In recent weeks, Apple has had to adapt its guidelines, rules and even subscription management tools as subscriptions have become an important source of revenue for mobile application developers. It has published stricter guidelines on how subscriptions should be presented to consumers and has made it more accessible to cancel existing subscriptions. Today, Apple is deploying new tools for developers that will help them retain existing customers and win back lost subscribers.
The company announced on Friday that applications with self-renewable subscriptions will soon be able to offer their subscriptions at a reduced price for a given period of time, in order to increase and retain their customers. This will give developers more control over their subscription price than ever before.
Until this change, developers could only make introductory offers to encourage consumers to register for the first time. For example, developers could attract customers with a single introductory price, offer a free trial or offer a reduced rate for a specific period of time before the subscription is converted to the full price.
But these offers could only be made to new customers. The new promotional offers will allow developers to make similar offers for existing subscribers or to win back the business of those who paid the subscription but had cancelled it.
Although the new promotional offers allow the same kind of discounts as the introductory offers, they are more flexible in how they are used.
With the launch offers, developers were entitled to a subscription offer per territory. With promotional offers, developers can activate up to 10 offers per subscription. This allows them to test those that work best for their customers, rather than having to choose only one.
And developers control when an offer is displayed to a customer, in which territories and how many offers a customer can exchange.
In addition, although introductory offers may appear in the App Store during promotion, promotional offers will not. This means that developers can use a business logic that aims to win back their most valuable customers with offers that may be better than those presented to others – and no one would be more aware of this. It also means that developers can offer different offers to lapsed customers – such as perhaps a discounted subscription – than promotions designed to retain existing subscribers.
Developers will also be able to use receipt validation tools to find subscribers who have disabled automatic renewal, allowing them to target these customers with new offers before their subscription ends. They may also decide to target those who cancel during the free trial with different offers than those who cancel after using a paid subscription for a period of time.
As an end user looking to save money, these changes mean that it may be useful to change your subscriptions from time to time to see if you are offered a better offer to re-subscribe.
Developers were notified of the new features last week, but the offers themselves are not yet available to the public.
To create the offers, developers must download the latest beta version of Xcode 10.2 and implement the new StoreKit APIs. They can then test their offers on the latest beta version of iOS 12.2, macOS 10.14.4 and tvOS 12.2. Apple said that the offers will be made available to the public “soon”.