How to monetize your app: expert tips from Steve P. Young (App Masters)

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Unlock your app's monetization potential: top tips for app monetization by app marketing expert Steve P. Young - learn how to target 100% paywall views, show a paywall to 100% of users, improve subscription rates, leverage data, and use hard paywalls with pricing table. Discover the rationale behind young's tips and boost your app revenue today with this must-listen episode.

App monetization is a hot topic in nearly any industry. While creating an app can be a lucrative business, it can be difficult to stand out and generate revenue with so many apps available. In the Subscription League podcast episode 21, Steve P. Young, an app marketing expert and founder and CEO of App Masters, shared his top tips for app monetization. In this article, we will explore Young's tips including the following and the rationale behind them, 

  • target 100% paywall views
  • add the paywall to the onboarding process
  • stop building more features
  • focus on improving the rate of trials to subscriptions
  • carefully consider the length of the app’s trials
  • use data as social proof

Read on for some key takeaways from the conversation.


Target 100% paywall views

Steve’s first piece of advice is to target 100% paywall views. This means that every user who uses the app should see the paywall at some point. A paywall is a feature that restricts access to content until the user pays for it. By targeting 100% paywall views, apps can ensure that every user has the opportunity to pay for the app’s content.

Add the paywall to the onboarding process

Steve's second tip is to implement an onboarding and add paywalls to the process. App onboarding is the initial experience users have with an app, helping them to understand its features, their values and how to use them. He adds that having a paywall during the onboarding process increased conversions by 234% for one of his clients. 

Steve suggests that 60-80% of users who end up buying will do so during the onboarding process, making it a crucial time to introduce the paywall. He also advises moving the paywall earlier in the onboarding process to prevent app users from being fickle. 

Stop building more features

Steve's third tip is to stop building more features. Instead, he suggests focusing on using data to improve the app’s monetization. One way to do this is by using data to optimize the paywall and trial activations. He recommends that paywall and trial activations should be between 5-10% of the user base. If they are lower than this, he suggests that developers need to fix the paywall and onboarding process. 

He also advises leading with the benefits of using the app than feature. For example (in the case of meditation apps), instead of saying, "We have hundreds of meditations," he suggests saying, "Feel less stress, more calm." He adds that this approach led to a 234% increase in conversions for one of his clients.

Work on the trial to subscription conversion

Another piece of advice is to leverage the free-trial model and focus on improving the rate of trials to subscriptions. Steve recommends that trials should last for roughly seven or three days, as longer trials tend to have higher cancelation rates. He also recommends that trials should be between 30-50% of the user base. 

Case study: adding trials

During the conversation, Steve shares a case study to illustrate the effectiveness of trials. He shares that one of his clients saw a 420% increase in sales when they added trials, not just activation. The client had no trials before and added them to their app.

Use data as social proof

When asked why he relies so much on data, Steve answered data can be the most accurate social proof that backs up ideas and improve marketing efforts. Steve’s old boss once told him, “Steve, if you have an idea, you better back it up with data. Otherwise, if we’re going to go off opinions, we’re going to use my opinions because I’m the boss.” This advice has stuck with Steve and he now uses data to support his ideas and decisions.

Have a hard paywall

Steve P. Young suggests trying a hard paywall for niche apps, especially in the early days when revenue is still low. He shares how his company bought an app and changed it to a hard paywall, resulting in a revenue increase from $1,000-$2,000 a month to $10,000 a month.

However, they had to remove the paywall for a short period and saw a drop in revenue to $5,000, but it went back up to $10,000-12,000 after the paywall was reinstated. Steve believes that a hard paywall is effective in validating an app idea and forcing the question of whether users are willing to pay or not. He also advises app publishers to ask potential customers if they are willing to pay for a feature before adding it to the app.

Have a pricing table

Steve recommends having a pricing table with three options:

  • a low-priced option for those who want to test it out, 
  • a preferred option with the highest LTV
  • a decoy option that's only slightly cheaper than the preferred option to guide customers towards the best value. 

He believes that having three options allows him to demonstrate where the real value lies and refers to the preferred option as the "Happy Meal" option.

More about Steve

Steve P. Young is the founder of App Masters the app marketing agency that helps grow apps faster, better & cheaper.

From top-charting apps to the world’s biggest brands to small indie app startups, App Masters guides you through our successes and failures to ensure that you have a proven framework to ultimately find your success.

He is an author, speaker, and host of the #1 app marketing YouTube channel. He has interviewed the biggest names including the co-founder of Shazam, Crossy Road, Mafia Wars, Color Switch, and more!

Episode 21 Sneak Peek

On the story behind App Masters

In 2013, I was listening to a ton of podcasts, and the ones I enjoyed were about apps. I wanted to do a podcast because I was like, "I think I'd be good at a podcast." I didn't know what to do it on, and then it hit me one day. I was like, "Do it on apps. Apps are continuing to grow. They're probably going to be the future. Just interview people that have done well in the app space, see if you can learn from them, and then turn this little side business into a full-on business”

“It is one of those things that I love the most because it was life-changing. Working with big companies is great and probably life-changing for me, but then if I could give back to somebody else's life, that's even better.”

On trials

​​”We do have studies that say trials do increase conversions because it lowers the barrier to entry. Most people who activate a trial cancel the first day”

“Roughly speaking, seven or three-day trials tend to perform the best. Fourteen and longer tend to have really high cancelation rates.”

On onboarding

“Number one is have your paywall during the onboarding process. Number two tip is have an onboarding process. I had to add that in there because he didn't have one, and then when he added three screens, he saw a 234% increase in overall conversions.”

On pricing table

“Have a pricing table. Now, I fully believe this, and some people debate me on this, but I feel like a pricing table has three options. It's better than one option, it's better than two options. Why? Because the one plan will be for the cheapies that just want to taste it. It's like the monthly offer at the cheapest price.”

On Purchasely

“I don't think Apple likes a hard paywall. This is where having a tool like Purchasely really helps out because you can remote config. For the non-nerdy people out there, you can change things on your paywall without submitting the new build, and that's a way to get around everything. “

Episode Topics at a Glance

  • The story behind App Masters
  • Steve’s youtube content initiative
  • App monetization tips
  • Why onboarding works and the proofs
  • Why trial works and the proofs
  • Showing a paywall early on to 100% of the users
  • Paywall content tips (long vs short, pricing table)
  • Feature led vs value-led
  • Using data as social proof

How to listen to Subscription League

Go to or subscribe to our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 


Previous episodes:

#1: Phiture - All about Retention with Andy Carvell

#2: Babbel Live - How to create a success in a crowded market with Belen Caeiro

#3: Mojo - Strategies you should focus on for a successful subscription business with Jean Patry

#4: The Guardian - Growing the user base The Guardian way - with Jesse Wilkins

#5: Blinkist - Using transparency to increase your conversion rate with Eveline Moczko

#6: Rootd - How to bootstrap #1 health and fitness app with Ania Wysocka

#7: Luni - Subscription Marketing 101: tips to drive acquisition and retention with Adrien Miniatti 

#8: Uptime - How to build a successful user-first app strategy with Léa Samrani 

#9: GP Bullhound - What venture investors look for in subscription apps with Eric Crowley

#10: Phiture - How to optimize mobile app subscription with Andy Carvell

#11: Jodel - Shifting from ads to In-App Subscription-led revenue generation with Tim Schmitz

#12: BlueThrone - Product market fit, Subscription, and Other Secrets of Success by Idan Waller

#13: Aperture - Tips for Creating the Right Mindset for Business Growth by Hannah Parvaz

#14: MobileGroove - The Subscription Model - the state, benefits, and success tips by Peggy Anne Salz

#15: Appic - All about subscription app onboarding with Tobias Boerner

#16: Together Labs - Leveraging user research to maximize subscription app monetization with Jenny Pollock

#17: BlueThrone - Product market fit, Subscription, and Other Secrets of Success by Idan Waller

#18: Pollen VC - A guide to financing your user acquisition with Martin Macmillan 

#19: CoinState - Finding the sweet spot with the right subscription app monetization and pricing strategy with Vahe Baghdasaryan 

#20: PhotoRoom - How to grow a subscription app business and its user base globally by Olivier Lemarié

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