Leveraging user research to maximize subscription app monetization with Jenny Pollock

Podcast

What’s popular with our users? What’s performing well? What’s not working? How to grow revenue sustainably?

In this episode, Jenny Pollock, Lead Subscription Monetization Manager at Together Labs uncovers the secrets of how quantitative and qualitative research can help better answer those questions and turn users into the valuable backbone of product and revenue optimization.

Who is Together labs

Named to TIME‘s list of the 100 Most Influential Companies of 2022, Together Labs is a Silicon Valley-based 3D social networking company that innovates technologies empowering people worldwide to connect, create and earn in virtual worlds.

The company portfolio includes IMVU, the world’s largest friendship discovery and social metaverse platform with 7M MAU; WithMe, a social metaverse in open beta built on insights from the science of friendship; and VCOIN, 1st regulatory-approved transferable digital currency.

A sneak peek into IMVU’s extraordinary business model

IMVU blog

The app is built on a unique concept of avatar-focused social networking that, from the start, sets itself apart. Jenny also believes IMVU has out-of-ordinary growth opportunities thanks to its participatory ecosystem that enables anyone to become an engaged user:

  • General users who just come for the social aspect.

  • Others who come and shop.

  • Creators who build products to sell.

IMVU currently has a footprint of more than 140 countries and is home to a massive creator community whom Jenny calls the key to what makes its users come back every day. Creators can create or collect outfits, accessories, rooms, and furniture and earn either real-life money or in-app credits by selling their creations in the IMVU catalog. 

Day in the life of a Lead Subscription Monetization Manager at Together Labs

When 2 tectonic plates of monetization and subscription maximization collide, the earthquakes of different approaches and focuses can either lift up the overall land or break it apart into pieces. That’s where a Lead Subscription Monetization Manager enters the picture. 

As a Lead Subscription Monetization Manager at Together Labs, Jenny is involved in every aspect of interlocking subscriptions and revenue growth. 

While every company approaches subscription and revenue growth differently, and for some, it could mean the relentless acquisition of new users, Jenny’s role means unlocking user spending by maximizing user satisfaction through providing real value. Jenny advises apps can let their users guide the product roadmap and monetization strategy by leveraging quantitative and qualitative user research. Read on to learn more about Jenny’s philosophy on user research and her 4-step user research framework. 

Jenny’s 4-Step Framework

Jenny says app users with different interests and maturity have the ability to look at the product from different angles. They hold the most valuable insight and information about the product that marketers cannot generate alone through a monetization lens.

What’s popular with our users? What’s performing well? What’s not working? How to grow revenue sustainably? By simply talking to the users, app developers and marketers, regardless of the size of the app, can answer all these nagging questions that cross their minds every day. 

Jenny likes to use quantitative and qualitative research in tandem, and she advises that each app can choose to start with either type depending on what data is available and the users' readiness for whichever research approach each app desires to conduct. 

Following is Jenny’s 4-step user research framework that app publishers can try to implement when building a product roadmap and monetization strategy.

1. 🔮 Just Ask 

Use both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Quantitative research is a multiple choice survey, and qualitative research is user Interviews (in-depth explanations or validating survey results). 

Determine what you want to know. Example research goals:  

  • Are users interested in feature X? 

  • How much would users pay for feature X? 

  • Is there a segment of users willing to pay for subscription access to this feature?

Tip: Zoom or Google Meet are useful tools for conducting interviews.

2. 🧪 Science 

Each organization has a different way of tracking goals, whether you call them KPI, OKRs, MBOs, Smart Goals, etc  -- It’s essential to get alignment. 

User Research Findings + Business Goals = Killer Features and Revenue 

When user research and business goals are combined, it creates a reaction that produces killer features that can support monetization.

3. 🎨  Get Creative 

Interpret the results and apply your expertise. Make sure you evaluate your user research findings alongside current industry trends and the future your organization is trying to build. 

4. 🗺️  Get on the Product Roadmap 

Work with your internal teams to get on the product roadmap. Find supporters on your team, then gather cross-functional support. Share your user research findings and how they will impact your users and your bottom line.

More user research tips

  • Use Google Forms: “The visualisation is actually really great. You can export your data. I really recommend that for a low entry situation there.

  • See where it takes you: “What I like to do is come up with a script, and I'll have some questions I'm hoping to ask. But go where the interview takes you. Sometimes the user isn't a fit for those questions, and you'll discover something new. You'll discover something exciting that you didn't know about.

  • Don’t forget to record: “ If possible, record it so then you can go back and listen to it, because you're going to do a bunch of user interviews. By the end, you won't remember who said what. So recording is great.

  • Combine research data with business goals: “I recommend taking the data you have, looking at your business goals. They might be OKRs, MBOs, SMART goals, whatever your organisation is working off of, and you have to combine them together.

  • Leverage your cross-functional teams: “Don't try to make a top-down approach with the roadmap, but more collaborative one so that a few stakeholders buy the same ideas, they participate, generating it, and then it's much easier to convince internally.

Episode 14 Sneak Peek

On IMVU

Our users are really where it's at. They help us by telling us what they're interested in, what they want to see, what they're passionate about, what's working, what's not working.”

“Our users are really creative, and they put in so much creativity into our product for us. I think that's what really makes us stick out and makes our users come back every day.”

On user survey

“Making sure that you have the research that you already have, anything that anyone's done before you at your organisation, start there.”

“I think that sometimes you can feel intimidated, what is the research, what do I have to do? Just get out there and iterate like you would with your product. Do a survey, see what information you get, follow up with a user interview, do another survey to check.”

“What I like to do is come up with a script, and I'll have some questions I'm hoping to ask. But go where the interview takes you. Sometimes the user isn't a fit for those questions, and you'll discover something new. You'll discover something exciting that you didn't know about.”

On bringing value to customers

“The question I like to think about here is, does this feature align with the future that your organisation is trying to build? Does it ladder up to the bigger vision? If yes, that's great.”

“Looking at the different app store rules, you can get in there. If you can't fall asleep one night, go read them, and then you'll figure out what Apple and Google have to offer and how you can leverage it. That's an opportunity.”

On product roadmap

“The first thing I recommend is listing 3-5 team members that can help you, that might be excited, that might also find this feature of win. One of the things that I just suggest is listing them out and talking to them one on one to get their buy-in. Talk about your user research findings, talk about how it ties to your goals, so you'll share your science results, and then you'll share the creative solution that you come up with, and hopefully, you can get their buy-in.”

“ I find that when you have people that are excited about building your feature, not only can you get on the product roadmap, but you're going to have a better launch. You're going to have better communication. You're going to have a better go-to-market. It's going to be more successful, and so that collaborative approach is so key.”

Jenny Kay Pollock Subscription League Podcast

More about Jenny Kay Pollock

Jenny Kay Pollock leads monetization at Together Labs, where she focuses on strategies that help keep IMVU a top 5 social app by spending in the US. Jenny routinely speaks on mobile monetization, women in the workplace, and building a tech career. She has published on these topics in outlets like Forbes and Ellevate. Find her discussing all things tech on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jennykaypollock  

Episode Topics at a Glance

  • What does Together Labs do?

  • Day in the life of a lead subscription monetization manager at Together Labs

  • Subscription tiers and user personas of IMVU explained

  • The value of listening to your community 

  • User research: qualitative vs quantitative 

  • Jenny's four-part framework for user research 

  • Advice to start-ups for managing data 

  • How to have great user interviews

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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

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