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Our app accounts for 15% of our revenue

Jason Wong
Jason Wong
I think you’ll love this week’s memo on why I’m married to the doe app.
I just have one ask: if you know another operator that would benefit from my memos, I would appreciate you forwarding this to them and subscribe. I don’t profit from writing these newsletters and this motivates me to spend more time writing!

Hey, y’all! If you’re reading this, I’m on a flight to Miami for the Geek Out conference and hosting my Miami Founder dinner. The Founder dinner has been a hobby of mine for the past year, giving me the opportunity to meet new friends and help everyone grow their network. The dinner is free to attend and invite only – if you’re a DTC brand founder, join the list here. I’ll let you know when I’m hosting a dinner in your city next.
This week, you’re in for a treat; we’re going to uncover how 15% of doe’s revenue is now coming from our mobile app, and how we got there exactly.
Why did this work for doe?
This is an important point to know, because a mobile app doesn’t work for every brand. The inspiration behind the doe app was our doe community. Back in 2020, we were noticing our social media accounts had high engagements with our audience and that was transferring to a 40%+ returning customer rate. The high returning rate is one because our product is replenishable, and two because we were able to effectively re-engage with our customers through our retention channels (social, email, sms). The question we asked was, what else can we add to the retention mix if people will come back as long as we can get in front of them again?
We knew that our audience had high intentions of interacting with our brand again, which led to our conviction that they’re willing to commit deeper with something like an app. If we can create an app experience that enhances their shopping journey, it could lead to a huge win for us.
Launching our app with Tapcart
Oh wait, let me talk about what is Tapcart. If you’re unfamiliar with Tapcart, it is a platform where merchants can turn their Shopify store into an app without doing any code themselves. In fact, I don’t think you can edit a single line of code within Tapcart, that’s how simple they made their interface.
We believed that having an app would improve customer retention and ensure our brand would be on top of the customers’ mind by living on their phone and reaching them with a push notification. It’s pretty logical, right? Having an app is easier to go onto your browser, type in, search, and scroll to find the right site. (Who has time for that today?) 
At first, the thought of launching and managing an app could be stressful and daunting. It’s a huge resource drain for a small team to add a whole new retention channel.
This fear was relieved pretty quickly internally. With Tapcart, the team was able to setup within the day, and fully polish our look within the week.
We built the entire app with our own designs that we hosted on Air.inc. Air is the creative operating system that we use to collaborate between our team and the Tapcart team (and any external vendors for other projects)
Using Google Drive or Dropbox to organize your images and videos ?
A few months ago we switched all our visual asset management over to Air and the effects were mindblowing. I regret not doing this sooner because I can’t imagine how many hours we wasted in Google Drive trying to find the right asset. There are a few things that Air is just perfect for:
  1. Smart searching - you can find assets based on simple descriptors (colors, objects)
  2. Collaboration - Seamlessly work with your team to track project progress and communicate in-platform
  3. Building boards - sort of like Pinterest, where images and videos can live in multiple boards on Air. This was the biggest headache in Google Drive because you’d need to go through multiple folders just to maybe find the image 
A friend showed me this and my first reaction was, great, another software bill to add to my stash. To my surprise, the app was free to start, and we loved it so much that we upgraded to the paid plan so we can migrate all our assets over. The coolest thing is that you can do all the migration in one click.
Okay, so now we got the app up and running, let’s dive into our growth strategy.
3 Places We Acquired Our Subscribers From
We looked to grow the app’s subscriber list by transferring subscribers from the traditional retention channels we had (social, email, and sms) with the upside being that push notifications from apps don’t cost money and is the first thing people see when they look at their phone. We’re not discounting the effectiveness of SMS and email, but at the end of the day, the journey from SMS/email to your site still has a lot of friction that the push notification ➡️ app resolves.
  1. We started adding placements to promote the app across our social media channel. This means adding the link to the app Store to our link in bio (we use beacons.ai), adding the Instagram story to our highlight, and having a story talking about the app twice a month with a caption mention once a month.
  2. All our transaction and promotional emails had a section talking about the app with a link to install.
  3. We used the Tapcart mobile site pop-up bubble to encourage site visitors on mobile to one-tap install the app.
Okay but why would people download?
Everything I covered above is just the placement of the message promoting the app. It just gets more eyes, but none of that matter if there’s not a compelling offer, so here’s why people wanted to download our app.
  1. We started launching certain products only in the app for the first 2 weeks. You can set the selling channel for your Shopify products to only show on Tapcart and not on your site. This was especially attractive to fans of the brand, who are the type to be the first buyers when we drop a new product. This method got us our first 500 subscribers.
  2. Lighting speed browsing experience. The beauty with the app is that there’s virtually no loading speed. This was a big selling point for people that repurchase our products often but aren’t subscribers for whatever reason. Instead of spending 10 minutes on our site, they can browse and one-click checkout in literal seconds.
  3. App-exclusive promotions. When we’ve exhausted the growth efforts because we ran through point 1 and 2 over and over again, it’s time to go broad. We started running promotions that are only active on our app. We display the banner on our web and mobile site telling them that they can participate if they download the app and made continuous push on our social so they would start migrating. If they weren’t attracted to the app because they don’t care for early releases, they certainly love a good deal. The bonus here is if you have customers posting about the deal that they got in the app and tag you on social media – it’s the biggest FOMO trigger for everyone else.
Let’s turn it up with push notifications
Like I said before, push notification was the secret sauce to all of this working. You got the app, you got the subscribers, now you need to get them back to the app when you want them to. This is how.
For our push notification, we kept the copy in the same tone that we had across everywhere else. Branding is all about cohesiveness, and you need to make sure to do this even down to a simple push notification. For doe, we’ve always given the friendly big sister vibe or your ‘lash plug’. Our best copy for push notification was “you’re the first to see this”.
It worked because it’s the approachable tone that we’ve used everywhere, now with a sprinkle of exclusivity that you get when you download our app.
We turned push notification up a notch with the Klaviyo integration. When you’re a Tapcart enterprise account, you can use Klaviyo to create behavior segmented and automated push notifications. This means you can send notifications to people that recently abandoned their cart, or favorited an item in the app. Customers who have your app could also be notified when their order has been confirmed or when a product they wanted is back in stock.
Everything here is repeatable
if your customers are right for it
Like I said in the beginning, an app is not for everyone, but if you’re already seeing success with retention marketing and your brand is something that people look to frequent, it’s a no-brainer to get an app.
We built our entire app within a week and I’m sure you can too. If you want to give Tapcart a spin, you can use their 30 day free trial here. If you don’t like it, just delete it and you don’t lose out on anything.
Hope you guys enjoy your weekend and if you’re going to Geek Out Miami, come say hi!
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Jason Wong
Jason Wong @eggroli

Quick 5 minute reads every Friday in your inbox to wrap up what's going on this week in the DTC space, growth strategies, and my memo as a founder building a beauty brand.

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