In-App Purchases: Optimizing Your iOS App Monetization Model

The idea behind In-App Purchase is pretty simple, it’s to sell digital services or features inside your app. In recent researches, it was discovered that app users spend 24% more on In-App Purchases than on downloading an app. Therefore, we can say that IAP is a big deal. 

ios in-app purchases

There are four types of In-App purchases in iOS:

  • Consumable: it’s when you buy something to progress in your app, for example, a life in a game. You basically buy it once, use it and afterwards it is possible to buy it again.
  • Non-consumable: it is just to pay for premium features. The user pays once and there is no expiration for it.
  • Auto-Renewable subscription: this is when users pay for the access with a frequency, such as a magazine subscription monthly. The subscription is renewed automatically.
  • Non-Renewing subscription: the user buys the access for something in your app for a specific period of time. There is an expiring date and after that the user has to renew it manually.

Which Role In-App Purchases Play in App Store Optimization

Since the release of iOS 11, In-App purchases became a deal when talking about ASO. Your IAP can show up on your app store listing, at the search result and may be featured on the App Store games or apps tabs.

When your in-app purchase shows up at the search result on the App Store, the user is directly taken to your app to finish the purchase. Even if the app hasn’t been installed yet, they are ready to download it.

app store in app purchases example 1
VSCO has in-app purchases that show in the search results and on their app store listing 
Source: VSCO on App Store

To have your in-app purchases listed in search results, you have to promote it.

Apple allows you to have as many IAPs as you like; however, you can only promote 20 at a time. Each promoted IAP needs a promotional image that represents itself to be shown on the three spots that can be displayed as mentioned before. If your app is displayed outside your app page, Apple automatically adds your app icon together with the promotional image. So, do not worry about your logo.

The idea of optimizing your app page is to make it discoverable. When your In-App Purchases are also optimized to rank, you have your app and plus 20 promotional IAPs that can be displayed to a user. In other words, your app exponentially increases its chances at showing up in the search results. 

The in-app purchases should be seen as an opportunity to have more chances to dominate relevant keyword search phrases. That means if your IAP shows up in App Store search results, it takes another spot underneath your app. This ousts your competitor (rank 2) from the screen.

in app purchases in search 1
 In-app purchases can show up underneath your app store listing in the search results 
Source: App Store

When you promote your IAP, you must use a display name of 30 characters and a description of 45 characters. These two fields are used to detect keywords that the algorithm is going to look for when showing the search results.

As we mentioned before, each IAP has a 30 character-long title and 45 character-long description. The best way to optimize it for search is using the relevant keywords for your app in your IAP information. Remember to use the more important keywords in the title and do not repeat them in the description.

There is a more focused way to optimize your IAP for search. It is possible to change the visibility and order of your products so as they appear for a user. For instance, if a person already has a specific feature of your app, this IAP won’t be displayed to them. They’ll only see the ones that they haven’t purchased yet. 

You also have the possibility to make IAPs appear only to users that already downloaded your app. 

Good to know:

  • The promotional image has to be JPG or PNG; 1024Ă—1024 px; 72 dpi, RGB, flattened and no round corners.
  • To promote your In-App Purchases your app must support the SKProductStorePromotionController API, otherwise, your IAP will not be visible in the App Store.

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