How apps actually increase digital subscription revenue (yes, really)

(Previously published as ‘Native Apps Will Increase Your Publication’s Subscription Revenues’ on State of Digital Publishing)

Added Revenue Without Added Effort

If there was a way to increase your paid subscriptions by 10-30%, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

Because that’s exactly what iOS & Android apps can do. If you’re looking for the best content and subscription experience for your audience, now is the time to consider apps for your publication.

Compelling Numbers

We already know apps provide the most convenient and best reader engagement available today. What’s more interesting is that publishers now find that a significant number of their subscribers are coming from the app stores. Apps are boosting subscriber revenue streams by 10, 20, 30+ percent.

Let’s look at 3 examples:

  1. Le Parisien is a print and digital newspaper reporting on French local news, as well as wider global happenings. They recently conducted a study on the efficacy of the strategies they’ve employed to increase their paid subscriptions.

The results, published on the blog of the World News Publishing Focus, revealed that apps are a huge driving force for their success.

“More than 50 percent of subscribers are coming from the apps,” reported Sophie Gourmelen, Le Parisien’s Managing Director and Publisher, “so the apps are crucial to our subscription success.”

  1. Another example from a niche tea publisher: Tea Journey Magazine, a digital magazine geared toward tea enthusiasts, launched their publication with an app already in place in 2016. Within a few months, they’d amassed 1500 paid subscribers…and 500 of those came from the app.

That’s a solid third of their readership coming directly from their app.

  1. SimilarlyStreet Photography Magazine, a digital magazine celebrating the work of street photographers, reports that now in 2021 they receive over 25% of their new subscribers from their apps.

If anything, projecting a 10% increase in subscriptions is underselling the possibilities.

Untapped Potential

But here’s the real kicker: readers who purchase in the app store tend to discover you in the app stores.

These aren’t subscribers who found you on the web and just happened to feel like subscribing through the app instead of the web that day.

These are people who wouldn’t subscribe at all if there was no app to subscribe to. They first learned about your publication in the app store.

App subscribers are a whole new pool of readers.

So, if you don’t have an app…it’s time to take a look at what they can do for your readers and for you.

Benefits To the Reader

It’s not entirely surprising that publishers are seeing such positive results to app publication. Apps aren’t just great for the publisher. They’re great for the readers, too.

With the ubiquity of smartphones, people are spending more and more time on their mobile devices.

In fact, our publishers are reporting that mobile devices generally account for over 70-80% of their views. And studies show that over 80% of phone time is spent in apps.

This is because apps save readers time and can greatly enhance the reader experience and their overall appreciation of your publication. App articles load quickly and can be made available with offline reading.

In addition to the convenience and portability, apps reduce frustration and Help Desk queries by keeping readers logged in to their account. Instead of having to re-enter their credentials every time (with all the attendant possibilities about forgotten passwords or incorrect usernames), readers open the app and have instant access to the content.

Plus, apps launched through UniPress (ZEEN101’s app platform; more on that below), support publishing via issues or editions.

That means that instead of a long list of collected articles, readers can browse each issue of your magazine in the app, just like they would on the web or off a newsstand.

Streamlined Workflow

A popular question we get from publishers is how will this impact workflow?

With the right tools, launching and maintaining an app doesn’t need to disrupt your workflow. You have a few options for this:

  1. Custom-built app integrations designed for your specific publication from scratch by a programmer.
  2. Tools like Mobiloud which migrate your content into an pre-built app for you.
  3. UniPress which works with ZEEN101’s Leaky Paywall and IssueM to funnel your app content and subscription management through your WordPress dashboard.

A custom-built solution will most likely meet all of your needs but is likely to be expensive and possibly time-consuming to create.

Mobiloud and others similar to it (App Presser, App Boss, Presspad) will send your WordPress content to a good-looking app for you. The downside is that none of them fully connect to your subscription system. They run separate, app-only subscriptions (or generate revenue from ads alone). It’s not the best choice for workflow efficiency.

UniPress is ZEEN101’s app management tool (and the tool used by both Tea Journey and Street Photography Magazine, above). As the name suggests, it was designed to work with WordPress with no more than the touch of a single button.

Which means that when your app enhances the reader experience and provides you with access to that glorious untapped pool of potential readers……it does it without any effort from you.

The API automatically moves your publication into the app once you publish an issue on the web. You can automate any and all push notifications through WordPress. Set them up and let them run.

UniPress also integrates seamlessly with Leaky Paywall, ZEEN101’s highly versatile metered paywall. Leaky Paywall also meters the content on your app. Which means that your content is just as protected on the app as it is on the web.

Ad Revenue, Too

Some of the tools listed above will allow you to run ads in the app. UniPress lets you integrate Google’s DFP and Admob ads into the apps. You also gain access to a new app-wide ad zone that you can use for sponsorship… in fact, most publishers find that the sponsored ad pays for most of the app service fee.

Either way, whether through ad revenue or new paid subscribers, the app essentially pays for itself.

A Valuable Asset, Ready To Go

So, just to recap:

Having an app can open up a whole new reader base for you, increasing your paid subscriptions by 10 – 30%. You can expand your current advertising into the apps and add a new sponsored revenue stream.

The app also improves your publication’s reader experience and versatility.

And it can do all of this with little effort on your part.

So, it’s time to ask: why don’t you have an app?

Want to learn more about what an app can do for your subscriptions? Let’s chat.

Learn how Leaky Paywall can help grow your subscription revenue