Out Now! The State of App Marketing for Subscription Apps 2023

By Ruoji Tang | July 26, 2023

2023 has been a turbulent year to date. But as inflation rose and fears of a global recession spread, subscription-based apps have remained relatively stable. Despite navigating privacy changes and declines in acquisition spend and non-organic installs (NOI), subscription apps have seen overall consumer spend rise. Users are subscribing to more services and absorbing the price hikes of their existing subscriptions.

Consumer spend on subscriptions peaked in December of 2022—likely boosted by gift-giving during the holiday season. Unsurprisingly, January saw spikes in health & fitness subscription segments—typical of New Year’s and post-holiday resolutions. This increase in spending is likely to continue, driven by a growing appetite for subscription-based services in mobile apps—especially if users are offered a significant discount in return for extended commitments.

If the trend does continue, app developers can breathe a sigh of relief. Subscription-based monetization strategies provide predictable revenue, make testing and optimization easier, and ultimately lead to greater profitability.

Paid remarketing efforts have also been a resilient strategy. In pursuit of customer loyalty, subscription apps are steering focus away from NOI. Remarketing has seen only a minor Y-o-Y dip compared to NOI (Although much cheaper than UA, remarketing can still be costly.). It is no surprise, then, to see greater attention to owned media—after all, it’s free.

On iOS, measuring the effectiveness of subscription app marketing is tricky, mostly because of SKAdNetwork (SKAN). The standard one-to-two-day post-install window often falls short, although it does offer a helpful signal to networks for optimization. Free trial to paid subscription conversions usually occur seven days or more after install. When SKAN 4 reaches mass adoption (late 2023, according to estimates), postbacks 2 and 3 will offer a significant upgrade.

For a detailed look at subscription apps, download Liftoff & AppsFlyer’s 2023 report, The State of App Marketing for Subscription Apps.

Report highlights include:

  • Subscription app install, non-organic install, and revenue data
  • Trends across platforms, regions, and categories
  • Unique SKAdNetwork and ATT insights
  • Must-read insights from Mobile Heroes managing subscription apps