The Formula to Mobile App Growth with Andy Carvell

Posted on January 9, 2020

How many times have we heard about mobile apps that have quickly rocketed in popularity and got bought for millions of dollars?

What framework do the most popular apps use for growth?

Well, on this episode of the GrowthTLDR, we talk to Andy Carvell, who created the ‘Mobile Growth Stack’, which is a go-to resource for any business looking to grow their mobile app.

We talk to Andy about:

– Why he created the Mobile Growth Stack and how businesses should use it to create a growth plan for their app.

– The RRF formula Andy used at SoundCloud to launch five types of notifications that drastically improved their retention.

– The go-to playbook Andy uses for increasing revenue generated for an app.


Time Stamped Notes

[2:40] – Andy talks to us through a framework he created called the ‘Mobile Growth Stack.’
It’s a one-pager of all the things you could do for mobile growth. When using the growth stack, Andy recommends focusing on a small number of things that will yield the best results.
The growth stack is a list of all the things you could do, not should do.

[6:05] – Andy recommends both engagement and retention as the two areas of opportunity that most businesses can focus on when growing their mobile app.

[7:10] – Andy explains the difference between engagement and retention. Retention is how often they’re coming back. Engagement is what people are doing in the app when they come back.

[9:15] – When Andy worked at SoundCloud, he focused on retention. One of the ways they managed to improve retention significantly was providing users with real-time alerts when their favorite artists added new music.

[11:15] – At SoundCloud, Andy created five different types of notifications to bring the user back into the product. He measured these using a formula called RRF, which stood for reach x relevance x frequency.

Reach is what percentage of the user base you’re likely to reach with this notification.

The relevance is a bit harder to measure, but you can proxy it by the open rate that you’re getting on your notifications. It’s an indicator of how relevant and personalized and engaging the messages are.

Frequency is how often you’re able to send them.

[15:00] – When Andy first rolled out notifications on SoundCloud, they did it in an MVP way, to ensure it didn’t negatively impact the user experience.
They capped the frequency of notifications to be one every 24 hours. Over time they got smarter with how they surfaced notifications, eventually using data to decide on the best notifications to send and how often to send them.

[18:05] – When looking to improve retention, Andy looks across devices, not just mobile.

[21:05] – AppStore optimization is a critical component in what makes an app successful.

[24:55] – Something that makes a big difference in the AppStore is optimizing the icon. Andy recommends adding the name of your app to the icon. He has seen that make a big impact on his client’s growth.

[27:05] – When trying to improve the unit economics of a mobile app, Andy and his team focus a lot on introducing users to the value of the product. Andy gives a great example of how they managed to double the monetization rate of an app by following this principle.

[29:20] – Andy talks about some of the patterns businesses employ to keep people engaged with his app that he doesn’t agree with.


– Andy on  LinkedIn / Twitter
– Kieran on Twitter / LinkedIn / Medium
– Scott on Twitter / Linked / Medium