Subscription Apps Paywalls: Examples & Tips

By analyzing what your competitors are doing well (and not so well), you can improve on their successes, and ultimately grow your app revenue much more quickly. 

There are large teams working behind-the-scenes on the top apps. They spend substantial time and resources optimizing their onboarding experiences, running A/B testing, and evaluating their pricing offers and feature sets. It’s worth examining what they are doing and using it as a guidance for your app. This is how you leverage the experience of large and successful apps.

As Steve Jobs famously said in 1996, “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas. 

So even such visionaries and product leaders build their products on top of existing solutions, not from scratch. There is a lesson there.

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

If you check the top apps in a specific category on the App Store, you’ll notice many similarities in their pricing strategies, onboarding flows, and other tactics that generate revenue. 

Let’s take a look at the leading language learning apps available on the App Store.

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

To come up with some specific ideas what to look at and measure, I’d recommend downloading the apps and checking out what you see during the first session using the app.

The first thing you notice is that you are presented with the paywall and subscription options during the onboarding. You need to understand that you should be showing your paywall to your users the first time they use the app. If you see it in all top ranking apps in the category, and that’s not a coincidence. This is a clear indication that it’s the best monetization strategy.

Failure to do this is one of the main mistake many new apps are making. 

Subscription Apps Paywalls Price and In-App Subscription Duration

Let’s take a look at the paywalls of the top language learning apps: 

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

The first thing that we notice is that all of this apps are offering a 12-month plan as the main subscription offer. So, probably after a lot of testing, they came to the conclusion that this duration is the best option for long-term successful monetization. It might be a good idea to bring this lesson to your own app.

The annual subscription price for all except for one of the top 6 apps in the category is 80 to 90 euros. I don’t think this is a coincidence. The price difference between all 6 apps lies within several percentage points. This is something tested for the category, proven to work well and convert well. Something people are willing to pay for a good language learning app and ready to start with 1-year subscription.

The next important point for the paywall and subscription plan presentation: most apps show the annual cost as a monthly cost as well by just dividing the price by 12. It’s required to also show the total price charged by the App Store rules. But app store reviewers don’t mind if you also include the monthly price estimate. 

This is another thing that works well for this type of app. 

Third, you can see that all of them offer more than just one plan. 4 out of 6 apps offer 2 plans at the least. What should you do? You should probably start with 2 subscriptions as well! 4 out of 6 apps offer 1-month subscriptions as an alternative to annual subscriptions. This makes it easy for users compare the cost per month against the annual subscription. And the annual subscription now looks like a very good deal, costing roughly 50% less per month. This will steer users towards the annual plan. By introducing the second option, you are actually reinforcing your first option.

Subscription Apps Paywalls Trials

What about offering a free trial? Most apps offering them – 4 out of 6 in this case – so consider this as well.

  • Duolingo: 14 days
  • Babbel: no
  • Lingokids: 7 days
  • Ewa: 3 days
  • Falou: no
  • Busuu: 14 days

Subscription Apps Paywalls Best Practices for Language Learning Apps

  • Show the paywall during the onboarding process
  • Offer annual subscriptions as the main in-app product
  • Show the monthly cost for an annual subscription
  • Show alternative shorter-duration subscriptions that can be easily compared to the main price
  • Monthly subscriptions could cost 50% less compared to the annual subscription’s cost per month.

All of that has been tested and proven to work well for the top apps in the category.

Subscription Apps Paywalls for the Specific App Niche

Knowing your niche is very important. Even within a single category, there may exist apps with vastly different features, capabilities, pricing, and paywall strategies.

Let’s have a closer look at the Health & Fitness Category. 

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples
Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

Even though you might see some similarities among them, these apps differ in their features and, as a result, in their pricing strategies. 

However, looking at the apps that can be found in the European App Store using the search term ‘fasting’, you’ll discover even more similarities among these ‘fasting’ apps.

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

As you can see, the average price for a fasting app is around €3 per week. These paywalls tend to have the same structure and duration for their most popular subscriptions. Let’s take a look at one more category – ‘calorie counting’ – and you’ll notice the same pattern for the apps with similar features. 

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples to Identify Product’s Differentiator 

Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble – the three most popular dating apps – were launched one after another. Hinge was designed to be less superficial than Tinder, eliminating the swiping feature and positioning itself as “the relationship app.” Meanwhile, Bumble aimed to become the safest app for women and focused on less casual dating than Tinder. Thus, Tinder became a benchmark app for the industry, and the differentiators of Bumble and Hinge were reflected in their pricing strategies.

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

Subscription Apps Paywalls Design Best Practices

Blinkist team was the first to leverage psychological patterns in user behavior, recognizing that one of the main obstacles to signing up for a free trial is the risk of forgetting to cancel and being billed – or just not understanding how the free trial works.

To address this concern, Blinkist implemented a paywall that provides clear instructions about what happens after setting up a trial, informing users that they will be automatically charged for a subscription once the trial ends. By being transparent about the length of the trial and how to cancel if needed, Blinkist creates a sense of trust and openness with their users.

 This approach not only helps retain users who are genuinely interested in the app, but also demonstrates Blinkist’s commitment to user experience and satisfaction. According to their data, Blinkist achieved a 23% increase in trial signups, 55% fewer customer complaints, and a 6 to 74% increase in push notification opt-ins.

Since then, many apps have begun to replicate these paywalls.

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

Subscription Apps Paywall Structure Example

We’ve already looked at the anatomy of a subscription paywall that converts, but benchmarking will ensure you don’t overlook any critical components of your paywall or ideas on how to optimize space on it.

Subscription Apps Paywalls Examples

It’s worth noting that at Qonversion, we have a No-Code Paywalls Builder that can assist you in creating paywalls of almost any design. We developed it this way because some no-code paywall builders have a block structure that limits your design decisions.

Returning to language apps, you’ll observe that the structure of their paywalls is more or less the same, featuring a few price options, emphasis on the most popular plan, and details on advantages of subscribing annually instead of monthly.

Grow Revenue with Subscription Apps Paywalls

By keeping tabs on what your competitors are charging for their apps, you can make informed decisions about your own pricing, identify opportunities to lower your prices, or even adjust your features to better differentiate yourself in the market. 

But at the end of the day, you should check whether it works for your app. Use an A/B testing tool to check product hypothesis in real-time and identify new opportunities to maximize your revenue. Qonversion is a powerful tool that allows you to easily create no-code onboarding screens and A/B test paywalls, and track app performance, all in one place. It’s free to start. 

Additionally, we have launched the fastest A/B paywall experimentation framework. Discover how to conduct paywall experiments for subscription apps in the most straightforward way.