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App Subscriptions and the Art of Retention

By July 17, 2020August 26th, 2020Blog

Track subscription events with Kochava to maintain a happy and healthy audience of subscribers.

In the past year, subscription mobile apps have rocketed in popularity, netting an impressive $120B in revenue last year, according to an App Annie report, with non-gaming app subscriptions growing in popularity year-over-year. While a subscription model is an ideal way of securing revenue and consumer adoption of subscriptions has been growing, measurement remains key to user retention, or else consumer acquisition costs will outweigh your profits.

Obtaining app subscribers is a major win in user acquisition as these are typically high-quality users committed to using your app on a regular basis, or at least considering it with a trial. With subscriptions, user retention is key for profitability, and marketers need to understand the user experience and the behaviors shown.

Measuring app subscriptions

Congratulations, you’ve won users to begin a trial, but don’t stop measuring there. From the moment a user signs up, you begin your courtship with them through reengagement. While there’s no “set and forget” formula to this, with proper preparation and measurement, you can understand your audience, increase or maintain retention, and keep them engaged with content they enjoy.

Keep in mind that not all users subscribe for the same reasons so don’t treat them the same way. User engagement metrics and audience segmentation are key to understanding your users as individuals and retaining them. To do this, you’ll need to have your key performance indicators and cross-app tracking capabilities in place when you launch your campaigns.

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Key components to measuring app subscriptions

Just like some marketers focus heavily on installs, marketers of subscription apps sometimes only focus on the trial sign-up event as the endpoint of conversion and overlook other important metrics to measure and evaluate ongoing user engagement, such as content sessions and time spent in the app. Here are key metrics to keep in mind.

  • Establish your KPIs. When setting up your app campaigns, make sure you already have tracking in place for the key performance indicators (KPIs) in your user journey. Common KPIs for user engagement include: Free Trial Start, Content View, Add to Watchlist, Rating, and Subscribe. Track as many events as you need to understand your users and to create more specific audience segments for reengagement.
  • Predict churn and catch users at risk. The possibility of a user churning is always present. With Kochava, marketers can activate predictive churn modeling that employs machine learning to analyze a user’s first 7-days of activity post-install and predict with over 90% accuracy the likelihood of that user to churn by day 38. Predicted churn scores can be used to target users most at risk for attrition to prevent them from leaving your app. 
  • Measure across devices. Prepare to measure user engagement across all connected devices. The average U.S. household has more than nine connected devices. Save yourself the time in stitching together disparate data sets and avoid retargeting the same users with IdentityLinkTM in place to track subscribers across all the connected devices they may use your service on.
  • Account for passive or offline activity. Not all subscriber activity requires an active action to be taken by the user. For instance, a subscriber may start their free trial with an in-app action that can be tracked through an SDK, but their conversion to a paid subscriber at trial’s end may occur passively/automatically in a separate billing system. If you want to see this activity within app analytics and be able to syndicate such activity to partners for app event optimization, talk with your Kochava Client Success Manager about how you can incorporate offline transactions through server-to-server calls to our event notification API. 
  • Content, Content, Content. Observe what content is being consumed. What’s the first piece of content the subscriber ever consumed, and what is the last/most recent content viewed or added to their watchlist or playlist? Use such data to create audience segments and reengage them with related or upcoming content based on their preferences.  

Sharpen the axe with proper preparation

Having the right tracking in place for all aspects of the subscriber’s journey across their connected devices will give you the big picture of your audience and help you better understand each individual. See where you can improve the user experience through onboarding and/or in providing them with their preferred content. Segment your audience and continually test messaging to see what resonates with them too, and keep using the data you glean to keep them coming back for more.

For more information about tracking subscriptions as events, read more here or contact us!

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