PicsArt is a true global phenomenon. It’s in the top 0.1% of apps in terms of installs —and people have used it to create and share over a hundred million pictures and images.  Before any app reaches that kind of success, you must have a value proposition that people appreciate, a solid funnel, and a user experience that delivers. PicsArt was also one of the top 20 most downloaded apps worldwide in Q1 and Q2 of this year. With that kind of track record, Jeff Roberto, VP of Growth Marketing at PicsArt was on our must-have guest list for Retention Masterclass.  


He stopped by to talk about how PicsArt achieved that billion+ user base, and just how it became a serious player with some serious staying power. “We recently hit one billion downloads to date, the company is just over eight years old, and growth is accelerating. So, to break that down, that’s over 20 million new installs or new users every 30 days now.” 

But it’s not all about new installs at PicsArt — in fact, it’s really about engagement. “It’s really about editing. So we’ve built a platform that has tools — very powerful, mobile-first, mobile friendly tools, and community…We’re seeing nearly 1 billion edits every month. 1 billion edits!” 

So let’s take a deep dive into how PicsArt acquired and retained those users. 

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PicsArt’s focus on high value users pays off 

Jeff says roughly 90 to 95% of PicsArt’s user growth is organic, which means the team has room to be selective about how it spends its UA budget — and in this case it means focusing on acquiring high value users. 

So that 5 to 10% we are spending on, we’re doing that very selectively using segmentation. And we are chasing revenue, because, obviously, we don’t have a growth challenge,” says Jeff. “When it comes to spending, it’s all about ROAS — it’s all about ROI, how fast can we get that payback.”  

Perhaps surprisingly, the company has seen its ROAS accelerate during COVID-19. While many apps have seen skyrocket installs during quarantine, many have reported that monetization of those new users have been trickier. “Not only have we seen overall platform growth — and increases in not only new users, but editing activity and engagement — but we’re also seeing an increase in monetization. So, spend is very much alive and well. I would just say we’re being a little more cautious with how we navigate that path forward. 

Social elements lead to engaged users 

We all know social networks are addictive and PicsArt is cashing in on social features that help keep its billion users engaged and coming back for more. “We’re hyper-focused on a network of creators, and getting people to engage, edit, share, and remix — essentially editing other people’s assets and images on the network. So everything before that is kind of the lead up, right? It’s not just about installs and it’s not just about consuming or viewing content. It’s about engaging and editing and creating.  

With PicsArt it’s not just about sharing your own content, it’s about learning. Together, users explore new designs and teach each other how to create cool new content. The PicsArt team, knows this is what keeps many of its users engaged and so, in 2019, the team made a big investment in a new product called Replay. 

Jeff explains, What Replay is, it’s edit history and it answers the question ‘How did you do that?’ 

And in a couple of taps recreate what someone else already created, and go off and share that,” he adds. “Or you can engage further and decide, you know, you want to keep steps one and two, but you want to edit steps three and four, and we give you that opportunity. And this is all happening on mobile.” 

Measuring success 

When it comes to retention and engagement, every app has different criteria for the metrics that matter most, but PicsArt keeps a close eye on its DAUs and MAUs. “We’re looking at our weekly to monthly ratios, but really it’s that edit experience,” says Jeff. “And of those people editing, how likely are they to retain, and are they retaining at a faster clip than people coming in just to browse and consume content?”  

As with any company, the details are in the data, and Jeff’s team keeps a close eye on what its users are saying through their activity. “From a business and platform perspective, we’re very focused on data, and we’re very focused on segmentation, and we’re spending a lot of time on research,“ he says. So understanding the key use cases, and not only the use cases, but the jobs, like the things people are actually needing to get done with our tool set.” 

With an understanding that educational content keeps its users more engaged, Jeff says, “we’re investing more now than ever before, in terms of tutorial creation. Whether you want to up your selfie game or learn how to build your brand on the web, the app has a tutorial for you. There are even tutorials for professional photographers and designers. And PicsArt builds experiences personalized to each use case.  

To learn more about how the PicsArt personalizes the experience to keep its app users coming back for more, tune in to the entire interview above or read the transcript below.

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