have something that’s initiated within the app, it’s a no no to send them to stripe. But if you have something that’s initiated outside of the app, like an email from an existing user, that’s communication from your customer to their friend. And so, you know, again, you know, no absolutes here. You know, I don’t know if an app reviews exactly how app review is going to interpret this, but but the generally accepted rule is and Apple has stated that, you know, communication outside of the app is free game. A button inside the app can’t lead directly to stripe. But the benefit of stripe is that it’s incredibly flexible. And you and you can pretty much just do anything. You know, you can collect the credit card and give them free months. You can make it six months, you can make it 21 days, you can make it 45 days. Like, you know, it’s all programmatic, it’s super easy and you’ve established that relationship on stripe. Now, if you don’t already have stripe set up, that’s part of your kind of implementation decision of whether it’s worth setting up stripe just for your referral program, which is a pretty big lift and a pretty big business decision, because then you also have to work, figure out taxes and global compliance and there’s a lot to it. So don’t just Willy nilly go think you’re going to spin up stripe just for your referral program. But if you already have stripe spin up or you’re doing that for other reasons as well, it is an option. And it is very flexible. I’m going to pause for a breath. Any thoughts, alex? These are some of the really fascinating details of implementing referrals on the subscription outside that I think don’t often come up when you talk about referrals more generally because in most companies cases you’re not having to deal with the complication of how does Apple think about your in-app purchases? Right so I put these in the bucket of you need to build the machine inside your app that’s going to accept the referral order and deliver the order. And then you also are going to need the machine to the server that’s going to take the order from the customer and deliver it to the kitchen in the back. Right but I’m fascinated. I think it’s interesting you should build an MVP app and open source it and then every. Well yeah, that’s a fantastic idea. We’d love to collaborate with branch on something like that. All right. So next up is revenue cap, promotional entitlement. You could do this on your own if you have your own subscription app infrastructure back end. But revenue cap does make this fairly easy to JustGrants what we call a promotional entitlement, meaning to our system that maintains your subscription status. It looks like they’re just subscribed. And then when that promotional entitlement expires, it looks like they’re not subscribed. And so they would hit your typical paywall. So that’s like actually dead simple to implement. The downside to using promotional entitlements in a referral system is that it’s not auto renewing. So that’s kind of a decision, a business decision on your part. Do you want them to go through the introductory offer to where they actually are signing up to a free trial that will automatically convert unless they turn off auto renew? Or do you want to just give them a free month and then let them hit the paywall at the end of that month? So depending on your business decision, their revenue cap promotional entitlements are a super easy way to implement that. The last one that you could potentially use for referring rewards is offer codes. I tried and failed at testing this. I kept getting like your offers expired. I should have started experimenting with this a month ago to where I could, you know, loop in Apple and figure out what was going wrong. But I don’t know if there’s, like, just general issues with offer codes. But the nice thing about offer codes is that it is just a link and something more simple to get working. But again, for the referral rewards, I think you’re probably just better off doing the separate SKU anyway. So so Yeah. Offer codes big open question. Moving on to refer rewards. So this is where it gets really tricky in all the research I’ve done on this. The most straightforward way to reward the person who’s sharing the link, the referral reward, the referrer. Lots of tongue twisters today is to use stripe. You know, this is one of those things and you know I haven’t on Apple for a lot of limitations on business models. And this is one where we kind of beat our head against the wall as an industry is that you know, and I’ll go through the benefits and drawbacks of using other ways. But with stripe, it is super easy for your existing customers. It’s is programmatic. So you can have a button in the app where they have to claim a reward or you don’t have to have a button. You can just automatically take place and you can show a little banner, hey, we have your free month. You know, you can interact with the stripe APIs in so many different ways that make this super easy. Another thing on the referrer side is that, again, communication with your customer outside of the App Store is beyond Apple’s purview. So, you know, if you need to migrate a customer from App Store billing to stripe billing in order to reward them, that’s an email between you and your customer. That’s not a button in your app. It’s not, you know, from my understanding, a violation of app review. But again, from my understanding, no guarantees on how Apple views things. That is an email communication between you and your customer. And so again, stripe makes it super easy. So if you tell them, hey, go cancel your Apple subscription and I’ll credit you the six months you have remaining in stripe, you set it up and you can just programmatically say, give them six months free or 51 days for your 21 days free that they have remaining and then start charging them whatever. And then once they’re on stripe, any time you want, you just add a free month out of free six months at a discount. Like it’s super easy to reward people. And this is where, Alex, you’re probably more used to this kind of a flow where the rewards for referrer and referee are just so much easier to implement. Any thoughts there as far as like that flexibility of rewards on both sides? Stripe has some of the best APIs I’ve ever seen. So does the surprised me that is the best way to wear the most simple way to do this kind of thing. It does also give you the benefit of having migrated your subscriptions into a system that you control completely. But that comes from my perspective with all of the same upsides and downsides that we have through this much larger conversation of should apps be forced to use an in-app purchase rider entitlement, or can they use some other kind of system? So yeah, we were. We want to pick a conversation. Yeah and I mean, this is one place where I’ve been pretty vocal and not just because I’m at revenue, but, you know, having operated in the App Store for 14 years and never. Yeah 14 years and never had to think about taxes and compliance and all these things. And I do believe, like as the app stores are forced to open up, which is already happening in Europe and things are happening when you’re able to directly A/B test stripe and App Store payments, I think people are going to be surprised just how effective it is for Apple to have all those credit cards on file. Not to mention dining and all the other stuff. So we won’t digress into a deep discussion of it, but there are a bit there are definitely benefits and drawbacks to moving people to stripe because then you do have to do your own dining. If their credit card expires, if you have a delinquent payment like you have to deal with, a lot of that stripe makes it somewhat easy. But I think I think people give Apple enough credit for some of the ways they handle grace periods, delinquent payments and all these kind of things that you just don’t even have to think about. So there’s definitely benefits and drawbacks, too, to ramping up stripe at all, much less like, you know, actively pushing a bunch of users that direction. But I mean, again, this is where, you know, we got to hustle Apple a little because as I’m going to go through the other options in app are pretty complicated. So the next best way to implement a referral program is to use promotional offers. So now let’s talk through the challenges. The first thing is promotional offers are hard to implement. This is not something we have yet tackled at revenue. It’s on the list. No guarantees when we’ll get to it. But as of now, you have to do certificates and like signing and be sending complex JSON back and forth between Apple servers just to initiate these promotional offers and verify eligibility. And like, it’s, it’s, it’s not trivial. It’s not rocket science, but it’s just it is more work. So the implementation costs have to be weighed a little heavier here. And this is where I don’t think we’ll have time to go super deep into it. But I wanted to talk about, you know, you really should do an MVP first. And so promotional offers aren’t an MVP because of how hard they are to implement. So a couple of other things to keep in mind about using promotional offers is and this is the biggest one is that every time you’re rewarding somebody, they have to go through the confirmation dialog with Apple. So if they, you know, let’s say you’re offering them a free month and so you want to add an extra month onto their annual subscription. So there’s a few ways to kind of get around this, but essentially every time you want to give them a month, they’re going to have to go through the payment. They have to click a button, go through the payment flow, accept with face ID and go through all of that. A couple of other things to keep in mind here is that you can only have 10 active offers available at any one time. So if you have win back offers that would be separate from this, you know, you can’t kind of max out all those active offers to kind get around the limitations. But if you’re not doing other win back campaigns via promotional offers, you could do something like one of your active offers is a free month. Another 1 is 2 3 months, another one is three, three months and another one is for three months. And then what you do is let those users accumulate those free months and then associate it with the correct offer in order to redeem multiple months at once. And then it kind of reduces the burden on them of having to go through that Apple payment flow every single time. On the flip side, I think there is maybe an argument to be made that going through that payment flow reminds the referrer how valuable it is. I there’s a little bit of psychology in there, I don’t know, but these are the limitations. So revenue cap, we actually have some, some great docs and blog posts about promotional offers. Even though we don’t actually handle them directly, we don’t facilitate them the way we do with our native STK, facilitate your regular subscription payments and other aspects that we handle. But we will track them. We, you know, they’ll show up in our dashboard and things like that, but you will have to do some limited implementation. And so we have that in our docs and blog posts and stuff. One way to get around this, but has other downsides is a new API server to server API Apple. Created for subscription extensions. So this is actually pretty cool. And the kind of thought behind this in the example that’s been given is, you know, MLB has an annual subscription, but the players go on strike for a year or they have a monthly subscription, but the players go on strike for two months. And so what does MLB do when people are paying month by month by month. And yet the season’s going to get delayed or you know, things are going to happen. And so you can programmatically go in there now via this API server to server and extend individual subscriptions or multiple subscriptions automatically. The limitations are and this would like be the perfect know, again though, you’re not always going to want to just reward with free months. So maybe it’s not always the perfect one, but if what you are going to do is reward with a free month or a free amount of time, this would be perfect, except that it’s limited to two users a year and a max of 90 days each. So so you can’t do a max of 180 days doing them one at a time. You can only call this API twice per customer per year, and then each time it can be a max of 90 days. So this might actually be a better MVP because you can just allow people to accrue them. And then it’s probably going to be an edge case that people are going to refer. So many users that they’re going to get past, you know, six months of free usage or maybe that’s even a cap. I mean, a lot of referral programs have a cap. So you could say, you know, for every person you refer, you get a reward, will reward you at 3 and 6. And the cap is 6. So look into the subscription extension API as a potential way around some of the complexity of promotional offers. But just keep in mind there’s limitations. Another interesting one is back to revenue cap promotional entitlements again through our API similar to stripe. It’s like super easy to set these and manipulate them. There are there’s one major downside here is that it’s not auto renewing. So if you have a lot of free users who are willing to become your marketing force but are not really likely to ever actually subscribe themselves, this might actually be a great way to do it. And I was actually one of the developers I talked to. That’s what he’s found is that a lot of the people who are sending the referral links either can’t afford or just don’t want to pay ever. And so they’re using the referral link as kind of a way to pay you. So the revenue cap promotional entitlements can be a way to just easily and programmatically give people those free months without requiring them to go through the payment flow. But again, that only applies if they’re not already a subscriber. And so if you’re implementing this referral program and you do want to use that, you would also still have to set up something in order to reward the people who are already subscribers, either on striper or in Apple payments or Google payments. And then there’s one little quick thing to note. I was just talking to my colleagues in the last 24 hours, kind of last minute learning in the docs. It says you can only set a duration for revenue cap, promotional entitlement. So you can only say a free week, a free day, a free month or a free yeah, there specific periods up to for a year or lifetime. But there’s a little hack and we’re not going to fix this. Or if we do well, we’ll provide plenty of Warning and a way to work around it. But you can actually set the date, start date in the future and then add the day. So if you wanted a 41 day extension, you would set the start date 11 days in the future and then select the 30 day free promotional entitlement. So email me if you want more details on that. I won’t get super into it. But it is a way too that you could keep stacking these over and over and over again if people did want to refer like 30 people. And then again, the last one, as I said before, with referring rewards, is offer codes. So there are limitations there. One code per active offer up to 10 active offers 150,000 codes per year. So again, kind of it’s not great for rewarding the referrers because you’re only going to get one use. So so Yeah that’s it on the complexity. I will be following up on our blog and in the sub club community, and maybe even a podcast like this has been such a hot topic. I want to hear from y’all. What’s working? What’s not working? Maybe some holes that I left out there, maybe even some in the chat. Are they kind of correcting some of my mistakes? But that’s as much as I can tell you. Now, not having seen this in the wild, we’re kind of still in the frontier before in my monologue. Do you have a couple more questions for you, alex? But a couple of things to keep in mind. You do want to consider our review, so make sure that app review can test these flows, especially if you’re offering a separate SKU that’s not visible in the app. That’s something that’s gotten people tied up in the past is that they create this new sku, but App Store review can’t even find it. So make sure you put in the notes how to actually test these things and then also expect some rejections. If you follow me on Twitter, I have it out for app review and have my frustrations and have no, you know, huge like fan of the process. But I will say it’s gotten so much better over the last decade. I mean, you didn’t want to be me in like 2009 dealing with this stuff. And it’s two weeks from submitting to getting a rejection and then weeks to get responses. Apple’s made it way better. So if you’re expect rejections but but go into it expecting a healthy communication with Apple don’t go in defensive feeling like they’re just trying to crush your business. I really do genuinely think Apple’s trying to do the right thing, but it’s a very complex thing. I mean, reviewing hundreds of thousands of apps and they’ve got a lot of people doing it, but the process has improved. A couple of other things to note with app review is that don’t even flirt with any kind of offer wall type thing. That’s what got referrals. A bad rap back in the day was like get 330 free coins in Candy Crush by downloading this other app. Like that’s an offer wall. That’s not a referral program. Keep your referral program limited to your own app with rewards about your app to your app. It’s all your app. And then the last one, and this is actually what I wanted to wrap up with is deferred deep linking is not tracking. Let’s say that again for Alex deferred deep linking is not tracking. So Alex, why is it not tracking? And give me a quick overview of deferred deep linking and I know you have to run in about 5 minutes, but this is what we’ll wrap up on and then I’ll stick around for Q&A. Yeah so the definition of tracking here, and I think we could even say tracking with quotes around is specifically what Apple gates under the app tracking transparency policy from a couple of years ago that is very carefully specked to cover advertising, attribution and audience creation. So if you’re trying to say this user, click the link. And then if that link was an ad, then they installed the app. If you try to match those two together, that is counted as tracking. But if you’re saying this user clicked a link from their friend that was going to take them directly to a specific thing inside the app after they install. In this case, maybe it’s a 20% off coupon or something else related to the app experience that is not tracking, that’s user experience. And the app tracking transparency policy doesn’t get this. So it’s perfectly fine to say I’m going to try and make sure that I can refer this user app and then I’m going to give the person who referred them the reward that they’re expecting. If you didn’t, the app would be broken. So deferred deep linking this case is not only permitted, it’s actually quite a good thing to implement because that is what will let you very, very gracefully take the information about who did the referring so that you can complete the loop with who accepted the referral. Yeah and so if you, if you’ve got your machine to generate referral tickets and then you’re using deferred peep linking to pass it through the install process and then you’re automatically redeeming it inside afterwards. That’s actually a much better experience than saying, OK, you need to remember this random code of q735x, don’t forget that code. You’re going to need it later. It’s much better if you can handle all of that for the user and make it really, really seamless for them. Yeah and then so why not just I mean, essentially what branch is doing is just like grabbing the IP address and then matching it. Why not just do that server side and match it yourself? That is one of the techniques. And you you could do it. You’re that way yourself. I would say this is the technique that branch started with in 2014 and we’ve spent about. Eight solid years, making all of the techniques involved in this better. So you probably don’t want to spend eight years recreating all of our mistakes. Is a lot easier if you just delegate that out. Yeah and what’s the. The protocol that you offer? I know it’s a new kind of deferred deep linking. Again, you have kind of innervated over the years. Yeah the one that we released recently is called a native link. And this actually does all of this completely without even needing the IP address. It it takes the link information and actually stores it on the device clipboard so that the user can say, I am interested in copying this to my clipboard so that I can continue the experience inside the app after I’ve installed it. So the user actually is participating here. We found that users prefer this because then they know what to expect at the other end. Oh, that’s fantastic. See, I didn’t even. I was relying on you for the brand side of things. I didn’t even know that. That’s actually really cool, really smart. Well, I know you need to go, so I’ll let you bounce and then I’ll keep moving with the Q&A. But Alex, Thank you so much for joining me. This was super insightful and Thanks for sharing all these tips on how to build a great referral program. It’s awesome. Sounds like we might have to do a part two. I will drop out before I drop off. I’ll put my email address in the chat. If anybody has any brand specific questions, please feel free to send them over. Awesome Thanks. All right. I did want to say, you know, it sounds a little bit like an ad for parents, but I’m going to say it anyways. One of the things I’ve been learning about revenue cat over three years is that. It’s not rocket science to set up a subscription app backend and you might be surprised to hear that for me, but it’s not. Yeah, I mean, plenty of people have done it. What’s hard is solving for all the edge cases, and that’s what I’ve learned a lot the past three years. Working at revenue is yeah, you can, you know, get by. I mean, you know my apps we had bugs but we were even doing native receipt validation inside we have huge no no bad idea. We had bugs but you can build some of this out on your own, like deferred deep linking. You know, there are ways to build it out. The value that revenue cap provides, the value that companies like brands provide is that, you know, revenue cap, we now see like close to $2 billion a year in subscription app transactions. And when you operate at that scale, you start finding all these crazy things that are going on that a simplistic implementation just isn’t going to find. So for in the app where you don’t really care about the edge cases, yeah, maybe just, you know, set up your own little Firebase thing and grab an IP address and match the IP address when they launch. But just be aware that there will be edge cases. And that’s why branch is a business and has been working on this for eight years. So yeah, ad for branch I guess, but I think there is, you know, meaningful reasons to use products like that are really good at what they do and then especially at scale where you’re going to start running into those kind of problems. So I’m a huge fan of branch and Alex and you know, we have integrations with branch and revenue cat. So I did want to kind of clear that up. So I had a bunch of notes that I still wanted to get through with Alex. Let me see if there’s anything super pressing before we get to the Q&A. Measuring outcomes. So this is the last thing. Well, I’ll just wrap up real quick and try not to monologue too long. You do want to think through how you’re going to measure the business results. So, you know, it’s in some ways more straightforward to think through how you’re going to implement this technically. You know, I’m sure, you know, a lot of folks on this call are developers or product managers who are diving deep into the technical side of things. And so while you’re delving into the technical side of actually, you know, getting the referrer rewarded and the referral rewarded, and what rewards are we going to use and how are we going to do it? You also want to be thinking about how are we going to measure the outcomes? And one of Alex’s notes that I wish I could ask him a question about if we hadn’t rambled on so much, is that it is basically attribution. It’s just attribution, not for ads. And so that’s where another thing that branch can do to actually make this easier is that they do have built in measurement of, you know, funnels and interactions and things like that. And because they are an attribution platform, they also will be looking at that in concert with your other marketing efforts, because that’s one of the many things you’ll want to be looking at from a business outcome standpoint is how does my referral program fit in the mix of my broader advertising and marketing? You know, what are my customer acquisition costs. If I’m giving a free month, you know, is how much is that actually costing me to give that away? And, you know, am when I launch this referral program, am I actually cannibalizing word of mouth? And you’ll want a way to measure those things. And again, MVP, just go for it and see how it goes. You know, if you’ve got 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 monthly users, you know, you might not need branch. I don’t know what their kind of starting plans are, by all means. Just like go out there and experiment. But once. You really want to start dialing it in and then if especially if you’re an app already at scale, then you really need to be very considerate about how you’re going to measure things against the rest of your marketing mix. And I think, you know, branch and others can help with that. Another like specific tip is that revenue cap. We do have this thing called subscription subscriber attributes and by passing information there, that’ll then be included in our Etl. So if you’re managing your own data warehouse or, you know, dropping it into Looker or other places, that will give you some ways to then better slice and dice the data. We don’t currently expose subscriber attributes in our dashboard, so you wouldn’t be able to slice and dice referred versus non referred to users in the revenue cap dashboard. Again, something on our list and something one of my kind of pet projects if any of our PMs are listening, they probably heard it a little too much for me. How do we get subscriber attributes as a segment in our dashboard? We’ll get there eventually, just not there yet. So that being the case, you do also want to make sure you set up events in your analytics platform. So if you’re using mixpanel or amplitude or Firebase or similar analytics platforms, make sure you think through how you’re setting up the events surrounding your referral program so that you can adequately measure it. And then, you know, to Alex’s point, very early on in the conversation, you want to look at the long term impact of this. You know, are these referred users more engaged? Do people who send referrals then become more engaged? Because now they get free stuff and they like you or, you know, so you don’t want to just analyze the kind of immediate dollar for dollar business results. But then you also want to look at how it impacts user behavior over the long haul. And they also want to look at like, are you attracting the right kind of users? Because, you know, if you do have an incentive, that’s too good. You want to know that people are abusing it. And the way you know that is by looking at the analytics and looking at the usage patterns of the people who did refer or were referred. So yeah, I think that’s a pretty good summary. A lot of stones left unturned, a lot of conjecture. I wish I could give you definitive answers like a, b, c, this is how you build a referral program. But as a community, let’s do this. You folks in the audience, folks watching on YouTube later build it like, you know, I don’t build it if there’s not a business case. But if there’s a business case and you have the resources and you think it’s going to be a meaningful difference to your business, go build it. And then talk to me either privately and I can share anonymously, or if you want to come on a webinar or talk in on a podcast or in our community. I want to hear from folks who are being successful with this, but also people who are failing with it. If you try to use if you try to use, you know, promotional offers and Apple rejects you or the actual technical implementation isn’t working. Tell me so I can share it with the rest of the community. And because this has been such a hot topic, I felt like I just needed to do something and research it as much as I possibly could. But I want this to be the start of the conversation, not the end of the conversation. So we’ll continue talking about referral programs and hopefully in the not too distant future, even build out ways to make it easier for you to build these things, such as, you know, better handling promotional offers so that it’s super easy to do those. So with that, I will start taking questions and I’ll probably take the top three or four questions. These these webinars have been going like two hours the last few, and I want to keep it a little tighter today, so I’ll just answer the top two or three questions. So upvote, go scan through the questions. If your question hasn’t been answered or if you want to make sure a specific question gets answered, go upload it. So first question what are the best examples of good referral programs in subscription apps? That is unfortunately, a very easy one. I could not find any except for, again, these two folks I talked to, one that’s in the process and one that it has had a total of 100 interactions as a smaller app. It was a very kind of MVP implementation. He’s getting about a 5% or You’ve got 5 new subscriptions out of 100 interactions with the referral program. So kind of a very small sample size and probably not something to draw great conclusions from. This is another thing I would love to somewhat crowdsource. I’ve been asking on Twitter, I’ve been asking privately, you know, I know a lot of folks in this industry. And so I’ve been asking around and I asked apple, I have not found any subscription apps doing this live on the App Store at any kind of scale. So the answer is, I don’t have any examples. I wish I did. I will follow up when I do because I think it’s important to find those kind of examples to learn from. But we’re just not there yet as an industry. Drop it if you have one. Drop it in the chat. So help me out here. Let’s go to the next question. To make payouts to affiliates. We need to integrate branch plus revenue cap plus software to make payouts. Does integration revenue cap reversion to be customer? I’m not sure exactly what the question is, but let me give a general overview so you don’t need. You could build all of this yourself. You don’t have to have revenue, cat or branch. And I kind of alluded to that toward the end, you know, revenue cap. We do make a lot of things much easier. Such a great example of this is that when you’re measuring your referral program business outcomes, you want to understand the conversions and renewals of people who started the referral program. To do that, you need to have something like amplitude or mixpanel or Firebase on the analytics side where you send events. But the second step to that is that you also want subscription events to be in that same data so that you can look at the renewal rates, the cancellations, the actual dollar amounts that’s being generated by these referral programs. The challenge is that at figures is not collecting the server to server information about renewals that happen when the person is not in the app. So if somebody starts a free trial and then doesn’t open the app for a month, your analytics provider is not going to know what happened to that person until they open the app again because it can only collect data inside the app with revenue. We’re able to, by processing that receipt and validating that transaction and putting the receipt server side. We’re able to then ingest Apple server to server notifications and then also pull their servers to keep that subscription status up to date. And then from our server to amplitude server to server or Firebase or mixpanel, we’re keeping that renewal information up to date whether the person opens the app or not. So do you need revenue cap and branch? No you can do it on your own, but you could build out your own subscription backend and make sure that you’re forwarding those events on to amplitude and tagging things and all that kind of stuff. But we do make it a lot easier. As I said, we don’t directly, you know, integrate with the promotional offer. So that will still be a lift on your end to build that out. And then similar on branch side, again, for an MVP, if you don’t want to use branch, yes, you can, you know, find some patterns. Firebase has some deep linking products. A lot of different companies have deep cleaning products. And you can go with like a super MVP that when somebody clicks the link, you store their IP address, you send them to the app store, then they open the app and you check for the IP address. And if they match, you make it work and then you offer like a box in the bottom that’s like, hey, if you have a referral code, you know, enter it here. Not as great of a user experience. There’s going to be edge cases, but, you know, you can build this yourself. The combination of revenue and a tool like branch will kind of cut off the corners that are particularly sticky from a code standpoint and then also just, you know, make a lot of other things easier. So just depends on like, you know, how you want to build it out. But then I guess answer your final question is, is that you will still need to have some amount of server code yourself to and this is actually a whole section we just didn’t get to. It’s like, how do you build this out? And so once you generate the link through branch or yourself, you do need to tag that to the user. So let’s say, you know, David and I have an account in your app and I sent the referral link. That referral link needs to be tied to me so that whoever clicks on it then gets credited to me. So you do have to build out logic around rewarding the person who sends the link. And then, as we discussed on the referring side, the person who’s receiving the link, that’s actually like way more straightforward, but you just need to track their completion on the other end and then associate it back to the person who sent the referrer referral. This is I mean, this is an area. There are all sorts of software as a service out there that are built specifically for referrals. I am not aware of any and couldn’t find any that work with subscription apps. And so I don’t think out of the box any of the kind of software as a service are likely to be flexible enough to do all of that tracking in a way that you’re able to reward an app. There might be and maybe I should done more research on that. But as of right now and until, you know, revenue or somebody else in the space builds out a product specifically for subscription apps, doing referrals, you will still need to do some heavy lifting to track that and facilitate the generation of the links and the tracking and things like that. So hopefully that was a pretty good answer. All right. Next question. What is the best country for fitness tracking app with an in-app subscription for the premium version? A bit off topic. But I actually kind of like this question because I’ll give an answer you might not expect. The easy answer would be to say the us, because just generally and what we see in our data revenue, what most app developers see is that the US is just the biggest market in the world for subscriptions specifically, even more so than games and otherwise. But just generally, you know, in the us, more money is spent. There’s, there’s kind of a top eight. I won’t get it perfectly. But after the US it’s a mix of like Canada, Japan and Germany. Like I’m doing a map global out of Canada, Japan, Germany, France, UK. So kind of the, you know, the kind of modern Western societies, they just tend to spend more there. The average income is higher, you know, the demographics, all those things just kind of lend towards a higher spend. But what I’ll say that might not expect is that it really depends on your app. So there are a lot of opportunities in the subscription app space to serve countries in very specific ways and serve niches in those countries in very specific ways, because so many big apps in the fitness space and in almost any space. Are so focused on the US because it is the biggest market. I think that’s left a lot of gaps that are under exploited in other countries. So, you know, if I mean to totally make it up, if CrossFit is super popular in Germany and there’s just not a great CrossFit app because it’s not and there probably is. So this is a bad example. Just, you know, hypothetically, you know, if there wasn’t a great German localized specifically for the way Germany does CrossFit with, you know, ties to local CrossFit boxes and things like that, I think those are the kind of opportunities apps should be looking at in these really crowded spaces because like, you know, becoming the next peloton, becoming the next Ostrava. I mean, that’s a huge, huge, huge uphill battle. And if you’re taking funding and have millions and millions of dollars in the bank and you’re going for it, you know, by all means, go for it. But if you’re, you know, trying to build a solid business, I would say go look for those niches in other countries. And look for ways to serve it. It also applies to us. I think there’s still niches in the fitness space that are underexplored even in the US market. That’s what I would look at, is that I wouldn’t say that any one country is the best for a fitness app. I would say it depends a lot on your specific app. And I would say try and find a country either where you can build specific experiences for them or at least tailor your app to that market in a way that’s going to get you attention and love in that community. All right, I’ll take one more. I shall take two more questions, because that one was kind of off topic. All right. Would you recommend limiting the number of invitations the user has to share with their friends to give a sense of scarcity of a precious thing? Special invitation for a friend or leave it open to have as much volume of shares as possible. This this would have been a great question for Alex. He’s worked a lot more with referral programs generally, even though not with subscription apps specifically. My sense would be that limiting it might be less attractive that, you know, if somebody gets really excited like, wow, I can get a free year, then roll with that excitement and go for it. I could see where, you know, creating some kind of exclusivity might be beneficial, but that would be something to you know, you could probably fairly easily test that because once you’ve built out the whole referral program, you know, it’s probably fairly easy for, you know, two weeks to have it capped and then for two weeks to not have it capped and just see. And so, yeah, I would say to think through. That’s specific to what you’re giving away and all that kind of stuff. And then the other thing that Alex kind of touched on but isn’t. I follow up questions. I want to ask him about this. Is that. You can. And he talked about the kind of gradient between a referral program and an affiliate marketing program. So that the benefit of not limiting the shares is that if you do have users who get super excited about this and are actually, you know, driving a ton of folks your way, you could potentially reach out to them, not just for them to earn free months in your app. You could, you know, if they referred 12 people and they seem to be part of this community, you can sign an affiliate agreement with them where they actually get paid real money for promoting your app. And if you limit your referral system, you’re not going to find those kind of superstars. The most recent podcasts, well, this will be on YouTube, so just go look at sub clubcard. We did a podcast with Emmanuel vca, the developer of card partners, and he actually has an affiliate marketing program, not a referral program, and has been very successful finding people in the credit card points community. His app card pointers helps folks optimize their points usage with their credit cards. And he’s had incredible success with affiliate marketers in that credit card points community actually driving traffic and then with his affiliate agreements, he’s rewarding them in cash. So this is a monetary exchange and so the influencers are posting and marketing them as a sponsor, marketing them as sponsored posts, but driving a ton of traffic as affiliates. And so if you don’t limit your referral program, it might be an awesome recruiting space to then actually build an affiliate marketing program where you can then offer them real money to go out there into that community that they’re engaged with and find you a whole bunch of users. So listen to that podcast to get a little taste of what an affiliate marketing program could look like and the kind of success that card partners has seen with it. All right. One last question. This has been fun. I always feel like I might as well just go another hour. What are the most relevant restrictions and limitations from the app stores regarding app referral programs? Is there any precedent of apps being removed from the App stores due to their referral programs? So I touch on that a bit. The biggest limitations seem at this point to genuinely be technical, not kind of app review or app review. You know, Apple philosophy around this, I have tweeted about this quite a bit over the years, and I think some of my tweets were misunderstanding. So what I’ve come to understand, Apple really did crack down on these offer wall programs as App Store manipulation. And I kind of alluded to that in the conversation. If a game like Candy Crush says go download and we’ll give you 330 coins in gems and Candy Crush I would played it that there’s a couple of layers of problems with those is that one it can be a way to manipulate the App Store because it’s kind of an ad, but it’s not an ad and it can be kind of a very cheap ad. So you can drive a ton of really low quality traffic to the App Store that pushes your app up in the rankings and pushes your app up in search results and other things that will benefit you organically, even if the traffic that’s actually coming to the app is really poor. And so Apple saw this happening as this probably. I’m going to guess this was like 2013, 24. Tim it’s been, it’s been a while. I’ve been in the industry a while. You can see the great gray beard. So so Apple started cracking down on this because what they ended up seeing was that it was just an effective way to manipulate the App Store without actually really driving meaningful traffic. So when you’re buying traffic on Facebook, that’s expensive and you’re having to know, you really are optimizing for the best possible quality because, you know, market dynamics with these kind of offer walls, it really skewed the market dynamics because you had this really cheap incentive in these games that was easy to give away and then drove really poor traffic. They didn’t actually really engage with the other app but helped push it up in the rankings. So my understanding is that referral programs got kind of caught up in that mix a little bit in perception anyways. And so what you want to do is just steer as far clear away from kind of any offer wall type scenario that you can. If you build out a referral program that is solely focused on your app, you know you’re sending a link that only downloads your app. The reward is about your app. You’re not like tying it into some convoluted scheme with like a whole bunch of other developers or anything like that. If you’re that’s your app sending users back to your app, offering rewards in your app for the referee, offering rewards for the referrer inside your app if it’s all about your app. My understanding now is that there really isn’t any, you know, clear restriction against that, even if you want to give away too much. I mean, we were talking about earlier, you want to measure this against your customer acquisition cost and make sure that it’s cost effective for you to do. But let’s say you didn’t care and you just gave away a free year for every person who downloaded the app. That’s a business decision, and I don’t think Apple’s going to get in the way again as long as it’s not perceived as a manipulation strategy, as long as it really is genuinely an attempt at a referral program. So and again, I would go into it with the perception that. You might get rejected, but don’t blow up and freak out. Just work through it with app review because I don’t think they’re at all opposed to the concept of referral programs. They actually were promoting referral programs on a recent webinar that they did around subscription app success. So, you know, ultimately, I mean, again, I have my frustrations with apple, but I have to remind myself and I think we as a developer community need to remind ourselves more frequently that, you know, yes, Apple’s incentivized to make their 15% and 30% and take the commission. And there’s problems there and, you know, all the antitrust and everything like that. But Apple is generally mostly aligned with developers making more money. And so referral programs can be a fantastic way for developers to grow. And that ultimately benefits Apple and great experiences for the users and more revenue for their in-app purchase stream. So I think if you’re building a. Something that’s going to benefit your business and be a great experience for users. I wouldn’t worry about you if you’re, like, flirting with like, you know, trying to kind of work the system and offering weird rewards and, you know, not building against a kind of standard make sense kind of referral program. That’s where I would be a little more concerned about app review intervening. Huh? all right. Well, that was fun. Thank you all for joining. This will be on YouTube soon. Again, podcast hub clubcard. Community chat hub Capcom. You can follow me on Twitter adr, Bernard revenue cat if you want to sign up for our newsletter and start poking around with our APIs. As we’ve talked about throughout, you know, it’s our mission to help developers make more money. And so, you know, our SDK is in our back end infrastructure and our dashboard and our integrations and everything we do is aligned around helping our customers make more money. And I don’t think you’ve heard the last from us on referral paths, both from a product standpoint and a content standpoint. So yeah, stay in the loop and I’ll talk to you again soon.

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