Designing for Subscription Success

Session 814 WWDC 2017

Providing a great user experience can make it easier to acquire new subscribers. Get insights into effectively communicating the value of your subscriptions, streamlining the sign up flow, and providing a positive and effortless subscription experience.

[ Applause and cheers ]

In this session we're going to discuss the best practices of subscriptions.

We'll focus on effectively communicating the value of your subscriptions, streamlining the signup flow, and providing positive and effortless subscription experiences.

Lauren, back to you.

All right.

Thanks, Doug.

We're going to try this again.

[ Laugh ]

Subscriptions are the fastest growing business model in the App Store.

Why is it almost every time you're ready to sign up for an awesome new service or to subscribe to some amazing new content, this is the feeling that you get?

That's because it's all too common for subscriptions to feel complicated, confusing, or just take too long to sign up.

So, for a great user experience, make your subscription effortless, transparent, and engaging.

Let's focus on each of these principles to improve the user experience and design for subscription success.

The first step we'll talk about, being effortless.

So what does it mean for your subscription to be effortless?

It means that people should know that you have a subscription.

That way they shouldn't have to look for how to sign up.

So it's important to be visible.

Get out there and don't be shy.

Let people know that you have a subscription offer, and ask them to sign up.

One approach would be to persist a Subscribe button in your app's interface.

Here in "The New York Times" they do a great job persisting a Subscribe button.

And they do this tastefully throughout the entire UI.

It's very visible.

And it's across each article.

This is done really well.

And it's not annoying or pushy, because it families together with their interface.

Don't present your subscription like a popup add or a notification.

Because popups and notifications are intended to be dismissed.

And you don't want people to dismiss your subscription offer.

Another way to present your subscription would be to be visible and present it when someone has expressed interest in a piece of content or in a feature that you offer through a subscription.

This is the dating app Her.

So let's just say you're swiping through a few profiles and you accidentally pass on somebody who's cute.

So you attempt to rewind that profile, and in that moment, the app Her tastefully presents an option for you to subscribe.

Because the rewind feature is what they offer as a subscription.

And this is great.

It's an appropriate time for Her to present you with this offer because you've shown interest.

Her does a wonderful job presenting the values of your subscription right here as well with this beautiful, light animation.

So whether you choose to make it persistent in your user interface, or present the option to subscribe when someone has expressed interest, make sure that it is visible to people so they know you have a subscription.

And no matter what you choose, all subscription apps should include a place to sign up in Settings or Accounts, because it's a very intuitive place for place for people to look to sign up.

All right.

Also, to make your subscription effortless, you need to remove friction.

Friction is asking for too much information, having too many steps, and taking too much time for somebody to sign up.

But how do you know when you've asked for too much?

This data should help.

This graph represents a snapshot of one month of data from the three top video streaming apps in the US.

Now, while their names have been removed, all the important data here is the clicks to conversion ratio.

A subscription flow that has three clicks led to a 61% conversion rate.

And a subscription flow with four clicks led to a 48% conversion rate.

However, as soon as there was nine clicks, it dropped significantly down to 7%.

Now, while this is just a sample, it's clear that you should only ask for what is absolutely necessary for someone to sign up.

Because quite literally, less is more.

Less clicks, less friction, will lead to more conversion and more subscribers.

So focus on people on just signing up first.

Things like favoriting, personalization, and asking for additional personal details can all wait until after someone has signed up.

So, by being visible, and removing friction, your app subscription will be effortless and easier for people to subscribe.

Next, let's talk about being transparent with your subscription.

Because transparency is the best policy.

And you need to provide clear terms so people understand what they're signing up for.

Strive to be glance-able.

All in one view and in just a few seconds, people should be able to clearly understand what your subscription offer is and how to sign up.

So when you're making your subscription, always include: a concise value proposition, a strong call to action, a place for people to log in if they are existing subscribers.

Also the ability to restore if someone has a new device.

And a place to sign up that includes clear pricing and terms.

And always offer multiple tiers.

Because you don't know if somebody wants to sign up for a day, a week, a month, or two years.

So try offering three or four different tiers to find out what works best for your audience.

The MLB At Bat app does a great job and offers all of this in one easy-to-understand glance-able view.

And this is important because most of us are signing up on our phones.

So please, keep it simple.

By providing clear terms, people will be able to make an informed decision on how to subscribe.

All right.

I saved the best for last.

Your app needs to be engaging from the start, before people subscribe.

And the best way to engage them is through experience.

Let them experience your app and your app's content before having them subscribe.

Because being able to experience and try before you buy is a part of how we make purchase decisions today.

From trying on clothes to attending an open house, or even test driving a car before you buy or lease it.

All of these are experiences that you can do that help you make a decision before you purchase.

And the same applies for your app.

There are three ways to engage people through experience.

And it'll make it much easier for them to subscribe.

First, you can offer a free trial.

That way, people can try out the entire app for free for a limited time.

This works well for established brands and when people have an idea of what's included with the subscription.

So, if you have an established brand, a free trial is a great way to let people engage with your app and its contents before they subscribe.

You can also make the majority of your app available for free and offer a premium feature as a subscription.

For example, in the app Sleep Cycle, you can use the entire app for free, except the trends feature shown here is what is available to people who have subscribed.

And Sleep Cycle makes it really easy for people to sign up right from here.

It's a great technique to offer a peek of content behind this blur.

That way potential subscribers can see what kind of content they would have access to if they did subscribe.

And finally, you can allow people to sample content.

It's a great way to engage through experience.

And it works great for the majority of apps.

This is "The New York Times."

And you're able to read ten articles for free per month.

And this is a wonderful sampling experience because "The New York Times" lets people have control over what content they're able to sample.

That allows people to find the content that they're interested in and helps them better understand the value of the subscription.

The objective is to let people experience and become familiar with your app and its content.

And that will make it easier for them to subscribe.

And no matter which option you choose, make sure that it works for your audience.

And you know them best.

Think about their current user experience, the type of content they have currently available in your app, and how adding subscriptions could impact that experience.

So design your subscription to be effortless by being visible and reducing friction.

By being transparent with your terms and pricing, and engaging people through experiencing your app and its rich contents.

That way it'll be really easy for people to sign up.

Thank you.

[ Applause ]

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