Building your app’s success starts with user acquisition, but it certainly does not end there. You need to build an economy oriented toward growth. This means your primary concern will be keeping users engaged—and happy—while increasing your revenue. No matter what extras you offer, the way they are offered will make or break the deal.
Promoting in-app purchases (IAP) is a nuanced job: it allows you to profit from sustained user engagement, but it can also drive users away. Here’s what you need to know about in-app purchase promotion to do it just right:
The main rule of promoting any product or service in any app is clarity. The user needs to understand what they are paying for and how the payment will be incurred. This means that promotions of in-app purchases should not just be tailored to the user’s needs, but also calibrated to the type of purchase.
Consumable.. This means buying items or services to be consumed while using the app, such as coins, a one-time streaming, or limited-time content. Non-consumable. Purchases that give the user indefinite access to a feature or item. It can be a new character skin, a removal of ads, or the use of special content. Subscription. A regular payment that gives users access to special content, grants them a steady boost, or results in discounts on other payments.
Subscriptions typically indicate the most sustained engagement on the user’s part. With the right promotion, these will not only be renewed but also upgraded. But if the offering isn’t priced well, or fails to deliver on the developer’s promise, the user can cancel their subscription.
App Store provides a server-to-server notification service which informs publishers about subscription purchases, renewals and cancellations in real-time, allowing them to update their user-account databases, and—with the right analytics—to understand what drives subscribers.
As noted, clarity is key. And so is trust. If the user has found running the app to be clear and understandable, they are more likely to purchase whatever is on offer to further enhance their experience. When the app is performing well, the user can also trust that the in-app purchase being promoted is worth its price. After all, IAP promotions are typically managed by the app developer responsible for the app itself.
Likewise, positive experience with previous in-app purchases is going to motivate further investments. That said, not every user will respond to the same promotion, and not every moment is right to push a new feature, special bundle or upgrade. That’s why in-app purchase promotion requires research, analytics, and strategizing.
Choosing from the myriad of different promotion options is not easy, not least because that decision can have huge consequences. As a developer, you need to strike the balance between user engagement—how to capture and maintain attention—and user annoyance and frustration.
If the new feature or item you are promoting is cool but not quite ground-breaking, perhaps it’s best not to bombard the user with full-screen interstitials and ever-recurring offers. Instead, you could benefit from adjusting the timing of your smaller-scale promotion to the user’s behavior pattern on the app. If they tend to check their messages when notified, perhaps a direct message will suit them better than aggressive pop-ups interrupting their regular mode of engagement with the app. Bear in mind that there are different kinds of pop-ups—offering a discount, or a product, for instance—and that they can appear at different times: when the user opens the app, or goes to the app’s store, or at checkout. These can be adjusted to target different types of users.
Save your special, immersive promotions for more substantial upgrades or special content. The scale and frequency of promotions should correspond to the offering’s substance and value. Planning ahead and devising a long-term promotional strategy will help you delineate the difference between one-off deals and larger, more complex campaigns. Thinking on a larger scale should also help you notify users about your offers in a consistent manner, in line with the overall economy of the app and its established style of communication.
Shock-inducing methods of promotion tend not to be the wisest of choices. IAP promotions shouldn’t look out of place in the app because—to return to the issue of trust once again— they may be viewed as unreliable or deceitful. Instead, they should stick to the verbal and visual language of the app. They should be conversational, and they should be actionable. In other words, while natural and casual in their tone, your IAP promotions should guide users straight to the sales funnel. So, always make sure the bold text For developers in charge of publishing promoted in-app purchases, the worst-case scenario happens when the promotion deters users from the app altogether. This can happen when users feel deceived, but also—crucially—when they get annoyed.
Not only should promotions be woven into the overall experience of the app in an unintrusive way: the user must be able to dismiss the pop-up or promotional video that they find irrelevant or unappealing. And if they keep dismissing the promotion, that’s a signal for you to adopt a different approach.
Though limited, there are ways you can strategize your promotions without necessarily analyzing your customer database. One thing you can count on, as we all do, is the passage of time. Holidays and special events are times when most developers record greater numbers of promoted purchases.
But you can’t just count on holiday seasons to boost your revenues. As with any promotional action, plan ahead! Make sure that a campaign promoting your special event does not coincide with, say, your Halloween promo. The best solution is to schedule your in-app promotional campaigns every six weeks, taking into account both the holiday calendar and the planned new releases or special events for your user base.** (Stay tuned for our comprehensive guide to holiday promotions—coming soon!) **
Most importantly, though, you do have to get to know your user. By using first-party data, analyzing users’ previous choices, and keeping track of their engagement with the app, you will find out which promotions should do the trick, and when to deploy them. As a tool that combines analytics with the service endpoint for developers, the app backend will be your promotional intelligence, storing and processing vital information.
Keep an eye on the time users spend contemplating your promoted content and count impressions to gain yet more confidence in making appropriate choices. You are likely to discover many different categories of users: some may treat your mobile product as their second life and constantly reward themselves with extra items, others may be after savings, bundles and discounts.
App analytics scare you? User testing sounds fun, but you’ve never done it before? Don’t worry, we’ll explain all you need to know about A/B testing in app development soon!
Sorry to break this to you, but it’s not always love at first sight. Sometimes, it’s best to test a variety of options and approaches before pinpointing the most efficient strategy. Each item or upgrade can be presented to users from multiple angles. Perhaps a simple banner inserted in just the right moment will suffice to convince your user that the item on offer would really make their experience more gratifying. Or maybe, the user will respond to a more immersive promotion at the end of their session. Bespoke promotional videos are a great tool for capturing users’ attention, but they’re not easy to master—that’s why Attract is here to help! Once you’ve tested all your options, and exhausted your creativity, you’ll be better equipped to communicate with each user based on their preferences.
Finally, if you feel that you still don’t know your user, just ask. IAP promotion can take the form of a survey which will provide you with the answers you’re looking for. Whichever way you proceed, research is key! Promoting in-app purchases boils down to knowing what drives each individual user, and making the most of that knowledge.