Self-isolation is causing stress, creating big problems for relationships, and huge opportunities for apps that help people improve their relationships. LifeCouple, a relationship empowerment platform, combines a compelling product (a “democratized therapy solution”) and individualized marketing to help couples address, monitor, and improve their relationships. Through gamification, attractive incentives, and built-in “track-ability” indexes, LifeCouple doesn’t just empower people—it powers impressive conversion rates and fuels lasting loyalty. In this episode of our bi-weekly series Reimagine Growth, sponsored by CleverTap, host Peggy Anne Salz talks with Sean Rones, the serial entrepreneur, and inventor who founded LifeCouple. They discuss the “app journeys” he has architected and the tech stack he relies on to deliver meaningful content and drive deep customer connection. Sean, whose determination puts him in the same league with Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, shares the shortcuts marketers can use to make messaging emotive and effective.
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… it’s something we can’t do alone which is why we need guidance, good advice and we benefit from getting both from our guests and that’s why it’s a pleasure for me and a privilege on Reimagine Growth here to welcome my guest today, Sean Rones, Founder and CEO of LifeCouple. I would normally, Sean, go into a little bit more background about you but I really just want to let you loose and first of all welcome you to our show.
SR Thanks for having me, Peggy, I appreciate it.
PAS Because you have an eclectic background and I’d say push the boundaries on many levels and LifeCouple, an amazing app that is also very relevant in these times. But why don’t you take it from me, tell me a little bit about yourself, LifeCouple of course, what kind of app it is.
SR Sure, so I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for about 10-15 years, I have been in the product industry and made many products that really a lot of people have bought on the show, so Walmart or Target or CostCo, and I’ve had a knack for seeing niches that the consumer was looking for and asking myself why is this not in the market or can I make what’s in the market a lot better? And the last lightbulb moment came in the therapy world which a lot of people have either explored therapy or would consider exploring therapy – I felt that there could be a better way to create a democratized therapy solution and the birth of LifeCouple came about, about two years ago.
PAS And I mean I can imagine you’re seeing more interest, a little bit of a boost because it’s about staying together, right now we’re sort of stuck together in our homes, you know, COVID-19, this is the new normal or what it’s evolving into. What is the experience in LifeCouple? I mean, is that something that is also evolving as we’re evolving or is it a very set user journey?
SR So, it’s definitely evolving, a lot of people are in fact stuck in their home together, a lot of relationships prior have been a little bit on edge prior to COVID, so we’ve got a lot of people that have had relationships that might not be the healthiest and now you throw COVID-19 into the mix, and it’s a lot more strained. Then you sprinkle on the financial challenges that people are going to be facing and then you add the kids at home and now you’re really in a situation where the support is needed and LifeCouple has offered a support system almost as if we give you a way to look at areas in your indexes, indexes meaning trust, communication, conflict and overall relationship, and what we could do is we can measure where you’re at like a Fitbit and a lot of users in these days love measurement tools and with the measurement tools, we are getting people to find a way to explore how they can get through COVID-19 and keep their relationship healthy or decide that COVID-19 might be a way that they can work on themselves and then get a little bit of closure to maybe even leave the relationship or to give closure to find what it is that they need to tolerate the relationship or find what they need to resurrect a relationship.
PAS I love that, a Fitbit for relationships and it’s about wellness, you know, we talk about finances, we talk about financial wellness now, particularly now, you have to understand quantified self, where am I, what am I doing, very much relationship, that’s also investment, it’s also a two-way street, give and take. You have however architected a really unique user journey here, you know, gamification, some other cool stuff. I’d just like you to explore that with me a little bit, Sean, before we dig deeper because I feel that that, that aspect of your app is what makes the user acquisition, the campaigns, the customer relationship management of your company so unique.
SR Thanks, Peggy. So, with what we’ve tried to is we’ve tried to create a measurable way to grow or to address relationship challenges, we call them growth opportunities. So, let’s use partner A, partner A gets an ad, they go into the app, they answer 17 questions and then we can see where their trust, intimacy, communication, conflict and overall relationship score is. We then ask partner A if they would like to create a partner B opportunity and if the answer is yes, and they’re ready to tango, they can in fact invite their partner, partner B goes on, does the same and then the app intelligently behind the scenes knows opportunities in those key areas to in fact create content, tools and activities that gamify and promote good relationship hygiene.
Now, where it’s really important and where we really find the need to in fact retain these users or to engage these users is we have their vitals, we know what I call their MRI – marital relationship indexes – and with that MRI, with the right messaging with push or the right messaging with email and even with text, we can now give you exactly what you’re looking for to in fact explore what you need to move these indexes to a higher level and we do it in a fun, engaging and a measurable way.
So it is not like your traditional therapy where it’s a glorified Kindle you read and then you go on your very merry way – it is vital the messaging that we create because a lot of people need that push and no pun intended with the push but the push is getting that push message or getting that message reminding you what you need to do and stay focused and keeping your eye on the target and the target is those indexes.
PAS So, what I like about this is it’s very, very individual because it needs to be very individual but of course it can’t be because that’s a lot of heavy lifting. What are some of the ways that you are being extremely individual, extremely personal as you must be because this is about building relationships so the first thing I need to do is not just trust my partner but I also need to trust you. What are some ways you’re building that trust?
SR So, you know, traditionally a lot of people have tried to create these bot systems and when we’re trying to build trust with somebody and we start to show that we are more or less a bot system, that’s not going to give people the opportunity to in fact – I want to call it let their guard down or give us what data we need to actually provide them with the data back to give them a form of self-improvement or self-empowerment.
So what we’re doing is we know those 17 questions and we have a good understanding of where you’re at, let’s take, for example, communication. So, knowing that you have a communication challenge and knowing that you have two willing partners, what we can do then is create bootcamp or series of communication, videos or even activities and give it to you in a way that you feel like it’s a customized program based upon your own personal challenges regarding communication and it’s very vital that we give the user - or we call them members, a hand holding or give them a way that they can explore how they can in fact address that area that they’re having challenges with but do it in a way where it’s not what I call generic or just giving them a bunch of reading and then they’ve got to find which is applicable to where they’re currently at.
PAS So, it’s great because we’re going to go deeper and it just at this moment, I was holding my breath thinking, oh, we do have to go to a break but this is good because now we can come back and we can talk about that, we can talk about that dialogue that you set up and activate because that is exactly what activates your users, your audience and keeps them coming back. That’s exactly what this show is about, so listeners, don’t go away, we’ll be right back with more after the break.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. I’m Peggy Anne Salz, we have Sean Rones, Founder and CEO of LifeCouple. Sean, before the break, you were telling me about the user journey that you have in your app because of course getting that onboarding right is the first step to personalization, may I even say individualization – you ask your users to answer some questions and then you segment and interact based on that. So give me an idea of how you do that because you don’t want to have too many segments and you definitely want to be relevant to their actions – how do you keep that balance?
SR So, when we talk about how we break it down into those key indexes, we can take, for example, intimacy and knowing anybody that’s, for example, a 0 to 30 – 100 is perfect intimacy, but 0 to 30 – we’re not going to send them a message asking them to take a shower naked – they don’t at this point in time, even want to hold hands to go to the mailbox together.
So, we have to break all of these microsegments down and we break them down also based upon the areas of where they’re at in their relationship. So, maybe somebody that is at a 60% or an 80% could do something a little bit more risqué but somebody that is having very, very, very difficult intimacy challenges, we need to speak to them in their current situation. And the same goes for communication or trust or conflict or overall relationship. So the segmentation is vital.
PAS And those are really personal messages. I mean, give me an example of what you’re telling them. I mean, it’s based on what you’re doing in the app, it would be great if you had the manpower, right, to always be doing this literally one on one – it has to sound like one on one, it can’t be one on one because that isn’t scalable. So, how do you approach this?
SR So what we do is we’ve got what we call journeys and what we do is we create these segments and then we have people automated in the segment go into the journey and we give them an email that is based upon where they’re currently at in that category in their relationship, also in their overall category of their relationship, and it gets even more detailed. We can even give them ways to address these challenges because we know maybe it’s their second marriage, maybe they have step-kids, maybe they’ve got finance issues.
An example would be we know a couple has finance issues, the last thing we want to do is tell them that they should go to a really nice restaurant and they should let their hair down. Maybe that’s one of the reasons they’re having challenges because partner A is saying we can’t afford a nice restaurant and partner B is saying, well, I don’t care, we should just go into greater debt.
So, it’s really important using the tools that are out there that we can in fact break down where a couple’s at regarding the challenge that they’re at and we do it in an email, we can do it in a push or we can actually – a lot of couples like to be text messaged.
PAS Oh, interesting, text – text making a little bit more of a comeback there. You’ve got a toolbox of capabilities, you know, email, push, text but what are some of the – if I could have a peek into your tech stack, what does it contain in order to be so very personal? I mean this is an app where there are some hits and misses that I’ll accept from, say, for example a shopping app but I certainly won’t accept it from yours. So you really have a lot of pressure to get it right – what’s the growth stack, what’s the tech stack that’s letting you do that?
SR So, you know, we went to MAU and a couple of places and we looked at a lot of different tools and one of the things that we really liked about the tech stack when we choose Clevertap as the tech stack that we needed was that they could cover a lot of things that we needed in one tool and when we’re using Clevertap or we’re using this tool, we can in fact be really, really granular based upon what I just said prior but we can also get the analytics that we’re looking for and we can also start to get a lot of information regarding when we get people into the app, we can start to see based upon where they’re falling out and what areas do we need to start building out and iterating so that we can in fact get our DAU up or we could start finding areas that we never even thought that the user is actually digesting that content.
So, when we talked earlier, we talked about the content, we can actually see what videos are resonating and we can also see what type of content in that video is resonating and who is that person that is utilizing that and see if we’re in fact getting it correct where we’re actually giving them exactly what they’re looking for in their journey and their relationship but in the journey of the tech stack that we’re using.
PAS So what is the metric, or what are some metrics because for some other apps, it’s fairly simple, or even for your straight wellness app – it’s certain types of exercise, it’s interaction, how frequently, how recently people are engaging. What do you look at to sort of understand, yes, I’m on the mark, or no, I'm not hitting the mark here, I need to do something else? There’s always a couple of metrics, north star metrics, what are yours?
SR So, of course we’ve got how many people are actually clicking on the push messages, we throw deep links in and we’ve also now just included images in and images are really important because when someone gets a push message and we can include an image, it increases engagement we found by about 7 to 12% and the engagement on the pushes have gone up since we’ve increased the images, the emails we have now brought in, of course, deep linking right to the app, we really like a new feature and that is as we can in fact disengage a button for somebody that is opening up our email on a desktop versus a mobile.
And that’s really important because we’re mobile-first, so if somebody got an email and they clicked on the link in their laptop, it couldn’t go directly deep linked into the app but what we could do is we can actually have that so that it disengages that button if they open it up on their desktop but it shows it if they open it up on their actual mobile phone. So that to us has been a pretty big gamechanger.
The other metrics that I really, really am very excited about that we started to see an amazing, amazing amount of growth was the conversion. Now, you know, a lot of people would look and say this is an engagement tool or a retention tool – we’ve actually used it as a conversion tool because when the user comes on board, they’re actually looking for a customized or personalized program. So, with the fact that we’ve got the journeys that we talk about, we can microsegment and then offer them a customised journey that will in fact take our 7 day free trial and we’ve got that now up to about 65% conversion because we’re giving people for the 7 days exactly what they’re looking for so therefore when the 8th day comes, they’re not cancelling the app.
PAS And what is the model here, is it a subscription app? It’s something that I’m, this is my personal relationship wellness program that I invest into?
SR So it is a subscription model, it’s monthly or yearly and it is a relationship coach, it is a personalized relationship coach that you have on your mobile phone and it offers you a way that you can re-check the temperature of your relationship. So, remember we talked before, we talked about you’ve got your indexes, we will periodically send you a message saying, Peggy, we would like to take the pulse of your relationship, you click on that push message, it goes to a couple of questions, you answer those questions and then your indices will re-gauge where you’re at.
So, it’s almost - somebody that has diabetes - it is almost the same, you’re checking the health of your relationship and we are now next week going to implement this also onto the Apple Watch, so we’re excited to see how people are going to be looking at their watch. I could just imagine a partner coming home and saying, uh oh, maybe I should basically go to the next exit and not come home because the relationship is not doing too well.
So, we’re implementing that on your Apple Watch and that should be something that will be pretty exciting for those out there that like to use their Apple Watch to check how far they ran or check vitals in some key areas in their health – why not your relationship health?
PAS That makes a lot of sense and that sounds amazing on the Apple Watch, I will definitely have to have you back to tell us a little bit more about that, how that goes because this is quantified self on steroids, if I can really get that on the watch as well. But we do have to got to a break one more time, Sean, I hate to do it, but we will be back and we’ll be talking more, people, so don’t go away, we’ll be right back.
And we’re back to Mobile Presence. I’m Peggy Anne Salz, we have Sean Rones, Founder and CEO of LifeCouple. And Sean, you know, what I like about your app is not just the geeky side of all the great places I’ll find it, as I said, next on the Apple Watch, but it has a different approach, it says, yes, you can fix your relationship but you can also fix yourself. I mean, how did that come about, what is that feature and what’s the story behind that?
SR So, you know, we all think that it takes two to tango but sometimes if a partner is not willing to come to the dancefloor, you can only work on yourself and the platform knows situations where the other partner is not going to come to the dancefloor and it intelligently goes into empowerment mode or self-empowerment mode and that user experience that I explained earlier goes into now a self-empowerment user experience and the whole background on that is that if you’re a better you, you can have clarity to potentially stay in the relationship or potentially your partner will see that you’re growing and they will want to join you on this new spiritual journey of positive relationship empowerment.
PAS So, what’s some of the feedback? I mean, this is really about a conversation, you’re having conversations with your users, I mean, maybe it’s writings, maybe it’s something else – how are you doing in the relationship with your users, with your audience, what are they telling you?
SR So the user are telling us that they want to have very guided daily content, they want to be told what to do and they want to have their hand being held - COVID-19 maybe we shouldn’t hold their hand…
But what they want to have, they want to have their hand held, they want to be literally in a program and what our users are telling us is to create programs that are small wins and that can grow as they get stronger in the app with their indices as well as stronger with whatever they’re facing in their challenges, in their current self-empowerment or in their relationship empowerment.
PAS And where does it go from here? I’m just curious because it would be great to have a little bit of a key takeaway here because marketers want to understand how to create a customer relationship and you are an app that’s all about relationship management. So it would be great to sort of leave with looking ahead, what do marketers need to do from your experience to create better journeys or to cement better relationships with their users, their audiences? You’ve learned a lot, what can you
SR You know, everyone says test, test, test, test – I am a big fan of test, test, but I'm also a big fan of really understanding who your audience is and understanding what you can give them that can spark their interest and obviously get them to come back but really have a really good pre-qualification of getting an understanding of who that person is before you test and what our app does is it gauges exactly who our user is so we’re very blessed that we know what.
What I would suggest to a lot of people is prior to sending out emails or texts to whoever they’re trying to target, understand the brand voice and understand the communication strategy because you see certain people that like to be talked to a certain way, and other people like to be talked to a different way and so the beautiful thing about the tool we’re using is some people would like to have tough love and other people would like to have nurtured love.
So I say to people your message and the way you talk to your consumer or your user is vital and you really need to give it some thought and then go out and start to test and see which voice is getting you the engagement or the retention or the conversion that you’re looking for.
PAS I love that, I love also that idea of the tough love or other approaches, it makes perfect sense and for brand love, absolutely, there is a link there. I’d love to have you back again but in the meantime, we do have to just stop for the moment, Sean, because I think you have a lot more to offer in the way of some tips, some advice, what you’re seeing particularly because you’re so close to the user. This is definitely one of those apps where I would imagine they’re sharing some things as well that, you know, that are giving you a lot of hints, a lot of clues to how to engage.
How can we engage with you in the meantime, how can we stay in touch with you, how can we stay up to date on what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you may be writing out there?
SR Well, I’d love everybody to download LifeCouple and if you’re not in a relationship, you should be because the first thing you need to do is start loving yourself so you are in a relationship, you’re in a relationship with yourself. Download the app and then play around with it, you can ping me in the app and say, hey, I heard, you know, about the app from this podcast and the way you can reach me is going within the app or you can actually go into lifecouple.com, we also have lifecouple,net and you can reach out on LinkedIn or you can email me, anybody that has any questions, I’m happy to answer, firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll share with you some of the wins and things that we are in fact dealing with on a daily basis.
PAS Awesome, absolutely, and where can we download your app? Is that everywhere, it’s obviously Apple, is it Android and where would I go?
SR So, we have it on Android and Apple, we have it in pretty much every English speaking country, we do have it in other countries that English is predominant, we have it, I believe, in Germany and we have it through the Nordics and we have it in England. So, we’re out there, South Africa, we’re out there so you can download it at either store.
PAS Okay, absolutely. Listeners, if you want to keep up with me throughout the week, find out how you can be a guest or sponsor on Mobile Presence, then email me, email@example.com, mobilegroove.com is where you can also find my portfolio of content marketing and app marketing services.
Of course, you can also check out earlier episodes by going to wmr.fm or you can find our shows on iTunes, Stitcher, Spreaker, Spotify and iheartRadio simply by searching Mobile Presence. So until next time – remember - every minute is mobile, so make every minute count. Keep well, stay safe and we’ll see you soon.