What’s the Current Subscription App Opportunity? Discover New Ways to Gain Subscribers

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How to Gain New App Subscribers

Subscriptions have been part of the consumer buying ecosystem for centuries. Initially, a subscription was for media—newspapers, magazines, etc. Today a subscription looks much different. There’s one for almost everything, from SaaS (software as a service) to meal delivery to gaming. App subscriptions cover the gamut of users’ needs as more people tap into the convenience and benefits of subscribing.

App subscriptions deliver a consistent revenue stream for apps. For those with a model like this, acquiring users and converting them to subscribers is key. So, how can app marketing help you do this in such a competitive environment?

The In-App Subscription Landscape

From January 2021 to March 2022, there were 6 million subscription app installs. The App Store accounts for the largest share, with $13.5 billion in spending, versus Google Play at $4.8 billion. Within these numbers, what types of apps are receiving the most revenue?

First, there’s gaming vs. non-gaming. For gaming, 36% of revenues came from subscriptions. Non-gaming apps generated 80% of revenue from this model. The share of subscription-based mobile app installs included:

  • Photography (28%)
  • Health and fitness (28%)
  • Music (25%)
  • Utilities (10%)
  • Lifestyle (8%)
  • Gaming (2%)


The subscription economy grew during the pandemic as people became more reliant on mobile devices for work and entertainment. The current economy may be slowing down user subscriptions, as it requires a recurring commitment. However, if an app delivers value and solves a problem, users will stick with it.

Other factors you may be concerned about are the saturation of subscription apps. As a result, there’s greater competition for users. With all these factors in mind, how will you grow app subscribers in the year ahead?

4 Strategies to Gain App Subscribers

When planning new UA (user acquisition) campaigns that drive the download and subscription, consider these strategies.

Avoid Subscription “Fatigue”

As noted, there is a subscription for everything, and consumers may feel a bit fatigued by all the options. The consistent development of updates and content makes app store subscriptions valuable to users and causes them to stay. This doesn’t apply to utilitarian subscriptions that provide features to do one or two things repetitively (e.g., text spam blockers, document scanning apps). Think back to the original subscription models of media—people subscribed because the content was fresh every day.

The excitement and anticipation of regular improvements is relevant for subscription apps in categories where fresh content is an expectation. For example, health and fitness apps are prime subscription app examples. To feel confident in subscribing, users want an app that progresses with them. It should deliver new workouts, recipes, or other practices to help users reach fitness goals.

You can use this strategy with CPI (cost per install) and CPE (cost per engagement) campaigns. The CPI gets the person to your app profile to download. The ad should reference continual content updates, as should your app profile. With a CPE, you can begin pushing ads right after installation with special promotions to subscribe now.

Get Onboarding Right

For any subscription-based app that has an onboarding experience, you’ll need to incentivize users to go through it. Most apps do this with a free trial offer. They can’t begin using the app until they onboard. It’s another application of a CPE.

Onboarding experiences matter in the user’s choice to subscribe. Making it seamless and easy is critical. As the days count down on their trials, keep pushing content to them about the value of the subscription. You may also find that those who complete onboarding are “better” users in that they understand all the features and functions of the app.

Launch Retargeting Ads for Interested Users

Tracking data on who has an interest in your subscription is key to re-engaging them. Those who visited your page, registered, or signed up for a free trial without conversion are still worthy targets. Remarketing to these groups is often more cost-effective than UA. iOS retargeting is harder without access to complete user data. Android, however, saw more than double year-over-year conversions from 2021 to 2022.

Remarketing doesn’t just occur in the app platforms. You can retarget on social media and display. A diverse strategy is likely to have the best results.

Leverage Keyword Bursts for Niche Subscriptions

If your subscription app is in a niche category or has a clearly defined user, you can see great results with keyword burst campaigns. Such an initiative includes a large ad spend in a short timeframe. When you deploy bursts will depend on the type of app and user. For example, in your historical data, you may find peaks around seasons or events.

Prepare your app profile for a burst with ASO (app store optimization). Refresh descriptions, keywords, and imagery to reflect the keywords you’re bidding on, so users will immediately see how your app solves their challenges.

The App Subscription Opportunity Remains Lucrative

Earning more subscribers for your app comes down to a few things—the demand for your app category, its costs, user needs, and visibility. It can be a lot to juggle when devising campaigns. Developing a cross-channel strategy with the experts at AdAction can help. Connect with us today to learn more.

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