Popular Subscription Mechanics
A guide that describes popular mechanics for digital subscriptions.
When deciding what subscription mechanics to implement in your app, as over 6 billion apps use subscriptions, it is important that you differentiate yourself from the competition (Source: Business of Apps).
An effective subscription provides access to a one-time, non-renewing, limited duration experience, such as the NBA League Pass. Alternatively, they provide on-going access to incremental content, features and experiences; or long-lasting value through hosting services for websites, marketing services or file storage whose subscription renews periodically.
Our research into successful uses of subscriptions out in the market can be broken down into a small set of mechanics that are listed below and augment the value of an app, resulting in a boost in sales.
Access to curated content
Providing exclusive content through a subscription is a popular mechanic used by newspapers and media streaming platforms, such as the New York Times, Spotify or Disney+.
Customers buy access to content through a subscription that renews periodically.
A premium example of this is how streaming platforms use artificial intelligence to recommend curated content that customers have yet to experience, which they believe will be satisfactory to the customer based on their data points. This service is valuable as it removes the need for customers to look for new content, it keeps things fresh and provides a means for customers to always have something new that they enjoy consuming.
Family or Group Plan
Getting more customers to use your service by providing access to multiple individuals through a single paid subscription is a popular mechanic used by media streaming platforms, such as Spotify, YoutubeTV or Disney+.
Although, Netflix, Spotify and Disney+ offer this through their own custom subscription, Apple provides Family Sharing functionality to businesses on their App Store, allowing you to simplify the creation of such subscriptions.
Introductory, Promotional Offers and Custom Offer Codes
As 60% of active subscriptions started with an introductory offer, it's important to implement a strong and strategic marketing system that uses introductory offers, promotional offers and custom offer codes to acquire, retain and regain customers.
In some cases, you may wish to combine offers to extend customer satisfaction and trial periods.
For more information consult our Popular Offer Mechanics article.
A fantastic feature of the Apple App Store is Apple's App Store Server Notifications API which gives you insight into all the transactions that occur on your app and grant the ability to generate Custom Offer Codes and Promotional Offers programmatically, allowing you to market personalized offers to your customers.
Subscriptions have been demonstrated to increase engagement and loyalty.
Games like Rocket League, Overwatch or EA Sports FIFA achieve this is by providing daily rewards that are given to customers if they complete an objective on the platform, encouraging customers to return each day to earn value through their time and efforts.
A popular mechanic is to provide access to a cloud service, such as website hosting, marketing platforms or file storage, which provides a safe way for customers to back-up files, release marketing campaigns or maintain digital infrastructure with the guarantee that it will work without requiring extensive technical knowledge.
Fitness apps such as Fitness Pal, Strava or the Nike+ Run Club offer customers insight through statistical analysis into how they have grown and are progressing as they use their app. This increases engagement, loyalty and encourages customers to share their progress on social media and keep coming back.
A premium example of this is Spotify's Year In Review, which delivers a highly designed and curated story which customers share on social media as it tells a personalized story of the customers taste, style and the time spent on the platform.
Looking for more information on building e-commerce Apple apps?
Read our business guide to get our latest market and customer research, perspective and recommendations on building Apple e-commerce apps that use In-App Purchases and Subscriptions.