🎯 How Calm gets automatic signups via YouTube

A masterclass in content → app funnels

Read time: 4 minutes 11 seconds

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Casper Studios built a product that grew to >20,000 users in less than 3 months. Here’s how they did it:

  1. Identified a personal pain point they felt in their daily lives.

  2. Wrote a document describing the problem and got feedback from potential users.

  3. Worked with a designer to create mockups of a solution to get more feedback.

  4. Found engineers to build the minimum viable product (MVP).

  5. Partnered with influencers in their niche to promote the extension, offering revenue share deals.

Now, they replicate this exact playbook with founders and executives looking to integrate AI into their businesses.

Came across this strategy accidentally - exactly as Calm intended. 1 of thousands of people that enter their organic video content funnel every day.

Once I hit send I’m off for a 10 minute meditation.



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How Calm gets automatic signups via YouTube

Chess Move

The what: A TLDR explanation of the strategy

Calm is one of the world’s most successful mobile app companies - generating over $7.7 million per month.

With over 150 million downloads (!), it’s safe to say they’ve got repeatable growth playbooks to find new users and get them into the app.

Here’s an interesting one worth knowing about:

Nearly 50% of Calm’s social media traffic comes from YouTube.

Their most-viewed videos aren’t just good marketing. They are a targeted funnel for new app signups, running on autopilot, 24/7.

Not bad for low-production content posted 6+ years ago.


Strategy Playbook: Don’t create ‘content’, create ‘tools’ (that people actively look for).

Here’s how it works:


The how: The strategic playbook boiled down to 3x key takeaways

1.  Provide free upfront utility

With over 50m views, the most popular video on Calm’s channel is:

Importantly, the video isn’t just a trailer for the app.

It’s a useful tool in and of itself.

It’s a full 8-hour piece of content, made available for free.

People can use the video to satisfy their “Job-to-be-Done” (in this case, fall asleep), without needing to download the app.

Their other top videos follow the same pattern, helping viewers solve specific problems for free, such as reduce anxiety, relax, meditate, control their breathing etc.

Importantly, the videos aren’t just “content marketing” - they are tools that provide immediate practical utility.

A central characteristic of Calm’s YouTube discovery journey:

Prospective users get free value from Calm (the brand) before they’ve even used Calm (the app).​​

2. Target relevant high-volume search traffic 

You can’t just post a free video about anything and expect millions of views.

Calm’s top videos are a deliberate exercise in ranking for popular search terms among their target user base.

Calm noticed that their users were most active between 9-11pm. They weren’t looking for motivational stories to start their day - they were looking to relax and sleep.

The keyword “sleep sounds” has over 31,000 monthly searches across Google and YouTube.

“Rain sounds” has over 72,000.

Calm’s top video ranks #1 and #3 respectively for these search terms.

Similarly, their 2nd top video, “Daily Calm | 10 Minute Mindfulness Meditation | Be Present”, ranks #1 and #4 for “10 minute meditation” (6.5k monthly searches) and “meditation” (111k monthly searches).

For the term “mindfulness meditation”, Calm dominates the results page with all 3 of the ranking videos.

Even though these videos are 5+ years old, they still generate hundreds of views every single hour, on autopilot.

3. Create a signup funnel that cares

To maximise conversion of video search traffic into app users, Calm designed its funnel to be as simple and friendly as possible.

Each video features Calm’s logo on the bottom corner. Subtle enough not to be aggressive, but made prominent as the only graphic superimposed on the stock video.

The video descriptions are short and to-the-point.

They each start with a link that directs traffic to “Download Calm”, followed by a short value-add of where users can find similar content within the app.

Unlike most popular videos on YouTube, Calm removed all pre-roll and mid-roll advertising.

Calm’s intention is to generate app signups, not monetise the videos via ads. This also maximises the utility value of each video (uninterrupted meditations / sleep sounds / breathwork) and garners appreciation from their community.

When users hit the landing page, Calm’s only CTA is to “Try Calm for Free”.

Evaluators land directly into a short personalisation survey, which tailors their experience into a solution for the specific problem they are looking to solve.

The flow creates momentum with relevant testimonials based on the user’s responses, as well as a sense of urgency by reminding them that they may be looking for a solution (e.g. to fall asleep) right now.

By the time users are asked to add payment information to confirm their free trial, they are primed to expect:

  • a tailored solution…

  • that will solve their problem immediately…

  • from a brand they already trust (since they were provided with free valuable content upfront)

Rabbit Hole

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— Tom Alder

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