How app brands can maximise success when utilising subscription models – by Appsflyer’s Paul Wright

By Paul Wright, general manager for Western Europe and MENAT at AppsFlyer

The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing markets for mobile apps, with a burgeoning appetite for digital services in the region. With 91 per cent of UAE organisations now offering customers an app, according to an AppsFlyer report, many are looking at utilising a subscription model. There’s good reason for this too — the demand for subscription models is high, with a phenomenal 6 billion installations globally between January 2021 and March 2022.

However, the big challenge is convincing users to stay and renew for the long term. To do this successfully, app marketers need a smart strategy, strong measurement and deep insights into their users. Only then can they increase re-engagement numbers and enjoy ongoing value. There are a number of tools and methods available to support app marketers in creating a profitable subscription model.

Where’s the value in subscription-based apps?

Entertainment, health and fitness, dating, education, and gaming are all prevalent verticals for subscription-based apps — and they’re not the only ones. The common theme with these sectors is that users regularly consume content, for example with upgrades and new levels on gaming or education apps, or new workouts and recipes from health and fitness brands. Subscription models need to continually roll out new content to meet the demands of the paying customer.

And it’s the subscriptions that generate most of the revenue for these apps, with over four-fifths coming from subscription payments rather than one off-buys. It’s therefore vital that app brands secure loyalty by providing the content users want, boosting renewals and sign-ups.

The importance of event mapping

Event mapping can reveal strong user insights that enable marketers to tailor their strategies and deliver results. In-app events like content views and searches, free-trial details and lapsed subscriptions can all unlock vital information and insights that will help app brands understand their users, gain new subscribers and keep existing ones.

Tracking in-app events like these helps marketers understand how users interact with the mobile app at all stages and identify and address any friction points. For example, if users finish the free trial but don’t sign up, perhaps the subscription process could be smoothed out or streamlined.

Not only that, event mapping can help app brands create bespoke remarketing campaigns. A fitness app might notice that those who do four workouts a week tend to renew their subscriptions, for example. So, they can then focus their advertising on encouraging people to do four workouts as they’re likely to be engaged and renew subscriptions. The insights that event mapping unlocks allows app brands to boost subscribers and renewal rates.

Personalisation and custom content 

It’s vital that app marketers personalise and streamline the user experience wherever possible. There are several tactics that can be used, including paid remarketing, push notifications, and deep linking.

Remarketing campaigns

Remarketing campaigns need to be focused and tailored if they are to be worth running. App marketers need to be crystal clear on their objectives — do they want to re-engage lapsed users or focus on keeping users? What audience segment are they targeting?

App marketers can use insights from users’ behaviours and the type of content that they have viewed in the past. They can then tailor the marketing campaign with similar content, hopefully leading to conversions. Campaigns must be thoroughly tested to ensure spend is targeted effectively.

Push notifications

These are another way to help boost engagement, and increase sign-ups and subscribers. They can bring new content to the attention of users, let them know about new types of content and remind them of goals, like achievement streaks or scores. Push notifications can also help to encourage users to complete a free trial, reminding them about offers that will run out. All of this entices users to spend more time using the app and can deliver better results. But it’s important not to overload the user with too many push notifications, and to make sure you’re giving users something of real value.

Deep linking

Deep linking is another handy tool which helps provide a better, more relevant and personalised user experience. For example, if someone on an entertainment app follows a link from an advert for a new event, the deep link will take the user directly to the specific event that was featured.

This tool is also helpful for getting recently lapsed users to re-engage. For example, if someone on an educational app is generally active, but hasn’t completed the most recent level, they can be targeted with a campaign promoting this level. If the user clicks on the link, they’re taken directly to the level yet to be completed, making it an extremely easy and smooth experience.

Maximising success

With the app business booming in the UAE, more and more companies will be opting for a subscription model. There are lots of ways for brands to build and keep subscribers, boosting profitability and helping them stay relevant to today’s digital-savvy consumers. The building blocks of success are extensive user measurement and insights. Only then can app marketers successfully personalise campaigns with targeted content, driving engagement and optimising conversions, renewals and revenue.